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.