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Analysis: Numbers

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The Herald Sun's article about the recent floods in Japan uses numbers in several ways.

Many approximate counts of people who have been told to evacuate are reported, such as the 400,000 total people "ordered or advised" to leave their homes. That count then narrows down to region and then prefectures.

The number of landslides that occurred and houses damaged were also listed, as well as the number of casualties, centimeters of rain that fell in three days, and the centimeters of rain that fell per hour on Friday.

Many of the numbers are very overwhelming, and frankly too specific and unnecessary to include in this story. With all of the listed numbers of evacuation in regions that I'm not sure even Australians have heard of, the reporter would have been better off converting those numbers into percentages so the reader can get a better idea of the scope of the evacuation.

For example, saying that in the Fukuoka prefecture 78,600 people were ordered to evacuate has no real meaning to anyone who doesn't know the population of Fukuoka. If there were 80,000 residents, that would be far different than if there were to be 500,000 people in that region.

Had the reader used math to find the percent of the populations were ordered to evacuate, this story would have much more impact.

Sources of the numbers are fairly clear, citing Kyushu's local media and the Fukuoka prefecture spokesman. Otherwise, "officials said" is used, being more vague as to where these approximations and numbers actually came from.

Analysis: Multimedia

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The New York Times and The Star Tribune use different multimedia visuals to show the effects of the Colorado wildfire.

The New York Times's map of the fire shows how the fire spread over a six day period, marking areas of expansion as well as the extent of the fires on each day.

This compliments news stories because it better shows readers the extent of the fire and where it is on the map, accurately displaying its vast scope.

The writing with this visual describes the location and direction of spread each day as compared to the previous, and notes the damages of those areas. Two to three sentences go with each day/map, and deal exclusively with facts rather than quotes from residents.

The Star Tribune, however, uses photos taken by the Associated Press to show the destruction of the fire in various places.

These photos show readers destruction on cars, homes and others, and accurately display the chaos that can otherwise only be imagined in the text from articles.

With each picture is a sentence describing what the picture shows and a sentence that describes the reach of the fire on that day and how much of it is contained. Names are given and other background information of people in the photos, more info if they have a particularly compelling story.

Analysis: Speeches

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The Irish Times covered Mohammed Morsi's inauguration speech, mixing quotes with background facts.

Quotes that were included are reflect Morsi's effort to inspire Egyptians and assure them that he will serve them respectfully. "I will look after the interests of the people and protect the independence of the nation and the safety of its territory," he said.

"I swear by God that I will sincerely protect the republican system and that I respect the constitution and the rule of law," Morsi said in his speech.

This article gave details of Morsi's attire, saying he wore a beard and an "open-necked shirt and suit", of the crowd who "cheered Mr. Morsi's arrival in the square", and women who wore waist-length "khemar" veils that are preferred by Morsi's wife. "Wild cheers from the crowd" was also used in setting the scene.

No comments from attendees were given.

Background information included when he will be officially sworn into office, details about the vote and that he "narrowly beat" his opponent, that he is the first freely elected president of Egypt, and the types of protests that occurred.

Most of the quotes are towards the beginning of the article, while a briefing of recent history is given towards the end, talking about the military's ruling power and the difficulties in place of keeping control of Egypt.

Morsi's election carries a large amount of other topics of debate with it, and the article focuses mainly on how Morsi plans to change the current state of the country and gain control over the army, and how he got to the position he is in today through Egypts' first free election.

Analysis: Attribution

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The Star Tribune's article about the flooding in Duluth has many examples of effective attribution use.

Anyone with a title is named, such as Governor Mark Dayton and Duluth Mayor Don Ness, and spokesmen from the National Weather Service and other organizations. "Authorities" is commonly used, rather than providing a specific name for the source.

Sources are not very scattered throughout this story. For example, quotes from Ness appear together in a section of his announcements. Some other sources are spotted within the same area, but do not affect the clumping of his quotes.

Information is from people in this article, particularly representatives and officials. Locals do not provide input in this article and are not even interviewed, leaving the information to be gathered from more authoritative positions.

The reporter of this story sets up attribution in many ways. Some have the attribution after a quote or summary, often immediately followed by another quote or summary:

--------- "The damage to both the public and private property is going to be extensive," Duluth Mayor Don Ness said, adding that the city likely will need help from the federal government to clean up the mess from the heaviest two-day rainfall in nearly 150 years. ---------

Other times, the attribution comes before the information is given:

--------- Dan Miller, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Duluth, said the rain started in the area shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday and poured heavily and steadily for nearly 18 hours. ---------

The combination of these ways to provide attribution is effective. It makes the story feel less repetitive and keeps my interest better. It is not a confusing method, as everything is attributed clearly keeping the subject with their quote, making this combination of style also very practical.

Analysis: Leads

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The lead for an article in The New York Times about Friday's shooting on the University of Alberta campus provides information relevant to the main line of the story, leaving out unnecessary details.

The lead rightfully includes the "what", stating that Canadian police are searching for someone and that three people were shot and killed with a fourth critically injured in a robbery attempt.

Also included is the "when". The shooting and robbery attempt was early in the morning and police searched on Friday afternoon.

The "where" is given, stating that the even took place in Edmonton, Alberta at a a university residence and student services center.

No names were given, though the victims and suspects were identified as being security company employees.

The types of injuries were not specified, as they are unimportant in comparison to other elements of this news story. The lead does include, however, that three of them died and the fourth is in critical condition.

The fact that this shooting took place on a university campus was not strongly emphasized, placing the detail of "university residence and student services center" towards the end of the lead and not stating on which university campus the shooting took place.

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