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Analysis: Data sets article

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By Kiera Janzen

The website for the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting had an article on its "Extra! Extra!" blog where the reporter used and analyzed records and data sets for a story about buying and selling guns online.

The reporter used the records, data sets, and information on websites like to produce the story. Theses resources were analyzed to discover how people are illegally advertising and selling guns on websites like

In order to do this reporting, the reporter needed to be able to locate and effectively analyze websites where weapons are being illegally advertised and sold. He or she needed to have certain computer skills that allowed them to carry out this type of analysis that would produce meaningful information for the story.

The news organization did not use online tools, such as interactive graphics, to engage the reader. The article did have links to several websites related and relevant to the story, but interactive graphics would have helped the article to be more interesting, engaging, and easier to understand.

Analysis: Diversity article

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By Kiera Janzen

The Pioneer Press wrote a news story about a Hmong nonprofit group buying a popular Vietnamese restaurant in St. Paul. The story gives information about the Hmong nonprofit group and also discusses the restaurant and the Frogtown area where it is located.

This story moves beyond stereotype and into something more substantive by discussing the different Hmong and Vietnamese cultural groups within the context of the restaurant situation. Rather than just focusing on the cultural groups, the reporter tells a relevant story about a popular local restaurant while including important details about the cultural groups involved.

In order to gain information, the author of this article used officials from the St. Paul City Council, the CEO and president of the Hmong nonprofit group, and representatives from the Vietnamese restaurant as sources.

Analysis: Number use article

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By Kiera Janzen

The Pioneer Press wrote a news story using numbers about the use of electronic pull-tabs as a revenue source for the new Vikings stadium. Numbers are used to predict and estimate future revenues, to discuss the implementation of the electronic pull-tabs in bars, and to discuss the budget for the stadium.

In this article, the reporter incorporates numbers in a way that is not overwhelming throughout the story, along with information and quotes regarding the new stadium plans and budget. The numbers are significant in helping readers to understand the issues that lawmakers are facing regarding the stadium budget and how the electronic pull-tabs would help to increase revenues.

The reporter cites lawmakers, officials involved in the new stadium project, and budget statements as sources for the numbers. If the author would have use math to crunch the numbers he used, the story would have been more interesting and the numbers could have been more effective to support and elaborate on the story's points.

Analysis: Phil Ramone Obituary

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By Kiera Janzen

The New York Times wrote a news obituary about Phil Ramone, a famous record producer and a 14-time Grammy Award winner.

The obituary follows the general New York Times obituary formula. It opens with a standard obituary lead that includes the person's name, something notable about him, when and where he died, and his age (at the time that he died) stated at the end. The source used for information about the cause of Ramone's death was his son, Matthew.

The rest of the article continues with the formula, giving information about the cause of his death, significant characteristics and achievements the he is known for, a basic chronology of his life, and surviving family members. This obituary, and most obituaries in general, differ from resumes chiefly because they provide quotes and other relevant information about the person who died from family, friends, and other people that knew the person or that the person had an impact on.

The news value key to this story is prominence. Ramone was famous in popular culture, particularly in the music industry. This obituary discusses well-known artists that he worked with and also lists some of the popular songs that he helped produce.

By Kiera Janzen

CNN wrote a news report about Gov. Bobby Jindal's speech at the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting in January. In crafting the news story, the author made deliberate choices about what content and context information to include and how to structure these pieces within the story.

The author opened the story with a direct quote Jindal said during the speech and followed this lead with a summary of the politician's main points, along with general information about the speech's context, in the next paragraph.

The rest of the article follows the general point-support structure commonly used in speech coverage. Some paragraphs contain direct quotes with no explanation, some have direct quotes with explanation, and some provide background information and use paraphrased quotes.

Throughout the story, the reporter inserted background information about the issues discussed and explained certain references that Jindal made. Basic biographical information about the speaker and general details about the audience were also included to help the reader understand the importance of the speech.

Analysis: News Organizations' Multimedia Options

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By Kiera Janzen

Examining, analyzing, and comparing the multimedia options on the websites of CNN and NBC News provides insight into what types of multimedia these major news organizations use and how they effectively use the different options. Both websites feature text, video, inforgraphics, photos, and slideshows to deliver and enhance the news.

On the CNN website, the majority of news stories feature a video that tells the story (and often gives additional information), at least one photo relevant to the event(s) or the people involved in the news, and text that gives information and tells the story. Below the videos and the pictures, there is usually a brief, simple caption in bold that tells readers what they are looking at. The text itself is broken up into small chunks and includes a sidebar with the main points of each story, making stories easier to read.

The multimedia used on the NBC News website is similar to that used on CNN. Many news stories feature text, at least one video (that provides information different from the text), and at least one picture. The captions underneath the videos and pictures, however, are longer and provide more information (including quotes and additional details). Like CNN, the text in stories is broken up into small pieces and also regularly contains hyperlinks which link readers to related stories.

By Kiera Janzen

NBC News wrote the two stories examined about the charges Oscar Pistorius' brother is facing as a result of a traffic accident. The second story was an update to the first story, written earlier in the day.

In the original story, the lead contains more details about the charges Carl Pistorius is facing. However, as the story progresses, general details about his case are summarized as the author leads in to a summary about the Oscar Pistorius case.

In the update to the original story, the lead is less detailed and contains more information connecting this news event to the Oscar Pistorius case. In contrast to the initial report, as the story goes on, the author includes many more details about the accident (and its charges) involving Carl Pistorius.

These additional details include recent quotes from the Pistorius family lawyer and information about how South African authorities have handled this case in the past. Likewise, more information about the case and trial of Oscar Pistorius (and its connection to Carl) are included at the end of the article.

By Kiera Janzen

In the Minnesota Public Radio article, "Minneapolis South High School student brawl involves hundreds", the author begins by outlining the four W's (who, what, when, and where) in the lead and the sentence following the lead. In the rest of the story, the reporter summarizes the important details of the event in a general inverted pyramid structure.

The nut graf, which comes after the first two sentences in this story, adds more details about the brawl, including speculation from students about why the fight occurred and a statement from the Minneapolis police spokesman about what happened. In the paragraphs that follow, the author summarizes injuries that were suffered as a result of the fight, how the police intervened, how the school handled it, and reactions (including quotes) from school officials and students.

The reporter's organization of the story is effective because it draws the reader in with a piece of interesting information in the lead ("a food fight spun out of control"), and then includes the rest of the important details, interspersed with relevant quotes from individuals involved in the fight.

One thing that the reporter could have done differently is to include an intriguing or striking quote at the end of the story to serve as the kicker. Instead of doing this, the author ended the article with information about the police investigation of the brawl.

Analysis: Goodbye Saturday mail? Postal Service plans cuts

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By Kiera Janzen

In the Pioneer Press article, "Goodbye Saturday mail? Postal Service plans cuts", the author uses a variety of sources relevant to the U.S. Postal Service and the plan to stop delivering mail on Saturday.

In total, the author uses information and quotes from 12 different sources throughout the article. Specifically, the Postmaster General, a small business owner from Toledo, four members of Congress, the Republican Speaker of the House, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the president's spokesman, and an assistant manager of a New York food market are named and quoted in some fashion (whether it be a direct quote or a paraphrase). The U.S. Postal Service and the National Farmers Union are also used as sources in the article, but no specific representatives for these organizations are named or quoted.

The sources provide all of the information in this article and the reporter spreads out the sources and the information they provide quite equally. Although the U.S. Postal Service (and the Postmaster General) is referred to frequently, the author effectively incorporates the different sources throughout. This helps to enhance the quality and the depth of the information in the story.

In the article, the way that attributions are set up varies throughout. Sometimes, the attribution is at the beginning of a sentence, and other times it is tied in in the middle or included at the end of a sentence or group of sentences. The reporter also varies the usage of direct, partial, and paraphrased quotes. Varying the attribution and quotation method help to make the story more interesting to read.

Analysis: "America's deadliest sniper" shot by veteran

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By Kiera Janzen
In the ABC News article, "Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle killed at shooting range; suspect arrested", the author begins with a straightforward news lead that summarizes three of the four of the main W's (who, what, and where).

The lead describes the most recent action, that a man was arrested on the charge of killing Chris Kyle and another man, in a general manner. The details of how the murders occurred, who the arrested man is, and what exactly he is charged with are left out of this first sentence. These details are not necessarily important for the author to include in the lead, because they are outlined later in the story and are not crucial for drawing readers in and summarizing the news event.

Some details regarding one of the victims, Chris Kyle, are included in the lead because Kyle is a fairly recognizable figure in the United States. The author also mentions the location of the gun range, but does not include its name. Besides the news value of prominence, conflict and emotions are important to this lead and this story as a whole.

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