Piece Comment

Review of Backwoods Debaters Kick Butt

This was a story about a debate team, so why didn't we hear any debating? The great thing about radio is that it can bring you to the place you’re learning about. When a reporter doesn’t take advantage of the primary benefit of the medium, I believe the story suffers. In this piece, for instance, we are told and told and told by the reporter that this debate team is good. If the reporter had demonstrated this, the piece would have been less talky (this is a very talky piece) and might have given us more of the students’ humanity.

There are some other things about this piece that struck me as odd. Though this is a story about a group of kids who live in a particular community, at one point there is a back-and-forth between two kids who DON'T live in this community that seems to go on longer than any of the sound bites in the piece WITH kids from the community. This back-and-forth also has nothing to do with the topic of the story. It’s just two kids flirting with each other. The community being profiled is described as very strictly religious. So the sound of two kids who are not from the community flirting seems an odd choice, as does the use of the phrase “kick butt” in the title. One wonders what the elders of the community would think about either of these things. There is also some writing about the community that sounds like it was taken from a press release. We are told, for instance that newlyweds "dwell" in their own homes. Dwell?

I believe this could have been a very interesting story.