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Analysis: Obituary

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Look at a news obituary - not a paid death notice, but an obituary written by a reporter about the death of someone notable in the community. What sources are used? Does it have a standard obituary lead or an alternative? Does that lead work? How does the obit differ from a resume?

By Karen Elizondo

An obituary of Dorii Gbolo appeared in the Star Tribune on Thursday.

The sources of this obituary are U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., Gbolo herself, her sister Bettye Granger, Bill Gbolo.

This obituary does not follow the standard formula for an obituary. It does not have the standard lead -- the name, title, and age -- and her claim to fame section is mixed in with the chronology section. There is a vague outline of lead, then claim-to-fame then chronology and family but not like the New York Times format.

The lead works, but it is not as eye-capturing as it could be. I would say that if the standard obit format is not going to be followed the lead should be more colorful and descriptive about a major contribution that the deceased had on the community. It should not be a vague sentence.

This obituary differs from a resume because it shows her noteworthy actions and accomplishments in life but it includes comments and quotes that make it special. The comments from sources add emotion and life while the point of a resume is purely to show life accomplishments and skills.

Analysis: Speech Story

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By Karen Elizondo

President Obama gave a speech to Poland, Ohio on Friday Morning.

A journalist from the Los Angeles Times, Christi Parsons, covered the story. She included very few quotes that emphasized the new twist on Obama's speeches to connect with the public.

Parsons wrote more about the speeches Obama had been giving in his most recent campaign tour than just one particular speech. She wrote after comments from an Obama campaign advisor, that Obama is trying to see the American "through the lens of his own family."

Parsons added comments from the crowd and discussed that Obama was "feeding" off of their cheers and reactions. She noted that Obama had spoken to audience members before his speeches and used their stories during the speech to make it more relevant and more connected with the public.

She added that during Obama's speech a person in the crowd shouted "Where's Michelle?" Obama did not falter or hesitate to answer that Michelle was at home taking care of their girls.

Parsons also wrote of "Natoma Canfield, whose letter about her health crisis has inspired numerous public references by Obama," was at the rally and met Obama after the speech.

Parsons seemed to really focus on how Obama was striving to connect with the public more that the speeches themselves.

Analysis: Multimedia

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By Karen Elizondo

The Minneapolis Star Tribune and the New York Times, although completely different news organizations, have incredibly similar multimedia options.

Both organizations have websites clearly laid out with breaking news and tabs to other forms of news as well as links to other webpages.

Within their stories both seem to incorporate as much as they can to fully inform theirs readers and viewers. Pictures are common throughout stories and videos are incorporated where they fit and can enhance the information or understanding of the story.

These multimedia additions are helpful, the saying "one picture is worth 1,000 words" is a great example of why other forms of media is helpful for the readers.

Both news organizations have options to further build their connection with the public. For instance on the Star Tribunes website there are options to "connect" with the Tribune through Facebook and Twitter, and the NY Times is on Facebook as well.

The Facebook page for both organizations include previews, excerpts and teasers of full stories in their print or on their website. This perhaps helps to grab the attention of some audience members and bring them to read more.

The news organizations social media options seem to be a bit more casually written and open for conversation. Some of the posts are simple questions in order to include the public's opinion and provoke their interaction in the news.

It seems news organizations are adapting to the growing world of social media and are learning to use it to their advantage.

Analysis: Attribution in the Toulouse hostage story

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By Karen Elizondo

CBS News reported a bank robbery in Toulouse, France Wednesday.

The journalist attributes his writing and quotes to police officials, the city mayor, the Associated Press, the bank's spokesperson, and local residents.

The sources, all people, are found throughout the whole story. The journalist attributes almost every paragraph.

The reporter generally uses the standard "...police said," form of attribution. The writer appears to vary the placement from the beginning of the paragraph to the middle or at the end, perhaps so the text is not redundant.

The attribution throughout the story is very clear, a reader knows exactly who said what. There are a variety of sources which provides a more believable story to know that the journalist did the research.

The only part I would question is the piece about the Merah shootings that happened just a few months earlier near the same location. I think it would be more effective if the reporter would have attributed these paragraphs to police record or reports on the incident when that happened.

By Karen Elizondo

The Star Tribune writers Abby Simons and Kristian Hernandez wrote a report about a mother of a hit-and-run victim and her pleas for the driver to come forth and turn himself in.

"Speaking Thursday at the hospital where her son lay in critical condition with a brain injury, Ravesha Harris calmly resolved that the 9-year-old would open his eyes soon and return home to the family that hasn't left his bedside."

The lead provided above is quite detailed and long. The news elements in this lead are that the mother spoke at a news conference in the hospital and believed in her son's recovery.

There is not much general information in this lead. This information given is detailed; the writers provide the mothers name, the condition and age of the son, and the mother's thoughts on his recovery. The only information that is general the absence of the hospital name.

The writer's may have chosen this way to write a lead because this is an ongoing story not breaking news. There has been coverage of the situation for a couple days and perhaps this lead is more emotional and intriguing to readers that have been following the story. The readers do not need the information quickly, they are reading because they are already interested and will take the time to read further into the story to discover any new details or information.

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