A look at “A New Generation Takes the Lead in Myanmar Protests”

By Sarah Sofiyyah

Full article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-generation-takes-the-lead-in-myanmar-protests-11615395087#comments_sector

A new generation which takes the lead in the recent Myanmar protests has caught my eyes to read and to know more about the story.

A write-up by Nikharika Mandhan and Feliz Solomon in The Wall Street Journal tells about a human interest story on the current situation in Myanmar. 

The feature tells about chaos and cruelty of the Myanmar administration led by the military forces that have overthrown a civilian government. Yet, the youths in Myanmar are seen as the brave heroes of their country. 

The title of this feature article has made people think of who the new generation and lead actors are in this country following protests that erupted in Myanmar recently. 

The elements of “who were protesting” in that country (new generation), “where they were protesting” (in Myanmar) and “what they were doing”(protesting) are reflected in the title of the story. 

Starting from the lead, the authors wrote about the massive switching mode from democratic system to military rule where an average 17-year old student Sithu Shien rushed to the forefront lines to join what he called a fight for democracy.

The writers have used the approaching methods that are near to a routine and typical of teenagers’ lifestyle on a daily basis but have changed into something unusual as described here:

 “The high-school student, who used to spend his free time playing video games, organised friends and neighbours and exhorted workers at a nearby garment factory to join what he called a fight for democracy.” 

From this element, it could make readers imagine, provoke their mind to feel the shifting part as the students are called to attention to fight for their country by joining the crowd in a protest. 

Next, it is one of the elements of feature writing to use a block writing technique to allow a natural flow of reading until the end like the bubbles on the wave flowing into the sea naturally without the feeling of confusion. 

From the overall analysis, the article is targeted at the young adults and adults only as the article mainly talks and explains the actual situation of protests in Myanmar from the young generations’ discerning, particularly with such aggressive elements and the tragic acts that are included in the story. There were even hostilities mentioned in the report which may not be suitable for kids to read. 

Some of the examples from the article: 

“Live streams of marches, gunfire and people being beaten with batons and rifle butts flood Facebook daily.” 

A politician arrested Saturday night was confirmed dead in a military hospital the next morning, his party said. On Sunday, Yangon residents heard rounds of gunfire and stun grenades erupting after nightfall.” 

Moreover, Mandhana and Solomon used the concept of “show rather than tell” to readers regarding the situation. 

For example, 

“Doctors performed surgery to try to remove the bullets, but he was losing blood and the influx of wounded patients had overwhelmed the emergency room, his father said.” 

The rest of the articles have been described using “a tell rather than show” approach to the audiences. 

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“One bullet struck his chest, another his hip. He died hours later in a chaotic hospital emergency room.” 

In this statement, the authors had used an adjective to describe the hospital which is chaotic. From the term “chaotic”, readers knew during this time, the hospital was in a severe condition, unorganised and facing an emergency, yet the situation had not been fully described by the authors. 

It is felt that the authors could have described how the people around the emergency room were struggling to treat Sithu Shein. They could have also included how many hours they were performing the surgery as the word “chaotic” is being used there. 

Furthermore, the authors also provide a glimpse of background story for readers who missed the news, such as the history and the current situation in Myanmar. 

The news read: 

“Myanmar’s young people—who came of age during a period of relative openness and democratic transition in a country that spent decades as an authoritarian state isolated from the outside world—are at the forefront of the movement to restore elected government..”

“… Myanmar glimpsed what it’s like to live in a free society. State censorship was lifted in 2012…”

In the past two weeks, at least 59 people have died.”

On top of that, good journalists need to steer clear of being biased in their article, as it is unethical to be biased.

For this, Solomon and Mandhana interviewed people with various backgrounds as featured in the story. It is because different people have dissimilar points of view on issues surrounding the Myanmar takeover by the military. To avoid the article being seen as one-sided, it is best for writers to interview numerous people. 

To illustrate, the writers interviewed author and historian, Thant Myint-U, and a few other protesters from different age groups. 

Besides, the writers also included quotations in the feature story; using quotes has the advantage which could show the realness of the situation that appeal to readers’ emotion. 

For instance, the terrifying and sorrowful feelings which could be felt by readers when reading the feature article.

The news read: 

“We’re all aware of what we’re dealing with—we could be killed, arrested, jailed,” she said.

“They came using force and tried to kill us, I will never forget that,” he said. 

I feel really sorry and I really regret that I wasn’t able to accompany him to the protests on that day,” Mr Lin Tun Ko said.

“My future looked bleak and opaque—I couldn’t let that happen,” he said.

Lastly, using graphic elements could attract readers’ attention and make them stay focus on the feature, as before they move forward to the following parts, they already put these pictures of Myanmar protesters and current views on the alley.***

(This article is written as part of individual assignment series for Feature Writing class)

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