Recently in Analysis Category

Analysis: Computer assisted reporting

The short article, Safety practices at coal mines vary throughout U.S., posted by Extra! Extra!, seems to have used computer assisted reporting.

It summarizes a current article in the New York Times, and provides a link to the article. It gives a quote from the article and picks out two key facts.

To do think kind of reporting, the reporter would have need to know how to post a blog entry, create links, and file the blog in a category within the Web site.

Additionally the reported would need to know how to access the article from the New York Times, find the authors and pick out the key information.

For the author of the New York Times article, they would have need to understand the data by the coal mines, to write the article.

The New York Times article also has a wide rang of multimedia information to accompany the article. It has slideshows, audio of a mine forman, audio from an analyst, links to documents, an interactive feature highlighting lost miners, comparison graphics, and illustrative graphics.

This is also a large amount of computer assisted reporting. To do this, the reporters would need to know how to upload photos, host multimedia files, record audio, use flash, and design graphics.

Analysis: Numbers

In the LA Times article about the earthquake in Mexicali there are many numbers cited:
-7.2 magnitude earthquake
-16 miles northeast of the epicenter
-653,000 residents in Mexicali
-20 to 30 seconds
-less than 5% chance that the 7.2 earthquake will trigger a larger earthquake.

The author used the number to give specific information about the earthquake. The numbers told how large of an earthquake it was, how far it reached, how long it lasted, how many residents were affected and how likely it is that another earthquake will occur.

The number were not overwhelming because the writer spread them out in the piece. There was information explaining the numbers, and the types of numbers were varied. The author could have related the like numbers together to relate how much bigger the earthquake's magnitude was versus similar earthquakes, to make the event more relatable, but how the numbers were presented worked fine.

The numbers were gathered from census data, state statistics, and spokespersons. The magnitudes were cited from "reports," which is vague, but knowing the details of who compiled the report seems unnecessary as I accept it was probably from a government agency.

Analysis: Obituary

In Ai's obitutary, the standard New York Times format was used.

The lead introduces the deceased by her well-known name, what she was most well-known for, and details of the circumstances surrounding her death. It is easy to digest, quick, and gives a good picture of who she was.

The sources the author used are mainly research documents, book reviews, letters and poems written by or about the poet. The author used quotes to capture the poet's professional life and talent.

An obituary general differs from a resume, in that it focus on one particular aspect of the person. A resume would report a general sense of the person's accomplishments and provide minor details. In an obituary, one aspect of the person's main achievements is focused on, and flowered with examples and details. It also differs from a resume in that it tries to illuminate the person through their personal qualities and characteristics.

Analysis: Mrs. Obama address NGA

In the Washington Post's news release about Mrs. Obama's address to the NGA about child obesity, I was interested to find what the writer included and added in the article.

As we also wrote about the speech in class, I was familiar with the address and Mrs. Obama's agenda. In the Post's article, little was said of her agenda and an overall practical briefing occurred instead.

The author starts with Mrs. Obama talking about her initiative to reduce childhood obesity, and goes into politics and money right away, straying away from Mrs. Obama's message.

He cites Mrs. Obama's comments about bipartisanship but then goes into off topic subjects such as budget gaps, quotes about financial standpoints and stimulus money.

The point of Mrs. Obama's speech was about governors needing to recognize that while there are many economical issues going on, health should still be a priority. I don't think this was captured in the speech. The writer cites her emotionally charged quotes such as "Our kids didn't do this to themselves," and "our kids can't afford for us to get this wrong," but leaves about the information about one in three kids is obese, or one in three kids will develop diabetes. This is important information and makes the issue more relevant.

Additionally the author left out Mrs. Obama's strong stance on the fact that childhood obesity stems from the fact that government actions have allowed lax federal school meals that could be healthier, less money for parks and community centers because of budget cuts, and cuts on physical education programs because of a lack of school funding. None of this was mentioned, instead the author focused on money, general health care worries, and a superficial level of analysis on the need for bipartisanship.

I think the author could have captured Mrs. Obama's point more eloquently, and sticked to the subject matter more. There is a lot to discuss outside of what was said, but the information outside of Mrs. Obama's speech that the author used seems irrelevant.

Analysis: Multimedia coverage

Through these blog assignments, I have noticed that the Pioneer Press will print mug shots of the criminals they mention in their stories while the Star Tribune typically does not.

A picture does tell a story on it own but in terms of criminal profiles, I think it is unnecessary.

I don't need to know what the the face of a 20-year-old looks like that has been sent to jail for five years. I understand that it has a localized appeal to it. Perhaps you live in the perpetrator neighborhood, then you might want to see it. But really it seems just invasive and sort of eery. Additionally the photo descriptions rarely add anything to the story.

Something I do like however, is having pictures accompany general news stories.

I have noticed that the Christian Science Monitor does a good job of always having a picture at the top of the story. It makes the page look much more inviting and the story more interesting.

When comparing a story with a picture from the Christian Science Monitor to a story without a picture from the Washington Post, I feel like I get more of a sense of what is happening by seeing the picture. For example, there was a story about the Tsunami and Hawaii, and posted was just a general photo of Hawaii. The photo was nothing special but I still felt like I experienced the story more by having a visual element.

With the Christian Science Monitor, it is also interesting that the photo captions are quotes from different news organizations. It gives a new take on the story, and another news source I could check out if I wanted it. I think it's an interesting approach to photo descriptions. I have a suspicion they do this because the photo belongs to the news organization they are quoting.

Analysis: Following the shooting of the father story

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Last week I wrote of about a St. Paul man being shot allegedly by his son outside their home. This week I wrote about that same story, yet with the huge gap in information being told between the two, I didn't even recognize them as the same story.

The first story had the ages of the subjects, the address, general information that happened, and quotes from neighbors. That's all.

In the second story, written two days later, the story had the names of subjects, a history of past abuse from the father, a background story about the family, details about the gunshot wounds, quotes from siblings, and a chronological account of events leading to the murder.

The two stories varied greatly in the amount of detail presented, but the tone of the pieces did not change.

Both stories began with similar non-descriptive leads: "A family dispute turned violent Saturday in St. Paul, leaving a father shot to death and his son arrested," "His parents were arguing. He tried to intervene." But the later story immediately jumps into more details, "Then, Aramis Gaither, 18, grabbed his gun and held it out toward his father at their St. Paul duplex. "I want you to shoot me," the older man reportedly said."

The news is summarized in the same hard news fashion but the second story follows more of a martini glass shape as it has more information about the events leading to the crime.

Both articles were printed in the Pioneer Press but had different authors. It's likely the two shared information, but the shape of the first does not directly effect the second story. There are no grafs that are the same wording.

Analysis: Progression of professor shooting

In this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education about the biology professor shooting, the progression of the story is set up in an inverted pyramid scheme

It begins with a strong, summarizing lead. Then gives some information about the professor, and the charges made against her. Next it goes into information about why the shooting may have happened and explains that the shooting is not the professor's first. Finally it wraps back around reporting about the conditions of the injured.

The information in ordered in importance and some logical patterns of thought when going into answering the "why" question.

It is effective because it keeps the readers attention, is comprehensive, succinct, and gives some analysis.

Additionally all of the information presented in the article was important, compared to the more reactionary piece by the Christian Science Monitor.

Analysis: Iran nuclear program sources

Within this story, the sources are varied.

There is general information from Ahmadinejad, U.S. officials, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and various other associates from programs involved in the article's topic.

There are a number of direct quotes from different parties that give out good information, but the information not quoted doesn't seem to have a clear origination. It leads the reader to assume the information was gathered at a well-known, but un-named, conference, or record.

The attributed sources are frequent throughout the story, and are not clustered. They are easy to follow, and do not distract from the flow of the story.

Generally if there is a quote, the quote comes first, then attribution. If there is no quote, the attribution seems to come first. This is an effective system because it is consistent, but not repetitive as the material is balanced between quotes and non-quotes.

Analysis: China is leading the race lead.

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"China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world's largest maker of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year." - The New York Times

This lead introduces the topic of the article fairly well. The story discusses how China is "vaulting past" other countries in green technology, but it also focuses on how the United States is falling behind.

However, the lead is a little misleading as it makes the reader believe Denmark, Germany and Spain would be discussed more in depth, but they aren't even mentioned.

Additionally, because China and the U.S. are the only ones mentioned, perhaps the lead is just aiming to be specific instead of just "China is vaulting past other countries..." It's good to be specific, but in this instance, I think it misleads the reader about the topic of the story.

When isolated, the lead works great. It flows well, entices the reader and gives good information according to the elements of news.

The words, "this year" give immediacy and "United States" proximity. Most importantly, it also gives impact. "World's largest maker of wind turbines" should bring about relevancy for Americans worried about the environmental issues and it also incites curiosity of how this title effects other countries.

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