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Is it possible for a six-year-old boy to successfully seek asylum in the United Sates against his father’s wishes? This is the main point of exploration in the April 21, 2000 article (off the wire) that appeared in The Plain Dealer. The article relates, “to be granted asylum, people must show that they were persecuted or had a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinions.” According to the article, the case has not reached a decision because of the debate over whether Elian Gonzalez has the right to seek asylum. For the time being, he is allowed to remain with his Miami relatives until the matter is resolved. There may be several levels of appeals and years of debate if the case is sent to an asylum hearing.
Janet Reno, Attorney General, Joe Lockhart, White House Spokesperson and Richard D. Freer, a professor at the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta was interviewed and quoted as sources regarding the possible outcome of the case. Lockhart and Freer had seemingly opposing views. Lockhart believe that the proper legal view is the view if Elian’s father. Freer thinks the debate should result in a longer stay in Miami for Elian. Reno asserts despite all of the predicted outcomes that there is no way to confidently determine what is to happen.
They key fact in the article is that federal law allows any alien resident in the United States to seek asylum and that the courts must make a decision after hearing arguments even if it is the arguments of a child Elian’s age. An example of a 1985 case where a 12-year-old Soviet child sought asylum against his parents’ wishes is presented. But the child was considered on the “lower end” of maturity in deciding his rights separate from his parents.
An AP photograph accompanied the article as it appeared in the Plain dealer but the content is unknown.
Another article on the same topic appeared in the Weekly Standard magazine on April 24,2000. Author, Tucker Carlson relates a two-sided protest regarding the fate of Elian Gonzalez. Among the public and private protesters lies entertainers Gloria Estefan and Andy Garcia who are both of Cuban origin. Both feel that Elian should be allowed to stay in the United States All of the deep seated emotion is over the fact that Janet Reno decided on April 13, 200 that the Miami relatives had until 2:00 p.
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A Miami police officer was interviewed and quoted as a source because he has standing on both sides of the Gonzalez issue. As a policeman, Angel Calzadilla was ordered to go to Elian’s house to maintain order but he asserts how hard it is to conceal his emotions about the case. His Cuban born grandparents instilled in him the evils of communism. To him, Elian’s return to Cuba would be heartbreaking.
The outstanding facts in the article include Reno’s decision to remove Elian from his Miami family’s custody and that the divided views of the public that fall along ethnic lines. In Miami, the majority of Cubans thinks Elian should stay in the U.S. while polls show that 90 percent of blacks thinks he should return to Cuba. For the time being, an appeals court in Atlanta issued an emergency stay that temporarily put a hold on Elian’s return to Cuba.
Both articles are circling the same issues but the diversity of their approaches limits the amount of similarity between them. However, both articles successfully captures the fact that there is no consensus on what should be the outcome of this case. Each of the stories tried to obtain some information from their sources that will lead to a confident prediction but still no common ground was found.
The contrasting elements in both of the articles are more apparent. The
Plain Dealer article focuses on the fact that it is possible for Elian to seek asylum. The sources used were mostly of those who were directly involved with the case and who had some type of bearing on the outcome. The Weekly Standard article relied on the public as the main source of information, the ones who have limited or no bearing on the outcome. One of the most outstanding elements that was mentioned in the Weekly Standard article and not in the Plain Dealer is the issue of ethnicity. Carlson makes the point that the division in Miami falls along the lines of ethnicity. The difference in attitudes depends on whether the person is black or Cuban. The Plain Dealer article only skirts the differences in the views of the people. The substantial importance lies within the bounds of the legality of Elian’s appeal for asylum. There are no clues given regarding the outcome of the case. It is only stated that the case will be heard and the projected time that the courts will arrive at a decision will be weeks to months.
Another element that the Plain dealer article included that the Weekly standard article did not was the circumstances that lead to the case. The article briefly described the how Elian got to the United States and the role his father plays in whether the boy will stay in Miami or not.
This leads into the element that should be deemed more important in covering this news issue. The facts and circumstances add to the value of the article. In the instance of these two pieces, the Plain Dealer was more effective in presenting the element of circumstance. It did not leave as many questions in the mind of the reader as the Weekly Standard article did. The Weekly Standard gave the reason why the protest took place but it eliminated the circumstances that lead to that reason. The Plain Dealer stuck closer to the chronology of the events that lead to the current issue of whether asylum will be granted to Elian.
However, the element of a divided public merits its own value in informing the audience. This is an element that the reporter can use to sway the undecided ones since the majority often sways people. The use of polls and figures are effective in providing information on which an undecided reader can make a decision.
In the Plain Dealer Story, this was an element that was missing that could have been effective in swaying the reader to make a decision. Though the object is to present “objective” information it is still the goal of media to agenda set and exert their influence on the lives of the public. The Plain Dealer article failed to do this by not providing more information in which the public could use to make a decision. The element of public opinion should have been included along with some statistical figures to solidify the article.
The Weekly Standard relied too much on the divided opinions of the public and did not fully answer the reader’s questions as to what were the circumstances leading to the actions that Reno took. The article also failed to mention the action of the court in Atlanta to grant Elian more time to stay in Miami. It was described as Reno “calling it off” instead of a court order. This gave the reader a false sense that the stay was granted because of the protesters. The court’s decision in the matter should have been added to the article.
The effectiveness of the information was compromised in both of these articles because there was not a melding of the elements that would be important to readers. This melding should have included all of the elements of circumstance and statistical evidence of opinion. The inclusion of these missing elements in both articles would leave fewer questions in the mind of the readers. More information leads to fewer questions. Completeness helps to satisfy the interests of the readers.