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Critique this: Building a better BP story

Whenever reporters settle on one angle for a complex story, readers and experts inevitably write back saying we totally missed the bigger story.

How could you miss the elephant in the room?

Your story's been done a million times!

Are you naive?

These are the kinds of emails that can quickly crush a reporter's sense of self-worth. Today, Story Lab wants to know: How could we have done it better?

I'm not an energy reporter, but I decided to write a quick feature about BP gas station customers and whether they feel guilty about doing business with the company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. With so many calls to boycott BP gas stations, I wondered whether BP customers really cared, or whether they had other priorities in deciding where to buy gas.

But should I have selected a different angle? Should I have focused more on the plight of independent franchise owners who operate BP gas stations? Or should I have zeroed in on rivals Texaco or Shell to see if they were enjoying any schadenfreude?

Take a read on our story and then let us know how you would approach the topic. We welcome your criticisms, alternatives and story ideas on the comment board below.

By Ian Shapira  | May 25, 2010; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  Hard choices, Journalism  
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Comments

Where I'm from, the gasoline at all of the local gas stations are delived by the same trucks from a common refinery. The name on the sign out front is just a franchisee who is a local member of our community who pays a fee for the right to market under the brand.

If we boycott one company or another, the local business owner would just negotiate a new contract with a different oil company. We see the names on the signs change somewhat regularly.

So how exactly would one go about boycotting BP? Consumers dont actually purchase anything directly from the big oil producers?

The only way I could see this working would be to (gasp!) reduce consumption or switch to an alternate, less environmentally damaging and more sustainable energy source.

And that seems like something that nobody is really willing to commit to!!

Posted by: happy11 | May 25, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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