Entries tagged with “Obama” from Kathryn Elliott's News Blog

Analysis: Covering speeches

"Pushing for Energy Legislation, Obama Takes On Critics" (NY Times headline)

The issue: Renewable Energy Policy
The speaker: President Obama
The location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Link to the news story in the New York Times- Click here
Link to transcript of Obama's speech, as released by the White House- Click here

President Obama's speech at MIT in Boston covered an array of energy-related topics from harnessing wind, water and solar power to nuclear disarmament.

Toward the end of his remarks, Obama berated legislators who oppose or have yet to support a climate change and energy bill introduced to the Senate by John Kerry last month.

The president spoke positively about last January's Recovery Act, saying that it is an investment in clean energy that will produce new jobs and potentially help bring an end to the recession.

The Times reporters who covered this speech decided to focus on the later portion of Obama's speech, latching onto the politics of energy reform.

The writers of the news story followed the lead with a brief and general summary of the issues addressed in the speech.

Immediately after this, the reporters skip to the most sensitive, critical part of the debate- the president's veiled reference to lobbying groups and not-for-profits that are opposing energy reform on the basis that it will hurt the economy.

This news writing decision stands out because in order to craft the story, the reporters must have researched the political climate or drawn on prior knowledge of the context in which Obama delivered his speech. Obama never named names. The New York Times did.

Another conclusion the writers drew was that the legislation Obama indirectly spoke about was in fact a bill introduced recently by John Kerry. Almost the entire article, therefore, hinged on the reporters being informed about related political leaders, issues and legislation.

This kind of current events reporting does work that readers may or may not, but that is crucial to fleshing out an isolated speech. The president is not going to publically call out groups or specifically refer to controversial legislation, but the public needs to know these details.

This is the job of a good reporter, and the Times writers did it well.


Obama's cautious judicial nominations frustrate liberals

      President Obama has sent the names of 23 judicial nominees to the Senate in the period of time that former President George W. Bush sent 95, The Washington Post said. Only three of those 23 names have been approved. 

      Currently, 75 district judgeships lie vacant with only 10 nominees under consideration to fill them, the Associated Press said.
      Liberals are casting blame on Republican filibusters and other stalling measures, but also on Obama's eager-to-please, indecisive attitude, The Washington Post said.

      Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed reservations about a candidate for the California district court, Edward Milton Chen, saying his personal views might unduly influence his rulings, CQ Politics said. This did not prevent the committee from confirming his appointment on Thursday in a 12-7 vote.

    "The White House clearly got energy diverted to the Sonia Sotomayor nomination," said Margery Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way, the Associated Press reported. "Now that it's over I would like to see them pick up the pace."


Obama to address gay rights activists

Obama will speak on Saturday at a Human Rights Campaign dinner, addressing the gay community's concerns that he is not moving forward in his campaign promises to legally legitimize them.

The dinner precedes the National Equity March, a rally expected to draw thousands to the capital on behalf of the gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual, the New York Times said.

Protesters note with particular concern that Obama has not overturned Bush's Defense of Marriage Act nor taken action against the military's ban on openly gay Americans serving, the Los Angeles Times said.

The House did approve a measure on Thursday that expands the definition of hate crimes to include those based on gender, the Washington Post said.

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize 2009

No, it's not a joke. In an unexpected decision Friday morning, President Obama was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomacy and global effort to reduce nuclear weapons.

The award reflects Obama's increasing overseas support during a time of domestic tension in which discussions of health-care reform and economic recovery have dominated public concern, The Washington Post said.

Obama is the first president in 90 years to win the award while in office, the Post said. In a given year, the prize may go unawarded if none of the nominees measure up to the criteria of the prize's founder, Alfred Nobel.

Critics say the prize has been awarded for wishful thinking. The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, said, "We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year," according to The New York Times. "We would hope this would enhance what he is trying to do," Jagland said.

In a statement delivered from the Rose Garden Friday morning, the president called the award an "affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations," The New York Times said.


Plea for troops prompts Obama to reevaluate Afghanistan

     Gen. Stanley A McChrystal's conclusion that success in Afghanistan requires a new surge of troops has thrown Washington into a frenzy of debate.
     Obama has delayed in responding to the general's request, delivering on his campaign promise to carefully evaluate both old and new military strategies in Afghanistan as the war proceeds, the Los Angeles Times said.
     Obama's advisers have suggested pursuing a shift from rebuilding the Afghan nation to escalating concentrated attacks on al-Qaeda, The Washington Post said.
     Frustrated military officials, however, perceive deliberations to be time wasted on a ticking clock.
     The Post report emphasized the political divide on the issue, quoting the public statements of both Republican and Democrat senators. Both papers reconstructed Obama's point of view successfully.  Both stories also happened to use the phrase "grim assessment" in their leads...jargon?
     The format of The Post was a bit easier to follow and I realized it had fewer paragraphs than the LA Times. I decided to do a little math and it turned out The Post averaged 56 words per paragraph compared to the LA Times' 37. The articles were similar lengths overall.  

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