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April 13, 2008

Diversity

In a New York Times article about an Italian bakery in New York City, the writer does not focus on the Italian food served there. Instead, it moves past Italian stereotypes and focuses on the fact that the bakery sells a large quantity of Jewish bread. This is particularly timely with Passover just around the corner.

While demographer Joseph J. Salvo of the New York City Department of Planning said the bakery could thrive by catering to a solely Italian niche, it is becoming a trend for bakeries to become "melting pots" of different cultures. This was new to me since I had ever only seen French or Italian style bakeries.

There is not numerical data in the article however there are firsthand accounts (quotes) present in it.

March 30, 2008

Obits

The New York Times obituary on Dith Pran pretty much follows the standard obituary form. The lead mentions the name, an interesting fact about him, where he died, and his age. The only real difference in the lead is that it mentions where he lived after his age ("He was 65 and lived in Woodbridge, N.J.") The second paragraph mentions the cause of death (pancreatic cancer") and the 3rd through 9th paragraphs are about his "claim to fame." The obituary continues to follow the form as the 10th paragraph starts Dith's chronology. The only significant difference in the obituary form is that the last paragraph does not say who Dith is survived by. Instead, it is mentioned in the 20th paragraph out of 25.

Sources include friends, doctors and previous interviews with Dith.

March 9, 2008

Advance

Vita.mn published an advance on the benefit performance of Bedlam Theatre’s Iron Mermaiden. Sources used were creator/director Kristi Ternes and co-artistic director Maren Ward. While two Bedlam Theatre representatives were interviewed, Ternes was clearly the main source of information based on direct and indirect quotations.

In order to make this article more than a listing, the writer focused primarily on how the actors transformed into mermaids. Dancing and walking struggles were highlighted in the article. Another, smaller focus was on the subject matter of the play. It is about “contemporary women’s problems? as represented by mermaids.

The article was published Thursday and the benefit took place Saturday. The show opens today.

February 24, 2008

Spot and follows

In the article about the I-35W shooting, the updated lead has more information about the man wounded in the shooting. In the original, the lead was about two lanes on the freeway being closed. This new lead not only informs the reader that a man was injured but also that the shutdown lasted longer than two hours causing traffic to back up for miles.

The updated story is filled with details whereas the original was bare boned. There were no real details other than the shooting happened in the original and in the new there is information about the shooting victim, the scene the shooting created, and attributions from witnesses. This forwards the news and gives the reader a fuller, more complete picture.

February 17, 2008

Structure

The story about the transportation fund bill progressed in a fairly effectively manor.

The article began with a generalized lead about the Senate discussing a bill. While the lead was general, the important specifics (what kind of bill it was and when it was discussed) were present.

From there, the progression followed the standard inverted pyramid structure. The information in the fact boxes become less important as the story continues. However, I would have put the information about the gas tax and the license tab fees closer to the beginning of the article. It is more important to know what the bill is about than the fact that it will create 33,000 new jobs in the state.

Overall, the structure of the story is solid. The reporter summarized the important information in a succinct fashion and put it in a (mostly) logical order.

February 10, 2008

Attribution

As I reread the Writers Reach Tentative Deal With Producers from the New York Times, I noticed there is little attribution for some of the minor editorialized comments. For example, journalist Michael Cieply wrote “A resolution would be good news for the producers.? But Cieply does attribute who thought or said this. Since this is a news article, editorialism should not be present without proper attribution.

However, Cieply does have a few sources in which he uses both indirect and direct quotations in his attributions. Patric M. Verrone, president of the West Coast guild, Michael Winship, his East Coast counterpart, Terry George, a negotiating committee member, and writer Carmen Culver are just a few of the authoritative sources used. E-mail messages and a memorandum were used, as well. The actual proposition was referred to several times as well but the information was never directly attributed to it; the reader infers that the information came from it.

The attributions are fairly effective since they are scattered throughout the article. However, the first attribution is seen until the sixth paragraph.

February 2, 2008

How leads lead a story

A lead essentially summarizes a story in one or two sentences. It tells you what happened, who it happened to, when it happened, and where it happened. Occasionally a lead will tell the reader why it happened, too. However, in most cases, the “WHAT? is going to determine the direction of a lead.

In order to determine the “WHAT,? you must ask yourself “Where is the action? What is most important in this story?? From here, the summary tends to fall in to place.

It is important to not give too many specifics in a lead; it should be general enough but specific enough to tell the story. The critical information should be detailed, other details can be added further into the story.

As far as names go, you should only include them if the person has name recognition. For example, you would mention Harrison Ford’s name in the lead (if the story was about him); you would not mention Jane Doe’s name.

If the lead is not a straightforward hard-news lead, the reporter used it to grab the reader’s eye. It is important to grab the reader’s attention otherwise they will not read your article.