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Indonesian Floods Leave Many Dead and Homeless

An article to be published in The Independent today has reported that massive flooding has hit the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, causing hundreds of thousand of its citizens to evacuate the city and killing at least 29 people. Indonesia is prone to large monsoon rains annually, and so the fact that this situation was not anticipated and given a better shot at prevention is a concern for indonesians and many are questioning the government's efforts. The storm drains intended to curb the flooding were piled with rubbish, and forested hillsides south of the city intended to stop floods like this have been removed in order to build houses for the rich. It is a case of poor urban planning and natural disaster anticipation. Disease is now a large threat to the area's denizens, as well.

The article is one that emphasizes the news values of timeliness and impact. Not only is this unfolding right now, the impact it's having is incredible and hundreds of thousands of people are affected. The events and their causes are outlined in the article, and a special emphasis is placed on the refusal of the government to take responsibility for prevention and handling of the crisis. A quote from the governor of Jakarta is used to illustrate his unwillingness to take action, and quotes from citizens of the city are also used to elaborate on the government's inaction. An emphasis is also placed on the threat of disease, which could potentially be one of the effects of the floods. At the end of the article an economic expert is quoted as saying that the events will not affect inflation. All quotes are full and full attribution is used. The lead is handled over the course of several sentences, with the first sentence alone not being enough to get a full picture of the key events. The story is written in a basic inverted pyramid style.

An Associated Press article about the flooding that ran in the Star Tribune newspaper today chooses to emphasize many of the same points, with the only exception being that it lacks a section about the projected economic impact of the disaster. However, the focal point of the article outside the events themselves is the government's poor response to the disaster, with the same quotes from the governor of Jakarta and the citizens being used to illustrate this. There seems to be more of an emphasis on using numbers to try and illustrate the magnitude of the catastrophe, which helps, and the lead gives the important details quicker than it did in the article in The Independent. The attribution in the two articles is essentially the same.

I prefer the Associated Press' article because it gets to the point immediately, letting the reader know how many people are effected. You have to read deeper in The Independent's article in order to understand that. I like how both articles chose to emphasize the government's inaction and lack of preparedness, because that's an important part of the issue and for a government to be handling something like this so carelessly is quite newsworthy and needs to be one of the main points of an article.