Attribution analysis for the Star Tribune's Amy Senser hit-and-run story

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By Alysha Bohanon

The story "Amy Senser's lawyer claims hit-and-run victim was on drugs" in the Star Tribune is an interesting example of attribution because most of the information in the story was based on a motion written by Senser's lawyer to dismiss the case.

The information in the story is mostly attributed to this motion. In some cases, partial quotes contained in the motion are used in the story and attributed to Senser's attorney Eric Nelson, who wrote the motion. Therefore, even when the story credits Nelson with a quote, that quote was taken from the document rather than a verbal statement.

Other sources were briefly mentioned within the story, such as the Phanthavong family's attorney Jim Ballentine and the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Perhaps because the number of sources in this story was fairly small, the author also mentioned two potential sources who could not be reached for comment: Hennepin County attorney's office spokesman Chuck Laszewski and Phanthavong's family and their attorneys. This was slightly confusing to me, however, because later in the story the author said Ballentine was the Phanthavong's family attorney, and he is attributed with a paraphrased quote. The author may have meant the family's other attorneys, but that was not clear.

The motion was mentioned many times throughout the story; sometimes multiple times in the same paragraph. Because of this, the author had to attribute the motion in many different ways. The author placed attributions at varying locations throughout the paragraphs, and used different verbs such as contended, pointed out, states, said, and according to within the attribution.

Overall, I felt this method was an effective way of attributing information, but it was not perfect. It wasn't confusing, but I didn't like the use of "points out." To me, the wording was informal and distracted me from the information more than it should have.

1 Comment

Nice work. gg

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This page contains a single entry by boha0054 published on February 5, 2012 1:15 AM.

Hit and run victim in Senser case had cocaine in his system was the previous entry in this blog.

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