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Analysis: Using Large Data Sets

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For this analysis entry, I used an article from Nicar, found here.

In this article the reporter talks about attempting to get information regarding lost war records.

He was working on an earlier piece on a man who died in war, but the army had no record of his death. This sent him on a hunt to find out why records go missing.

He says it's a result of poor communication between US Central Command, and confusion over what records are to remain classified.

To do his piece, he had to submit several FOIA requests. A lot of information was denied because if even one word is wrong in the request, the entire request can be denied.

What information he was able to get, he had to make sense of. He certainly would have needed to be well versed in online searches, as a lot of the information he was seeking could have existed elsewhere online. Not only that, but good Internet searching skills often helps a person narrow and tailor their search to only get the most pertinent results.

Analysis: Going Beyond the Press Conference

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Police held a press conference in regard to the slain Cold Spring officer, Tom Decker. MPR reported on the press conference.

For this story, the reporters focused on giving readers a sense of who Tom Decker was. Through anecdotes and quotes from friends and family, the reporters paint a nice picture of an officer who ought to be remembered as a hero.

The reporters have gone beyond the event itself in talking with people who knew Decker. Had the reporters relied solely on information provided by the police chief in the news conference, the story might have seemed dull.

However, including the perspective of those who knew him allows a legacy of sorts to live on. The perspective of friends and family also adds a humanizing element for readers who didn't know him. Through that perspective Decker is no longer a stranger but a man who left behind a family who grieve his absence.

The reporters did their job well by making this story relatable.

Analysis: Diversity

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For this analysis, I used an article from the Washington Times about how elected offices are changing due to diversity.

The story suggests that 2012 will go down in history as a landmark election year. Many advances were made in the way of diversity that seem to be indicative of the country as a whole.

Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard became the first Hindu elected to Congress, and Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono became the first Buddhist elected to the Senate.

While many state made historic decisions about same-sex marriage, Arizona Democrat Krysten Sinema became the fist openly bisexual person to be elected to the House of Representatives.

This story goes beyond stereotypes because it focuses on several facets of diversity that were affected by the election. It also goes beyond stereotypes because the article focuses on how the member-elect of their respective offices are more representative of the make-up of the country than it ever has been before.

It did, however, reinforce a potentially stereotypical notion that representatives who observe Christian-based faiths tended to be Republicans, while those who observed non-Christian faiths tended to be democrats.

The article also talks about the fact that this year, more elected officials than ever before actually do not associate with any religion.

The major source for the article was a Pew study that examined congressional data.


Analysis: Story that uses numbers

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For this analysis I used a Star Tribune article from a previous blog entry that talks about the new Northstar station that opens Wednesday.

The reporter uses numbers in many ways to tell this story. He uses numbers to talk about money in terms of how much the new station cost and how much fares will cost for riders to use this service. He also uses numbers to talk about the times the train will be stopping at the Ramsey station. Finally, he uses numbers to talk about people in terms of ridership.

The numbers in this story are slightly overwhelming. The dollar figures and ridership figures enhance the story, but it was probably unnecessary for the reporter to list all the times the train will stop at the station. He could have directed readers who were really interested in that information to the Metro Transit website. That use of numbers detracted from the story.

It seems like the reporter did little to no math in this story. He simply used the raw numbers. A more effective use of the numbers might have been to discuss ridership in terms of percentages rather than the raw data.

The sources of the data are transit officials, Metro Transit, and the city of Ramsey.

Analysis: Obituary of Lloyd P. Johnson

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The obituary of Lloyd P. Johnson, reported by the Star Tribune, has many sources, most of which are interviews with Johnson's coworkers at Wells Fargo, as Johnson was instrumental in turning around Norwest Bank and the acquisition of Wells Fargo.

The obituary does not use the standard news lead that includes the who, what, where, when and why of the event. It uses an alternative type of lead that indicates Norwest Bank was in trouble in 1985 when Johnson was hired to right the ship.

The news value here is that someone influential in the community has died. He is largle credited with having been the person to take Norwest Bank from dying on the vine to being healthy, thriving corporation. Norwest was a large presence in the Twin Cities, and when Norwest became financially healthy enough to acquire Wells Fargo, that presence became even stronger.

The obituary differs from a resume in that the obituary outlines the effect that Johnson's position with Norwest/Wells Fargo had on the bank and on the community instead of being a laundry list of things he was responsible for.

Compare multimedia of two new organizations

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For this analysis, I compared the websites for the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune. I noticed that each uses quite similar multimedia options.

Each website has a lot pictures and videos. Each website also has ways for readers to further connect with the news outlet through Twitter, Facebook, and by subscribing to RSS feeds.

A video can complement a news story by providing an even more in-depth look at a topic. For example, if the story was covering court proceedings, the video might show a press conference with one of the attorneys. So instead of simply re-telling the content of the story in video format, the video serves to enhance the reader's/viewer's understanding of the issue. It serves to help the viewer think about the issue in terms of the "big picture."

The writing in the news stories on each website is a lot more formal than that of Facebook or Twitter. The language especially makes a difference on the news outlet's Twitter feed because a tweet can only contain 140 characters. Economy of language is incredibly important when it comes to news writing, and nowhere is that more evident than in a Twitter feed.

The New York Times reported a story about a Christian group that is urging parents to keep their children home from school on a day when the school will embark on an anti-bullying campaign that will encourage students to interact with other students with whom they may not normally come in to contact with.

The Christian group, the American Family Association, sees "Mix It Up Day" as a thinly veiled attempt to promote homosexuality.

The Southern Poverty Law center, which created "Mix It Up Day," intended the day to be about celebrating diversity in their community.

Most of the sources in this story are spokespeople for the above mentioned groups who spend the article refuting the claims of the opposing group. The sources are introduced one right after the other, as if the author of the article wanted to present both sides fairly. Attribution in this story is set up exactly like we have learned about in class: attribution comes after the quote, two-sentence quotes are split by the attribution, the author consistently attributes by using "said," and said is listed first if the quote being used comes from someone whose long title is included in the attribution. The attribution is effective; it leaves little doubt as to who is making any given claim.

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