In this week’s inquiry activity, we were asked to review a newsletter by the Crocodile Specialist Group (Volume 23, No. 3: July – September 2004).
What kinds of stories are in the newsletter?
There are many different types of stories within the newsletter. Many of the stories focus on the current issues facing crocodile species across the world, as well as significant findings throughout the community. For instance, in this issue, there are multiple stories which talk about the population problems many crocodile species are facing around the world, as well as mentions of significant findings and crocodile sightings around the world. These stories quote both statistics and further research to support their argument, discussing their wider significance and implications.
How do these target the organisation’s audience?
The stories target the audience by providing information driven insight into the current issues and news stories surrounding the crocodile population (CSG 2004). The stories themselves are demonstrate key characteristics that outline them as examples of classic news stories. Informative, while engaging, the stories present to the audience all the newsworthy information over the last 4 months.
If you were a science journalist, is there anything you may be interested in following up as a story, and why?
As a science journalist, I would definitely be interested in following up one of the stories in the newsletter relating to the discovery of crocodiles on Mannar Island in Sri Lanka (CSG 2004). Where crocodiles have been poorly studied in this region, the story outlines a “spotting” of two crocodiles at a local waterhole known as Kora Kulam. The observers and the writers of this article, could not confirm what species the crocodiles belonged two (CSG 2004). They were unable to take a photograph of animals before they disappeared into the waterhole. The article also suggests that the only comprehensive study of crocodiles in this area was in 1888 by W.J.S Boake (CSG 2004). In 2001, a survey of the area was published which failed to mention crocodiles. The article suggests that it is likely thought that crocodiles were either absent or extinct in this area, until this recent sighting (Santiapillai & de Silva 2001).
What do you think is effective or otherwise about this newsletter?
Shackelford and Griffis (2006) suggests that successful newsletter should both engage readers through great content and great presentation.
I think one of the major strengths of this newsletter is its content. It is obvious that the writers and contributors to this newsletter are knowledgable in this area, and consistently use referencing of sources to back-up claims and support their content. The news stories themselves are informative, critically analysing the issues within the community and in the crocodile populations.
While the newsletter is filled with great content, a major weakness of the publication is its presentation. Shackelford and Griffis (2006) argue that presentation, especially in writing publications such as newsletters, is almost as important as the content itself. Where visual-appeal can entice and encourage readers to keep on reading, the CSG newsletter fails to deliver an equally visually interesting publication, to match the equally interesting news stories (Sunila 2011).
Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), 2004, Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter, viewed 31 August 2015, http://www.iucncsg.org/365_docs/attachments/protarea/CSG%20-2c44bdd5.pdf
Santiapillai, C & de Silva, M, 2001, ‘Status, distribution and conservation of crocodiles in Sri Lanka’, Biological Conservation, vol. 97, p. 305-318.
Shackelford, R & Griffis, K 2006, ‘Creating an Effective Newsletter’, Tech Directions, vol. 65, no. 6, p. 15.
Sunila, J 2011, ‘Pain-Free Newsletter Writing’, Plastic Surgery Practice, vol. 21, no. 7, pp. 20-21.