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Thursday, May 26, 2005

morning media critique

I found the disparity between The New Mexican and The Journal Santa Fe's stories on the death of Lance Cpl. Jonathan Grant in this morning's papers striking.
The Journal story, Mourners Remember Marine as a Hero begins with this lead about the Pojoaque resident killed in Iraq earlier this month when his vehicle was hit by a land mine:

"Since childhood Lance Cpl. Jonathan Walter Grant was turning the curveballs life threw his way into home runs."

The story continues to talk about Grant being raised by his grandmother and how much he loved her. How he married his girlfriend after she got pregnant when he was "a junior or senior in high school" (I don't know why this couldn't be determined but, apparently, it couldn't). The story went on to talk about how Grant will be remembered as a hero, describes the photos of Grant as a child, how he always wanted to be a Marine, played sports and worked hard to give his children the father they never had and dropped out of high school so his girlfriend could finish.
Aside from the one vague fact mentioned, it's a respectful story that strives to capture who the man killed was, what he meant to people who knew him and the kind of story one would respect about the first soldier killed from northern New Mexico. It makes, also, passing reference to the fact that Grant's uncle was declared missing in Vietnam.
The New Mexican story, on the other hand, Pojoaque remembers soldier killed in Iraq begins by talking about Vietnam Veteran Frank Montoya Smith who knew Grant's uncle, Robert Trujillo, who was declared missing in action. He isn't quoted, but Ed Lucero, another Vietnam vet, is, discussing the fact that at least Grant's family has closure. The story segues into a Korean War vet remembering other fellow soldiers who didn't make it home. There is almost no information about Grant and who he was, except for one quote from the cousin of Grant's fiancee that Grant was always taking care of the kids.
I found it odd that the story was set at Grant's memorial service but focused on the recollections, barely, of other vets, with very little focus on Grant, the soldier was killed. Strange that two stories at the same event, with headlines ostensibly about the same thing (a town remembering their first soldier killed in Iraq) would have such very different focuses.
Frankly I learned more about who Grant was from the people who knew him and posted on The New Mex's comments after the story than I did from the story itself. Also found it interesting that a small political fight broke out in those comments over the war itself. I think in some ways the story was geared more towards that, though, than towards making the reader really feel the loss of the man himself, which the Journal story achieved and which, I think, should have been the point of the story. The New Mex had much better photographs, however.