Monday, December 27, 2010

Extraordinary Reporting

Really excellent and intriguing newspaper writing still ranks high on my list of favorite things...
by Charlie Leck

I sat transfixed yesterday by an article on the front page of this Sunday’s New York Times. I read it through with great admiration for the good, crisp writing. When I finished it, I went back to the top and read it again, trying to understand it all and not wanting to miss anything important.

The headline: “Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours: Missed Signals. Indecision. Failed Defenses. Acts of Valor.” [You can read the article, view a slide show and watch a video all on the New York Times on-line site!]

The reporters on the piece were David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephanie Saul. The final writing was done by Barstow. I’ll think they'll receive awards for their work.

“Nearly 400 feet long, the Horizon had formidable and redundant defenses against even the worst blowout. It was equipped to divert surging oil and gas safely away from the rig. It had devices to qickly seal off a well blowout or to break free from it. It had systems to prevent gas from exploding and sophisticated alarms that would quickly warn the crew at the slightest trace of gas. The crew itself routinely practiced responding to alarms, fires and blowouts, and it was blessed with experienced leaders who clearly care about safety.

“On paper, experts and investigators agree, the Deepwater Horizon should have weathered this blowout.

“This is the story of how and why it didn’t.”
[New York Times, Sunday, 26 December 2010: David Barstow]

In the year ahead, we are going to hear a great deal of the federal government’s case that brings criminal charges against more than one company and against a number of individuals. The entire story is shocking and heartbreaking, but also compelling. I really recommend this New York Times piece to you and I urge you to follow this story closely in the coming months.

The Deepwater Horizon was an extreme environmental disaster. Officials of the industry are trying to gloss it over and suggest that it was successfully cleaned up and that damage was minimal. If you go beneath the surface of their claims, you discover that they are not only mistaken, but that they are also lying. Yet, beyond the environmental disaster, the calamity cost good men – husbands and fathers – their lives.

Someone should pay for the environmental damage – and, someone should pay for these crimes!


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