Explanatory Feature: The Wall Street Journal

Screenshot of “Afghanistan’s Lonely Hearts Call ‘Emergency’,” written by Jessica Donati and Ehsanullah Amiri.

The following explanatory feature, “Afghanistan’s Lonely Hearts Call ‘Emergency’,” written by Jessica Donati and Ehsanullah Amiri, was published to the Wall Street Journal website on February 19, 2016.

Notice how the authors begin the story with a startling statement approach to their lede, by introducing us to a contradictory statement:

KABUL — In the age of Facebook and online dating, some Afghan men are still looking for love in an old-fashioned way — by calling the emergency-services hotline.

Does the above lede make you feel intrigued? If yes, the authors did their job!

Notice how the nut graph below not only includes a backdrop but also alludes to a theme. The authors try to explain these occurrences by exploring the cultural underpinnings that limit men and women from interacting, almost like an analysis:

Across much of Afghanistan, women rarely leave home except in a head-to-toe burqa. Men don’t have much opportunity to make an approach, especially when many women aren’t allowed out without male chaperones. Few outside big cities have access to social media.

Continuing on the path of trying to get at why this happens, the authors suggest reasons:

Thus, the one surefire way of speaking to a member of the opposite sex is to call Kabul’s police-and-emergency services…Lailuma Farouqi, who has worked at the center for eight years, said men keep calling despite their lack of success, probably because they enjoy the novelty of speaking to a woman who isn’t a relative.

Finally, the authors try to recapitulate the theme of limited interaction among opposite sex members in their kicker. By depicting an awkward conversation, they make us think about how love has to adapt and work in mysterious or “odd” ways under different social and cultural circumstances:

The couple met on Facebook and communicated for a year before meeting. “He said, ‘may I love you?’ ” she said, describing the moment they agreed to be together. “I said, no problem.”
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