April 19, 2009

Computer-assisted reporting

The reporters had to check police reports and documents about the number of violent crimes reported by Memphis City Schools. I find this article very interesting because it brings to light a good story, but doesn't say how they determined the number of crimes that went unreported. If the crimes are unreported, then there are no police records of them. Perhaps the school keeps records of conflicts brought to their attention by students, teachers and parents. I don't know if these kinds of records are public, because they concern individuals and probably information that would be considered private.

This paragraph is essential in expressing the story:

"This year, the schoold district told the state about 12 violent crimes against students. They should have reported at least 38. Last school year, the district also reported 12 violent crimes, though the real total is at least 84. In the 2006-2007 school year, the state learned about 2 crimes against students, though we found at least 96 cases should have been reported."

However, it does not say where they got the unreported numbers from.

The reporter would have to know how to access and use public documents. Some police reports can be found on the web, so they would need the skills to locate those. Otherwise, they would have to know where and how to get the police records. The reporter also probably found a lot of their contacts via the internet through school websites and the police website. The reporter would have to locate the possible contacts and obtain their contact information.


April 5, 2009


Religion in decline across America
In “Religion in decline across America”, the reporter uses numbers in the form of percents and years. The reporter also uses a lot of “math crunching” to put the changes in percents into perspective as well as compares the changes and percents to each other. The numbers in the article were easy to grasp, I think mostly thanks to how the reporter used them. He did not overload paragraphs with lots of numbers and used words like significant, shift, jump and dramatic to help put the percents in perspective. He also did his own math to highlight the importance of the numbers: “significantly less”, “almost doubled” and “This dramatic increase slots non-religious Americans third behind Catholics (25.1 percent) and Baptists (15.8 percent).” The reporter said that the numbers came from the latest American Religious Identification Survey.

March 29, 2009


Barbra Lukermann

In the obituary for Barbra Lukermann, her daughter is used as a source. I thought that it was interesting that there were no other sources used in the article, even though she was a prominent person in the community and had a lot of connections with organizations and programs. I think this obit could have really benefited from a quote from a colleague or student as well as a relative. It would have showed another aspect of her life.

The lead is a typical news lead, but I think something more creative could have worked well with this piece. There was a lot of interesting information to work with.

I think the lead as well as lacking another source may be due to not having enough time since I would think Lukermann would be easy to cover and find contacts.

The obituary is not like a resume. The reporter did talk about her career achievements, but also gave it a more casual and personal feel. The reporter also gave personal background information about where se was born, why she became interested in geography and how she ended up in the United States. The article also talked about the places she traveled and her family.

February 22, 2009

Story Structure

1,400 cars towed over the weekend
I think the reporter did an ok job on this story. It was very short and needed to be concise. The reporter had a concise lead. The next paragraph talked about the not having numbers for St. Paul and also reporting that t he snow emergency was continuing until 8 p.m. today. The following paragraphs detailed the parking regulations for snow emergencies and instructed readers how they should park.

I think the story could have been done in a more exciting way. It seemed very bland and could have befitted from a good personal story or quote. The order made sense and told the important information the reader needed to know.

February 15, 2009

Spot news analysis

More charges against alleged U groper Feb. 11 10:28 a.m.
Suspected U groper faces more charges Feb.11 7:02 p.m.

First lead
A Minneapolis man accused of groping two University of Minnesota female students faces new charges today in seven other incidents, bringing to nine the total for which he has been charged.

Follow lead
The man accused of groping female University of Minnesota students was charged Wednesday with an additional seven incidents, bringing the number of alleged victims to nine.

The leads don't differ very much. I think the follow lead was maybe meant to appear in Thursday's paper so that's why the date was added. (I found these articles on

How are they summarized- The follow's main news is that Acosta appeared in court, didn't enter a plea and when he will next appear in court. The first-day story (morning news) puts the most recent news (new charges) in the lead while the rest of the story is a summary of the events of his arrest and attacks. It seems that the reporter knew that Acosta was facing new charges but did not know the details. The follow seems to be a more complete story about the recent goings-on and also tells a more complete past, present, future kind of story.

The follow adds detail about the court appearance and the charges and jail time he faces. It also talks about Acosta's motives.

The follow is written by the same person for the same paper, so the style is consistent and it flows smoothly from the first to the second story. I think if it was written in a competing paper, there would be more information and it would probably be punchier to attract readers.

February 8, 2009


Serial groping suspect nabbed at the U

Sources (in order):
Police Chief Greg Hestness
Lynn Wondergem - student
Lt. Nancy Dunlap, head of the Minneapolis police department's sex crime unit
police department
Betsy Sandberg - student

The quotes are scattered throughout the article for the most part, but are used to really start and end the story on a stronger note as well.

The quotes were not all just “official?type statements, there were also personal statements that added a human element to the article.

The quotes from the two female students gave the reader a sense of how the event was affecting the community.

For the most part, the author followed the “noun/ pronoun before the said? rule we learned in class. I think when he didn't follow the rule it was to add variety to the structure or to make the sentence more clear.

I thought the article's use of attributions worked well, but I wouldn't have put quotes from two female students in the article. The were not victims or witnesses so whatever they have to say can't be too important to the story. I think one quote from a general female student would have been enough to capture the community-feel.

February 1, 2009

News Lead

Star Tribune

St. Paul man killed during holdup; 3 men arrested
Lead- "The three men who gunned down Jeffery Lamont Logan during a botched robbery in St. Paul early Saturday could have just asked for the money."

This lead contains the news elements/ values:

IMMEDIACY-"early Saturday"
CONFLICT-"Gunned down... botched robbery"
EMOTIONS- This lead is trying to get the reader emotionally involved with the story, or at least giving this lead an emotional twist rather than sticking to straight, hard-news methods.

Who- Three men, Jeffery Lamont Logan
What-"gunned down... durring a botched robbery"
When-early Saturday
Where-St. Paul

I think the reporter used something other than the normal hard-news lead because they wanted to invoke the readers emotions. The man who was killed was kind-hearted and had a big impact on his family, friends and community. I think the reporter wanted to capture and convey the emotions of this story.

This unconventional lead also is more likely to capture the reader's attention because it is not the norm. It makes the reader curious to hear the rest of the story, and thus more likely to read on.