Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A trend of tragedy

10th-grader is 26th Chicago Public Schools student slain this year by Carlos Sadovi, Steve Schmadeke and Angela Rozas

This is a trend story with an extremely newsworthy and timely aspect to it. As the number of students from Chicago's public school system killed increases, already surpassing the total from last year, the deaths have an enormous impact on the families they devastate and the lives they end.

The story does a good job combining personal tragedy with the reactions of officials and their plans to combat the violence.

However, when I finished the article, I was left wondering what had been tried in the past and why it hasn't been successful. How will the new attempts to quell violence be any better than the old ones? If the story was merely marking the trend and showing the impact, it would be more understandable for these questions to go unanswered, but because the article does detail measures being taken by the Police Department I would have liked to see how they fit in with what's been tried before.

Overall, the story is effective in its poignancy, but I would have appreciated a more critical look at what is being done to stop these tragic losses.


  1. I hope I don't sound callous here, but I feel like this story has been told before. I feel for the family and I think it's a tragedy. But I also think you're right in the fact that we need to start looking at what's been done before and learning from the past. A journalist may be able to do research into the topic and bring some new light to the situation. I know my problem with an article like that would be keeping my opinion to myself. That's the thing I have found hardest about journalism so far. Maybe the story has been done before and I don't know about it? But if it ever gets another look I think it would be an interesting article.

  2. I kind of agree with Beth. While each life lost is a terrible tragedy, journalistically, this story has been told before. I think that the reporter would have better spent his time investigating solutions to the problem. That way it is more about helping the community than getting a story turned in.

  3. I also agree with Rachel and Beth. A story similar to this one appears weekly in all suburban newspapers. There's always a new death toll and it (seemingly) always revolves around gang violence. It would have been more interesting if the deaths were not caused by gangs, but rather unknown, unrelated violence.

    The article does do a nice job with sources, since it takes a view from the legal and spiritual apects. However, the article does contain the ever-popular "he was young and had his whole life ahead of him" quote. For me, this is a given for all young deaths, so it is redundant. The article does hit a soft spot near the end, since a couple lost both of their children to gang violence weeks apart. I think it would have been more beneficial to write the article on the Pitts family than the one the article was mainly about.

  4. Yes, the story has been told before. However, I agree with you in that a critical look at the situation would have added so much more to the story, and could have prevented it from becoming lost in the shuffle of stories just like this one. A new spin on the story, rather than a re-iteration of the situation, would have been nice to read.

  5. You have caused me to reflect on the ethics of an anecdotal lead. Does a murder become "just the anecdote" to lead a trend story? What if each person killed were described in a story unto itself, with the "trend story" separate?