Recently in Features Category

A Craigslist Crime

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Maureen Orth wrote an in-depth feature in October's Vanity Fair about Phillip Markoff, a man who set up meetings with three women via Craigslist. During the appointment, two of these women were robbed, and one woman was murdered.


Markoff, a 22-year-old Boston University medical student, is convicted of the two armed robberies and murder. According to the victims, Markoff set up "sensual massage" appointments with them under the "Craigslist Erotic Services" section in the online marketplace.


In each case, Markoff allegedly came to their rooms, bound them at gunpoint, and then stole money and other belongings. In the murder case, he is accused of shooting the woman when she resisted. Markoff pleads not guilty.


I feel like this story is a combination of a human-interest and trend story. It brings up the dark side of Craigslist while giving in-depth descriptions and backgrounds of the people involved.


Orth started her story well. She describes the crime in a series of events that compelled me as a reader.


Midway through the story, I frankly grew bored. There were sections thick with facts that would get lost in the frame of the story. It did give her a well-rounded story, but it was just too much to absorb for me.


I find the "moral" of the story most important. It shows the threats of the Internet and what can happen when you aren't careful. 

Fighting the flu in a foreign country

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A feature in The New York Times magazine by Susan Conley talks about an issue that we are all familiar with by now, the H1N1 pandemic. Conley's story tells about her experience with traveling during in the past year and living in China with the threat of the flu.


Conley begins by specifically describing flying into Beijing in August and fearing for the worst when having to go through quarantine checks. As a parent, she didn't want to have her two children swept away to isolation if a fever was detected.


Conley also describes her encounters with Chinese healthcare and battle with breast cancer within the country. She sums it up with, "Ever since, I've tried to avoid Beijing hospitals."


This story is a trend story because it deals with the topic of H1N1 in China. Conley was able to give a personal reaction to the health scare and describe for readers what it is like.


The story starts well with a description of flying into Beijing and awaiting a health check. She ties in humor, which makes the story enjoyable to read.


I could personally relate to this story because I had to go through the same quarantine procedure that she describes when I flew into Beijing this summer. I felt the same panic, which she describes well in the story.


Conley keeps the H1N1 theme throughout the story, and draws on different experiences, like her kids' constant health checks in school, to give readers a rounded view. 

Dubai debts and attitudes

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I came across a brief feature from The New Yorker by Ian Parker on the rapidly rising debt Dubai faces.


Iceland recently dealt with an economic disaster that left them defeated but ready to take action to deal with the crisis. Dubai, on the other hand, is somewhat "shameless" in asking for extensions on payments, all while its stocks fell 5.6 percent yesterday.


Dubai's media insists that the rest of the world cannot relate to the economic issues of Dubai, so their debt cannot be compared to any other country. Although the economy must be monitored, because Dubai is a city that is heavy with foreign investments.


Dubai is a city of excess: villa lined streets, mammoth, glossy shopping malls, indoor ski slopes offering snowy recreation in a desert. All of these things are indications of a flourishing economy.


Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World, said, "[We] give a lot of courage to neighbors in the region, whereby they say, if Dubai can do it, we can do it."


This feature is a trend story. It discusses how countries outside of the United States are dealing with recessions.


As brief as it is, the story packs in a lot of information, tying in Iceland's economy. I think that it is a bit too short for the subject. It could be double the size and could explore more areas and effects of the recession.


Parker did a good job showing the contrast of attitude and reality in Dubai. He ended the feature with a fact: "Today, Dubai may owe more than eighty billion dollars."

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