Newsworthy: Latoyia Figueroa

A question for the working and aspiring journalists and non-fiction writers out there: What makes a story newsworthy? When you have two similar stories, what makes one worth telling and another one not?

On December 24, 2002, Laci Peterson was reported missing from her California home. Young, pretty, smiling, and pregnant, the nation rallied support in an effort to locate Laci and her unborn son Connor. Their disappearance, the discovery of their bodies, the subsequent arrest and conviction of her husband Scott for their murders was national news, covered by such media giants as CNN, MSNBC, and CourtTV.

On July 18 of this year, another young, pretty, smiling, and pregnant woman was reported missing. Her name is Latoyia Figueroa. She is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, single, and African-American. After nine days, CNN ran a short article on their website. Most of the media attention provided to this story during the first week and half has been from local and regional sources and from bloggers who have heard about the case.

What is the difference? Why was one story set up to capture the heart of the nation shortly after the first missing persons report was made and the other virtually ignored by national media?

For all Coyotes, everywhere, who are howling alone in the night, may someone, somewhere, hear your cries.


Poets Need Not Apply

Plato did not want to admit poets, otherwise known as writers, into his Ideal Republic. Poetry, in his mind, was inferior, an imitation of a copy of an original. Not only did it serve no purpose, it confused people by appealing to the inferior portions of the soul.

Later, Aristotle argued the opposite. Well-written poetry, the fiction of Aristotle's age, provided a system of checks and balances, a controlled method for citizens to release their emotions.

Ever since, the debate has continued.

What do storytellers, writers, purveyors of tales, poets contribute to society?


What If?

I've long wondered what would have happened if, in the mid-1800's, the abolitionists and the suffragists had united to demand equality for all rather than struggling separately for equality for African-Americans and equality for women.

At the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851, many of the suffragists were concerned when Sojourner Truth arrived. Throughout the first day, she sat quietly in the corner, listening and watching as the men, particularly the clergy, heckled and berated the 'unnatural' women attempting to speak for women's rights. The suffragists did not want their infant cause mixed up with the cause of the abolitionists. Many advised the chairwoman not to permit Sojourner Truth to speak.

On the second day, Sojourner Truth rose and approached the podium. The suffragists continued to whisper to the chairwoman, "Don't let her speak." The clergy and other men present hissed.

Sojourner's impromptu speech, handed down through history as "Ain't I A Woman?" has become legendary. Powerful and moving, it spoke above the hypocrisy of the crowd.

This is the power of words.

I want to hate Hemingway

I really do. I want to resist that spare, bare-bones, masculine approach to writing. I want lush words and beauty of sound and style. I want swashbuckling prose with ruffles and panache, both robust and beautiful.

Then I read something like this:
"Water stood in pools on the gravel paths. The sea broke in a long line in the rain and slipped back down the beach to come up and break again in a long line in the rain. " (from "Cat in the Rain")

It's a beautiful couple of sentences.

Never mind the rest of the language in the story is ugly as hell. It's almost worth reading the thing for those sentences together, splashing in my ears.

What do you hear when you read?


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Write wild. Write as hard as you dare. Write for yourself.