Rhetoric. Adventure. Project 1.

I think my idea for the repurposing project might fall under the genre of “expository” or “investigative” journalism. That genre brings to mind courageous acts of journalism like Andrea Elliott’s “Invisible Child | Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life,” or Eric Lipton’s series titled “Courting Favor,” both of which are products of the New York Times, the brand I want to emulate in my writing.

It is this type of writing that brings to light and exposes to the general public complicated situations or aspects of society that are not so obvious or have been slipped under the rug. What they expose is, by the nature of the writing, bad news. They should (at least try to) transform their reader into a truly informed citizen on the given topic, allowing them to create their own opinions and maybe even take action. The journalism, of course, remains objective. It is this writing that many successful journalists are given prizes for, and it is this writing that serves in most people’s minds as the quintessential form of good journalism. Those examples I just gave are expository pieces that have stuck with me and many others; they are pieces for which the author won or was snubbed a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism. I would love to win that award for Project 1 in Writing 220… But maybe  I can safely aim  a bit lower.

Taking Elliott’s works surrounding “Dasani,” a homeless child living in a run-down shelter with her family in New York City, and the everyday struggles she must face, pose interesting rhetoric. The author is clearly very close with the family and with Dasani, and the writing is extremely detailed. She depicts everything, bringing the reader into the room with her, while also providing the broader context of the situation, informing them on many key topics and issues surrounding Dasani’s situation, not just her life in a microcosm. Her audience is the inquiring New Yorker, the parent, the friend of a friend (of a friend) of a person who has struggled with homelessness (and in New York, this audience reaches just about everyone).

Her exigence is the most intriguing part of her writing: Dasani is 11 years old, and her life is a difficult one. As the reader gets farther into her story, the question arises of ‘what next?’ How will this girl fare? That in itself is powerful enough to kick the reader’s ass, as they realize how real and important this issue is. Homelessness now has a name and a face, and you cannot believe you never just took the time to turn around and look into the shadows and see what you’d find.
I want my writing to pull in the reader as hers does. I want it to show its purpose and its exigence without having to say it. I will not be there, but I have already done the on-the-ground sociological research. I can combine that with the research I will conduct, and hopefully hit home in a way similar to how Elliott does. I care deeply about my city, and more so, about those within it. I want others to care as well.

2 thoughts to “Rhetoric. Adventure. Project 1.”

  1. Hey Wyatt!!!
    I want to share with you a non-objective article that I just read that was written by a friend of mine who goes to school here at Michigan. You can find the article by clicking on this link:
    https://www.michigandaily.com/section/columns/brett-graham-gdi-defense-mud-bowl
    As I read this article, I was moved by Brett’s insertion of voice and opinion on the situation. Whether I was opposed to or agreed with his stance in his article, the fact that he included his opinion in the writing made me much more passionate about the topic. I know you plan to keep an objective position in your piece, but I would hope that you consider the effects of including your feelings into your repurposed argument and how doing this would benefit or reduce the resultant impact on your audience (especially because there are a lot of emotional stakes involved in socioeconomic statuses). But, like you said, it is this objective style of writing that has potential of winning literature awards. Maybe, it would be best to overload your audience with evidence so they create opinion as they read, thus becoming emotionally invested in your piece.
    All of these comments are just things to think about as you take your first steps in writing this repurposing project.
    Have a good one and see ya tomorrow in class, Wyatt!
    -Caroline

  2. Hi Wyatt,

    I’ll admit it’s interesting to come back and read this blogpost after reading future Caroline’s remediation post on the same subject. But the points you bring up do in fact stand the test of time. You do a nice job of discussing the complicated rhetoric behind exposing “bad news.” That kind of rhetoric always seems dangerously complicated to me, as the line between unbiased writing and human rights seems gray: you mention that the piece’s creator is likely close to the family, which raises the question, “Shouldn’t he do something about the family’s predicament?” But at the same time, he kind of is doing something, by raising awareness through his piece. And if the rhetoric is as excellent as you describe it, I imagine that that may even almost be enough.

    Best,
    Chad

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