Furloughed Workers to Receive Pay?

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal wrote an article regarding the furloughed citizens.  Each article had similar titles, but very different introductions.  New York Times writers, Jonathan Weisman and Ashley Parker, published: “House Approves Back Pay for Furloughed Workers.”  Wall Street Journal writer, Siobhan Hughes, wrote: “House Votes to Give Back Pay to Federal Workers.”  Each article was published on Oct. 5.

In Weisman and Parker’s article their introduction states:

“WASHINGTON — The House, in a rare Saturday session, voted unanimously to guarantee that federal workers will receive back pay once the government shutdown ends, offering a promise of relief if not an actual rescue to more than 1 million government employees either furloughed or working without pay.”

Hughes introduction states this:

“WASHINGTON–The House voted Saturday to provide back pay to furloughed federal workers, the latest in a rapid-fire series of spending measures designed to minimize the effects of a partial government shutdown.”

I find introductory paragraphs to be vital in news writing.  Currently, our society has an on-the-go, steadfast mind set, leaving them with a short attention span.  Some may see this as a negative thing; I see it as beneficial because it simply means we are a progressive and active society.  Thus, the introduction of the article is the ‘critical’ point for readers.  If it’s informative, engaging, and short then readers will read on.  The introduction must provide the essentials-the who, what, when, where, and how.  It’s important; however, not to give too much away in the first paragraph or two.  Along with the informative aspect, the introduction must also appeal to the reader’s interest and attention span.  I neglected to mention one of the most important aspects of journalism: truth.  The introduction must be true and accurate.

With that being said, I’d like to evaluate the introductions of both the NY Times and WSJ.

Weisman and Parker start off by explaining that the house came together on Saturday for a “rare session.”  I don’t think “rare” is needed or effective in this current situation.  I would hope the House is meeting, conversing, and working their butts off every single day in order to eliminate the current governmental shutdown and come to a conclusive decision.  I especially liked that the writers included the number of employees furloughed or working without pay.  It adds a dramatic and serious effect to what may otherwise be a boring article.

The title of each article led me to believe that those currently not receiving any income for their labor will be receiving an income once again.  In fact, I thought that the income received would be immediate.  I thought perhaps the article would mention that the employees will receive part of their check during the shutdown in order to return to work.  However I was wrong, the articles confirm that employees will receive their pension after the government shutdown has ended.  When that will be, no one knows (not even the House).

Hughes introduction makes it sound like real progress is being made.  Additionally, Hughes makes it sound like employees will receive their pensions right now, during the government shutdown.  I like the brief description of this introduction; however, I don’t believe that it’s entirely accurate.

Thus, I liked the NY Times introduction much better due to its accuracy and enthralling fact.


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