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February 28, 2007


The lead of this story in the U.K Guardian newspaer seems to me like an opinion. It said, "The Taliban scored a bloody propaganda point yesterday when a suicide bomber struck the largest US base in Afghanistan, forcing the American vice-president, Dick Cheney, to scurry into a bunker." I would ask this reporter since when bombing and killing people became a propaganda? I mean simply tell readers what happy keep your opinion to yourself. I see no attribution as to who said it was propaganda. Afghan authorities or the Taliban? Did the United States say it was a bloody propaganda?

This reporter failed to tell readers who was the source that said 22 persons were killed. Hospital sources or US military? without attribution the said "Apprehension about the attacks expected this spring has strained relations between the US and Pakistan", is this an opinion or fact? Not a good job for a story of this importance.

Read it at http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,2022915,00.html

Another version of the same story is by a Chicago Tribune correspondent in Kabul, Afghanistan. This story also has the reporter's opinion in the lead. The lead is too long, confusing and wordy. All readers would want to know is what happened. The answer is bomb attack near Cheney in Afghanistan. But instead of performing that simle task, here what readers get: "After getting a taste of the terrorism that threatens the Afghan government, Vice President Dick Cheney, attempting to give assurances that the United States will stand by Afghanistan, insisted that political leaders in the U.S. calling for a withdrawal of military forces from Iraq will leave countries in this part of the world vulnerable to dangerous "consequences.'' Did Cheney really taste Terrorism? So what is the main idea here?

There are many problems, including poor language. Besides there are too much emotions. Reporters should not put themselves in the story.



An AP story in Journal and Courier is about Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.'s journey to federal death row in Indiana after being sentenced in the beating, rape and death of a college student.

This is a hard news story, very short and to the point. It is a type of story any journalism student would want to read to know the different between hard news and news feature. It was written in an inverted pyramid style.

Even a reader that have not heard or read about this case before can be assured that she/he would find answers to all the Ws. What happened? When it happened? Where it happened? Why it happened? and How it happened. Great job.
Read it at http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070227/NEWS09/70227017

Same AP story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune looked at the cost of the trial. This angle introduced a follow up element becuase readers were told that the cost, now more than $1.2 million will continue to rise. All news writing convenctions were observed. Great job arraging thefacts and other information in an inverted pyramid .

The story is at http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070227/NEWS09/70227017

February 27, 2007


This story in Europe News is about the International Court of Justice ruling on Tuesday Feb 28 2007 that Serbia was not guilty of alleged genocide against Bosnia Hercegovena.

The reporter picked the angle of the bosnians' reaction to the case in which Bosnia-Herzegovina sued former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for genocide allegedly committed during the 1992-1995 war.

But ICJ essentially ruled that Serbia, as a state, could not be held accountable for genocide because available evidence was insufficient to prove that although the Court found that Bosnia could have prevented the killing in Srebrenica where some 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men were killed.

There are things the reporter could do to improve the story. First, the lead was too long and confusing. There was no need for the names and position in the lead. Also, one or the court finds an accused guilty not declare him/her quilty. There were more than two angles of the story: Bosnia's next plan and the people's reaction to the verdict. Then there are protesters calling for compensation and constitutional changes (why? he did not address). These theme could be treated separately

The reporter said little about the Court or its opinion. The reporter readers that the protesters said ICJ "Neglected the fact that some 100,000 people were killed across Bosnia-Herzegovina." There is response from the Court about charge. Another problem with this story was the sources: "According to protesters, the court neglected the fact that some 100,000 people were killed across Bosnia-Herzegovina, including nearly 17,000 children. In Bosnia's capital Sarajevo, they said, more than 10,000 people were killed, including more than 1,600 children. " How does one know that these are verifiable facts? I would use these facts only if they were from the ICJ records or the current government not from protesters. A careful and professional reporter using an hourglass format could do a good work with this global news. I don't think this is an example of good journalism. See this piece at: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1270156.php/Bosnians_protest_verdict_exonerating_Serbia_of_genocide__Roundup_

The same story in The Globe and Mail revceived far better journalistic treament. The reporter to pain to interviewed the Serbian President Boris Tadic and Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief on the Court ruling.
As readers we can read what the verdict said. "In the 171-page ruling, the court was unambiguous in its declaration that genocide had occurred at the United Nations-protected Srebrenica enclave and that during the 1992-95 conflict, "Bosnian Muslims were systematically victims of massive mistreatment, beatings, rape and torture causing serious bodily and mental harm." But it rejected Bosnia's assertion that Serbia was responsible and that its intent was to wipe out Bosnian Muslims.

There were other important quotes from experts on this ruling means. Everything that the first reporter failed to do, the second reporter accomplished. An axcellent example of hourglass style. See this story at:


February 23, 2007


This Associated Press story is about Circuit Court Judge Larry Seidlin's final decision on who gets the body of Anna Nicole Smith. Smith, 39, died February 8 from undetermined circumstances. The fight for Smith's body then ensued between Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur who wanted Smith buried in Texas and Smith's friend, Haward K Stern who wanted Nicole buried in the Bahamas near her son. I think the use of the words estranged and boyfriend was intrusive in nature. just say mother and friend.

Although a very emotional story, this AP reporter did an excellent job giving us all the important information in an inverted pyramid format before giving readers the chronolgy of events leading to the court final decision. Also, the reporter provided every needed attribution and quote which helped to keep him out of the story.

The last information though, "Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26 and she had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.", seems to give one the feeling that there could be foul play in her death.
Giving that the couses of Smith's death is yet be determined, In my mind, I don't see the newsworthiness of this information even if it bought at the end of the story.

Read this story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070222/ap_on_en_tv/anna_nicole_smith;_ylt=AlYSoiWXDOqFl4lOWx1BZK.s0NUE

The same AP story at www.canada.com took a different and very interesting angle. The economic impact of Smiith's burial in the Bahamas. The AP reporter's creative mind here must be commended. This human interest piece looked into the lpreparation Smith for her burial. For the first time readers are told that even the five-month old daughter of Smith already has a place to be buried. Readers also told the cost, and who are buried at this cemetery.

The story said that so far, the only interesting person buried at Lakeview right now was Smith's son, Daniel but there have been a bit of tourists asking where he was buried.
"If Anna Nicole is buried at the same cemetery, organizers of Nassau sightseeing tours would likely present Lakeview as an attraction," said Rosco Welch, secretary of the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union.

Read this story at http://www.canada.com/topics/entertainment/story.html?id=d23b2aba-e14f-4869-bca7-421e8616d23b&k=11144

February 13, 2007


This AP story on CBS focused on the difficult position the GOP lawmakers found themselvs in at the U.S. Congress. At issue is the debate on the nonbinding resolution put before the 435-member body. The resolution brought by Democrats opposes President Bush's plan to send additional 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq.

The writer did a good job with the lead. However in the second and sixth paragraph, the reporter's job of reporting the hard news changed. It was not her job to tell readers what Democrats are determined to achieve nor how they are to achieve their goal. It sounded like a commentary.

She put herself in the story. what is "Choreography of this week." Is this a substitute for exchanges between the Republicans and Democrats? "The tightly controlled approach to running the House is becoming a habit with Democrats", said who? "The dilemma is especially profound for newer members." Who told her that?

Read this story at:http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/13/ap/politics/mainD8N8V2PO0.shtml

REUTERS did a far better job with this story. The writer stay out of the story and did not assign nor use words such as dilemma, habit, choreography. Attributions, quotations, and other news mechanics were properly applied.

Read it http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0624701320070213?pageNumber=2

This story is a great example of an excellent NEWS.

February 12, 2007

16-Year Prison Term For Convicted Murderer

This story is about a 16-year prison term a Minneapolis man received for the murder of Tom Dahl in 2005. First, the lead is too long and confusing. The Star Tribune reporter seems to have a bias about people who go out for a drink. Lead: "The killer of a Minneapolis man who went out for drinks with coworkers today received nearly 16 years in prison – the midpoint of sentencing guidelines for his crimes." I think saying : A convicted killer of a Minneapolis man was sentenced to 16 years in prison yesterday, would be better and less confusing.

Other problems with the story were, reporter implied that there were other crimes committed in addition to the murder. But the story did not say what other crimes the convict was found guilty of.

Also, the use of "who stood before the judge" was not necessary. It is understood that one has to stand to hear his or her sentence in court- guilty or not. "victim impact statement" is simply a statement. Telling us that the wife of the murdered man received a police call at "2 am" without telling us the month and year makes the story less informative. Equally so, telling us that the victim's coworkers put down about 11:30 pm without the month and year was journalistically immaterial.

The St. Paul's Pioneer Press however did an excellent job in handling the same story. Read this story at: pioneerpress.com. This writer, unlike the Star Tribune, did not show any bias at what the victim was doing. Her sentences were shorter and to the point. The Pioneer Press reporter also told readers that "Brian Kidd Trimble, 39, was convicted last month of second-degree unintentional murder in the November 2005 beating death of Thomas Dahl, 35. He was also convicted of first-degree manslaughter."

Star Tribune Reporter said 17 year sentence. This was factually wrong. The correct Prison term handed by Hennepin County Judge Gary Larson was reported by Pioneer Press: 16 years three months. The Pioneer Press reporter made an important attribution."The sentence of 16 years and three months, handed down by Judge Gary Larson, was at the midpoint of the sentencing guidelines for a defendant with Trimble's background, Sweasy said"

Kudos to the Pioneer Press, St. Paul.

February 5, 2007

U.S: 4 Chopter Losses Due To Ground Fire

The story is about the US military helicopter losses in Irag since Jan. 20. The reporter faced many challenges in writing this story. The lead could be written better. There were many passive verbs, independent clauses and unnecessary words. This makes the story confusing. First, the reporter ended the story in five short paragraphs without any information. It would have been nice to know the number of chopters lost in Irag and the number of deaths associated with these chrashes since the war began. How many US soldiers died in the four chrashes? The story did not say.

Then the reporter picked the real story. The bomb explosion that killed more than 137 people in a Baghdad market on Sunday. We find this information in the sixth paragraph. I would report these events separately to avoid confusion.

The lead: "The four U.S. helicopters that have chrashed in Irag since Jan. 20 were apparantly shot down, the chief military spokeman said Sunday - the first time the U.S command has publicly acknowledged that the aircraft were lost to enemy fire." Since lead tells what happens or basic news saying: "Four U.S holicopters shot down in Irag by enemy fire since Jan.20 military spokeman said on Sunday, seems best.
Lacking good grammar, proper AP style, quotations use, were other challenges faced by the writer. Examples. "In the aftermath of the worst single bomb attack in Irag since the start of the war -137 people killed in a suicide truck bombing on shiite market - stunend Irags picked through the rubbles of devasted buildings and loaded coffins onto minivans." The reporter'sjob was to say what happened. 137 people killed in a single suicide bomb. Also, there was no attribution. That makes me to ask, did the reporter personally count the bodies and the wounded cited?

The reporter wrote about "devastated buildings and loaded coffins onto minivans." This is emotion. In the 8th paragraph for instance, the writer said "Bandaged women, children and men filled hospital beds, while several bloodied bodies were piled ontoblankets on the floor of the mosque which was filled to capacity." 9th paragraph: "The blast shaved the nearby buildings." The blast shaved? Reporting a story like this demands a balance between emotions and facts.
To read this story, visit http//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070204/ap_on_re_mi_ea/irag

The same AP story in the Boston Globe was handled very well. The reporter dealt with one story idea. The lead was great, the AP style was followed in every step of the way. Althoug the Lead was long, the reporter dealt very well the new changes ordered by the US military after four copters were shot down by enemy fire. Attribution and quotations were applied according to AP style. I think this was a piece someone like me can easily learn from. I could see many concepts am learning in news writing- Journalism 3101.

Read it http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2007/02/05/us_changes_tactics_after_iraq_copter_attacks/