A good journalist can write well. A great journalist can story tell. CNN writer Moni Basu embodies the latter.
In this story, Basu tells the tale of a college student trapped under the rubble of her former university in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It does not simply cut to the woman’s rescue and serve as a reactionary piece. Rather, Basu introduces us to Maxi Falon, shares some of her dreams, career aspirations, and even gives us a glimpse into Falon’s university, Groupe Olivier and Collaborateur, or GOC.
In my opinion, most Haiti stories thus far have been rather cursory and relied upon search-and-rescue details. But in her story, Basu paints the picture perfectly of that fateful day of the earthquake. She describes Falon studying for final exams, preparing for school, and heading to class. Such mundane details, yet they allow the reader to easily identify with Falon.
Suddenly, as the building collapses around her, Falon flees to the stairwell and is pinned to the floor by debris. Another student lands on top of her, and the two girls lay intertwined for the next six days. Basu then shares the horrifying details of the girls’ fight for survival, smells of decaying bodies, and the continual collapse of the school around them.
Basu writes the story with excellent and varied pacing. She uses strong verbs and active voice. Although the story is incredibly detailed, it is not laden with adjectives. Basu is articulate, yet concise with her writing.
She opens with an intriguing lead, writing, “How do you count six days when you can see neither sun nor stars?”
The writer closes with an equally intriguing thought, telling us that Falon plans to find her classmate that was trapped under the rubble with her.
“She is the only one who can understand,” Basu tells us.