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Peacekeepers Fight Gangs in Haiti

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/10/world/americas/10haiti.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=world

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/10/news/CB-GEN-Haiti-UN-Slum-Raid.php

The New York Times article, “U.N. Peacekeepers Fight Gangs in Haiti, One Street at a Time,? is about how the president of Haiti allowed peacekeepers to come in and try to defeat the gangs that have plagued Haiti for years. The article gives an in-depth look at the gang situation, including how the gangs have dominated over recent politicians, the vicious actions of the gang, and different reactions from people on whether or not using the peacekeepers to fight off the gangs is a good idea.

The writer of this article underwent the challenge of deciding on a style to write this in-depth article by writing in the hourglass form. The first three paragraphs give the most newsworthy information of the president deciding to let peacekeepers come to Haiti to rid the people of the gangs. The fourth paragraph begins to tell the situation from the beginning when the U.N. became involved in 2004, and the writer describes the specific acts of the gangs that led to the president making the decision to involve peacekeepers. The story also continues with information about past raids, the gangs’ history, and Haiti’s history. The story concludes with an anecdote to describe the current conditions. The writer also mixes in quotes from different sources to further explain the situation and to give their opinions on whether or not the peacekeepers fighting the gangs is effective.

The International Herald Tribune also covered the same story in the article, “U.N. peacekeepers raid Haitian slum in major operation against gangs.? This writer used the inverted pyramid style to cover the story. The lead states the most important news of the U.N. peacekeepers invading slums in Haiti to fight gangs and two people were injured and one killed. The next paragraph gives additional specific information about the peacekeepers and where in Haiti the fighting is taking place. The rest of the article descends in order of importance, and the writer uses quotes from sources while giving further explanations and background on the situation.

In my opinion, I think that The New York Times did a better job at communicating the situation of the gangs in Haiti because the hourglass format allowed the writer to go more in-depth and to write about the situation in a chronological format. I think the chronological format was effective because it gave readers more of a background so they could understand the situation better since most readers of the Times are probably not very familiar with Haitian news. Also, the narrative parts of the gang’s crimes and the quotes helped the reader imagine and understand the horrors of the gangs and the helplessness of the innocent civilians.

Comments

Great comparison (and a pretty interesting development -- a sovereign nation admitting it can't police its own streets and so turning it over to an international force).

As usual, the wire service acts under the pressure of news events and writes a straightforward version of the story. The AP story is dry but will probably be satisfactory to most of its clients: More outlets are likely to want the hard news. Only the outlets whose readers are interested in international news would want the sort of explanation that the NYT provides.

The NYT, by contrast, decided that these events were worth taking a time out and figuring out what was going on below the surface. They appear to have taken their time: The reporter may have filed this story a few days ago. Note that the latest development (the focus of the AP story) is dropped into the NYT story after the intro, in brackets. The brackets typically indicate that this particular section comes from a different source and is not necessarily in the same chronology as the rest of the story.

Thanks for bringing the NYT story to my attention. I forwarded it to a poli sci professor who has written on the role of peacekeepers.