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Anna Nicole Smith Dies Following Collapse

Anna Nicole Smith, an enigmatic celebrity personality, died Thursday after collapsing in her hotel room.

Who would ever have thought that the death of a celebrity such as Anna Nicole Smith could spark so much media coverage? The story printed in The Star Tribune, taken from The Associated Press, was the first story that I found. I think that the biggest issue with this story and these types of stories in general is unraveling the chronology. There were so many things that had happened to Smith in the last few months and Smith had her finger on a number of different projects throughout her life and even to her death. The Star Tribune version laid out some of these events right in the opening of the story. Like in the third graph:

Just five months ago, Smith's 20-year-old son died suddenly in the Bahamas in what was believed to be a drug-related death.

The Star Tribune version isn’t totally able to decode and decipher the chronology that was Smith’s life but rather the story is very scattered and, to be honest, some what disorganized. The story begins with Smith’s death, then information about the odd circumstances of her son’s death, then back to details about Smith’s death, then to Smith’s job history.

Recently, she lost a reported 69 pounds and became a spokeswoman for TrimSpa, a weight-loss supplement. On her reality show and other recent TV appearances, her speech was often slurred and she seemed out of it. Some critics said she seemed drugged-out.

Now, some of the information could be placed here because of the drug-related comments. However, the story goes on to detail Smith’s son’s death later and this information might be more appropriate later on in the story not in like the fifth graph.

Smith’s death triggered a number of media outlets to cover the story from all across the country. The Lede, The Pioneer Press, and The New York Times all ran versions of the story. However, a more informative and interesting story was run in The Los Angeles Times by Michael Muskal. This story shared the same issues as The Star Tribune version. The Muskal version had a much more appropriate organization of the chronology of Smith’s death. The lead especially was much more of a hard news lead and was more appropriate for the type of story that this was at the time.

Anna Nicole Smith, the Texas waitress who climbed into the top echelons of wealth and sexual glamour, died in Florida today, officials reported.

While the lead is informative and catches the reader’s interest, it doesn’t get too convoluted with information like names, dates, and times. The second graph is much more informative in a style that would fit a hard news story.

The former Playboy model and reality television star reportedly collapsed in her hotel room and was rushed to a hospital about 2 p.m. EST but was pronounced dead.

The second graph begins to illuminate the circumstances that lead to Smith’s untimely death. The Muskal version of the story was also much more concise and only reported the relevant information. As The Star Tribune version progressed I found myself loosing interest and becoming bored with the weird facts surrounding Smith’s life and death because I had heard many of them before. The Muskal version was much more focused on the death and not the auxiliary information about her life.

When I first saw the headline and picture I could hardly believe my eyes. Then I checked some other news outlets and quickly realized how true the story was. The Star Tribune version was informative but it took a lot of effort to decipher what exactly happened and when. Reading the Muskal version was much more enjoyable because I wasn’t constantly trying to figure out why the story was saying what it was saying. The Muskal version was much better because of the commitment to organization that would help the reader read the story. I felt that the length of the Muskal version was also much more appropriate. The Star Tribune version was much too long and gave me really more information than I wanted to know, so therefore I lost interest as the story progressed. Overall, I think we will just all have to admit that Smith’s life and death were tragic and that any reporter who covers the story really needs to devote a significant amount of time to organization before they assume the reader wants to read everything that the reporter might have found out.