Homeless in LA: Discussion


As drawn from the title, this article outlines the homeless populations in LA and how heavy rain is affecting that population. Rainstorms are causing major flooding and damages to areas highly populated by homeless individuals, which addresses the greater issue of homelessness in LA–in the sense that the rainstorms are causing much distress to the only “homes” these individuals currently possess. The article introduces the reader to the reasons behind the increased homeless population, along with the initiatives being created to aid and combat this issue.

I picked this particular article because of the narrative and conversational aspects engrained into a news story. While I’m not an avid reader of hard news, it’s something that we need to know to become informed citizens in society. Yet, The New Yorker—as evident through this particular article, alters the representation of dry news stories. I’ve found as a reader that while facts are important, there must me more to grasp a reader’s attention. Within this article, I find t
hat the audience is not only informed on the homeless population in LA, but also, is showed a story through imagery and descriptive language.

This story draws an audience in with its choice of diction and usage of narrative aspects throughout. The tone is informative, but also is providing a full scenario to readers, rather than shooting facts out. Does this make the story more memorable? Do you think that you’re more likely to remember a narrative piece over a strictly informational piece?David Lowe, 37, a homeless man, holds a sign as he offers a plate of cupcakes during May Day demonstrations in Beverly Hills, California May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)

While reading, I urge you to note the phrases that differ from a typical news story. Wording such as “hurling boulders,” “cement-lined chute known as the LA river,” and conversational additions such as “besides the frustrating waste of much-needed water in the middle of an ongoing drought,” and “obviously, the homeless need more than a share of what the rest of us aren’t using anyway.” What do these additions bring to the story? How do you, as a reader, feel when reading such a piece over listening to a news story from an anchor or reading a brief newspaper article?


  1. Identity the narrative and conversational aspects of the article, and write/type them out
  2. Identity the places of strong imagery/descriptive language, where the author is showing rather than telling

Then, compare The New Yorker article to this brief write-up on homelessness in LA by the LA Times.

  • What do the two articles do differently?
  • Which is more engaging to a reader?
  • How are the stories told differently?

*Think about these ideas for a group discussion, and how the particular writing styles/aspects can relate to your own project when it comes to ghomeless_larasping an audience member’s attention.



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