May 4, 2007

Warriors Bounce Mavericks

The Golden State Warriors became the first No. 8 seed to advance in a seven-game NBA playoff series Thursday night with a 111-86 victory over the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks.

The story that ran in the San Jose Mercury News was written by Janie McCauley of the Associated Press. This story reported that an injured Baron Davis and a controversial Stephen Jackson were mainly responsible for the Golden State win on Thursday night. The story also reported that defense on likely NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki was extremely important. The story reported how the game was won and who the Warriors will face in the second round.

Coach Don Nelson's emotional bunch of castoffs beat his old organization by holding likely league MVP Dirk Nowitzki to eight points and 2-for-13 shooting, after he saved the Mavs with 30 points in their six-point Game 5 win Tuesday. The Warriors, making their first playoff appearance in 13 years, will open the second round Monday night at either Houston or Utah.

The story also reported why Stephen Jackson was so controversial.

Jackson—who avoided a suspension for Game 6 after two ejections in the series—hit four 3-pointers during a decisive 24-3 third-quarter run and finished with a playoff career-high 33 points.

The story reported the historic context that made this win and this series so important.

The Warriors became only the third eighth seed to upset the No. 1 and the first since the opening round went from best-of-five to the current format. The Denver Nuggets (1994) and the New York Knicks (1999) are the only other teams to win a series.

The story reported that the historic nature of the series win by Golden State was not the only way that the Warriors accomplished something historic.

The Warriors traded for Jackson in January in an eight-player swap with the Indiana Pacers to pair him with a healthy Davis as this playoff-starved franchise tried—and ultimately succeeded—to end the NBA's longest postseason drought.

I feel like the biggest issue with this story is getting people outside of the Dallas and Oakland markets to want to read the story. I found that the only reason I read the story was because it was particularly historical. More often than not I find myself bored with professional basketball and therefore don’t generally read such stories. I did feel that this version was fairly successful in getting me to read the story and be interested in the event.

A second version of the story ran in the New York Times by Lee Jenkins. This story reported much of the same information as the McCauley version. This story focused more on the historically inept history of the Golden State franchise. This story reported that many other teams would dream of an NBA title while the Warrior just dreamed of getting into post-season play.

Few teams have ever been so excited about a No. 8 seed, and no team has done more with it. Golden State, making its first playoff appearance in 14 years, also made history Thursday night. They are no longer the Clippers of Northern California.

This story reported an interesting connection between the last Golden State playoff team and the current playoff team.

The moniker was a twist on Run DMC, a pioneering rap group that achieved its peak of popularity in the 1980s. Today, Mullin is the team’s executive vice president. Richmond is one of his assistants. Their coach then, Don Nelson, is the coach again.

This version of the story reported a much more detailed and extensive background of Stephen Jackson. This story went deep to show the reader what Jackson had done in his past.

Until Thursday night, Stephen Jackson was best known as a wild man with a mean streak. Jackson, then with Indiana, fought with fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills during the notorious brawl between the Pacers and the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He also fired a gun outside a strip club in Indianapolis last year. The Pacers had little choice but to trade him.

I felt that both versions of this story were interesting enough that I would have read them anyway but I did feel that the Jenkins was slightly more interesting to read because it provided more background and information. This version was significantly longer but I felt like the length was acceptable enough that the story could be read without fear that the reader would turn away. The McCauley version was nice but it was a little less interesting which makes it harder to read than the Jenkins version.

April 28, 2007

Historic Discovery in Arizona

While digging at the site of a future Wal-Mart store near Mesa, Ariz., on Friday workers uncovered the remains of a camel estimated at 10,000 years old.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by the Associated Press. The story reported that the workers quickly alerted a geologist and he came out to take a closer look at the find.

Arizona State University geology museum curator Brad Archer hurried out to the site Friday when he got the news that the owner of a nursery was carefully excavating bones found at the bottom of a hole being dug for a new ornamental citrus tree.

The story reported that the remains were positively identified as a camel and that the camel type species had been on the Earth more than 8,000 years ago. The story reported the situation surrounding the remains and where they would be taken.

Wal-Mart officials and Greenfield Citrus Nursery owner John Babiarz have already agreed that the bones will go directly on display at ASU.

The story reported the extreme rarity that this type of event is and that the display will likely take several months to be created.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting enough information to make the story interesting without making the story feel long winded. I think that this article did a good job at keeping the story brief and entertaining.

A second version of the story ran in the East Valley Tribune and was written by Christian Richardson. This story focused more on the involvement of John Babiarz and how the bones were discovered.

However on Wednesday, that is exactly what the 59-year-old discovered after a backhoe plunged into earth and dumped dirt and bones onto the ground along Lindsay Road near McKellips Road in Mesa.

This story reported much more detailed information regarding the circumstances that led to the discovery of the bones. This story did a very good job detailing the history of the area where the bones were found.

The bones were preserved four feet down in an area known as the Mesa Terrace where the Salt River was located during the Ice Age, Archer said.

The story reported a very interesting connection between Babiarz and Archer. The connection details the history of both individuals and the historic nature of the discovery.

Babiarz is well versed in finding bones. In Wyoming he discovered Tyrannosaurus Rex bones, and 10 years ago worked with Archer to find a Colombian mammoth in Chandler.

I felt that both versions of the story were acceptable and were able to achieve their intended goals. I felt like the story by Richardson was a bit more personal and had a lot more background information which was interesting to have. I felt like Richardson had a better grasp of the story and that he appeared much more knowledgeable on the subject. The Associated Press version felt too forced like the story was just really pushed out in order to cover the event for the sake of covering the event. Therefore, I preferred the Richardson version much more than the Associated Press version.

April 22, 2007

Blue Angel Crash Kills Pilot

A Navy Blue Angle jet crashed in to a residential neighborhood killing the pilot Saturday during an air show in S.C.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Bruce Smith of the Associated Press. The story reported that crash that killed the pilot of the jet also injured eight other people in the area of the crash. The story reported that the name of the pilot would not be released until his family had been notified of his death but the story did give information regarding the pilot’s history.

A Navy statement said the pilot had been on the team for two years — and it was his first as a demonstration pilot.

The story reported the history and training of the Blue Angels flight group.

The Blue Angels fly F/A-18 Hornets at high speeds in close formations, and their pilots are considered the Navy's elite. They don't wear the traditional G-suits that most jet pilots use to avoid blacking out during maneuvers. The suits inflate around the lower body to keep blood in the brain, but which could cause a pilot to bump the control stick — a potentially deadly move when flying inches from other planes.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting the information out about the crash without the pilot’s name. I think that this story could have been much more informative and interesting if Smith was able to report the information about the pilot’s life and career.

A second version of the story ran in the Boston Herald and was written by the Associated Press. This story reported much of the same information and even used many of the same sources. Despite the oddity that surrounds using the same quotes and sources in a story I felt like this story was actually mostly successful in getting information across to the reader. This story reported that the formation that resulted in the crash was extremely difficult and was the final trick of the air show.

The crash took place in the final minutes of the air show, said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Walley, a Blue Angel pilot. The pilots were doing a maneuver which involved all six planes joining from behind the crowd to form a Delta triangle, said Lt. Cmdr. Garrett D. Kasper, spokesman for the Blue Angels. One plane did not rejoin the formation.

This story, however, contradicted the previous version because it said that the pilot’s name was not released for a different reason.

The pilot’s name would not be released until Sunday afternoon, keeping with a policy of waiting 24 hours after the death, Kansteiner said. A Navy statement said the pilot had been on the team for two years - and it was his first as a demonstration pilot.

I felt that both versions were very appropriate with regards to length and did a good job working around not having the pilot’s name. I felt like I learned something event without the name and that was really nice to know. I felt that the similarities were a little odd but overall were acceptable. I would have preferred some more diversity in the coverage but it seems like this is just the nature of the journalistic beast.

April 10, 2007

Accidental School Shooting Wounds Two

Two students were wounded at a Chicago area school when a gun that was secretly brought into the school, accidentally discharged.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Karen Hawkins of the Associated Press. The story reported that the shooting took place at the Chicago Vocational Career Academy. The story reported that the student who brought the gun to school was not screened by the metal detectors present at the school.

While the school has metal detectors, students are chosen at random to go through them because it would take too long to scan each teen, Lopez said. The teen who brought the gun did not go through the device.

The story reported that the student was passing the gun to a friend when the gun accidentally discharged injuring both students in the leg.

The boys were sitting in the back of a science classroom at the Chicago Vocational Career Academy on the city's South Side around 2:15 p.m. when the gun discharged. One was struck in the thigh and the other near the knee, said Robert Lopez, an assistant deputy police superintendent.

The story also reported that the students attempted to get rid of the gun, however, the gun was recovered and both students were rushed to the hospital. Both students will face charges.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting close enough to the story to accurately reflect the importance of this event. A lot of people need to be interviewed for this story in order to capture the breadth of this event's importance.

A second version of the story ran in the Chicago Tribune and was written by Mary Owen and Jason Meisner. This story began with much of the same information but then proceeded into a more detailed account of the events surrounding the shooting. This story reported a different medical status than in the Hawkins version.

The story also reported a more detailed account of how the student might have gotten the gun past the metal detectors.

School officials are trying to determine how the boy got the gun into the school. The large campus, which has about 2,300 students, has metal detectors at the front entrance. Students also must swipe an identification card before entering any of the school's three authorized entrances, Durbak said.
Students are chosen at random to go through the school's metal detectors because it would take too long to scan each teen, Lopez said. The teen who brought the gun to school Tuesday did not go through the metal detector.

This version was the only version that gave a possible explanation for how the student could have entered the building with the gun without being stopped.

Durbak said the gun could have been brought in through an unauthorized entrance because the three authorized entrances have no record of the student using his identification card.

The Chicago Tribune version was far more comprehensive than the Hawkins version. Throughout the entire piece I felt that I was consistently more informed with the information provided by the Chicago Tribune version. The Hawkins version was acceptable but it was very evident that the Chicago Tribune version was closer to the story and was able to report more in depth information. I found the Chicago Tribune version much more enjoyable to read as well. All in all, the Chicago Tribune version simply blew the Hawkins version out of the water. The Chicago Tribune was simply better than the Hawkins version in all aspects of the article.

April 7, 2007

FBI Invesigating Agent's Death

The fatal gun shot that killed an FBI agent Thursday, while attempting to apprehend three bank robbery suspects, may have been the result of “friendly fire.?

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Rebecca Santana. The story reported that Agent Barry Lee Bush died Thursday while trying to apprehend suspects in a ring of bank robberies in New Jersey. Of all the information reported about Agent Bush’s death I thought the lead was one of the most interesting.

If an FBI agent fatally shot while investigating a string of bank robberies died by another agent's bullet, it would mark just the second time in the agency's nearly century long history that one agent killed another, the FBI said.

I felt that this type of lead was misplaced in a story that should have been about why this agent died. The story wasn’t that the FBI has been very good about keeping their agents safe from “friendly fire? but that an agent was shot and killed, then you should talk about how the death occurred. I felt that the death should have been the most important piece of information in the lead and with the lead the way it ran I felt the main point of the lead was that the FBI is really good at keeping agents safe.

The story reported that the FBI is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death and is still trying to determine why the shot was fired. The story said that the FBI was unwilling to release information about how the agent died, where he was shot, if he was wearing body armor and other key chronological information.

I think that the biggest issue with this story, for the writer, was dealing with the FBI which tends to be a very secretive organization that doesn’t divulge information very freely. I felt like the writer did what she could to get information from the FBI and did an excellent job using sources close to the FBI that were much more willing to talk about the death and the FBI’s history.

A second story ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and was written by David Porter of the Associated Press. This story also used a very interesting and slightly confusing tactic to open the story in the lead and the second graph.

The bank robbery investigation had gained intensity because of the increasingly brazen and violent nature of the crimes, with shots fired inside at least three of the institutions.
But when three of the suspects were confronted by FBI agents, authorities say the armed men didn't fire a shot. Instead, the FBI says it appears that one of their own, a veteran of major investigations, was killed when a fellow agent's weapon accidentally discharged.

This story took a very different angle on the story and spent much of the story telling about the history of the bank robberies in New Jersey. I was interesting to note that both of these stories used the same Los Angeles based security consultant as a source. This story’s focus on the bank robberies led to the reporting of the arrested suspects’ names.

On Thursday, FBI agents confronted three men outside a PNC Bank in Readington Township. Wilfredo Berrios, 28, and Michael Cruz, 21, were arrested and agents confiscated two assault rifles and a handgun. A third man, Francisco Herrera-Genao, 22, fled on foot and was captured Friday morning after spending the night in nearby woods.

This story buried the information about Agent Bush until the very end of the story. This placement of the information about Agent Bush made his death seem like an afterthought. Almost like, “oh well, an agent died, but they arrested people.? I personally feel like this story was totally in appropriate with regards to what part of the story were newsworthy.

Due to the fact that I found the Porter version to be focused on the wrong aspect of the story, I would have to say that the Santana version was more enjoyable to read and much more appropriate. I didn’t like either of these stories particularly well but the Santana version was the only version to focus on the right part of the story, Agent Bush’s death. Overall, I thought that both of these stories had things that they should have improved, but that is usually true of every story.

The most common corrections to newspaper printings by the New York Times were minor factual errors that in some cases were not even the fault of the paper. In some cases, like the school case of Greeenwich, Conn., were erroneous because the source that was quoted was wrong and there was no real fault of the writer who in most cases should be able to assume that a source close to a story should be able to speak about the story with an educated and proper gauge of the story itself. Other errors were merely misquotations about the nature of events in the past and about dates that were properly 1868 and not 1968. This error could have simply been a number that was struck on a keyboard that was not intended but that nobody question because it looked like it belonged in the story. Most errors appeared to be minor and the volume of errors was not an amazingly high number which is very professional for an organization such as the Times.

March 31, 2007

Ohio Baseball Team Gets Back To Playing Ball

Players from the Bluffton University baseball team got back on the field Friday, just four weeks after a tragic bus accident that killed five of their teammates.

This story ran in the Star Tribune and was written by John Seewer. The story detailed the journey that the players, coaches and victims’ families have gone through to get to this point. This story reported that the team lost their first game, which took place a month after the originally scheduled date, 10-5 but that the team was happy to get their focus back on baseball.

"Part of our team isn't out there," said Gwynne Freytag, whose son Brandon kicked out a hatch on the bus to allow players to escape the wreckage. "But it's a chance to move ahead for the boys. They're a team, and I've just got a feeling there's a lot of angels in the outfield today."

The story detailed the emotions associated with the event from the point of view of both the players and coaches.

"Once you get out here, you're a baseball player," said coach James Grandey. "Obviously today had a little more meaning."
Grandey couldn't coach and watched from the sidelines. His jaw is wired shut and his right leg is in a metal brace.

A second version of the Seewer story ran in the Cincinnati Post. The second version was very much like the first but Seewer did insert some new and different information including some quotes.

The surviving players voted unanimously to go on with the season. The team resumed practices March 19 and hopes to make up the four games it has missed in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
"The whole season is for the five of them," shortstop Ryan Baightel said after the game. "We owe it to them not just to play but to compete."

Both of the preceding paragraphs were unique to the second version of the story.

Both versions of the story were very well written and, I felt that, they captured the real story and emotion of the event. I felt like the increased length in the Star Tribune version was a little more appropriate but there was absolutely nothing wrong with either version, I really just preferred the Star Tribune version rather than the Cincinnati Post version.

March 21, 2007

120-Year-Old Math Problem Cracked

An international coalition of mathematicians and computer scientists cracked what they believe to be the longest math problem in history, the solution for which they say would stretch over the island of Manhattan.

The story ran in the Star Tribune and was written by the Associated Press. The story reported that this international team solved the mathematical equation of the “Lie Group E8.? The story reported that the 18 member team took four years to solve the problem which involved 248 dimensions. The story claimed that the problem was long considered impossible.

The E8 group, which dates to 1887, is the most complicated Lie group, with 248 dimensions, and was long considered impossible to solve.

The story said that the explanation of the solution is also quite difficult.

"To say what precisely it is is something even many mathematicians can't understand,'' said Jeffrey Adams, the project's leader and a math professor at the University of Maryland.

The story related the amount of information to what its equivalent would be in music format to make the solution more real to the average reader.

When stored in highly compressed form on a computer hard drive, the solution takes up as much space as 45 days of continuous music in MP3 format.

The same Associated Press version ran in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A different version of the story was printed in the Salt Lake Tribune and was written by Matthew Keenan of the Bloomberg News. This story reported a much more important nature of the discovery.

Researchers using supercomputers unraveled a 120-year-old mathematics mystery, a solution they said promises advances in their field much like the mapping of the humane genome is aiding developments in medicine.

This version of the story reported that the solution would lead to the explanation of symmetry, string theory, and geometry. This story related the importance of the discovery to the innovations from the human-genome project. This version of the story reported that the data took 77 hours to solve on a supercomputer in San Diego.

Researchers broke the puzzle into smaller parts, producing partial answers that were later assembled to find the eventual solution. The final calculation took about 77 hours on the Sage supercomputer, built by San Diego-based Western Scientific.

Both of these versions were very acceptable. I felt that the Associated Press version was more easy and enjoyable to read, however, the Keenan version of the story was more detailed and I felt that the detail made the Keenan version more interesting. I also found that the Keenan version did a better job of interviewing multiple sources. I felt that the other sources gave the story some better voice. In total, I felt that I enjoyed reading the Associated Press version but found the Keenan version more informative and detailed. I couldn’t really decide which story I liked better but I did enjoy Keenan’s detail.

March 9, 2007

Justice Department Abusing The USA Patriot Act

The FBI improperly and illegally used the powers granted to them by the Patriot Act according a Justice Department audit released on Friday.

This story from the Star Tribune, written by the Associated Press, reported that the U.S. Justice Department audit stated that for three years the FBI underreported information regarding the number documents taken from businesses to Congress. I think the biggest issue for this story is condensing all of the information into a story that the reader wants to read and is able to read. In some cases I think that they story got a little long and boring but that is what happens sometimes in these types of stories.

Another story ran in the New York Times, written by David Johnston and Eric Lipton. This story reported much of the same information but did focus on the role of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. This story reported that the audit from the U.S. Justice Department was expected to come out on Friday but didn’t say when it would come out. This story did say that the story broke when Gonzales tried to dispel the pressure form U.S. Senators and Representatives about the job the Justice Department has been doing.

Overall, I thought that both stories were good and well written. I thought that the New York Times version was slightly more focused and engaging. I did think however that they New York Times version was too lengthy to be enjoyable. I thought that the Star Tribune version was more concise and that made it more interesting. I thought that both stories accomplished their intended purposes and that was a good sign.

March 3, 2007

Bush Visits Disaster Zone In Alabama

President Bush visited Enterprise High School in Enterprise, Ala. on Saturday, the site of a tornado that killed eight students.

The story from the Star Tribune, written by Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press, reported that President Bush made a special trip to see the devastation from Thursday’s storm that killed the eight students. The story reported that President Bush was very somber in his visit and had difficulty viewing the wreckage.

"Today I have walked through devastation that is hard to describe," he said, standing with students, one of whom had a tear running down her face. "Our thoughts go out to the students who perished. Thank God for hundreds who lived," he said.

The story also linked President Bush’s visit to the issues that arose following Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area.

The White House and the disaster relief agency came under severe criticism for the government's sluggish response to the Gulf Coast hurricanes that tore through Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005.

The story reported that the disaster relief efforts of this storm were much more organized and well planned. This story reported that hours after the storm leaders of the federal relief effort were on the phone with local officials in Alabama.

I think the most difficult issue with this story is managing to relate Thursday’s storm and Saturday’s visit with the larger picture. I think that Riechmann did a pretty good job of this by incorporating the criticism of the Katrina relief effort. Riechmann effectively melded the past with the present to create an interesting and newsworthy story that effectively affected the nation as a whole. I also think that Riechmann did a particularly noteworthy job in getting the reader emotionally invested in the story very early; this helped the reader want to read on.

On a mournful mission, President Bush climbed over piles of concrete, roofing, insulation, broken glass and textbooks Saturday that littered Enterprise High School, battered by a tornado that killed eight students.
Down hallway three, lined by blue lockers, he went in private, the corridor where the students died and scores more were trapped in Thursday's storm. The president also saw the wing — now just rubble — where students had hunkered down as the tornado approached.

The same Riechmann version also ran in the Pioneer Press, however, the New York Times ran their own version of the story, written by Adam Nossiter. The Nossiter version had a very different feel to it. The Nossiter version reported much of the same information about President Bush’s visit but was much more detailed about the lives of the students killed in the storm. This version spent little time on the visit of President Bush and instead relied on the stories of the students who died.

On Friday, dazed survivors — teachers and students — recounted their luck as they toured the perimeter of the painful ruins, the building’s spilled-out insides visible even from the great distance at which the authorities kept onlookers.
For grief-stricken parents like those of Andrew J. Jackson, a sturdy 16-year-old cheerleader and weightlifter, there was no consolation in their bewilderment.

The Nossiter version was much longer but I felt that this version had a more appropriate reaction to the storm. I thought that the story should have mentioned President Bush’s visit but should have focused on the students who died. It is always very tragic to lose students, especially in a natural disaster. I did think that the Nossiter version was difficult to decipher because the lead and the opening graphs were all about President Bush, but I didn’t feel that this was the most important thing that the story had to say. As a whole, the Nossiter version was much more preferred despite its length which bordered on being too long. The Riechmann version was acceptable but I felt like she missed the real point of the story.

February 22, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith To Be Buried in Bahamas

The remains of Anna Nicole Smith are to be buried in the Bahamas urged a Broward County, Fla., judge on Thursday.

The story that ran in the New York Times, written by Maria Newman, reported that Broward County Circuit Court Judge Larry Seidlin ruled that the body of Anna Nicole Smith should be placed with her daughter, Danielynn Smith, and that since Danielynn is only 5 months old that the body should be looked after by the court appointed guardian of Danielynn, Richard Milstein. The story also reported that Judge Seidlin was pretty specific in how he wanted the body buried.

He said it would be up to the guardian, Richard Milstein, a lawyer, to determine where Ms. Smith should be buried, but he made it clear he wanted that to be the Bahamas, where Ms. Smith had lived for the last few months of her life.
“I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas,? he said. “I want them to be together.?

This story details the entire history of Anna Nicole Smith over the last several years but in all cases Newman uses quotes from the case to back up the points made in her story.

I think that the biggest issue regarding this story is uncovering all of the information and synthesizing it into something that a reader can digest easily. There are many different issues present in Anna Nicole Smith’s death. There are paternity suits, suits over where to bury the body, confusion about how she died, implications of drug addiction and possible implications of Smith’s boyfriend Howard K. Stern, and issues regarding her wishes upon death. All of these issues should be addressed in the story but that is a lot for a reader to swallow if not synthesized correctly.

A pair of stories by Matt Sedensky of the Associated Press ran in the Star Tribune and the Kansas City Star. These stories both reported much of the same information as the Newman story but delivered the information in a much different way. The Sedensky version of the story detailed much more of the information regarding Anna Nicole Smith’s personal life and many of the issues that continue to plague her family and friends.

The dispute over the burial was one of many surrounding Smith. Stern is listed as Dannielynn's father on the birth certificate, but Birkhead said the girl was his.
A California judge is handling the paternity case, but Birkhead's attorneys plan to ask a Florida family court judge on Friday to order a sample of Dannielynn's DNA to be collected in the Bahamas, or require the girl be brought here for DNA testing.

While I thought that both versions of the story did a pretty good job reporting on all the things that have been happening with the case, I felt that the Newman version was slightly more interesting and found that the language used in the Newman version was, personally, more appealing. I felt that both stories were very much on an even plane in regards to their readability and therefore I only slightly preferred the Newman version.

February 12, 2007

Boston Police Arrest 10-Year-Old In Assult Case

A 10-year-old girl was arrested by Boston Police Monday after reportedly assaulting a woman at a local Target store.

The story printed in the Star Tribune, written by the Associated Press, was essentially a long brief. The same story also ran in the Washington Post. The story was organized like a hard news story but lacked the depth that would likely have been associated with a hard news story. The lead was informative and interesting without becoming clouded with information. The second graph clarified the ideas in the lead. After the first two graphs the story said that there were three other girls involved in the attack but none of these three had been charged. Then the story jumps into a quick chronology and finishes with the fact that the victim was treated at a hospital. It did not say the name of the hospital. The biggest issue with this story is how to make it newsworthy without making it a huge story. People in cities other than Boston might not care about the incident other than it was kind of funny so how to write a story that is detailed enough to be interesting and yet still cover all the facts. In this story the writer elected to present only facts and to omit any quotes in an effort to let the chronology tell the real meat of the story. The girl was arrested yes, but why she was arrested was the real thing that the writer wanted people to see.

The woman apparently had bumped into the 10-year-old girl in an aisle at a Target store and refused to apologize, Chrispin said. Witnesses told police the four girls then knocked the customer to the floor "where she was being hit, her hair was being ripped out, and her pants were taken off,'' he said.

The Boston Herald had a much different story to tell because of the different readership that this paper deals with. The readers of Boston would naturally be more interested in this story than places like Washington D.C. or Minneapolis. This article, by Michele McPhee, was much more detailed and the background presented was much more extensive. The lead was unfortunately very convoluted and contained an inordinate amount of information that should have been delayed into a second graph.

Boston police arrested a 10-year-old girl yesterday and charged her with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon - her shod foot - after she and friends were accused of brutally attacking a customer at the South Bay Target department store in Dorchester after the victim bumped her.

The rest of the McPhee story went on to describe the attack in more detail than the other two stories. The story included the chronology of the attack with more details and then proceeded to document the background of the area of the attack and the apparent problems Boston is facing regarding teenage girl gangs. The story finishes with a detailed account of one victim’s injuries as the story wraps up with a particularly brutal account of the injuries inflicted by the girl gangs of Boston.

In March 2006, an 8-year-old boy was stomped by a group of girls in Dorchester in an attack that left him unconscious with four broken ribs. Weeks later, his older sister, 16-year-old Shelly Herring, was stabbed in the stomach while defending her brother.
Herring’s wound required a seven-hour surgery to repair her torn bladder, leaving her with 27-staples stitching her stomach together.

Overall, I thought that all of the stories served their purpose. I did, however, like the McPhee version of the story because I felt that while I wasn’t personally connected to the issues facing Boston that the additional information was interesting and something that I enjoyed reading. I felt that I actually learned something from the McPhee version whereas I felt that I just read and laughed at the headlines for the Star Tribune and Washington Post versions. I guess in the end it comes down to personal taste and print space but I felt that the added background was a welcome addition to a story that could have really been told in maybe three graphs. Its not everyday you get to read about a crazy assault involving a 10-year-old so I guess maybe this story was just something to laugh at and think about.

February 7, 2007

NASA Astronaut Arrested On Attempted Murder Charges

Capt. Lisa Nowak, a NASA astronaut, was charged Tuesday with the attempted murder of a woman who Nowak believed was fighting with her for the affections of Cmdr. William A. Oefelein.

The story printed by The New York Times, written by John Schwartz, details the fall from grace that Nowak has experienced in the last few days. The difficult part of this story is making sense of everything that has happened and getting the right information into the story. With NASA and the federal government involved there are a lot of hoops that Schwartz most likely had to jump through to get any sort of relevant information. This story is very detailed and an article on it would be required to have a detailed chronology. This chronology was most likely the toughest problem with the story because Schwartz needs the story to be interesting and informative without being too long and boring the reader. That was the difficulty of the story. I think that the third graph of the story really tells the truth of the rest of the story.

She is charged with the attempted murder of a woman she believed to be her rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut. Police officials say she drove 900 miles to Florida from Texas, wearing a diaper so she would not have to stop for rest breaks. In Orlando, they say, she confronted her rival in a parking lot, attacking her with pepper spray.

The story was also covered in an article in The Los Angeles Times which was written by Lianne Hart, John Johnson Jr., Karen Kaplan, and Alan Zarembo. The Pioneer Press also printed the LA Times story. This version of the story was much like that of Schwartz in that the chronology was very detailed and was very informative about the action of Nowak. The LA Times story had much the same synopsis as the Schwartz story but The LA Times version ran the synopsis in the fifth graph in an interesting way.

Wearing a trench coat and wig, Nowak, 43, fired pepper spray at Shipman, who managed to escape and alert police. Investigators said Nowak was carrying a 4-inch Buck knife, a steel mallet, latex gloves, rubber tubing, garbage bags and a BB gun in a black duffel bag.

The LA Times version mentioned the distance that Nowak traveled and how she was dressed in the fourth graph. Both stories did use nut graphs to summarize information that was very complicated and difficult to digest in one big paragraph.

I felt, after reading both versions, that the Schwartz version was a little bit more pleasing. I felt that the way that Schwartz addressed the lead was more concise and tighter, in that he got to the main motive of the attempted murder much faster than did the LA Times version. I did feel that both stories did a nice job decoding the chronology and making the story interesting to read. Although the story pretty much made itself interesting. Who doesn’t want to read about a crazed NASA astronaut? I personally found the story to be extremely funny and it brightened my day to think that even astronauts can be crazy. I mean this story was really about the craziest stalker that I think I have heard about in a while. I did not really like the fact that the Schwartz version made the illusion that Nowak was happily married and only near the end of the story does he say that the couple had “separated a few weeks ago.? The whole time I was reading I thought that Nowak was simply deranged and was having an illusionary affair when in actuality she was estranged from her husband. The LA Times version mentioned the separation in the second graph and I appreciated this information being much earlier in the story.

January 29, 2007

Barbaro Euthanized

Former Kentucky Derby winner Barabaro was euthanized Monday following complications from the broken leg suffered in the Preakness Stakes last May.

The major complication presented in the article by Richard Rosenblatt, the Associated Press racing writer was to obtain sufficient information about the euthanization while maintaining proper depth. The story, as published by The Star Tribune, was a breaking story when it was published. On Sunday things looked good for Barbaro and by 10:00 a.m. on Monday he was euthanized. The story developed extremely quickly and Rosenblatt had very little time to gather all the relevant information for the story while still making sure that enough information was presented to make the story substantial. Rosenblatt elected to detail the history of Barbaro since the accident in May in order to create significant interest and adequate back story.

For the most part this story was picked up by several news outlets because of the breaking nature of the news. The Associated Press version by Rosenblatt was picked up by The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and However, The Philadelphia Daily News decided to run their own version of the story. This version, by Dick Jerardi, was much more limited with regards to the time scope of the story. Jerardi’s story only details the Barbaro story from about the last three days where the Rosenblatt story goes back months. Both stories did, however, use quotes very extensively for the emotional reaction of the story. Both stories used the quotes to get at the direct feelings of Barbaro’s owner Roy Jackson.

Personally, I felt that the Jerardi version was much more appropriate for the event. In this case the news was that the 3-year-old bay colt was euthanized, not that he was trying to recover from an injury that most horses don’t recover from. I felt that the Rosenblatt story was too much about the distant past where as the Jerardi story detailed only the relevant past of the last few days leading up to the euthanization.

Both stories used quotes by Roy Jackson almost extensively. They both used quotes to lead a paragraph in most cases but Rosenblatt made sure that the quote always ended in, “someone said.? From Rosenblatt story:

"I would say thank you for everything, and all your thoughts and prayers over the last eight months or so," Jackson said to Barbaro's fans.

The Jerardi story was much more lax in its presentation of quotes. Jerardi often used first and second names after the first reference and also used context to lead into a quote. From Jerardi story:

Jackson was trying to hold his emotions in when talking about it. When asked how his wife was doing, he said: "I think the one it's been the hardest on is Dean Richardson."

For this reason I feel that the Rosenblatt story was easier to read due to the uniform nature of the quotes. The Jerardi story only managed to look sloppy when you began to read all of the quotes.

January 23, 2007

Passports Now Mandatory For Border Crossing

Beginning Tuesday international travelers returning from Canada, Mexico, or countries in the Caribbean will be need passports in order to pass through customs upon return to the United States.

The lead of this story is very tricky in that it is difficult to get an average reader interested in a story about passport requirements. In this story, reported by the Associated Press and posted by the Star Tribune, the reporter, Chris Welsch, elected to delay the real lead of the story into the second paragraph. Welsch elected to describe what life might be like if you were in a country like Mexico in the first paragraph instead as an effort to get the reader to imagine what it would be like if you neglected your passport. It is the second paragraph that really gives the point of the story with regards to the who (international travelers to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean), when (Tuesday), where (the United States), and what (will need passports to re-enter the United States). The why question, isn’t really involved in the lead but it is almost implied that the government has instituted new the new rules requiring passports.

A different version, also done by the Associated Press, was posted by the Pioneer Press. This story, written by Giovanna Dell’Orto, had a lead that was placed in the very opening paragraph and was much more specific and to the point. Not only did this lead get to all of the major questions of the article (who, what, and when), it also gave a very brief and vague explanation of why. The point of this story was that there were very few problems that were encountered because of the new passport rule which allows the reader increased understanding of the issue being reported.

A new rule requiring U.S. airline passengers to show a passport upon their return from Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean took effect Tuesday, with few reports of stranded travelers.

I found that both stories served different purposes in their intents, however, I felt like the Dell’Orto story had a more appropriate lead because it was placed as the very beginning of the story. While the Welsch story was acceptable, I felt that I was being treated childishly by the way that Welsch decided to handle the lead. I felt that Dell’Orto’s choice of lead placement was simply more fitting and I appreciated the advanced knowledge of what the topic and point of the story was. The lead in both of these stories, despite occuring in different places within the story, serve to inform the reader of the most vital information regarding the story in an effort to interest the reader and get the reader to read about the less major details of the story. Both leads occur in the very early portions of the story, however, Dell'Orto's version is the one that placed the direct lead in the very opening paragraph.