Analysis of “The Klavaliers Ride to a Fall” – Stetson Kennedy

The lede of Stetson Kennedy’s article, “The Klavaliers Ride to a Fall”, catches the attention of the reader because of controversial topic, but I agree with Knight that ” a quotation makes an awkward lede.”  It feels as though the author drops the reader into the middle of the story without any introduction to the topic of the article.  It may have been acceptable to use the quote if Kennedy gave some background information after the quote, but with no explanation it is awkward.

The article continues as a narrative told in first person.   The use of first person is no longer accepted as a form of formal reporting, because of the bias given by the author.  The first person gives the reader the point of view of the author only.    We have no idea what the public thought of the murder of James Martin was.  Or what the pubic thought of the Klan was at the time.  Being such a controversial topic, it is understood why Kennedy could not interview the Klan members, but additional information could have been gathered from other sources than himself.  The narrative style  also takes away from the validity of the article.  It seems almost like fiction because the author reflects on what was happening at the time and has a strong opinion about it.

The quotes used add good details and move the story along.  The only problem with the quotes, is that Kennedy would not have been able to take notes, so he has to rely on what he recollects hearing and seeing.  This creates another problem with his verification.

Although the article is not written in an unbiased journalistic style, the story is very disturbing and important for the community to hear.  Stetson Kennedy broke the principle of journalism to be transparent to ones sources, but he followed the guidelines of Kovach for the most part.  He deceived the sources  in order to gather information he felt was necessary for the community to find out about.  Becoming a member of the Klan was also the only way for Kennedy to discover the specific acts of violence.  The only guideline Kennedy does not follow, is he does not reveal to the reader that he has deceived the Klan or tell why.

Kennedy was brave to pose a member of the Klan and publish the article.  The story is definitely news worthy and has good details, but it would be a stronger piece if it was written in a formal journalistic style.

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