What Works Assignment #8

For this week’s What Works Assignment I decided to analyze the Clarion-Ledger article, “Miss. teen says he was ‘forced’ to stand for Pledge”. What made me select this article was the headline because people refusing to stand for the pledge has been in the news quite often within the past year because of athletes like Colin Kaepernick. There were several things that worked in this article, but there were also a few things that didn’t work. The headline itself worked because it is fairly SEO friendly because when I type in “Miss.”, “teen”, and “pledge” into Google, the Clarion-Ledger article is the first result. By being SEO friendly, the article is already more appealing to the reader and is much more likely to be seen by a larger audience.

One aspect of the article that didn’t work for me was the lead because it didn’t seem credible nor did it grab my attention. The lead was a hard news lead, but was a paraphrased quote. I don’t think that the journalist should’ve started off the story with a paraphrase because it didn’t answer the 5W’s and I would’ve liked the lead to tell me when the event occurred. If I were writing the story, I would’ve just stuck with a traditional hard news lead because the story lost some credibility for me by having the lead be a paraphrased quote.

Although the story wasn’t lacking in quotes from the students mother, there weren’t any other sources. In my opinion, the lack of sources was a major problem with this story and I wouldn’t of let it run with no other perspectives. Obviously, the student’s mother is going to be bias towards her son and she didn’t paint the school nor it’s officials in a very positive light. Besides a short paraphrased blurb from the School Board President and the Superintendent, the story was all quotes from the mother. To me, the beginning of article just seemed like one big rant. If I could’ve written the story, I would’ve gotten the opinion of other parents or maybe find a student who witnessed the actions of the student. I just feel that the story lacks a personal touch or any substance and is just a lot of he said, she said.

Another thing that this article was lacking was a nut graph, but the closest thing I found to one was the 11th paragraph now. I thought that the information in that paragraph would’ve been more beneficial towards the beginning and before all the Kaepernick information. However, the order of the story was also a problem for me. I felt that the story would’ve benefitted by removing all the filler paragraphs on the “meeting” and moving the quotes from Anna Davis upwards because I felt her perspective was very interesting.

Overall, the story didn’t really work for me because the journalist was all over the place as far as sources, flow, and order. I really wish that the lead would’ve been different. The story would’ve benefitted by a narrative lead of the incident or just a more specific hard news lead. Either would’ve been better than a biased paraphrased quote from the mother of the student who wouldn’t stand. Also, the story had a lot of quotes from the mother and some meaningless quotes from school officials. The story would’ve benefitted by another student’s perspective who saw the incident or maybe some background information on how other schools have dealt with such issues.


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