Stetson Kennedy starts off with a direct quote, which jumps right into the topic. He catches the readers’ attention and curiosity by giving them a first hand account on what the Klan was really like. Kennedy does a good job writing in active voice and keeps the story flowing, avoiding wordiness. Robert M. Knight stresses the importance of such things in his book Journalistic Writing.
As for verification of the story, Kennedy gives encounters that he himself went through and uses dialogue to help the readers not question his experience. Kovach and Rosenstiel emphasize that a journalist’s first obligation is to the truth (36). By conveying the truth, a sense of security grows between the readers and the writer (37).
Transparency is also important for a journalist who wants their readers to believe the article. Kennedy shows his transparency through expressing his thoughts and feelings of the occurrences taking place in front of him.
I had just entered into fourth grade. It was my first year in a public school, let a lone a new state. My family had moved from South Dakota to Virginia, a long four day trip. I was a couple days into my classes and had already suffered from the boy sitting next to me vomiting on my shoe the first day of school. For the most part I do not remember how my day started, most likely the usual way of waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and heading to the bus stop (to paraphrase one of our favorite singers, Rebecca Black). But, what I do remember vividly was how quickly the environment at school had changed when the news feed reported an attack on the Twin Towers. Coming from South Dakota, I had no idea what these two buildings were and I was ignorant of what the Pentagon was since I had lived nowhere near New York. I could gather, however, that to my classmates and teachers these buildings were not only important, but personal. Many had family members working in the buildings or new of friends who had family members in those buildings. Fear and anxiety began to permeate.
With the sudden news, parents came to pick up their children early from school. My mother picked up my sister and me and we drove home. I still was having a hard time grasping what was going on around me. When we got home the TV was on, showing the video footage of the first twin tower on fire from where it was hit. My mother tried to explain to me the importance of the buildings and what the news meant by terrorist attack, but the only thing I could really understand was when my parents told us we need to pray for the people and families undergoing such a tragic experience.
My thoughts and prayers are still with all those who experienced a loss or pain from this heartbreaking day.
The lede Bly uses to set the article leaves the reader asking questions of, “Who is Miss Tillie Mayard?” and, “Why is she suffering from the cold?” The reader is inclined to read on in order to find the answers to the questions asked. Bly’s clever use of a quotation at the beginning of the second paragraph with such strong emotion conjures the reader to search if the people in the article agree with the statement. As the reader moves on in the article, the brevity and brutality of the staff at the asylum becomes apparent.
The story captivated me as I read since I could only wonder and hope the situation would get better for the women. Unfortunately, the article continued to get progressively worse for the residents in the asylum as accounts were told of how the women were treated.
As I read her description of how the nurses would purposefully try to upset some of the girls, I was shocked to read how much pleasure the staff got out of doing such an act. The cold heartedness of the doctors and nurses at the asylum was mind boggling. To think that individuals could act so cruel to others and find delight out of it is upsetting; yet emotions from actions such as these happens.
The description of Mrs. Grady or Mrs. O’ Keefe as she was pulled by her hair in her frail state for no reason only to be tortured for the enjoyment of the nurses, made my blood boil. I found myself wanting to stop the nurses and help the women in the asylum.
Bly’s strong emotion towards justice is evident through her desire to expose the asylum. Not only does she fake her mental health in order to gain admissions into the asylum, but tries to help the women by asking for more clothes for some of the older women suffering from the cold. Bly became concerned she would be found out before she could get the information she wanted, which shows her commitment to the truth, something all journalists are to be committed to, when a gentleman came to visit her. Her quit wittedness aided her in not blowing her cover as well as comforting the man that she was in control of the situation.
My mouth gaped open and I thought those exact words to myself – He did what to his son? I was intrigued, hooked. I bit the bait that was set out and off I went onto reading further into the article. The first sentence was so shocking that in order to fully understand I had read the lede correctly, I had to read on.
The thought of a father actually throwing his son overboard just because the boy would not stop crying, or for any reason at that, is hard to fathom. The first sentence also triggers notions of what were the reactions of the people around the father as he committed the act of throwing his son overboard. As my mind processes the lede into the article, questions jump into my head. How could a father do such a thing? Did the boy know how to swim? Was the propeller anywhere near where the boy was thrown? Did anyone try to stop the father from throwing his son overboard?
The importance of the lede makes or breaks the article and the journalist succeeds in capturing the audience’s attention as well as their curiousity. If Bacon, the author of the article, would have worded the beginning along the lines of Boy thrown overboard Survives, he would not have received the same eagerness to read on as he receives with his chosen lede. Yes, curiosity would rise in some, but those who already feel that they have the jist of the story would not take the time to read the full article. Therefore, Bacon does an excellent job capturing the attention of the readers as well as myself and giving them the desire to read on and find out the story behind what truly happened onboard the tour boat.