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November 27, 2007

Analysis: records/CAR

South Mississippi's WLOX 13 reported on November 11 that homes that were, at one point, meth "factories" are being sold before the new homeowners are informed of the house's history.

"An actual methamphetamine in a vapor form is actually released during the chemical process. It goes into the walls, the ventilation system; the ventilation system circulates it through the house. This stuff in and of itself is dangerous," Narcotics Task Force Commander, Curtis Spiers, said.

The article explains that Mississippi does not have laws that require the meth remains of the meth labs to be destroyed, WLOX said.

It appears that WLOX uses one public record to provide information within the article--police records. They directly explain that the records revealed that 125 (Mississippi) homes were once meth lab sites, which serve as homes to new, unsuspecting home owners.

The reporter did not necessarily need computer skills to find this public record source, searching online archives or the like was not required because the local police were able to supply more useful information. Perhaps this is owing to the fact that there may not be much published information on numbers of ex-meth-lab houses in Mississippi.


November 11, 2007

Analysis: diversity

London's The Times article "Surgery on eight-limbed baby Lakshmi 'a success'" reports on a risky surgery a young Indian girl went through, giving her the chance to live a normal (and longer) life.

The report does not stereotype the culture in India, rather it covers the facts of Lakshmi's situation and details regarding the surgery and the background of the girl's condition. It elaborates on what the condition is, how common it is, the surgical procedure, etc.

One paragraph explains the living conditions of Lakshmi's parents:

"Lakshmi's parents are poor laborers from Bihar state in northern India, where local villagers regarded the eight-limbed little girl as a goddess."

Also included in the report was that Lakshmi was named after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth.

The purpose of the two previously mentioned facts was not to stereotype a culture, but rather to familiarize the reader with the parents' lifestyle and to inform the reader on cultural background information. The family's financial situation is relevant because the costs for the surgery were covered by an orthopedic surgeon.

The cultural-related material is relevant to the story and used for reporting purposes, and does not generalize or stereotype the Indian girl, her family or their culture.

November 3, 2007

Analysis: number use

In a Star Tribune article Friday titled "A deep issue is defining races in Golden Valley," the author presents numbers in the forms of costs and percents to elaborate on issues regarding Golden Valley's sewer systems.

The first use of numbers is in a graph that explains that paying for a resident's not-up-to-code sewer system could cost, on average, $3,500, although some residents have had to pay as much as $13,000. Said cost is an outlier, which is obvious since it is a significantly greater amount of money, and skews the average cost and makes it appear greater. The use of median would more accurately portray the sewer system price/cost statistics. The numerical stats in this graph were according to the city of Golden Valley.

Another graph in the story that compares numbers to support the issue stated in the article says that "of the 1,681 pumps inspected, 11 percent failed--not enough to warrant a focus on sump pumps within the city[...]." I think that it would be easier for a reader to interpret exactly how many of the 1,681 pumps failed (almost 185), rather than saying what percentage of the total number of pumps failed. Readers probably don't want to have to think more than they need to, and the percentage provided doesn't seem to make a straightforward point--if it does serve a purpose, it seems as though it is to manipulate the reader's interpretation of the numbers. The stats in this graph were attributed to the public works director of Golden Valley, Jeannine Clancy.

October 21, 2007

Analysis: event coverage

On Thursday, Oct. 18, London's The Times advanced the Spice Girls winter world (reunion) tour. The girl music group announced that they are adding more UK dates to their tour, such as in Manchester on January 23 and 24.

The advance story only makes reference to one source, a press conference held in June in which the five girls met to announce the world-wide reunion tour. Reference to the source is included in the following paragraph of the article:

"When a primped and preened Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown and Geri Halliwell held a press conference in June to announce they were reforming for an 11-date world tour, they planned to play just one UK concert at London’s 02 Arena. After the concert sold out in 38 seconds, the band added three further dates, but demand only increased. Four months on, the Spice Girls are now committed to playing 17 shows at London’s O2 Arena."

The source attribution seems to apply only to the information in this paragraph.

The angle of the story focuses on the fact that the Spice Girls had already planned on visiting certain UK venues, but that due to their high demand they gradually keep adding dates to the tour.

The author includes background information on the group's initial intentions in holding a reunion tour, specifics about the concert locations and dates, as well as the impact the tour will have on the girls' professional reputations, which adds more to the story than "this is what is happening, this is who is involved, and this is when it is taking place."

October 14, 2007

Analysis: meeting/press conference

CNN.com covered a story on Saturday, October 13 with the headline "Bush crusades for free trade as support cools." In his weekly radio address at the Radisson Miami Hotel on Saturday, Bush encouraged Americans to support free trade, as "protectionism" will not support economic expansion. The Associated Press's article, which is about 500 words in length, includes four direct quotes in total. The rest of the article paraphrases the message Bush relayed in the address. The quotes capture and support the basic point of the article and, though they are accurate, they seem to be pulled to fit the context of the story.

Because the (White House) press release is so lengthy as it precisely provides Bush's speech word for word, the article has to be brief, but straightforward and easy to comprehend for the readers. The article interprets the press release well and translates the jargon-filled vocabulary so the audience will be able to comprehend the issues addressed in Bush's speech.

September 30, 2007

Analysis: structure

The Star Tribune's story on Carlson School of Management's travel-abroad requirement is structured in a sensible order. They first state the most important fact--that all undergrads will be required to travel abroad before graduating.

The reasoning behind the decision immediately follows. And rightfully so, since the reader will automatically wonder why the Carlson administration decided on this.

Then, authoritative views are exposed--specifically a quote from the school's dean and information from university officials. This gives credibility to the news source and furthers the readers understanding.

Next, the story covers "how" the students can fulfill the requirement, elaborating on study/work abroad programs available.

The story, again, mentions why the requirement will prove to be useful and beneficial to students. Quotes are included from faculty member(s) and student(s) to add more substance to the story, as well as varying persepectives.

It seems as though the story is organized in the format of the inverted triangle--the least important information is included at the end, and the lead is very straight-forward and tells, basically, the most important of the information in the entire story. It is effective in that it is informative and relevant, but not too lengthy or wordy.

September 23, 2007

Analysis: attribution

The Minnesota Daily reporter, Andy Minnix, uses a wide variety of sources in the article "There's a new apple on the block."

He names David Bedford-a research scientist, Leslie Cooney-the membership manager of the UofM Landscape Arborteum, James Luby-the University's fruit breeding supervisor and Caston Johnson-first-year student at the University and employee at the arboretum.

The sources provide several different points of view and are spaced out throughout the article. However, the article is rather short, so they are fairly close together.

The reporter attributes the sources mostly in the form of quotes, with the exception of the information provided by the University of Minnesota student/arboretum employee. This approach to crediting sources is straight forward and easy to comprehend while reading the story, but doesn't seem to provide a strong foundation to the story. Basically, the story seems to be composed of a lot of quotes lumped together.

September 16, 2007

Analysis: Leads

The lead in The Observer 's article (in the September 16 issue) "Confessions of a feisty choirgirl," provides the "who," "what," "where" and "when" elements, emphasizing that Leslie Feist, a native Canadian, has become a very well-known pop musician this year as a result of her third album's popularity.

These elements provide general information that is elaborated on later in the story. The paragraph following the lead is written in a more creative and descriptive style, but those that follow give more insight about Leslie Feist herself, the history of her career in the music industry, her current album, etc.

The lead of this music article is not necessarily attention-grabbing since it does not inform readers of a news event that is extremely vital; there is not a high level of newsworthiness. While the article does adhere to the interests of many readers, it would be a relevant article whether it was published September 16 or September 26. Timeliness is not as significant of a factor as interest is in this story, which is why the lead may seem more general and the author is able to save the details for the body of the article.