Somalia on brink of starvation
Refugees who fled violence is cities like Mogadishu are now facing the threat of starvation as crops fail and political instability hinders food aid. There's 13,500 children at risk for starvation according to UNICEF. The government is isolated in a few buildings in Mogadishu and pirates, rebels, and militias control the countryside.
Both the NY Times and LA Times article are exceptional (of course). They both contain excellent assessments of the current situation with analysis of what brought i about and the prospects for the future, which are not too bright. So in this blog I'd like to look at a characteristic of stories that I haven't before, the overlying theme or message that resonates with the reader.
Each story starts with a theme in the lead that is then echoed or resolved in the close.
The LA Times profiles a baby who was starving and needed medical attention. The description of the baby's actions and situation and the mothers reaction to them, resonate immediately with the reader. The writer describes how the doctors say she will die unless treated and then connects it to the rest of the crisis.
The New York Times starts with a violent conflict over a bag of food aid where there's a fight and people pull weapons. It gives the reader a sense of the conflict as well as a taste of the proximity of violence in these peoples lives.
The LA Times comes back to the baby at the end when they report that the doctor is skeptical that the mother will bring her to the hospital like he insisted. He explains that she has four other kids and closes with an awesome quote that I'll just stick in here. "Sometimes they just wait and hope the baby gets better," he said. "These are the kinds of choices mothers are having to make."
The writer has succeeded in opening and closing this story by giving the reader a sense of the personal tragedies occurring. And then sums up the desperation of the situation with a closing quote.
The New York Times goes back to the fight at the food shipment at the end. The writer describes that the dispute ended in a typically Somali way, with three militiamen pulling their own guns on the fighting people and making them get equal portions. He then describes the truck "sputtering" away and uses the sputtering as a metaphor for Somalia. These closing lines give an understanding of the situation to the reader that the bare facts wouldn't. Also awesome.