For this week’s What Works Assignment, I decided to search for an article that really didn’t work. The Clarion Ledger wrote an article, titled “Jackson’s gas prices lowest in US”, that I felt was very inadequate as far as sources and reporting. I clicked the headline because I thought it was very interesting that Jackson, Miss. had the lowest gas prices considering it is a fairly poor city in the deep south. The title itself is fairly SEO friendly due to keywords like “Jackson”, “gas”, “lowest”, and “US”. However, I felt that the article didn’t live up to the title because the lead didn’t even mention Jackson, Miss. nor that they had the lowest gas prices. The hard lead used by the reporter didn’t work because it was very general and discussed how gas prices had rose nationally, which I felt was out-of-place considering the Clarion Ledger is more of a local Miss. newspaper.
As far as pulling the reader into the story, the writer didn’t really do anything, but provide facts about gas prices and the oil industry. The reader was pulled in through the title, but then let down by the lack of content. The nut graph was basically the lead, but I felt that it was really lacking. With a nut graph the writer should relate the story to a big picture idea and tell the reader why they should be reading the article, but I didn’t really get any sense of why this article was relevant to me until the last paragraph. If I was writing the story I would’ve started out the article at the local angle of Jackson having the lowest prices and why. Then, I would’ve related the topic to the larger context of national gas prices and their recent increases. The writer didn’t do much to pull the reader in, nor keep the reader enticed past the title so I feel that this article really didn’t work as far as engaging the audience.
Lastly, the sources of this article were less than non-existent. In fact, there was only one person quoted or, in this case, paraphrased and it was an industry analyst. I feel that the writer could’ve done so much more with sources. If I were writing the story, I would’ve gathered at least two more sources and aggregated others to link within the text. For instance, I would’ve interviewed a Mississippi govt. official that deals with the gas industry, a man-on-the-street to show how the public feels about the gas prices, and then I would’ve actually quoted the analyst on why they believe Jackson is the exception to the national trend of increasing gas prices. As far as aggregated sources, I would’ve linked to actual data or other news articles relating to national gas prices in order to provide my article with more credibility.
Overall, if I wanted to add value to this story I would’ve completely started over and narrowed in on why this article is relevant to my audience. I would’ve taken a local angle and added more sources to provide the article more credibility. Lastly, I would’ve liked to have seen some sort of visual element like an infographic that displayed the gas price trends nationally vs. the gas price trends in Jackson. This article did not work for me, but I do feel like the topic is newsworthy and should be re-done!