Monday, January 9, 2012

For Jan. 12 discussion: Pirates, Iranians and the U.S. Navy ...

... what else could you want out of a story?

The New York Times shared this story last week about the dramatic rescue of Iranian fishermen who were held captive by pirates. Reporter C.J. Chivers was actually on the ship that came to their rescue

The article includes this nice paragraph, which puts the piece in context:
The rescue, 210 miles off the coast of Iran, occurred against a tense political backdrop. On Tuesday the Iranian defense minister and a brigadier general threatened the Stennis with attack if it sought to return to the Persian Gulf, which it had left roughly a week before. The warning set up fears of a confrontation over the vital oil shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz. 
Consider these questions: We discussed the news value of conflict last week - does conflict play a role in the newsworthiness of this story? What other elements of newsworthiness does this story have? Why is this important? What did you think about the descriptions, and the way the story was told?


  1. This article was appealing to a wide audience because it had a patriotic element to it as well as the theme of international affairs, and of course pirates. However, I found that the writing was a little hard to follow and had to read the article multiple times to figure out the exact events, since there were a lot of names of ships and many different groups of people involved in the story. I think it could have been written in a more concise manner while still preserving human interest.

    This article is also appealing because it is almost like an epic journey of the hostages. Therefore it gives someone for the readers to root for and provides a narrative quality to the story. The writer had a lot of good primary sources for the article, especially Chief Sidhu who spoke all the languages and could relate to a lot of the people involved in the story. Overall I thought the story was a very interesting topic but could have been written a little better.

  2. My initial reaction corresponds to Anne’s first statement: Patriotism. It screamed “Go America” throughout the whole piece to me. Personally, I found that distracting and made the story seem overdone. I thought it was an interesting story but it dragged on.

    I became lost in numerous spots in the story and had to go back and read through the previous paragraphs. The various ship names causes confusion because readers will not be able to immediately identify with the specifics. It forces the reader to scroll to the beginning again and figure out which ship they are talking about. Doing this forced me to loose interest quickly.

    The post didn’t grab my focus until I read the quote from the gentleman from Somalia. It was his comment about the sea was the only future for him; his country is involved in a civil war and he has no skills. This was such a powerful statement that made the story come to life for me. It made the character seem like a real person rather than someone quoted in an interview.

    The conflict from the previous event has a major influence on this article. It made the story even more “newsworthy” because it is relevant to what is happening between America and Iran. Our society is interested in our relation with Iran and this piece shines a bit of light to that relationship.

    While reading, the same question ran through my mind: would this story be as elaborate and important if another country had saved the Iranian fisherman?

  3. Conflict definitely plays a role in the newsworthiness of this story because it sheds light on the United States' current dilemma with Iran involving the Strait of Hormuz. By flexing their muscles and threatening to cut off oil productions, Iran's relevance in current economic debacle is even more dramatic now because of the pirate rescue of the 13 Iranian hostages made by the US Navy.

    Focusing on how the Iranian military officials were warning the US on staying out of the Persian Gulf was an ingenious ploy to show Iran's negative judgement that was placed on the US without directly stating it. It led the reader into the story of the pirate kidnapping and ransom scandal that beautifully displayed Iran in the damsel in distress role as the United States was easily shown as the heroic warrior. Saving the hostages from the act of terrorism led by the Somali pirates was impacting and memorable; perfect combination to an exceptional article. I enjoyed how terrible Iran's judgement towards the US was early on in this article and especially enjoyed how fast it was shot down because of this exciting rescue.

    The timeliness of the deliverance of the Iran rescue was right on point although it seemed a bit lengthy in some areas. All in all, however, I liked the unbiased voice I felt while reading the piece and felt informed and pleasantly satisfied after I learned about the sea ordeal. It left me, and I imagine other readers as well, with a sense of hopeful curiosity to see if Iran will take this act of prima facie into consideration while dealing with the spats between nations.

  4. This is an important day for the U.S. Navy and America as a whole. It shows our compassion toward the citizens of other countries other than ours. It was a big decision for the Navy go in and risk the safety of themselves and the two countries to save the lives of the abandon Iranians.

    "Senior Iranian military officials this week bluntly warned an American aircraft carrier that it would confront the “full force” of the Iranian military if it tried to re-enter the Persian Gulf."

    I don't feel this shows any conflict of newsworthiness. Our Navy went in and saved 13 Iranian lives, that is a big deal for our country. This could help restore some peace between the U.S. and Iran. People want to know what is going on with our troops all over the world.

    I feel this story was very well written. It gave us a sense of how the Navy made their decision to go in and help these people. As well as, what the Iranian captives were feeling, especially when they realized help was one the way.

  5. Americans love reading stories about The United States kicking butt around the world. The subjects of pirates, patriotism, and peril instantaneously grabbed my attention. I thought the story was interesting and informative, but also lengthy and hard to follow at times.

    C.J. Chivers, the author, clearly knows what he is writing about, but told the story in a way that was difficult to follow. The names of the ships and sea terminology that I was unfamiliar with made it a hard piece to read. After reading it several times I finally grasped the importance of the event.

    The U.S. and Iran has had a rocky relationship. The Navy put their own safety at risk by saving 13 Iranian men. I thought Chivers did a great job keeping the piece neutral. He was able to voice the opinions from all involved parties, which made the piece more interesting. The story was very descriptive, and at times I felt like I was there.

    I believe this piece is “newsworthy” because of the timeliness of the event. People are always interested in foreign relations and what our troops are doing.

  6. I think that a lot of times Americans get lost in domestic news and things that are nearby and affect them. Even though this impact is what makes news news, there is so much importance in news abroad that can affect us too. This article is a great example of how the situation affects people on a more emotional level rather than relevancy to their life.

    I also agree with some of the other comments that the article was a little difficult to follow. However, when you have several names of ships or articles, it can be hard to organize in general.

    The article also presents an element of newsworthiness because of past conflict between Iran and the U.S. The ability to come together on a common goal shows another side of our U.S. military and I think that is something that the public has been waiting to see for quite some time.

  7. This story is news solely because of the conflict that goes along with it. Although rescuing sailors from pirates is extremely cool and something we only can imagine in movies, this story is front page worthy because of the dangerous political conflict that was deeply rooted in it.
    Hopefully because we were able to save Iranian civilians, no military action will be taken against us despite the fact that we sailed in Iranian waters after we were warned not to. I thought it was a great story that was both informative but also allowed the reader to have an imagination again (at least I did).

  8. This story is definitely newsworthy in the sense that something occurred, and the reporter is telling the readers about it. Conflict is a major part of that. However, I feel like the whole Patriotism thing was pushed too much. It was a little overwhelming.

    On the other hand, I enjoyed reading it because I AM AMERICAN. What American doesn’t love hearing stories like this? So, in that sense, I suppose the story is attractive to a lot of people.

    I became lost a few times and had to reread a few paragraphs. Other than that, I think the piece was really well written, informative, and most definitely newsworthy.

  9. The article had a unique perspective by including quotes from one of the pirates. His quotes were relaxed and conversational which was a nice contrast to the high risk military actions carried out.

    This story is definitely newsworthy because wars have erupted from similar situations when conflicting countries accidentally attack on another. The details of the U.S. ship's caution shows readers the lengths taken to avoid any more trouble. Like many stated above, this piece is very patriotic.

    Overall, it was well written and held my interest until the very end. I think most people like reading heroic, action packed reports, especially when they can relate their movie fantasies of Pirates of the Caribbean to present day reports.

  10. This story is one of the best stories I have read pertaining to this subject. The author does a great job describing what transpired at sea. It is a story like this that originally sparked my interest in journalism.

    The author saw the story unfold before his own eyes and did a great job of collecting quotes from everyone who was involved. I especially enjoyed the quotes from the pirates.

    This story works conflict into it at every level. You have Iran versus the United States, Iranian sailors versus Somalian pirates, the Navy versus the pirates. It is pure intrigue.

    I thought it funny that "full force" was put in quotation marks in the opening paragraph.

  11. This story drew me in after the first few paragraphs. It was a story that was told well but was also compelling and interesting. Modern day pirates are a hot issue in the media today, they cause problems and their back story is interesting.

    I like that the reporter had the witts to put the commentary of the pirates who explains why he was forced into piracy. This is a huge problem that has the poor fighting and doing illegal activity just to survive.

    Plus the story was just fun to read, because who doesn't like reading about pirates?