Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pulitzers that moved me

The first feature story that I read was John Branch’s snowfall. Initially I was interested because in the story because in Colorado, students that ski frequently are encouraged to attend avalanche safety meetings, and it is a significant threat that comes along with the adventurous culture of skiing there. However, as I read each elaborate description of the avalanche and the people that endured it, I was felt somewhat let down. There are graphics included in this five part series, but it jumps around in an un-chronological order, and I found myself confused and wondering if I was reading it properly. The writing seemed as though it attempted to be so cutting edge, that I actually had a lot of trouble figuring out what the author was getting at.

What was cutting edge about this article, though, was in fact the graphics. They develop as the reader scrolls through the page, and provide movie-like moving images that show the reader exactly where on the mountains each victim was. This five part series was something that only could have been written for online viewing, and it presents a bold and innovative way to share a story. Unfortunately, however, the images tended to render the detailed writing obsolete. After reading a page’s worth of detail about the mountain, its shape, and where the victims were, the reader would come across a visualization that presented the same information in a visual, and frankly more understandable way. It seems that the writing and the moving graphics should compliment and build on one another, not serve as an exact copy.

The piece by Lane DeGregory in the St. Petersburg times is one of the most compelling things I have ever read. The story of the little girl that grew up in a closet of her own feces and bugs is a disturbing one. Yet DeGregory is able to tell the story with professionalism and grace, following the young girl’s treatment. I was so intrigued, that I could not have stopped reading even if I tried. The way that the story of this young girl is told is so compelling. What I like most about DeGregory’s feature is the way the interesting little details construct the larger meaning. DeGregory will use a story about Danielle’s eating the entire chocolate egg, wrapper and all, to give an understanding of her cognitive abilities, rather than just saying that she didn’t know how to eat.

Also, the research that DeGregory includes in her consultations with Danielle’s doctors added much needed color to the story, as well as a foundation for understanding. There was one line in that section, in part one, that left me totally dumfounded:

"Primates need comfort even more than they need food," Armstrong said.

There are so many messages in this story about human kindness and the essence of what it is to be human. Of everything I have read, I have never read something that accomplishes this so well, without expressly saying it at all. I felt like I was in the story, like I was there. In the end, I was not only floored by the writing but moved to tears by the story.

1 comment:

  1. I read this piece, too, and it was an emotional read. The wire mother/cloth mother study you reference here, which confirmed primates' needs for physical touch, took place at the university in my hometown (Madison, WI). My mom was living in Madison at the time the study came out, and she remembers it being explosive news because of the animal treatment issues (people were protesting outside of the lab). But, the findings are important and used poignantly here.