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Analysis-Large Data Sets: Twilight of the Twinkies

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In this article from the Economist, the author examines the afterlife of the Twinkie. With the Hostess company in bankruptcy, the world supply of Twinkies has reached the edge; from this time on, there will only be a decrease.

Twinkies have a very extended afterlife, so after the collapse of the company, aspiring entrepreneurs snatched up as many as they could and have been selling them on Ebay. Prices range between $0.40 to $100,000, with the average being around $2000. The most common bid is around $3.

In order to handle the amount of information in this range, the author has created a chart showing the range of prices x number of Ebay listings within that price range. A simplified chart like this is the most convenient way for a reader to digest such a large data set.

In this Associated Press story, the reporter discusses how the US made a better show for itself during recent UN talks about the environment. In the past few presidential terms, the US has been accused of hampering and delaying the processes. This round, the Obama administration explained what measures were already being taken, which is a change from the past administrations.

Rather than extensively discuss the meeting, the AP decides to discuss the purposes and goals of the talks. That is the true significance of the gathering in the first place, so writing about that information makes what would have been dull documentation of an event into a story about the enormity of the need for the talks and the implications they may have on future policy.

The AP also goes a little bit into the history of the discourse, referencing similar but unsuccessful events in Copenhagen three years ago.

To add relevant but also more intensity to the story, the AP also discusses the relationship between the talks, the environment, and recent major natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy.

Because minutes from even a high profile meeting such as this one by the United Nation will likely always be dry and full of jargon, it was important for the AP to spend most of the story discussing the daily relevance of this issue, as well as possible results.

The best place to find articles overfull of numbers is the business section. In this story in the New York Times, there is a debate about the efficiency and efficacy of promising incredibly quick delivery times for packages.

The numbers do not overwhelm the reader, because most are separated into smaller digestible pieces, like flat rates or specific hours of delivery. It does get a little bit more complicated when explaining prices of service based upon how much it costs to outsource specific deliveries, and different minimum orders in an effort to just not lose money in the process.

The reporter does not list his sources, but it does not seem necessary as most of them are rates probably taken or a least factored directly from the different companies' order forms.

Overall, the reporter did a fairly good job of keeping the numbers manageable, because under the circumstances the numbers were the most important part of the story-telling.

In Reuter's article about ethnic killings in Myanmar, the author chooses to open with avery human anecdote about the origin of the massacres: a dispute between a husband and wife. The story is about ethnic divisions, but beginning with a human element brings it onto a more relatable level.

In so many stories about ethnically-based massacres, there are many sweeping generalizations about the differences int eh cultures and general details of why each side feels motivated in their actions.

For this story, Reuters had several reporters on the ground reporting with great accuracy specific movements of each side. They were about to actually speak with individuals directly involved and affected by the conflict.

As far as the structure of the story, there are several sections, each about a somewhat different scenario, and each titled with a quote from the ground. For example, "We Had No Problems Before" tells about an attack on a Muslim village, but through the eyes of a Buddhist farmer who saw the villagers fleeing.

The story tells of bloodshed, but does not seem to objectify or stereotype the victims. The reporters sought to write this as a human drama rather than a political conflict.

Animal Hospital Fire -Spot Updating

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In all three locations that I read about this event, it was written in a brief, breaking-news format, with plenty of room for revisions and updates as more information is made available.

For the moment, all three were similarly written in a "margarita glass" format. All the vital summary information is at the top in the first paragraph, followed by what chronology officials had available at the time and small supporting details.

I believe for this sort of story, because it will undoubtedly be updated very soon, this formatting style was an ideal choice. There is no need for a great deal of trivial information at this point.

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