‘Where the hell is everyone?’ – Patrick Carlyon [Review]

The first thing I noticed about this article is the obscure way in which Patrick Carlyon writes it. He gives us details, and in fact the story, through people doing their day to day activities on the day of the fires. I think the way in which Carlyon introduces the first person, Colin Paul, pulls the reader into the story and builds a person that is relatable to the audience. He continues to introduce people in this way throughout the rest of the article.

He is able to describe different aspects of the town so the reader can picture this quaint town and what has happened to it. I find this an interesting approach because we do see a lot of articles written about bushfires and this article has taken a different style to describe the horror and loss that a bushfire can cause so devastatingly quickly.

One thing wrong with the piece is the lack of proof-reading by the author or an editor. The CFA is mentioned throughout the piece but Carlyon has forgotten to write out what this stands for. While most Australians would know that it stands for the Country Fire Authority, it is basic practice in journalism to first write out the full name of an acronym and then start using abbreviations thereafter. Another error in the piece is the mentioning of ‘the 1939 fires (that) flew over the leafy basin’. As a reader, I had no idea what the 1939 fires were so Carlyon would have been better to take a sentence to explain the severity of these fires to make them more relevant to the reader in regards to the rest of the article.

While this is not so much an error on Carlyon’s behalf, I found all the different people he introduced confusing after a while. All the names that kept being mentioned throughout the piece got mumbled. It was hard to remember who was who and what had happened to them in previous paragraphs. While the use of all these different aspects gives the reader a full picture of what has happened, it does make it hard for the reader to remember all the names written throughout the article.

An important message conveyed throughout the story, via the writing and also quotes given by residents, is that fact that fires can come extremely quickly and sometimes without much warning. It is a good message to reiterate to readers that you always need to be aware of the dangers of fires, regardless of how far away they are or how safe you may feel in your area. It also showed the community that we weren’t prepared for such a thing to occur.

Overall, I think the piece does a good job in capturing the reader’s attention with the unique way in which the story is told. There is so much human touch given to the story that it makes the reader emotionally invested in the people and what has happened to them. It has also given me the idea/view of writing a story from a different angle to how the subject may have been written in the past.


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