Recovering the Dead (Excerpt From ‘Escape From Myanmar’)

I clicked on this headline because it is a topic that interests me particularly, but it isn’t necessarily SEO-friendly. ‘Escape From Myanmar’ is a catchy title, and the country’s name itself is effective due to its current national tragedy. ‘Recovering the Dead’ is also somewhat daunting, and possibly even intriguing to news consumers who don’t already know the background of the story. These things keep the reader engaged and on the edge of his or her seat. One issue is the use of Myanmar over Burma. Yes, it has officially changed names to that but to most of the Western world it is still regarded as Burma out of respect for the democratic opposition. So saying Burma would have been both more geographically SEO-friendly and politically correct.

This story uses a delayed or soft lead, as it eases into the bigger picture and offers some factual background before getting down to the nitty gritty. As it is a feature that includes video, this type of lead is most effective.

“Those who flee Myanmar to seek a better life in Malaysia risk their lives making the perilous crossing over the sea. On the boats that ferry them, extortion, beatings, and starvation are commonplace. Upon arriving in Malaysia, for some, life is no better.” The above is the story’s nutgraph that backs up the headline, telling the reader who those dead are that are being recovered and why they were escaping.

In the written portion of the story, there were no sources since it was an excerpt. The bulk of the information was told via a documentary approach to story-telling. I found this to be very effective, especially since people in our part of the world likely can’t imagine those immigrants’ voyage and faces. The video allows the news consumers to see the horrors with their own eyes. I think an alternate method could have been to focus particularly on one voyager’s life. Do a Q&A with him, figure out his family, why he was leaving, what he was leaving behind and what he was hoping to find elsewhere. Chronicling someone’s life events could work well to transition through a feature story from beginning to end.

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