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Guniea Declares Martial Law

President Lansana Conté of Guinea placed the country under martial law Monday after several protest fro his departure turned violent. Guinean citizens are calling for Conté to resign his position.

This story from the New York Times, by Lydia Polgreen, describes the harsh conditions in the country and the issues facing the leaders of the country and the leaders of the radical political organizations calling for Conté’s resignation. This story possesses much more of a feature story method than a hard news story. The lead in particular is evidence of the feature style taken by Polgreen.

Guinea’s embattled and ailing president declared martial law on Monday, hoping to stop a wave of violent street demonstrations and a general strike that have crippled the country and brought it to the brink of insurrection.

While this lead does posses elements of a hard news story this lead is not particularly brief and does not totally represent the total story. The story reports the reasons that the Guinean protesters are demanding. The story doesn’t report anything about the martial law or its enforcement so far. The story reports the history of the events and the ramifications that a civil war in Guinea could produce but offers little knowledge on the martial law itself. I think the biggest issue facing this story is how to get effective quotes about the martial law. This may have caused the story to run in the direction that it did. Polgreen did what she could to describe how the events following the declaration of martial law would affect the country. She also tries to report how the declaration came about and maybe that was the part of the story that she could get at the time. However, getting key information about the martial law looks to be the most difficult part of the story. Polgreen appeared to face difficulty in getting any information from President Conté. This would also be a key issue with regards to the story.

The Star Tribune ran an extremely brief article on the martial law declaration. The story, by Paul Fornier, reports that the U.S. government ordered all U.S. families out of the area following the declaration of martial law. This story was brief and almost doesn’t constitute a story but it also did not describe the conditions or the action of the martial law in Guinea.

The Durham Herald Sun also ran a story about the martial law. The story, by Paul Fournier, appeared to be a possible longer version of the brief that ran in the Star Tribune. However, the last names were spelled differently but they both were credited to an Associated Press writer. Nevertheless, this story was much more detailed and reported more on how the martial law had affected the country. This story delayed longer into the Tuesday news day had a much more complete background and had a much better use of sources. This story reported, more accurately, on how the marital law was affecting the country.

Despite the curfew, residents reported hearing gunfire in the outskirts of the capital Tuesday and said some young people were trying to resume protests.
"They are still firing heavy arms. I didn't sleep all night because of the shooting," said Aissatou Diallo, a resident of the Madina neighborhood.

In my opinion, the news event here was that the country of Guinea was under martial law. I understand that some background about how the country got there is needed but I still believe that the story was the declaration of martial law. Therefore, I feel that the second Fournier story was the most appropriate. This story was the only one to focus on the real news value of the story. I thought that the Star Tribune version was simply a waste and totally missed the point of the story. This story was just a waste of news space because it failed to advance my knowledge of the situation. The Polgreen story was nice but I feel that the Fournier version was much more accurate with the news of the story and was more accurate in the quotes used in the story.

I think that one of the most interesting things about all of this is that either the Durham Herald Sun or the Star Tribune most likely spelled Paul Fournier’s name wrong. One of them misspelled the name and I found that pretty funny.