ENC 1102: Online Course
Smoking Gun Essay
Smoking Gun Memos within a company serve several purposes. They may be used to report meeting agendas, policies, internal reports, or short proposals. Memos may also be used as a tool to inform staff, management, or executives of important information. Two very good examples of this are the memos written regarding the 1978 Three Mile Island Disaster, and the 1985 Challenger Explosion. Both of these disasters were forewarned by employees and addressed by memos to superiors. Bert M. Dunn of Babcock and Wilcox Company wrote a memo to his management to inform them of a potential operator error occurring at the nuclear power plants that needed to be addressed. R. M. Boisjoly of Morton
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In this statement, it seems as if he is chastising management for not informing the staff of the purpose of the team. Both of these statements could have turned the reader against any opinions of the author. When one is faced with the difficult task of informing leadership of potential catastrophes, it is very important to use the proper words to grab the attention of the reader. In the memo written by Mr. Dunn, regarding the Three Mile Island disaster, urgency was not stressed with his choice of words. He never explained in detail that the outcome of the operator error could be loss of life or evacuations of towns. He simply stated that “Had this event occurred in a reactor at full power with other than insignificant burnup it is quite possible, perhaps probable, that core uncover and possible fuel damage would have resulted”. The choice of words does not show that this matter could result in death. At the end of the memo it stated, “I believe this is a very serious matter and deserves our prompt attention and correction”. This was not a strong choice of words, but good enough to show a little urgency. The memo written by Mr. Boisjoly from Morton Thiokol, Inc. does a better job at using words that would grab ones attention. The subject line uses the words failure and criticality.