Mar 26

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News critique: “Filmmaker in Submarine Voyages to Bottom of Sea”

When you think “James Cameron” you probably think of “Avatar” or “Titanic.” What you probably don’t think of is “deep sea explorer.”

In a recent article from the New York Times, Cameron is hailed for traveling deeper than anyone has in 52 years. For the most part, the article does a good job giving basic information about the event. It answers who, what, when, where, why and how: a basic news story. I’ve had issues getting all these kinds of questions answered in my own articles. As WJC alumni Dena Cipriano recently told our class, it’s important to ask the right questions.  I wanted to select an article which accurately answered any and every question about its subject.

The author, William J. Broad, does a great job explaining who (Cameron), where (Challenger Deep), when (March 20), what (exploring the deep), why (to get new ideas for his upcoming films), how (his own personal submarine). He covers this all in an earlier article, but doesn’t force it on his readers. Broad’s journalistic style is simple. It’s not flowery. It’s not complicated. It reads smoothly. Granted, there isn’t much conflict or controversy in the story, but it makes up for that with an easy read and informative paragraphs.


“’You’re going into one of the most unforgiving places on earth,’” he [Cameron] said. “’It’s not like you can call up AAA to come get you.’”

A great quote like that sums up the entire article. He shows the human side of Cameron exposing his fear, but counters it by showing Cameron’s bravery as well. He, after some research, is able to tell his audience facts about previous dives and the risk involved with Cameron’s dive.

“Five people have died in submersible accidents over the decades, and Mr. Cameron said the risks he faced were acceptable given the testing that his craft’s parts have undergone and its backup gear for such critical systems as electrical power and life support.”

Unlike the National Geographic article which had a much larger focus on the mechanics of the machine, the New York Times has a larger focus on the human aspect of Cameron, mentioning little about the mechanics of the submarine.

Overall, this article’s approach to showing the reward if Cameron succeeds coupled with the results if Cameron fails adds to the drama. As stated earlier, there is no actual conflict. This is as close as Broad could come in showing two sides to the story. He doesn’t write it as if it is a simple dive. He explains the training Cameron had to go through to get ready for this voyage (hours of yoga) and even adds a bit a humor when he tells us that Cameron sent a tweet when he finally arrived at the ocean’s bottom.

This article was a great example for me. It shows that with a little more digging and a few more questions, I can have more informative articles like this.

Permanent link to this article: http://thewashingtonjournalismcenter.com/?p=4006

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