“Russian health officials said early on that the effect of the fine particles and carbon monoxide in Moscow’s smoky atmosphere was comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day” This is one of the intriguing facts about the disastrous fires in Moscow that The New York Times includes in its report.
The article examines the manner in which the situation has evolved throughout Russia. It focuses on the death toll, which over the past days increased nearly twice.
Andrew Kramer, the author of the story, can be congratulated on the intriguing manner in which the catastrophic situation is presented. Yet, his report features several major setbacks.
Kramer provides no background information. The story evolves on August 10, presenting events taking place on the specific date. The report fails showing that events in the vicinities of Moscow have been unfolding over a longer period of time. A reader who is unfamiliar with the story will have difficulties understanding what the piece is all about and how the Russian disaster reached such gigantic proportions.
Other than that major demerit, the story entitled Amid Heat and Smoke, Deaths Double in Moscow presents a comprehensive account of the situation.
The author includes both statements from officials and from regular citizens, who present their points of view. It places alongside statements coming from Moscow officials and the words of medics and people in the affected areas. This contrast enables Kramer to demonstrate the manner in which different social groups experience the tragedy and the state attempts to keep the situation under control.
Kramer manages to get hold of some unusually colorful quotes. “Abroad … people drown like flies, and no one asks questions” the report says quoting a local health official.
The article presents both sides of the story. The death toll figures announced by officials and statements coming from morgues differ. Kramer has managed to include both aspects in his report.
Simultaneously, the report makes excessive usage of rumors and unofficial sources. Kramer quotes unnamed Moscow residents and medical workers. These nameless sources of information interfere with the credibility of the news piece.
Kramer has also included eyewitness descriptions, taking the reader to Russia and showing what the atmosphere in Moscow looks like. The author has selected curious facts that make the situation readily understandable. He compares the composition of air in Moscow to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. These tiny details make the article readable and livelier than a dry presentation of statistics and facts.
Amid Heat and Smoke, Deaths Double in Moscow.’ The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/world/europe/10russia.html?_r=1&ref=world [9 August 2010]