Alabama tornadoes have affected thousands of people. Mike Oliver of The Birmingham News recently told the story of Daniel and Rose Yarbrough, whose house was hit in the recent storms. The couple was given money to reimburse them while they weren’t able to stay in their house, but the couple gave the money back.
The story is told well, leading the reader onto the next paragraph every time. Oliver kept the reader by holding off on the answer to the question everyone automatically has: Why? Why would they give the money back?
Oliver utilized the inverted pyramid structure when writing this story. He began with a dramatic, attention grabbing headline, and then started the story with the most important details. The end of the story was less important with a quote by someone barely involved.
Oliver used four sources, three of which were quoted. Harry Brown, a United Way executive, was quoted saying that the money given from the Yarbroughs would go towards helping other families. Oliver was wise in quoting an executive making this statement, because the audience might not be willing to accept it as truth from someone other than an executive. Plus, Oliver foresaw that readers would want to know what would happen with the money. The direct quotes from Daniel and Rose Yarbrough were effective as well, but the quote from caseworker Shirley Wormley didn’t add anything to the story. Oliver ended on a weak point with Wormley’s quote.
The writing was clear and balanced; overall, Oliver did a good job. If I were to do anything differently, the very first thing I would change would be the ending. Leaving the readers with a weak quote doesn’t leave the best taste in someone’s mouth and likely won’t keep them thinking about the story later on.
The article can be found here: