March 25, 2007

Poor Jeb

Summary: The University of Florida voted to deny Jeb Bush an honorary degree. No official reason was given, but hours later he was granted honorary status by the alumni association.

In the article by New York Times writer Abby Goodnough, the reporting seemed to lack depth as she couldn't get many newsworthy quotes, especially one from Jeb Bush or one including a reason from a voting member who voted no. These quotes would've really worked to make the article more substantial.
As it stands now, the article is just a small human interest story about Jeb being the first person to be denied the degree after being nominated by the alumni board.,0,5303043.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

The article by the Baltimore Sun, is more of a follow up to previous articles about Jeb being denied the degree. Here, we are informed that the alumni association has granted Jeb honorary status in response his being denied the degree. While this article suffers the same problem in terms of lack of newsworthy quotes, it has one good one from an alumni association member who said that to them alumni status was as along the same lines as a degree.
At the same time, this article was also a small fluff piece dealing with the president's brother.

March 18, 2007

CIA Spy Saga,1,3164434.story?coll=la-news-politics-national&track=crosspromo

Summary: Valerie Plame, a former CIA spy, testified Staurday about the leaking of her identity. Her appearance in court was the first time anyone had heard her side of the story.

In the article by Greg Miller, a staff writer at the Los Angelos Times, Miller makes mistakjes right form his lead:

"With a phalanx of cameras awaiting her entrance, Valerie Plame stepped out of the spy-world shadows and into the spotlight."

First, his use of the word "phalanx" is not a word many readers will know. Upon research you find it means a tightly packed group of people, but many other words would have worked just as well. Also, Plame has not been in the shadows since her name was leaked in 2003 as the lead would suggest. She has talked to people before and has done a photo spread for the magazine "Vanity Fair." This was just her first time in court, talking about what happened.
Another problem with the story is the ending. Miller focuses on how Plame feels that the Bush administration isn't handling her case right. She calls Bush hypocritical and say that she is Democratic. She also states that her husband was Republican, but now consdiers herself Democratic. The writer also states that many of the governmental officials there were Democratic. The author makes it seem as though since the Republicans are the vil party to blame for what went on while being Democratic is great. The way the author chose to write this last part only goes to show his only Democratic bias.

While the World Nation article isn't better written, it does stay away form much of the bias in the first article. This author does a much better job of telling a story about how Plame has started talking for herself and doesn't plan to stop until she sees action taken for what happened to her. The author also includes a nice timeline of her time line of the case.

March 2, 2007


Summary: A tornado tore through a school in Enterprise, Alabama Thursday. The students had thought they were partaking in another tornado drill. Eight students didn't survive the hit.

The article by could be divided into two parts. The first part is a sentimental piece which includes interviews by those involved in the attack. In this part The author captures the sudden change from the students thinking it was just a drill to a disaster through coupliung of the first two paragraphs:

"Students inside Enterprise High School huddled in the halls, joking around and waiting out what they thought was a standard tornado drill.
The school then went black as the lights dimmed and glass from a skylight shattered to the ground."

The author then follows with quotes from a worried mother and students, all done to evoke emotions and sympathy from the reader.
The second part is more of a public service announcement from the school battling people who say that they could've done more. In this part there are quotes from the governor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency chief all stating that the school was in the right in its actions. Even the last line acts as a way to suppress those who have doubts about the school's actions:

"Everything was done that was supposed to be done."

In the article by the San Francisco Chronicle, does more to put the tornado into context with the rest of the extreme weather that is occuring. The author starts by talking about the tornado and the school, but then talk about the massives blizzarss in Minnesota, as well as weather in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nebraksa and Missouri.
This story focuses on all the bad consequences that have happened due to the weather not just in Alabama but all over.
A big problem with this story is the lack of structure. There is no coherent movement from state to state in talking about the various weather. The author just moves from one place to the other. This makes the article read less like an article and more like a report on weather damage in the U.S.

While the second story lacked structure. I felt it did a better job in finding ways to relate the topic to a wider audience. the first story turned me off due to the public service ending.

February 19, 2007

Civil Unions in New Jersey

Summary: Starting Monday, New Jersey will be the next state to legalize civil unions between gay couples. As gay couples prepare for their oppertunity to be considered partners legally, the articles discuss the benefits of being allowed civil unions. Also, as New Jersey prepares to legalize civil unions there are plenty of those who still oppose the act.

In the article by the New York Times, the lead of the article is very non-specific, it could've been written at anytime with an open space for the the author to put in the state's name at any time.

"Tomorrow New Jersey officially joins Connecticut and Vermont in offering its gay and lesbian residents the option of forming civil unions, and the debate about what those unions represent is continuing."

Devan Sipher, the article's author, interviewed different New Jersey gay couples, and after the lead uses quotes about what being allowed civil unions means to them. The quotes he included such as, “We’re being allowed on the bus, but we’re being pushed to the back.? seem overdramatic and cliche. He also includes quotes form gay couples who still wish that they could have the marriage title in order to have a big ceremony. This quote serves the purpose of a segue into talking about actions that have been taken to prevent gay people from marriage status.
The end of the artcile focuss on how gay couples are going to make their union cermenoy more like a wedding even though it won't have that title.
The structure of the article and certain quotes the author includes like "I know that we will continue to fight for the wording to be changed," make it seem as though gay couples won't be really happy until they can have marriages and not only unions. While this may be true for some couples, the benefits civil unnions bring couples is probably enough for plenty of couples who now can be legally recognized by their state.


In the article by the North Jersey Media Group, the writer structures their article as more of a "Frequently Answered Questions" forum, with common quesitons about civil unions and their answers. While this is somewhat effective for curious readers, it wouldn't capture any reader who wasn't interested in the topic. There are many ways the writer could've re-formatted their article into more of an article format, but for whatever reason they chose to write this way. The article was wasn't interesting in the format it was presented and the author could've done more to make it better.

Both articles suffered from poor decisions on the part of the author and/or editor. With simple changes both articles could've been much more effective.

February 12, 2007

But I Need My Gun...

Summary: Presidential hopeful and ex-mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani has announced that an important element of his campaign for President will be his strict gun policy. Giuliani said that as Mayor of New York his strict gun policy helped lower crime rates. His stance is meeting a lot of opposition and potential loss of voters from the Republican party. Giuliani also talked about how he is also pro-choice and pro-gay rights. Two other hot topic issues that will bring him opposition from Republicans.

The San Francisco Chronicle article took Giuliani's platform issues and made the relate-able to its readers by looking at Giuliani from a California standpoint. The author writes that while Giuliani's stance isn't what most Republicans agree with, he may find Republican supporters in California. The author looks at the parallel of Governor Arnold and Giuliani. This approach to the topic is smart since if the author was to write about how Republican's disagree with Giuliani in a state where Republican views are probably pretty similar, he would have lost the interest of his readers.

The San Diego Tribune's article on the other hand focused mainly on the fact that Giuliani's beliefs aren't popular with Republicans. The story also talks more about Giuliani's campaigning, where he's been and who's behind him. Besides not creating a connection to the article like the San Francisco Chronicle reporter did, this story is still well written. The author does a good job of showing why Giuliani is a good candidate and why he's not.

February 4, 2007

After the Storm

Summary: The recent hurricane that ripped through floirda has left the southern state's residents struggling to pick up the pieces. The storm, and it's aftermath, killed 20 people.

The Washington Post article, "After Storms, Florida Picks Up the Pieces" by Peter Whoriskey, Tries to connect with it's audience by the use of questions in his lead, but only makes the story start off weak in its execution.

"Where did our wedding photo get to? What about the insurance policy? And where are my dentures?"

The lead reads is almost too humorous for a story about the devestation that Florida faced. The reference to dentures is in regards to the fact that a majority of the people killed by the storm were elderly. Some of the people the author chooses to interview are also bad choices for the story. One person he tlaks to is a prison inmate out cleaning debris as a part of a prison volunteer program. Even if it's right or not, people are not going to sympathize with the words of a convicted felon. Also the fact that he is only helping because of a prison program, regardless of whether he would've helped outside of prison or not, takes away from the sentimental feel the author was going for in this story.
The author also tries to add cheap humor to connect with the audience better, but rarely succeeds; as shown in this quote:

"Gene and Edna Suggs, both 70, who built a brick house in Lady Lake 33 years ago. It weathered tropical storms and the rampages of the Suggses' three sons, who grew up there."

The author then goes on to bring up the Suggs' relgious views. He ends with a quote by Gene saying that Satan brought the storm not God. While Whoriskey tried hard to add humor and personal touches to evoke sympathy with the audience for the victims of the hurricane, he ended up making his story hokey. The piece is laughable in how personal the author attempts to write the story. In complete contrast to his efforts, you never connect with any of the victims instead the reader merely passes over this story without another thought except the natural human response of care for the victims, a response they would've had without reading this story.

In contrast, The New York Times' article, "Attention Turns to Salvage After Deadly Florida Storms" by Lynn Waddell, was able to evoke emoption from the audience by simply reporting the facts of the destruction and adding a few quotes by credible sources such as President Bush and R. David Paulison, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. While the lead in this story isn't much better focusing on Bush's promise to provide monteary relief instead of the recovery process itself, the rest of the story was written and edited smartly by the New York Times staff. Also, Waddell tied her story into another big story which was also reported on, the death of 18 endagered whooping cranes. This tie-in will move the reader onto the next story, creating a well rounded, connected product.

By approaching the topic more factual and not emotional, the New York Times' author was able to connect with the reader better than the Washington Post writer who tried to capture the feelings of those in Flordia.

January 26, 2007

Corn Fed Energy

Summary: The ethanol industry has received a big boost from President Bush via his State of the Union Address push for more ethanol energy usage. To further his point, Bush even traveled to the DuPont Experimental Station Wednesday where ethanol is produced to receive a crash course in production of the energy source. While this push by the government is a good sign for ethanol producers, especially those stations that are just starting up, oil companies aren’t as happy with the idea. The ethanol push has come with the rising oil prices and the ban of M.T.B.E. which corrodes groundwater and can be found in gasoline. Many are afraid that this sudden shift to ethanol could potentially threaten exports and livestock prices, even before ethanol is fully ready to be on the market. With congress’ approved 2005 fuel standard calling for 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by 2012, ethanol’s future isn’t a question anymore, but a fact.

Steven Mufson’s article from the Washington Post did a good job of showing how Bush’s speech has helped ensure a future for the growing ethanol industry. This article is timely due to the possibility of ethanol becoming a major source of fuel in the next ten years. The increase of support through the government and lobbying in the recent years is another reason why it was a timely article.

In comparing the Washington Post and the New York Time’s article, I felt that the New York Times article was much more thorough in its reporting. The writer did a much better job in not only showing developments in ethanol growth but also gave more of a history than the writer for the Washington Post. The New York Times article also does a good job of making the point of how by switching to ethanol we will reduce our dependency on foreign oil. The Washington Post only talked about how the oil industry was upset with the President’s push for ethanol usage, not going the next step and applying it in a global context. Both articles did a good job of presenting the good and bad of the ethanol boom. They stated the possibility of strain on corn crops and potential price increase due to the industries attempt to meet the government’s ethanol request by 2017.