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Pick of the day: Pants v. Pelicans

Since we're all about transparency here at Story Lab, I figured I might as well share my dilemma over today's pick. As I was looking for a worthy story to plug, I came across two strong candidates: a meaty piece about the impact of the oil spill on pelicans in the Gulf, and a story about a Brooklyn man who lost his pants.

The man searching for his pants is Adam Grossetti, an actor, who lost them on the way to an audition. These are not just any pants, mind you, but the most expensive pants he owns. He posted fliers in his neighborhood asking for help finding them. Former Postie Manny Fernandez chronicles his quest. (You'll have to read it to find out if he finds them or not.)

By contrast, the pelican piece, by Tom Junod in Esquire, is a stinging indictment of the oil spill's impact on the delicate ecosystem of the Gulf. Junod takes one of the most riveting and heartbreaking image from the spill -- oil-drenched birds -- and uses it to hammer home the extent of the devastation the spill has created. He writes:

The pelicans are damned. They are damned in that they are doomed — doomed, many of them, to wear viscous brown cowls of oil until they die. They are damned as individual creatures struggling to survive and reproduce, and they are damned as a species, their habitats befouled and destroyed. From television screens, from Internet slide shows and the pages of magazines, they look at us, their round eyes peering out of their grotesque vestments, until we can't look at them. Their dignity is both utterly violated and implacably intact. Entirely mute, they still manage to say, You did this. You did this. You did this.

Initially, I thought the pelicans would win out. It's a serious issue and still a very big news story. But -- and I know I will be virtually stoned for this -- I have to say I prefer the one about the lost pants. It's done with a light touch and an economy of words. I realize the choice says more about me than it does about the stories. Maybe it's the image of all those pelicans giving me dirty looks that I just couldn't take. You tell me: which one would you rather read?

By Annys Shin  | August 17, 2010; 10:36 PM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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Hmm. Junod's story is not about the pelicans, really. He leads with the pelicans, yes, but it's ACTUALLY about the men who died in the oil rig's explosion. He uses the pelicans to contrast the media attention they receive (huge) with the attention paid to the men who perished (not as huge). It's a very moving and important piece; had you read THAT part of it, perhaps you might've felt differently.

Posted by: Dickensheets | August 19, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

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