For the multimedia story assignment, I chose to read the New York Times article “That’s as bad as it gets.” The combination of long form journalism and multimedia made this story very powerful.
The story is set in Huntington, Tennessee, at a school. Huntington is a town two hours from Memphis and two hours from Nashville, hit hard by a downturned economy. Having no money and double-digit unemployment rates has made many of the people in this story turn to drug abuse and eventually end up in jail.
Perhaps the most effective part of this story is the opening few paragraphs. It starts with action, and it’s hard to stop reading. A 14-year old girl named Hannah is caught in the middle of a domestic violence dispute between her parents–torn between not wanting her mother to get hurt and not wanting her father to go to jail. Either could be devastating to a family already struggling to survive. The photos of her and her mother in the two bedroom trailer and the broken down car were very powerful.
The beacon of light in this story is the Carroll Academy, a school for kids who can’t make it in public school. The Lady Jaguars is the basketball team that offers the girls hope. Though they’ve been on and endless losing streak, the coaches truly care and work hard to keep them on track. The documentary clip, “Hannah’s Story” was a powerful clip that showed the stark reality of what life is like for Hannah.
I grew up in a small town in Hawaii where a lot of my friends got pregnant in high school. Without the support of their families, they wouldn’t have made it. Seeing them struggle motivated me to work hard to not end up in their situation. That seems to be the conflict in this story. Parents don’t want their children to end up like them, but some cycles are hard to break.