I liked this article a great deal for a number of reasons.  Beginning with the lede, you immediately know that you will be reading a fresh angle on a long and drawn out conflict.  The insurgency and piracy in Somalia have been in the news for quite some time now and it is good writing to have such a fresh spin on the story.

Moving into the first paragraph, the reader gets an immediate feel for the intensity of the situation without the writer being overly dramatic.  The conflict is clearly portrayed and this sets the reader up to understand more clearly why the service explained within the article is so impressive and heroic.

“Chaos and death on the streets of Mogadishu: unfortunately, it’s nothing new in the Somali capital.”  This first paragraph opens with a dramatic statement, but quickly lets the reader know that this is not a new or shocking situation.

The third paragraph shows excellent use and variety of verbs.  I especially liked the sentence that described the ambulances as “ferrying the dead and injured” out of danger and to hospitals.

The fourth paragraph makes the whole situation seem real to the reader.  Conflicts likes these are so removed from our reality as Americans, but everyone feels their heart drop just a bit when they hear about a mother screaming for her child.

In general, I liked the rest of the article because it did a great job of blending two types of stories.  The human interest side was well represented here, but the reader also got a touch of harder news at the same time.  The writer did a great job of taking this small and somewhat isolated story, and tying to the larger conflict.

This story also made use of some excellent quotes.  The following  are my two favorite quotes from the story.

“The government and African Union soldiers opened fire on the ambulance. We were later told they’d received information that the insurgency was planning on using an ambulance to stage a suicide attack.”

“It is so dangerous but when we see the problems of the people, we’re trying to find a way somehow, to keep on working.”

I like the first one because it portrays this unbelievable rationality and level-headedness that can only come from somebody whose life is immersed in violence.  Only a person who has lived through something like this can simply and calmly explain that a tragedy such as that was a miscommunication.

The second quote is a little on the cheesy side, but I think it fit into the overall feeling of this article perfectly.

                As John Owen took his place behind the podium, a full auditorium was waiting to hear his words of wisdom.  It was a theater full of young, up and coming journalists and other communications students eager to hear what years in the field had taught this man, and what he in turn could pass on to them.

                Owen has worked for CBC and as a professor around the world as well as with a number of other news organizations.  It seemed that the speech to come had potential to be lofty and perhaps even a touch on the pompous side however, it was anything but.

                “I believe that he can teach young journalists how to handle situations that we might not be accustomed to.” said Jessica Turner, a junior journalism major.  And he did.

                Owen provided his audience with simple advice that it seems any journalist could take into the field and put to good use.  He continually stressed the need to be prepared and to do significant research before stepping foot onto an assignment.  

                “My own absence of preparation almost got those people killed.” he said as he finished a story about the early days of his career.  Owen connected the dots between textbook jargon and real life journalism for all those in attendance.

                The advice he gave was simple and lacked the pretense that one might expect of such a highly experienced man.  “The journey is the destination.” he repeated to the audience.  Owen spoke candidly and seemed to strike a true chord with his listeners. 

                Most striking was the way in which he addressed his young audience.  He spoke with a blunt tone but the words of a mentor.  He did not hide the uglier side of his career path as he spoke about colleagues who had suffered or even died in the pursuit of a story.  Yet Owen presented an innate understanding of the heart of a journalist.

                “The notion of bearing witness to something, making sense of what they see and being unbiased as the report it.”  This is how Owen described what it is to be a journalist. 

                Above all else, Owen stressed the need for “real journalism”.  He repeated how important it is to not allow the world altering stories from other nations to be swept under the rug.  He spoke to the audience as the journalists of tomorrow as opposed to mere students of today.  Owen took the idea of great journalism off of a pedestal and placed it at eye level for every student in the room.

                “You have to make a choice between journalism that matters and journalism that is simply titillating and interesting.  We’re all in this together.”

     I really enjoyed this reading and what it had to say largely because it just hit home with me.  This really isn’t much of a stretch or a statement considering my major, but it was a great reminder of why what we do as journalists will always matter.  In some way, what we do is above and beyond the technology or political climate of the day.  These things tend to fluctuate, while our purpose and place in society does not.  This is not meant to sound arrogant, but as this article said, people have a basic desire for news and knowledge and luckily, that is precisely what we provide.

      The point that I chose to concentrate on was the very first one.  (Journalism’s first obligation is the truth).  I think that this is the most crucial point because of a certain point that struck me within the reading itself.  So much of the way that the world functions is based on the information we receive.  We use news as common ground on which we can build friendships and as a compass in an ever-changing world that can sometimes be very overwhelming without all of the facts.  By not telling the truth to our readers, these relationships as well as their own compass become lies, and that rests on our shoulders.

      I realize that this is somewhat of a drastic statement, but the kind of power that we hold demands a great deal of responsibility.  We change lives with the information we give.  This is not something to be taken lightly and therefore it is totally unacceptable to play it loose with the facts.  Many people trust in what they read or hear from a given news source implicitly and to this end, we must be diligent truth tellers.

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) — The Mexican military has detained a suspected leader of a notorious drug-trafficking family in connection with the July slayings of two U.S. citizens.

Jose Rodolfo Escajeda, known as El Rikin, was taken into custody Friday in Nuevo Casa Grandes, in Chihuahua state, according to a military statement.

          I liked the lede in this story because it answered every basic question about the story.  It told you who was involved (a drug leader, the mexican authorities and two homicide victims), why they were detained, where the story was taking place (Mexico city) and when everything happened (the arrests are current for a July murder).  If you were to read the remainder of the story, you would find that it basically is just an ellaboration of the first sentence.  If you were a busy reader, this lede would give you enough information to understand the basics of the story and that is why I believe that it is a good lede.

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