By: David Camp
For my “what works?” this week, I chose to critique Steve Coll’s piece called, “Name Calling,” written for the New Yorker. This article is a chronicle about the United States war on terror, specifically dealing with the terrorist group, “Al Qaeda” and its leader, Bin Laden. The story talks about how other terrorist organization groups keep America at war and how different affiliates and branches were able to spread out from Al Qaeda.
I clicked on this article because I’m very interesting in international politics as well as the war on terror. Recently, President Obama sent another 100 troops to Africa to start a new drone program. Obama’s administration has been criticized, much like the Bush administration, for the use of these drones. Coll does a good job of explaining why America might always be in war because of these expanding terrorist groups.
Coll uses a feature lead in the article and engages the audience by giving history of Bin Laden and his creation of the terrorist group, “Al Qaeda.” This begins with the history of the group and their most recent activities. I think Coll does a good job informing the reader with information they might have not have know or forgot about. The nutgraf would be in the third paragraph in the article, which explains what is going to be talked about throughout the rest of the story. Here is where i think the nutgraf is:
“When President Obama came to office, he scuttled the Global War on Terror—he objected to its Orwellian tone and its imprecision. He has framed, instead, a more prosaic-sounding war, against Al Qaeda and “associated forces.” Obama’s reasoning is that Al Qaeda and its allies distinguish themselves from other terrorist groups with their intent to attack the United States, and that they remain cohesive enough to jointly qualify as an enemy force under the laws of war. Worldwide drone strikes, indefinite detention in Guantánamo and elsewhere, and military trials are some of the policies that flow from this logic.”
Coll goes on to talk about how different terrorist organizations from Somalia and even recently Syria, are trying to overthrow their own governments. He explains how rebels from Syria, who are in Civil War with their own President Bashar-Assad, could be as bad as the people they are trying to overthrow. The real point of the article is, “when is it all going to be over?” US troops are still overseas and as of now there is no real plan of when they’re coming home. Coll tries to explain to the reader that America is in war with a name rather than a country, which is why I’m guessing the name of this article is, “Name Calling.” I think the name of the title of the story could be a lot stronger than “name calling.” Although I think that the title of the article makes sense with the story, I think Coll could of came up with a stronger title.
The only multimedia used in the article is a drawing of a US drone fly over a map. I enjoyed this picture because it makes sense with the article however I do wish there were more “in time” pictures. I think a picture of a terrorist group or picture of an US drone, or even a picture of President Obama would of worked well in the article. A timeline of how long the US has been in war with terror would also work well in my opinion. Viewers enjoy timelines of all kinds and it also helps the reader understand and follow the story better.
What Works by David Camp
For my “Whats Works” paper I used Jesse Hardman’s article, “Young, Married, and Incarcerated: Prisoners Find Romance Behind Bars,” from the Atlantic online website. Hardman is a video, radio and print reporter for the Atlantic and resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. His story is about prison marriage in the Eastern Correctional Facility in New York’s Hudson Valley. I thought the title of the story was interesting, which was the reason why I clicked on it. I have heard of inmates getting married in prison but was unaware of how it actually works. Hardman writes about the positive and negative effects that this romance has on the inmates as well as what happens to a relationship when an inmate gets released from prison.
Hardman uses a feature lead in this story and starts out his piece talking about inmate named Jose Perez, who has been in locked up in prison for 12 years. Hardman gets the reader engaged by talking about “ceiling time,” which is a term prisoner’s use when they are laying in their bed reflecting on their life. I think this was a good idea because it lets the reader get inside the mind of inmate inside prison. Hardman in the first paragraph quotes Perez saying, “Ceiling time is when you lay down and you’re reflecting on things, looking up at the ceiling, thinking about the day, what I did right, what I did wrong.” Using a quote at the beginning is usually not seen in most articles I read, but I think in this article it works quite well in engaging the reader into the story.
Hardman than moves his story to a retired Reverend Edwin Muller, who is officiating Perez’s marriage to his fiancé. I liked how Hardman moves his story to a source that is not an inmate but someone who has worked with inmates for 50 years. Muller tells Hardman that inmates who had more than 15 years in their prison sentence were not allowed to get married until recently. I think Muller was a great source for Hardman because it gives the story credibility. Hardman than goes on to write about how Perez met his wife through the Internet saying:
Brie Morris and José Pérez originally met the more modern way, online, about three years ago, on the website prisontalk.com, a kind of digital forum between prisoners and the outside world. Pérez says that virtual meeting developed into letter writing and a real connection.
Informing the reader how these inmates meet their fiancé’s is crucial for this story. In my opinion, it makes the reader think of these inmates as humans instead of some type of monster. Muller tells Hardman that marriage is not only good for the inmates but also good for women looking to find partners since a lot of inmates are young males. Hardman than gives the reader a statistic that less crimes are committed by inmates who married in prison. I think giving a statistic like this shows the positive impact that marriage has on inmates.
Although Hardman talks about the benefits of inmates who get married, he also talks about a particular inmate who had trouble with adjusting to his married life outside prison. Chris, who didn’t give Hardman his last name, said things got shaky with his wife once he was on the outside because it was different seeing your wife everyday rather than once a month in prison. I think Hardman does a great job here informing the reader that these marriages aren’t exactly like a marriage outside prison. Towards the end of the article, Hardman goes back to Perez and his wife Brie Morris and their plans of the future after Perez is released from prison. Hardman writes:
For now, Morris says she tries to stay focused on a snapshot of the future she has in her mind. “José’s at home, taking care of the baby. I’m working, I’m on call. He’s doing his social work during the day, running his group home. I think it’ll be really good. I think we’re going to be one of those success stories because we’re so different. This is really genuine.”
I thought this was a good way to end the article because the article starts out about Perez and is concluded with Perez. I also feel like it gives the reader more compassion with someone who is serving a prison sentence. Overall, I think Hardman did a very good job with this story.
Matt McElroy speaks of his first experience and favorite experiences at the University of Mississippi.