Being from out of state, I had never heard of the Alabama Bingo Trial until I read the paper this morning. Apparently, those who would be voting on a new bill were bribed to vote a certain way. Ronnie Gilley is one of those who were bribing the voters. Kim Chandler, of The Birmingham News, wrote a story mainly on Gilley and why he is on the witness stand. The timing of this story is very appropriate, as he is on the witness stand all day today.
Chandler began her story already putting Gilley on “the wrong side.” For a person who had never even heard of Gilley before, I immediately felt like I should be against him, simply from reading the first few lines of her story. This is good for Chandler because it shows her writing was convincing from the very beginning. She continued to drive the point home by including direct and indirect quotes from him.
It was these quotes that really struck me. Hearing that he had not only testified to being guilty but also bragged he wouldn’t be in jail long (hinting that he would bribe people to get him out of jail as well) was a very strong point for Chandler. These indirect quotes brought the story home. Unfortunately, Chandler also included one other indirect quote from Susan James, a lawyer for former Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker, that didn’t add to the story. The quote should have been left out and Chandler should have simply brought up that point another way, or left it out completely.
Overall, the quotes greatly enhanced the story. Without the indirect quotes from Gilley, Chandler would not have had a very strong story. Chandler could have made her story even better by quoting someone that believes Gilley is under trial unfairly. That would have made the story much more interesting and given the reader a contrasting view.
My biggest problem with this story was the punctuation, or lack thereof. There were multiple run-on sentences and missing commas. Personally, I have a very hard time reading a story without proper punctuation. Instead of focusing on the content, my mind gets stuck on how so many commas could be overlooked. Hopefully, Chandler’s readers aren’t as perceptive when it comes to punctuation. As long as people can overlook these errors, they will find a good story that will make them want to watch the witness stand all day just to find out a little more about Ronnie Gilley’s future.
You can find the story by Chandler here: