May 4, 2007

Queen Visits The States

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was on hand in Richmond, Va., on Thursday to celebrate the settlement at Jamestown.

The story reported in the New York Times was written by Ian Urbina. This story reported that many people came to see the queen for many different reasons. The story reported the number of people that were present at the Virginia capitol on Thursday to see the queen.

They watched for different things as thousands gathered around the Capitol here under rainy skies with hopes of glimpsing Queen Elizabeth II on her first visit to the United States in more than 15 years. Her husband, Prince Philip, is accompanying her on the six-day trip.

There was another more broad social reason for the queen’s presence in Virginia on Thursday. This story reported what that broad social issue was.

In February, Virginia became the first state to pass a resolution expressing official regret for slavery. In recent weeks, some scholars and minorities had asked whether the queen would consider making a formal apology for Britain’s role in slavery and the way early English settlers mistreated the Indians.

The story reported that the queen has a very busy schedule and has a lot of things that she wants to accomplish before she returns to England.

Before her speech, the queen met representatives from eight Indian tribes in Virginia. She also planned to meet with Oliver W. Hill Sr., a 100-year-old civil rights lawyer whose litigation helped lead to the 1954 Supreme Court decision to end racial segregation in public schools.

I think that the biggest issue behind this story is deciphering why this story is important and deciding whether or not people should know about the issue. In some cases I feel like some information could be left out of the public’s knowledge in order to maintain safety and integrity.

A second version of the story ran in the Dallas Morning News and was written by the Associated Press. This story was essentially a long brief that simply reported all of the key information about the story. This story reported in the lead the issues that brought the queen to the United States.

Queen Elizabeth II arrived Thursday for the commemoration of Jamestown's 400th anniversary and praised the cultural changes that have occurred since she last visited America's first permanent English settlement 50 years ago.

This version of the story reported the historical significance of the last time that the queen came to the state of Virginia and reported why she was there at the time.

The last time the queen helped Virginia mark the anniversary of its colonial founding, it was an all-white affair in a state whose government was in open defiance of a 1954 Supreme Court order to desegregate public schools.

I felt like the brief version was nice to read but that I still lacked some of the key pieces of information. I felt like there could have been more in the briefs version of the story. I think that because the briefs version was so shoddy that the Urbina version was a necessary evil. I didn’t particularly like the idea that this type of story could be written in such a quick and concise way without many quotes or sources. Overall, I preferred the Urbina version because it felt more extensive and detailed.

April 28, 2007

C.I.A. Involved in Secret Detentions

The C.I.A. revealed Friday that they had been holding Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a known Al Queda terrorist, for several months in a secret prison near Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The story that ran in the New York Times was written by Mark Mazzetti. The story reported that al-Iraqi had begun his work for the Al Queda terrorist organization in the late 1990’s and had worked his way to a position as one of Osama bin Laden’s chief aids. The story gave a direct feeling of scrutiny with regards to the government holding suspects secretly and reported why the government has been able to do so.

Mr. Iraqi’s case suggests that the C.I.A. may have adopted a new model for handling prisoners held secretly — a practice that Mr. Bush said could resume and that Congress permitted when it passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The story reported the broader feeling of scrutiny which has surrounded the C.I.A.’s actions in holding al-Iraqi.

Last fall, Mr. Bush declared the agency’s interrogations “one of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history.? But its secret detention of terrorism suspects has been widely criticized by human rights organizations and foreign governments as a violation of international law that relied on interrogation methods verging on torture.

The story went on to detail the complaints of human rights groups further emphasizing the severity that the C.I.A. may have taken in the interrogation of al-Iraqi.

Human rights advocates expressed anger that the United States continued a program of secret detention, and some wondered why the C.I.A. claimed it needed harsh interrogation methods to extract information from detainees when it appeared that Mr. Iraqi had given up information using Pentagon interrogation practices.

The focus on the human rights aspect of the story illustrates the multifaceted nature of the story. I feel like this nature is what makes this story very challenging. This story is responsible for telling the history of the release of al-Iraqi and also reporting the C.I.A. reaction to the announcement. In addition to these the story also has to report the human rights issues presented by secret imprisonment. I feel like this story tried to keep the story interesting while reporting all of the angles but the story inevitably got a little long and lost my interest because of the length.

A second version of the story ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and was written by Josh Meyer of the Los Angeles Times. This story reported a much different aspect of the story which was al-Iraqi had been captured. The story reported that it was the Pentagon who announced the arrest and that al-Iraqi was headed to Iraq when he was detained. The story did report the C.I.A.’s involvement and role in the detainment.

Officials did not disclose where the CIA had held al-Iraqi since he was captured. It wasn't until last September that President Bush first acknowledged the CIA's use of secret prisons around the world. He said all 14 high-value terrorism suspects that the CIA had been holding had been transferred to military custody at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trials.

This story reported much of the same information regarding how important the information was that al-Iraqi disclosed. The story did report the human rights questions that some had but it was very minimal coverage if that.

Both of these versions were very well written but were very different. I felt like the Mazzetti version bit off a little bit more than it could chew with all of the different aspects portrayed in the story. I felt like there were too many angles present to be interesting. The Meyer version was slightly more focused but even this version bored me. I felt like the paragraphs in both versions were simply too long to be interesting to read. I also found the human rights angle boring because I don’t believe that known terrorists should be treated the same as the everyday American criminal. Overall, I preferred the Meyer version for its focus.

April 22, 2007

Orphanage Fire Kills Five

A fire in a Bosnian orphanage killed five babies and injuring 18 others as the fire tore through the building early Sunday morning.

The story that ran in the New York Times was written by the Associated Press. The story reported that the Bosnian orphanage was nearly totally destroyed by a fast moving fire that claimed five lives.

The blaze broke out on the third floor of the Ljubica Ivezic orphanage in downtown Sarajevo around 6 a.m. and rapidly spread to three rooms where the babies were sleeping, according to the Sarajevo fire brigade.

The story reported that many of the victims were young babies and that one nurse received burns to her hands and face while attempting to rescue the children. The story reported that the extent of the fire was not as critical as had been thought and that some of the building remained intact.

The orphanage was evacuated and its officials declined to comment. Some children were to return later to wings of the large building that were not affected by the fire, Champara said.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting enough information to make the story newsworthy internationally and getting enough voice to get American readers to read the story. I felt like this story wasn’t a really good example of a good international story because it was too bland.

A second and much briefer version ran in the San Francisco Chronicle also written by the Associated Press. This story was much more condensed and told very much the same story as the previous version. It said that 23 babies were injured and one nurse was also injured. This story did, however, report more information about how the firefighters responded to the blaze.

Firefighters said the flames raced through the building so quickly that even though they extinguished the blaze in around 10 minutes they were not fast enough to save all of the children.

Both of these stories were pretty brief but did have very relevant information. In some cases I would have preferred a longer story but these were acceptable for the type of event that this story was. I think that the first version from the New York Times was slightly more interesting to read and I preferred this version.

April 10, 2007

Serbian Police Sentenced in Association With Massacre

A judge in Serbia sentenced four former paramilitary policemen to sentences of ranging from five to 20 years in connection with the murder of six Muslim men outside the city of Srebrenica.

The story that ran in the New York Times was written by Nicholas Wood. The story reported that a Serbian judge sentenced the four policemen to various sentences depending on their involvement in the murders. The story reported that the victims families were not very happy with the sentences.

The refusal of the trial judge to acknowledge that the six victims came from Srebrenica, the length of the jails sentences given, and the release of a fifth man dashed the expectations of the victims’ families, as well as those of human rights observers who were present throughout the proceedings.

The story reported the atrocities that the victims were subjected to. The detail was very good as the chronology was very extensive regarding the actions preceding the murders.

The groups’ captives are shown in a twelve minute section of tape. Six in all are told to jump down from the back of a truck with their hands cuffed behind their backs.
They are then ordered to lie face down in a ditch, while members of the Scorpions, dressed in black and camouflage fatigues, and some wearing red berets, shout obscenities at them.

I felt like the biggest issue with this story is being able to interpret the meaning and all of the issues with a foreign countries legal system. It appeared also very difficult to gain access to a number of sources. It appeared that much of the quotes seem to be taken from court records and not from actual interviews.

A second story about the sentencing ran in the San Diego Union Tribune and was written by Misha Savic of the Associated Press. This story had a very interesting and more detailed lead that was particularly aggressive.

Four members of a notorious Serb paramilitary unit who were videotaped gunning down Bosnians near Srebrenica were convicted of war crimes on Tuesday, two years after the footage forced Serbia to admit its role in the 1995 slaughter of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

I felt like this story was a bit more concise in getting at the point directly in the lead. I felt like the lead told me more directly what the story was going to detail. This version of the story did an excellent job at getting at good sources for the story and getting deeper than the court transcripts.

“The only appropriate punishment for such a crime is the longest one,? said Serbia's pro-Western president, Boris Tadic. “Until we explain to the people what really happened, we will not be able to close that chapter.?

This story even went outside of Serbia to find sources that were close to the story and would make good sources.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a former U.N. envoy to the Balkans, welcomed the verdict, saying “it shows that the countries in the formerly war ravaged region are now themselves starting to feel a responsibility for the crimes that were committed – often in their names – in the repeated wars of the 1990s.?

This story also reported the disappointed reaction of the families of the victims.

“They killed children and one of them was released and another one sentenced to five years,? said Safeta Muhic, sister of one of the victims. “I am not satisfied and I never will be.?

This version was much more detailed and appeared much closer to the story which made it much more interesting to read. I felt like the Savic version was better prepared and did a better job at getting to good sources and getting at other sources in general. I felt like reading this version made the Wood version seem confusing and weak. The Wood version seemed complicated and hard to read whereas the Savic version was simplified very well which made it easy and enjoyable to read because the reader could comprehend all of the information in the story. For the ease of reading and the information provided I found the Savic version to be a better article.

April 7, 2007

Greek Cruise Ship Sinks, Two Passengers Missing

A Greek cruise ship that struck a volcanic reef and began to take on water sunk Friday leaving two passengers unaccounted for as Greek officials searched for the passengers.

The story reported in the Star Tribune was written by Derek Gatopoulos. This story reported that the ship, the Sea Diamond, sunk of Friday leaving a Frenchman and his daughter unaccounted for and that Greek officials were searching for the pair of passengers. The story reported the different countries represented on the ships manifest.

Passengers on the cruise were mostly American, and also included groups from Canada and Spain.

The story reported that the rescue efforts took over three hours and that all but the two missing passengers made it off the boat safely. The story also reported that for the most part the crew and passengers were able to escape the sinking ship without major chaos.

I think the biggest issue with this story was the ability of the writer to get access to the passengers who escaped the ship. In some cases it appeared that the writer got some quotes second hand and that he was unable to be there in person. It was really amazing that he was able to get quotes from the woman whose husband and daughter were still missing. I expected that the Greek tourism officials would have taken her and her son away and would have not let them speak to reporters so soon after the event.

A second story ran in the Washington Post and was written by Karolos Grohmann of Reuters. This story reported much of the same information detailing the two missing French passengers and the reaction of all the passengers onboard. This story, however, gave a much more detailed account of the different nationalities onboard.

Louis Cruise Lines said there were 730 Americans, 112 Spaniards, 100 French and many other foreign nationals on board, including Britons, Germans and Australians, plus the crew.

This story reported that foul play was suspected and that there were prosecutors getting involved with the case even on Friday. This story also gave a very detailed account of how many passengers and crew were rescued safely.

The company in a statement late on Friday revised the total figure of passenger and crew to 1,156 and 391 respectively.

Both of these stories were well written and interesting to read. I really appreciated the attention to detail that the Grohmann version displayed. It was nice to have numbers and figures to go along with the story. I felt like the Gatopoulos version of the story was much more properly centered on the two missing passengers. I felt like the missing passengers was more of an issue than the ship running aground and how someone needed to be held responsible for sinking the ship. Yes, I agree that the sinking was the direct cause of the story but the effect of the sinking was that two passengers probably died. Death is always the big issue in a story. If some action or some person’s action directly leads to someone’s death, I think that is the most newsworthy part of the story.

March 28, 2007

Former Major League Pitcher Recieves 14 Year Prison Term

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Ugueth Urbina was sentenced to 14 years in prison in Caracas, Venezuela on Wednesday for the attempted murder of five workers at his ranch.

This story ran in the Star Tribune and the New York Times and was written by the Associated Press. This story reported that Urbina was sentenced on Wednesday in a Venezuelan court for attempted murder. The story reported that Urbina had experience with several different Major League teams.

Urbina, a former pitcher with the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies, was also found guilty of illegal deprivation of liberty and violating a prohibition against taking justice into his own hands during a dispute over a gun on Oct. 16, 2005, according to a statement from the Attorney General's Office.

The story reported that Urbina continued to insist that he was innocent and that the sentence was too severe. The story reported that Urbina did have an altercation with the workers but that he left the situation and went to sleep in his house. The story reported that Urbina was a successful pitcher notching 237 saves which ranks him 30th all-time.

I think that the biggest issue with this story was getting all of the information and getting access to sources. In most cases the Venezuelan government is not very cooperative with media people. I think that the story tired to get to the sources that were available to them.

A different version of the story ran in the All Headline News and was written by Eric Williams. This story reported much of the same information as the version from the Star Tribune. This version of the story used, in some cases, the exact same information. That is that they used the exact same paragraphs and quotes. I thought that this was really weird and a little unprofessional to represent this story as one’s own when a lot of it was not Williams’. This story essentially gave all of the same information as the previous version but in a different order. This version did give some more information about Urbina’s career.

There wasn’t much to say about the second version of the story because it was basically a re-ordering of the first version. I felt like the Williams version was very unprofessional because of the similarity that it shared with the version from the Associated Press. Now, if Williams works for the Associated Press and wrote two different versions of the story I would be OK with that. As of now though, I am not. Therefore, I much preferred the Associated Press version because it appeared more original.

March 22, 2007

Italy Completes Hostage Exchange Deal Wtih Taliban

An Italian journalist held hostage by members of the Taliban was released Wednesday after his home country released five Taliban prisoners in exchange.

This story ran in the Star Tribune and the New York Times and was written by Ian Fischer. The story reported that Italy traded five Taliban prisoners for the Italian journalist, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, 52. The story reported that the decision did not sit well with American officials and was the first time a hostage exchange had been made since the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

"We don't negotiate with terrorists, and we don't advise others to do so either," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The story also reported that the exchange was not formally announced to NATO officials before it was carried out. The prisoners were being held by the Afghan government and not NATO forces. The story also reported that it wasn’t just American officials that were angered at the decision.

On a visit to Kabul on Wednesday, the Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen, said, "When we create a situation where you can buy the freedom of Taliban fighters when you catch a journalist, then in the short term there will be no journalists anymore."

A different story ran in the San Jose Mercury News and was written by Jason Straziuso. This version reported much of the same information and actually used the exact same quote from Maxime Verhagen. This story reported that the Italian government did not inform the American government of the action. This version of the story was the only version of the three to actually quote Mastrogiacomo.

"I believe that what has been done doesn't violate the sovereignty of a state or the autonomy of its foreign policy decisions," he said, referring to both Italy and Afghanistan.

Both of these stories were very well written and included a lot of useful information. For the most part, the Straziuso version was very nice because of the variety of sources that he used. This variety of sources even included Mastrogiacomo which I thought was key to the story. I thought that the Fischer version was easier to read and was more appropriate as far as length. Therefore, I preferred the Fischer version but both versions were very acceptable.

March 6, 2007

NATO Launches New Anti-Taliban Offensive

NATO forces launched their largest combined effort to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan on Monday.

The story from the Associated Press ran in the Star Tribune and the New York Times. The story was written by Noor Khan. The Khan story reported that some 4,500 NATO soldiers and 1,000 Afghan soldiers were deployed to the northern part of Helmand province. The story reported that this was the largest NATO and Afghan military force to move into combat in the region. The story reported that the mission, dubbed Operation Achilles, was intended to drive the Taliban militants out of the reason so that work could begin on repairs on a hydroelectric dam that provides power to thousands of Afghans.

British troops have also been battling militants in the nearby district of Kajaki to enable repairs on a hydroelectric dam, which supplies close to 2 million Afghans with electricity.

I think the most difficult part about this story would be getting the point across through all that has happened in the Middle East. There is so much recent history that I think reporting the relevant parts of this history with the current events in an organized chronology would be the toughest part of the story writing process.

Another version of the story ran in the Los Angeles Times, written by Shafiqullah Azimi and Laura King. This story reported much of the same information but did have a very different flow to the story. The biggest and easiest difference to notice in the two stories was that the Azimi and King version did not use any direct quotes. At least in the Khan version there were some partial quotes and even some complete quotes. The Azimi and King version did also report that Opium trafficking has been a big part of the operations of the Taliban just like what was reported in the Khan version.

Drug revenues are believed to be funding the strong comeback by the Taliban militia, which had been left scattered and demoralized after the Islamist movement was toppled in 2001 by U.S.-led forces. The allied offensive in part was aimed at disrupting the drug trade, Western military officials said.
Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said the offensive was centered on "improving security in areas where Taliban extremists, narco-traffickers and foreign terrorists are currently operating."

Both of these stories reported much of the some information but did so in very different ways. The Khan version was much more quote centered and had what I though was more accurate information. I felt like the Khan version was much more organized and slightly more interesting to read. I really appreciated the incorporation of direct quotes because I felt like the nature of the story deemed direct quotes necessary. I thought that the Azimi and King version looked juvenile without any direct quotes. Therefore it was easy for me to prefer the Khan version.

February 28, 2007

Cheney Target Of Terrorist Attack

A suicide bomber attacked the U.S. military base in Afghanistan that Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting Tuesday killing 23 and wounding 20 more.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Alisa Tang. The story reported that the Taliban was claiming responsibility for the attack but that Cheney was not hurt in the attack. The story reported that one American contractor was killed and one South Korean soldier were killed as well as the 21 Afghan troops. The story reported that Cheney was a target and that he was moved for safety reasons but continued his trip as planned. I think the biggest issue with presenting this story is decoding the chronology and synthesizing the information so that the average reader can understand what happened. The story began early with a brief chronology of events leading up to the attack.

About two hours after the blast, Cheney left on a military flight for Kabul to meet with President Hamid Karzai and other officials, then left Afghanistan.
The vice president had spent the night at the sprawling Bagram Air Base, ate breakfast with the troops, and met with Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
He was preparing to leave for a meeting with Karzai when the suicide bomber struck about 10 a.m., sending up a plume of smoke visible by reporters accompanying him. U.S. military officials declared a "red alert'' at the base.

The chronology was placed rather early in the story and this was interesting but I felt that knowing the chronology of events was nice.

An article about the attack also ran in the New York Times, written by Abdul Waheed Wafa and Carlotta Gall. This story handled the attack in a much more in-depth manner. This story reported a discrepancy in the coordination of security forces even while Cheney was present. This discrepancy and lack of communication between the security personnel could have provided a major security breach.

“There has been recent intelligence to suggest that there was the threat of a bombing in the Bagram area,? the spokesman, Col. Tom Collins, said at a news briefing in Kabul.
“It is clear there are suicide bombers cells operating in this country,? he said. “There are some operating in the city of Kabul, and as our intelligence suggests, they had the capability in the Bagram area.?
Yet the Afghan police chief for the Bagram district, Muhammad Salem Ehsas, said Wednesday that he had been unaware of any threat of a suicide bombing in the area. His remarks suggested a lack of coordination among security forces, even at a time when Mr. Cheney was present and security concerns would presumably be heightened.

This discrepancy got raised within the first three graphs of the story and was essentially one of the main points. The NY Times version continued much more in depth and provided much more significant and meaningful quotes.
After reading both of these stories it is evident that the NY Times version was much more comprehensive in its coverage and was, for me, much more satisfying to read. I thought that while the Tang version was acceptable, the NY Times version went above and beyond in the coverage and provided me with much more information than the Tang version. I felt that the NY Times version told me a very important issue in the attack in the first three graphs which was that there was a major security compromise.

February 20, 2007

Blair Announces Major British Withdrawal From Iraq

British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced Tuesday that the number of British troops in Iraq will be cut in half in the coming years and that 1,500 soldiers would be returning to Great Britain almost immediately.

The New York Times ran a story by Thomas Wagner on Tuesday regarding the announcement that Blair made. The Wagner version was also printed by the Washington Post and the San Jose Mercury News. The story reported that Great Britain would withdrawal half of their 7,100 troops currently stationed in Iraq by the end of 2007. The Wagner story reported in-depth about the issues facing Blair and the United States with regards to Iraq. Wagner provided plenty of background information because most of his readers may not be familiar with the British political system.

The biggest issue with the Wagner story is the difficulty in conveying the complexity of the British political system and the circumstances behind the announcement by Blair. In many cases Wagner’s audience may not be aware of how the British political system works and the audience may also be unaware of the current British involvement in Iraq.

Wagner concluded with the ultimate goal of the Blair administration.

Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who is likely to succeed Blair, has said he hoped several thousand British soldiers would be withdrawn by December.

The Independent Online also ran a story about the Blair announcement. For the most part the Independent Online version by Nigel Morris reported much of the same numbers as the Wagner version but decided to rely much more on the numbers than the Wagner version.

It is planned that the 1,500 British troops due to return during April when their tour of duty ends will not be replaced. Another 1,500 will withdraw from the Basra frontline to barracks to prepare for their departure by December.

The Morris version also contained a lot of background information on the circumstances that led to the Blair announcement. For the majority of the story Morris reported on the American reaction to the British withdrawal. Morris reported a lot on the reaction of President Bush and his declaration that the British withdrawal was a step toward victory in Iraq.

While both of these stories carried a heavy burden of information for the reader I felt that the Morris version was much more appealing to me. I thought that the Morris version was much more length appropriate. I felt that the Wagner version dragged on a little longer than my interest could handle. I felt that both of the stories did a good job conveying all of the complexities of the British political system. Both stories were able to inform me as to how the British system worked and how Blair arrived at his announcement. Overall, I thought that both stories were newsworthy but that the Morris version was a personal preference.

February 14, 2007

Guniea Declares Martial Law

President Lansana Conté of Guinea placed the country under martial law Monday after several protest fro his departure turned violent. Guinean citizens are calling for Conté to resign his position.

This story from the New York Times, by Lydia Polgreen, describes the harsh conditions in the country and the issues facing the leaders of the country and the leaders of the radical political organizations calling for Conté’s resignation. This story possesses much more of a feature story method than a hard news story. The lead in particular is evidence of the feature style taken by Polgreen.

Guinea’s embattled and ailing president declared martial law on Monday, hoping to stop a wave of violent street demonstrations and a general strike that have crippled the country and brought it to the brink of insurrection.

While this lead does posses elements of a hard news story this lead is not particularly brief and does not totally represent the total story. The story reports the reasons that the Guinean protesters are demanding. The story doesn’t report anything about the martial law or its enforcement so far. The story reports the history of the events and the ramifications that a civil war in Guinea could produce but offers little knowledge on the martial law itself. I think the biggest issue facing this story is how to get effective quotes about the martial law. This may have caused the story to run in the direction that it did. Polgreen did what she could to describe how the events following the declaration of martial law would affect the country. She also tries to report how the declaration came about and maybe that was the part of the story that she could get at the time. However, getting key information about the martial law looks to be the most difficult part of the story. Polgreen appeared to face difficulty in getting any information from President Conté. This would also be a key issue with regards to the story.

The Star Tribune ran an extremely brief article on the martial law declaration. The story, by Paul Fornier, reports that the U.S. government ordered all U.S. families out of the area following the declaration of martial law. This story was brief and almost doesn’t constitute a story but it also did not describe the conditions or the action of the martial law in Guinea.

The Durham Herald Sun also ran a story about the martial law. The story, by Paul Fournier, appeared to be a possible longer version of the brief that ran in the Star Tribune. However, the last names were spelled differently but they both were credited to an Associated Press writer. Nevertheless, this story was much more detailed and reported more on how the martial law had affected the country. This story delayed longer into the Tuesday news day had a much more complete background and had a much better use of sources. This story reported, more accurately, on how the marital law was affecting the country.

Despite the curfew, residents reported hearing gunfire in the outskirts of the capital Tuesday and said some young people were trying to resume protests.
"They are still firing heavy arms. I didn't sleep all night because of the shooting," said Aissatou Diallo, a resident of the Madina neighborhood.

In my opinion, the news event here was that the country of Guinea was under martial law. I understand that some background about how the country got there is needed but I still believe that the story was the declaration of martial law. Therefore, I feel that the second Fournier story was the most appropriate. This story was the only one to focus on the real news value of the story. I thought that the Star Tribune version was simply a waste and totally missed the point of the story. This story was just a waste of news space because it failed to advance my knowledge of the situation. The Polgreen story was nice but I feel that the Fournier version was much more accurate with the news of the story and was more accurate in the quotes used in the story.

I think that one of the most interesting things about all of this is that either the Durham Herald Sun or the Star Tribune most likely spelled Paul Fournier’s name wrong. One of them misspelled the name and I found that pretty funny.

February 6, 2007

Floods Devastate Indonesia

Floodwaters in Jakarta, Indonesia have forced over 300,000 people to evacuate their homes after rivers overflowed their banks after extended rain hit the city.

The biggest challenge for this article printed by The New York Times, written by The Associated Press, was to find anyone who was the victim of the flood’s devastation. For the most part the city of Jakarta sounds like an area of chaos. For this story the Associated Press reporter elected only to quote one official in charge of assessing the dangers that the rivers pose to the city. There wasn’t any reaction to the floods just the information that 340,000 people were fleeing the area and that the flood had already taken as many as 20 lives.

Edi Darma, an official at the Flood Crisis Center here, said 20 people had died in the city and surrounding towns as of late Sunday, most either by drowning or electrocution.

The Associated Press was also responsible for another story about the Indonesian flood that ran in The Washington Post. Both stories were published on the same day but The Washington Post ran the most updated version and listed the casualties at 25 rather than 20. The Washington Post elected to wait as long as possible to run a story about the flood in an effort to have the most up to date information regarding the event. The Washington Post version of the story was much more informative because of the use of several different prominent sources like the governor of Jakarta.

Jakarta's heavily criticized governor said he could not be held responsible for the worst floods to hit the city of 12 million in memory, saying they were a natural phenomenon.
"There is no point in throwing abuse around," Governor Sutiyoso, who like many Indonesians uses one name, told el-Shinta radio station.

The USA Today also ran a story about the Jakarta floods. The story was also written by the Associated Press with photographs by Reuters. This story has been updated since the original story to have the most up to date information and the death toll has now reached 36 according to this article. The USA Today version uses largely the same sources as The Washington Post story and therefore has much the same feel with only updated statistics and some updated information.

Overnight downpours sent storm waters coursing back into some low-lying areas of Indonesia's capital on Tuesday, as authorities warned of the threat of diseases and anger mounted at the government's response to the disaster that has killed at least 36 people.

Personally, there are many different things that set these stories apart. The one thing that they all share in common is that they were all written by The Associated Press. While I fell that this is the way of the news in today’s society it does frustrate me that so many news outlets are running stories from the same place. I felt that The Washington Post version was most helpful and informative to begin with. Since the original story though, The USA Today has been the most diligent in updating the information. I appreciated The USA Today version because it was the most up to date but I felt that The Washington Post version was the most appropriate version for length and the sources that were quoted. I felt that The USA Today version was a little too lengthy for my liking. The New York Times version simply didn’t source enough information to hold my interest, which is probably the reason that it was the shortest of all of the articles.

January 29, 2007

Palistinian Suicide Bomber Kills 3 in Israel

A Palestinian suicide bomber kills three Israelis in a bakery in Israel, the first suicide attack in Israel in nine months.

The article in The New York Times, by Greg Myre, deals with a lot of difficult issues. First and foremost is the difficulty in obtaining reliable information from all parties involved in the event. However, in some cases governments can be operating under their own secret agendas and may not be forthcoming with information to journalists. In most cases the governments involved can prove rather helpful but terrorist organizations like Hamas and The Islamic Jihad can prove unreliable and extremely biased. Myre does as much as he can to portrait all sides of the story and to gain relevant and reliable information from as many different sources as possible.

In a story printed in The Washington Post, an article by Ariel Schalit, there is a very different method to the story. In this version Schalit elects to wait as long as possible to detail and quote the terrorist organizations that were taking responsibility and praising the attack. Schalit makes a concerted effort to describe the incident and the reaction of the town before getting into the political ramifications of the attack. Schalit also quotes witnesses before anyone else in the story as a way of maintaining focus on the people involved in the incident as much as possible.

"It was awful _ there was smoke, pieces of flesh all over the place," said Benny Mazgini, a 45-year-old witness.

In a story in The Star Tribune, by Revital Levy-Stein, the story utilizes a much different approach. Levy-Stein elects to paraphrase a quote by the Israeli police as the very first part of the first graph.

A Palestinian suicide bomber attacked a bakery in this southern Israeli resort town today, killing three other people, police said. It was the first suicide bombing in Israel in nine months and the first ever to hit Eilat, Israel's southernmost city.

Following the lead Levy-Stein instantly begins to detail the terrorist organizations that were claiming responsibility. There was extremely limited witness reaction to the event and it occurred for the first time more than a fourth of the way through the story. So the emphasis in the Levy-Stein version was very much on the political ramifications of the action and what was going to happen politically.

All of these stories did a very good job at conveying the issues at heart in this event. However, I felt that the Myre story had a much more appropriate organization to the story. Without neglecting the witnesses Myre was also able to address the political ramifications of the event.

All of the stories did essentially the same thing with regards to the quotations and attributions in their stories. In all of the stories quotes are only used within a paragraph when it is the first reference to the source. Other than that the stories all use quotes to begin paragraphs and generally used the subject prior to “said? in the quote. In very limited terms some of the stories, mainly the Levy-Stein and Schalit stories, used another word other than said in a quote; however, it was very limited in use.

January 24, 2007

Americans Executed in Iraq

Four Americans were shot in the back of the head, execution style, in Iraq on Tuesday following a helicopter crash that claimed the life of one more American, officials said Wednesday.

The biggest challenge of this story written for the Associated Press and posted by the Star Tribune, written by Steven R. Hurst, Barry Schweid, and Pauline Jelinek, was getting sources to divulge enough information that would make a story worthwhile. In this case, some of the facts have not been released to the public as yet and many of the potential sources were unable to fully elaborate because of that fact. This event was obviously handled with the utmost concern by the U.S. government to be positively sure before they say the Americans were killed by execution. In this case, many of the sources had to be quoted with out any attribution because of the volatile nature of this type of story.

The New York Times ran the exact same version of the story as the Star Tribune. However, The New York Times also elected to print a different version that was less forthcoming with accusations of execution in an article by Marc Santora and James Glanz. This article was more easily found than the article by Hurst, Schweid, and Jelinek. The Hurst, Schweid, and Jelinek article had a much more controversial edge to it. This story made a much better effort to gain information regarding the circumstances of the deaths and was not afraid to publish facts that may not have been as verifiable as a journalist might want.

The San Jose Mercury News had a much different type of story regarding the same incident. The Mercury News story, by Don Thompson of the Associated Press, buried the information regarding how the four Americans were killed and instead elected to focus on the fact that one of the Americans, Art Laguna, was a reserve Placer County sheriff’s deputy, from the suburbs of Sacramento. The lead of this story was much more related to who than it was to how as in the previous articles. In the previous articles the information of how the Americans were killed was placed in the lead; here it was delayed to the eighth paragraph.

Personally, I found two of the stories very effective. I really liked the tribute story that was made in the Mercury News commemorating the life of Laguna. However, I also liked the story as run by the Star Tribune because I felt that the main news worthy portion of the story was that four Americans were likely executed. I didn’t like the idea of neglecting the issue of how the Americans died as reported in the story by Santora and Glanz. The lead of the story from the Star Tribune, I felt, was the most helpful and informative. This lead told the reader who was involved, where the event happened, what happened, and when the event happened while also informing the reader as to how the people involved in the story were likely killed. I felt like this lead did a very good job at incorporating the most amount of information into the lead.