Many newspapers covered this article well, including an article by The Washington Post. Almost every article I read had a paraphrase quote lede that basically said BP was asking for permission to begin drilling in the Gulf of Mexico once again.
The Post writer had such a lede.
BP is in talks with the Interior Department about permits that would allow it to resume deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, according to two sources familiar with the discussions. The company hopes that it can restart several projects sometime this summer, wrote The Washington Post.
I thought this approach was clear, crisp and to the point. Granted, the lede, like many other leads by major publications, was a paraphrase quote lede that anonymously quoted "two sources familiar with the discussions" or "two company officials" as was the case in the lede of one article The New York Times ran.
However, I did not think this type of lede blemished these stories because it was established that no deal has been made yet that will allow BP to drill again, which may be the reason for anonymity on these sources.
Both articles by The Post and The New York Times were well written and to the point. However, I felt that The Post did a much better job of getting strong quotes from sources who went on the record.
Athan Manuel, an offshore-drilling expert at the Sierra Club, said, “We don’t think that BP has shown it’s changed its corporate culture to earn the right to return to the Gulf of Mexico. . . . It’s still too soon for them to go back and operate in that area," wrote The Washington Post.
A quote such as this one is strong. Articles need critical quotes that provide controversy to a story from credible sources who will go on the record, and The Post article had that.
The Post quoted this expert as well as an "oil analyst." Both sources put a good balance of insight to the situation. The expert above stated he did not think BP should be able to drill at this point, while the oil analyst said that before the oil spill "BP was the Gulf of Mexico," and there is a need for more jobs as well as drilling.
It is always stressed in class at the Washington Journalism Center that when writing a story the strongest direct quote should be included as high in the story as it can go. This was the biggest problem I had with The Post article. The first direct quote does not come in the story until the ninth paragraph.
It is understandable that the first few paragraphs after the lede briefly retell the story of the BP oil spill that occurred nearly a year ago. However, journalists have to do a better job of putting a strong direct quote higher up in their stories.
This is not just a problem in The Post article, The New York Times article did the same exact thing, and I have found this to be a problem in many stories I read from major publications. Both of these articles are hard news stories from what I could tell, if that is the case, audiences do not want to know how much the writer knows, but what experts or officials have to say about it.
Interviewing credible sources and digging for information is what reporting is all about. Including a strong direct quote from a credible source on the record early on in the article establishes even more credibility to the writer quicker. Establishing that credibility early on in a story might be the difference between someone who continues reading or someone who decides to switch back to Facebook and comment on a friend's new profile picture.