Analysis of Nicholas Kristof’s Writing for the New York Times

Most of Nicholas Kristof’s 2006 editorial articles for the New York Times deal with similar topics of poverty and misfortune in Africa, simply because Kristof was in Nigeria at the time, and could write about his experiences, and then relate them to politics. Unlike many editorial writers who fill the entire essay with their opinion, Kristof uses a style more reminiscent to that of a reporter.

He includes individual stories that help bring a specific perspective to a major problem, and attach names and faces to numbers that can often seem meaningless. Kristof is very good at taking the specific stories he gets from conversations and observation and relating them to world events, economics, and politics. He is passionate about solving the problems caused by extreme poverty in Africa, and urges individuals, organizations, and the government to help solve them. He is also an optimist, believing that government intervention, as well as goodwill from individuals can solve these problems. As his editorials are designed to be persuasive essays, Kristof utilizes his passion to create an intense emotional appeal to the reader.

It is difficult to apply lessons from Kristof’s writing style to my own writing, simply because essays I write in school are a completely different type of written work than editorials mixed with reporting. However, an important technique I learned was the combination of emotional appeal and factual evidence to create a persuasive argument. Kristof blends the two together, appealing to both the reader’s pathos and logos. This technique could be applied to almost any type of persuasive essay.

Another technique Kristof favors is the succession of an introductory hook, development of an argument through supporting evidence, and then presentation of a clear thesis in the end of the essay. This is contrary to almost every school essay, which begins with a thesis and bridge, and then shows evidence to support it. Kristof’s method actually makes more sense from a persuasive point of view- instead of starting out with a statement the reader may disagree with, and then trying to convince him,Kristof strings together a progression of facts and stories that are very difficult to disagree with, and then, following this string, arrives at a logical conclusion. This progression appears very logical and obvious to the reader because Kristof conveniently omits any facts that could disprove his thesis. I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that ignoring any ideas that don’t support your beliefs is the best way to write an essay, and to live your life.

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