Saturday, March 14, 2009

President Promises to Bolster Food Safety

The first thing I noticed about this article was that the headline changed. I began this blog and came back to it a few days later, and in that time it went from "Obama Plans Team to Overhaul Food Safety" to "President Promises to Bolster Food Safety." I feel like the new headline casts a more positive light on Obama--now he's not just putting a team together to change things, he's promising to "bolster" food safety himself. The original headline is closer to the truth.

The summary lead gave all the necessary information, including Obama's name because of his prominence and a startling statistic that grabs the reader. I wanted to continue reading to learn more about this "fractured food-safety system."

I feel like the additional announcement about the banning of "downer cattle" throws off the flow of the article. It is related, but maybe would have been better if it was included later in the article, since the article shifts right back into talking about Obama's food safety team. At this point, the article started to lose my attention, but caught it again with Obama's colorful quote about Hamburg bringing new life to a "demoralized agency" as health commissioner in New York City. The article could have gotten bogged down in statistics, but I feel like the writer chose only those which would make an impact--like the fact that only 7,000 of 150,000 domestic food facilities were inspected last year.

It was also a good choice to include the quote "Whenever a president uses such strong language, that's a big, meaningful occurrence," because it shows us that the news is not only that Obama is creating this team, it's that he is actually taking a strong and clear stance on this issue. Harris concludes the article with another powerful statistic to prove just how newsworthy of an issue food safety really is.

1 comment:

  1. I was able to relate to your critique of this article since I had a similar experience while reading it. The writer does make the article gage the readers' interest up from the very start. The lead instantly grabbed my attention with the statistic somewhere along the lines of 95 percent of hazardous foods go uninspected. That made me immediately drop my fork. But picking back up on the story, I noticed that the way the NY Times writer attributed the President with a "Mr. Obama" made him seem more like the common man who could relate to the public at large, rather than an aloof big shot who made all the calls at the White House behind closed doors.

    This story lacks a fair representation of sources. If we could extract even one quote from a member of the FDA or even private auditors about President Obama's plan to push for more food oversight/government inspections, the story would be more balanced. Equal light would be shed on the government and local groups.

    The last paragraph ended with an alarming statistic, which gave the readers something to take away from reading the story. The writer knew just as the readers were about to walk away from the article remembering absolutely nothing that he/she needed to take one last chance to shock the readers with a statistic about the death count of people dying from contaminated, half-cooked food.

    Well done! (no pun intended)