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Passengers Overthrow Hijacker on Air Mauritania



The AP story ran in the Star Tribune entitled, “Fast-thinking pilot fools hijacker with help from passengers,� is about how the pilot and passengers were able to overthrow a hijacker on an Air Mauritania flight by communicating in French- a language the hijacker did not know.

The AP writer had to undergo the challenge of deciding on what style to write the article in. The writer chose the hourglass style because it begins with the essential news that the pilot and passengers successfully overthrew the hijacker because the pilot braked and knocked the hijacker off balance and instructed the passengers how to overthrow the hijacker by speaking in French, a language the hijacker did not know. Then the writer transitions into telling the whole story from the beginning with more detail by giving details on how the hijacking took place, that the hijacker tried to diver the plane to France to get asylum, and step-by-step details of how the passengers overthrew him. Throughout the chronological story, the writer mixed in quotes from the passengers to give the article more color and emotion. The article concluded by saying that about 20 people were “slightly injured� and that the hijacker was arrested when the plane landed.

Another article from BBC News called, “Mauritania pilot outwits hijacker,� also covered the story of the thwarted hijacking. This writer chose to write the article in a stack of blocks format because there are a couple of subheads with their own sections. The lead of the story says the essential information that the pilot braked to knock the hijacker off balance and “tipped off passengers about the plan after realising the hijacker spoke no French…,� and the hijacker was “overpowered after being knocked over…�. This writer did not say in the lead specifically how the passengers overthrew him. The AP writer said in the lead that the passengers “threw boiling water from a coffee maker on the man’s face and chest, then beat him into submission.� Also, the BBC News Writer wrote in the lead that the police are investigating how the man got on the plane with the guns, whereas the AP writer did not even mention this information. The other sections emphasizing the overthrow and the end results did not have quotes from passengers like the AP writer did.

In my opinion, the AP writer relayed the overthrow of the hijacking more successfully because the hourglass form allowed for the writer to tell the most important details right away, and the chronological succession allowed for the writer to tell step-by step exactly how the pilot and passengers worked together to overthrow the hijacker in a dramatic and suspenseful way. However, I think that the writer should have included the important information of the injuries and the hijacker’s arrest in the beginning. There was some conflict between the AP article and The BBC News article though because the AP said there were “slight injuries� and the BBC said there were injuries and “a pregnant woman who was treated for severe shock.� Regardless of to what extent the passengers were injured, if there were many injuries I still think that this should have been in the beginning of the article.


I am impressed that you understand the formats (even one we didn't discuss in lecture) well enough to recognize them in use. This is a superb posting, with all of your points well-supported. In the section where you are jumping from one to the other, comparing how one was less specific than the other, you really hit your stride. I will use this as an example to other students on how it's done.