Elephants Struggle to Survive Ivory Trade Expansion

Media Analysis:  Illicit ivory trade imperils Africa’s remaining elephants

by Alli Jarvinen

As read in section A17 in The Seattle Times,

May 16, 2010


Activists say that by 2020 the African elephant could be nearly extinct.  Ivory is in high demand in Asian.

The nut grafs in this article gave good context, using numbers and statistics.  This helped me understand how dramatically the ivory trade has impacted African elephants and other stakeholders, like poachers, smugglers, and park rangers. The authors obviously did their research.

“Over the past eight years, the price of ivory has gone up from about $100 per 2.2 pounds to $1,800, creating a lucrative black market.”

In Kenya, “The Tsavo National Park area had 50,000 elephants in the 1960’s; today, it has 11,000.”

“The number of elephants in Africa has dropped by more than 600,000 in the last 40 years, mostly due to poaching.”

I like reading an article that looks like it took longer than a week to pull together. It helps me appreciate the art of journalism.  It seems like much of the news online and seen on television is “breaking news” or something that comes together because space or time slots need filling. I think that this is causes journalists to cut corners on context and research.  This article didn’t come off that way.

The article is also broken down by subheads including “Linked to China,” “Poaching escalates,” “Tackling problem”. I think subheads help to break down the information in a longer article. They also help hold attention.  The reader sees the subheads and knows that if they need to set down the paper, or walk away from the computer for a minute, they can pick it back up without losing their spot.

Last time I tried using subheads in an essay, I lost points. The essay I wrote was for a literature class though, not journalism.  Journalists have the option to use subheads, and in my opinion, breaking it up will only improve the readability of a longer piece.  In articles like this subheads help the reader file the information and process it in a more meaningful way.

I find myself sitting down to read a long article without subheads and if I’m interrupted while reading, I might not try to find my spot again, giving up on the article entirely.  I think visually breaking it down with subheads in boldface or italics prevent readers like me from giving up.

Between the research and the expert input, the article doesn’t lose sight of making the article more personable.  By infusing quotes from a Chinese ivory dealer named Chen, the article takes the issue of ivory trading from broad down to individual level.  Chen’s quotes frame the story and are present in the majority of the sub-sections.

The article begins with the individual.  “Carefully, the Chinese ivory dealer pulled out an elephant tusk cloaked in bubble wrap and hidden in a bag of flour. Its price: $17,000.”

What makes this article more than an essay, is this individual’s contribution and the subheads.

“Do you have idea how many years I could get locked away for this?” Chen said.

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