News Package Analysis

 

This Al Jazeera English (AJE) news package is about the ten family members that were killed and buried on November 19, 2012. (Update: An 11th body was found later on the same day this news package was posted)

The news package opens with a medium shot of a crowd of Palestinians holding a dead body above their heads, accompanied with natpop of the angry voices of those in the crowd. The AJE reporter, Jacky Rowland, then starts with a voiceover to explain the situation and draw in the audience: “Four little children who should be playing together are instead wrapped in shrouds.” The audience is immediately drawn in because they have questions and they want answers. Who are these children? Why are they wrapped in shrouds? What happened? It is important to note that her tone is somber throughout the whole piece, which was necessary to match the nature of the story.

Rowland then begins to answer these questions while switching to wider shots of crowds carrying more dead bodies. After saying that a 10-member family was killed, she immediately shows the effect this has had on the Palestinian community by showing some tighter shots of grieving Palestinians.

Next, she provides some sequence shots of the rescue team struggling to save the family. She opens with an establishing shot of the rescue team around the destroyed house of the deceased family. The shot is creatively framed through a broken glass window. The remaining shards of glass in the window (at the top of the shot) are visible and the audience can also see a person’s hand (at the bottom right of the shot) resting on the edge of the window, which allows the audience to see the scene from the perspective of this person. This shot is also helpful because it allows the audience to see that the Israeli missile blew out a neighboring house’s window, which shows the extent of the damage. The shot also matches the audio very well: “Israel bombed the al-Dallu family on Sunday; reinforced concrete were shattered like glass.”

There is then a switch from wide to a series of medium shots to focus closer on a member of the rescue team in an orange jacket, working with others to save the family. A particularly effective shot was one from below, which followed an action taken by the rescue team start. The camera followed a person hand over a body to the next person, and basically just followed where the body was being taken.

Next, Rowland uses a cutaway shot to redirect the audience’s attention to the family’s neighbor, Hala Al Ashi, who walks up to the shattered window discussed prior. This gives the audience explanation as to who the hand belonged to. We then get a direct quote from Al Ashi accompanied by a shot of Al Ashi, which follows the rule of thirds. She is looking slightly to the left so she is placed slightly to the right of the shot, giving her some extra space at the left to show that her eyes are looking in that direction.

She ends the quote by saying, “We will not forget this image.” Immediately after she says this, we get a cutaway shot of a man kneeling over a dead little boy before he buries him. This is accompanied by a voiceover from Rowland, acknowledging that it is not common for an adult to bury a child, but right now, it is the reality for these people burying the child. The shot switches from medium to tight, focusing on the child’s face and then moving to the grief-struck face of the man burying him. We then get some medium shots of others present at the burial, and finally a shot of them placing the boy in his grave, bringing the story to its conclusion.

Rowland then does a closing stand-up to summarize and end the story. It also qualifies as a scene-setting stand-up because she is there at the graveyard, which allows the audience to see that she was really there and makes the story seem more reliable. She then provides a cutaway shot to bulldozers removing the wreckage from the family’s house. This could also be seen as an information stand-up because she discusses how Israel targeted this house because it was said that a Hamas member was staying at the house, but there is no video to match this, so she just uses cutaway shots of other Palestinian civilians, reporting lastly that Palestinians think it was a massacre and not a mistake. Finally, she ends with a standard sign off stating her name, news organization and her location.

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A Man of Culture

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While most 10th graders were grappling with schoolwork, Abdulla Mohammad was taking a step into the real world and starting his career as a salesman.

Now, the 23-year-old Syrian lives in Qatar with his mother and siblings and happily co-owns a small shop in Souq Waqif. He sells traditional Arab items, like swords and bishts, which are cloaks worn over thobes primarily in the Gulf region.

“I am proud of the decision I made when I was younger,” Mohammad said, while looking around at his quaint shop. “I am part of a successful business and I am passionate about Arab culture. I could not have asked for a better job.”

Mohammad cited his late father as his greatest influence while growing up in Syria because he taught him about tradition. He says he aspires to pass on tradition to his customers just as father passed it on to him.

“My father did everything he could to teach me the fundamentals I need to succeed in life until the day he died at age 65,” said Mohammad. “He was a good man and he has made me the serious and successful man I am today.”

After Mohammad’s father passed away, his family needed a new source of financial support. Mohammad and his two older brothers got jobs, and the money they made sustained the family for a short while, but then times became hard.

“There was a time when we realized we really needed a better lifestyle,” he said in his hybrid Syrian-Qatari accent. “We always had our eyes and ears open for good job opportunities.”

One day, Mohammad recalled, a Syrian family that had moved to Qatar contacted his eldest brother with word of a new job offer at a new souq. After they discussed the job for a few days, Mohammad’s family decided to move to Qatar.

After coming to Doha and earning a good amount of money from the traditional shop, Mohammad’s older brothers decided to pursue other career paths. The eldest brother decided to study philosophy and the younger one became a geography teacher.

“I was the only one who stayed at the shop. I don’t think of it as though they’re abandoning their tradition. I am happy we are all doing what we love.” He added, “Besides, I know my father’s words are in their hearts.”

Even though his father and brothers were the main family members with whom he interacted, Mohammad says he also deeply cares for his mother and sisters who all stay at home.

“The main reason I have made work such a big part of my life is that I love being able to support my mother and sisters,” he said with a smile.

In the little time Mohammad spends outside the shop, he says he enjoys going to the cinema and playing football with friends.

“Football is my favorite sport and I always feel happy when I play, but I also feel guilty,” he said.  “I feel like I should be using that time to think of ways to improve the shop.”

However, he already has begun making future plans.

“I am content with the shop the way it is right now, but I would like to expand it in the future and maybe open another branch somewhere else in Qatar,” he said. “I want the shop, as well as my career, to flourish.”