Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Roaring Flames Demolish San Francisco

Reading about the San Francisco fire that wreaked pure and endless havoc, after the seismic quakes, to our city that we are all so accustomed to and greatly respect was really a unique experience. I used articles from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times that I thought were very beautifully written. Coverage of this event in history was very difficult due to the fact that getting eyewitness accounts and reliable sources was beyond adverse to acquire from the decimating city. Yet, despite that, the articles were suffice to provide the reader with more than just a glance into the current state of the burning city.
Firstly, the article from the New York Times was more brief than that of the Los Angeles Times but very adequate for the reader. Both were able to include statistics of the current dilemma as well as give insight on the buildings that have been drastically affected by the fires. I thought the the Los Angeles Times did an amazing job on letting the reader what was going on in little blurbs throughout the article. Also, making a short list of the identified dead was very successful in grabbing the reader, especially if it was a reader from that day.
Both articles had similar angles to how the story was framed, which was that tragedy befell San Francisco; it’s hard to not see things from this angle. But the most satisfying thing from the way the stories were written was that it could have been written very weak and with dull word usage but thankfully, it was not. Both stories dived into the chaos that swept the Bay area, especially the article from the Los Angeles Times. During the reading of these articles, I found myself thrust into a captivating story of chaos and misfortune, and then realized, wait, this really happened. The power of the way that these stories were written was so poetic in form that the reader can almost smell the smoke, taste the ashy air, feel the warmth of raging flames, and clearly see the emblazoned city disintegrating before their very eyes.
I feel that journalism now, has lost some of that compelling power to steal the reader and not only inform of the occurring news but to invoke infinite interest. A great article should be written to make the reader’s heart rate rise, especially when the content of the story is so groundbreaking as the San Francisco fires. The coverage today of events can be so draining to read because of the lack of power in the journalist’s words. With a story like this you can even get a sense of the melancholy in the writer because you know that he or she knows what fatal effects this fire will have on the city of San Francisco. Now, looking back on this event from the future, because of the framing of the story and from being a San Franciscan myself, you cannot help but truly sympathize with what had happened. Even with more than a century after the fires, making a reader feel something from the article is truly the most amazing way to cover and write a piece.

HEART IS TORN FROM GREAT CITY :San Francisco Nearly Destroyed By Earthquakes and Fire--Hundreds of Killed and Injured--Destruction of Other CoastCities--California's Greatest Horror.. (1906, April 19). Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File),I1.  Retrieved April 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986) database. (Document ID: 349538652).

ALL SAN FRANCISCO MAY BURN; CLIFF HOUSE RESORT IN SEA :Flames Carried From the Business Quarter to Residences PALACE HOTEL AND MINT GO; BIG BUILDINGS BLOWN UP. Other Shocks Felt During the Afternoon -- Insane Asylum Is Wrecked and Hundreds of Former Inmates Are Roaming About the Country -- Reports of Heavy Loss of Life at San Jose.. (1906, April 19). New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 1.  Retrieved April 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 101775031).


  1. Great post! I very much enjoyed reading it.

    I definitely agree with you when you say that these stories could have easily been written in quite a dull tone, but in fact both of these articles did get some great facts in, along with an addition of dramatic effect to pull the reader into the story so much that it almost reads as if it were an excerpt from a fiction novel about a horrible disaster. But yes, this was in fact a real, terrible event that took place, and as you read more into the articles, you are drawn back to the horror of reality of a beautiful city burning down.

    I also agree with you immensely on your thoughts of the tactics used in journalism today to bring the reader into the story. In journalism today, many reporters are so focused on meeting deadline with the exact facts that they forget to try and relate to those who will be reading the story.

  2. I agree. Reporters should use devistating stories such as this one to draw the readers in. It is important for journalism to give big stories the support and information availible to its readers. The way this story was covered lent a hand to power that was bestowed upon the devistation of the story. This was a story that immediantly affected thousands of people at one time. When a story breaks that is this big, it is the duty of the news media to give quick and accurate analysis of the situation, much like the reporters of these papers did.

    Great opinions and analysis!