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May 6, 2007

France's New President

The New York Times' use of numbers did a good job of showing what a close win France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy made over his competitor Segolene Royal. They also effectively gave background details, like how long the French presidential term is, what his responsibilities are, and when he will take over, without ruining the flow of the story. The author of the piece did a good job of predicting future outcomes of Sarkozy's presidency by talking about all the riots that took place by different groups after he was voted in. It seems France is being divided between the rich and the old, and the poor and the young because of this newly-elected conservative. To make this story more applicable to the U.S, they mentioned how Sarkozy is more pro-American than other French presidents have been.
The Star Tribune had a little blurb about the election and it seemed to favor Sarkozy, saying he was polite and didn't rise to Socialist Segolene Royal's baiting.

Poisoned Medicine

The New York Times' story "From China to Panama, a trail of poison medicine" was about counterfeiters who profit by substituting a poisonous solvent for a safe, more expensive syrup. The lead was superb: "The kidneys fail first. Then the central nervous system begins to misfire. Paralysis spreads, making breathing difficult, then often impossible without assistance. In the end, most victims die. Many of them are children, poisoned at the hands of their unsuspecting parents." This lead really drew me in and made me want to read more. By running this story the Times exposed a deadly coverup and shipping negligence. They discovered that the manufacturer of certain pharmaceuticals were not even authorized to be doing so. They also outted China's poor safety regulations. The bigger picture of global trade was captured very well in this piece. It had a lot of background info. and was well-researched.

April 29, 2007

Democracy in Nigeria

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times did stories on Nigeria's troubled presidential elections. The Post focused more on the fraud aspect while the Times had much more well-rounded coverage. Not only did they talk about the fraudulent elections, but they talked about democracy in Africa in general. They mentioned the outcomes of polls rating Nigerian's satisfaction with their democracy. They also compared Nigeria to other African countries. The Post said the elections did not meet international standards, but I think it was more important to keep the story relative to Africa. So what if they don't meet Western standards; that's beside the point. The Times successfully examined the underlying problems that are being caused by faulty democracy. They had better use of quotes, polls, and research studies.

April 15, 2007

Suicide Car Bombers

The Observer (U.K) and The N.Y Times did pieces on a suicide car bombing in Baghdad. The Times was much more accurate with numbers in the lead and throughout the story. Also, they included attribution in the lead, unlike the Observer. The Times also made good use of witness testimony. The Observer chose an angle that focused on a U.N perspective, while The Times showed a strong focus on al-Qaeda. The pictures in the Times were also more effective because they showed the wreckage and wounded, crying people. The Observer just showed a car ablaze.

March 24, 2007

Cricket Coach Dead

"When Cricket Turns to Murder in Sunny Jamaica" (NY Times) reported on the death of Pakistan's cricket coach Bob Woolmer. The clip on the website above the story headline was this:"After a stunning World Cup loss, Pakistan’s coach planned to “sleep on it.? By the next morning, he was dead." This hooked me and I started reading, but in the actual story the author used a burried lead which I didn't think worked well for the piece. It took the author three paragraphs before even mentioning that a body was found on the bathroom floor of a hotel room. In the fourth paragraph he finally mentioned who the victim was. I felt that it took too long to get to the point. Then the author speculated on how the murder may have been linked to gambling within the game. It didn't seem there was enough evidence pointing to this analysis and I think the author overstepped his boundaries as a reporter.

March 6, 2007

Afghan Ambush

The Washington Post did an article on marines opening fire after an ambush which left eight Afghan civilians dead. In the lead it said that "marines traveling in a convoy were hit by a car bomb and responded by firing in a way that some witnesses called reckless." It fails to mention who the witnesses were and it's not a very valid statement because it is more opinion than fact and should not be in the story. There was a picture with the following caption: "A weeping man in eastern Afghanistan shouts anti-American slogans after violence that followed a bomb attack on a U.S. convoy. Protesters blocked a main road." This picture makes the man out to look like the aggressor rather than the victim in the situation--they also did not mention (in the caption) the retalliation the marines took and ended up killing eight civilians.

February 22, 2007

U.S/Mexico Border

"Tougher Tactics Deter Migrants at U.S Border" (NY Times) started out as if it was going to be a human interest-type news piece but the human qualities got lost later on while explaining changing immigration tactics. "4100, en memoria de los muertos" in La Prensa, although not going into detail about the new fence and guards at the border, kept a more human appeal by referring to the many migrants that lose their lives at the border as "undocumented" rather than "illegals," as does the Times. Using words such as "illegals" is dehumanizing and makes even women and children out to be criminals.

February 18, 2007

Tourism in Haiti

The New York TImes' "Amid the woe, a Haitian paradise beckons" reminded me of chapter eight in Zinsser's book. He talked about how travel writers need to be able to distinguish for whom they are writing. In parts of this article I felt like I was reading a tour guide manuel. In other parts I felt it was like a news story. They also included a quote that personifies the typical "ugly tourist": "“I don’t want to see poverty,? acknowledged Helen Murphy, 66, of St. Paul, who was shopping in the tourist market one morning. “I’m on vacation. I don’t want to think that these people don’t have enough to eat.? But they don't include any quotes from the locals so that is a whole other angle and perspective of the story that goes missing.

February 8, 2007

Acapulco Drug Violence

"Brazen daylight killings by presumed drug smugglers just up the hill from Acapulco Bay are stoking fears that bloody drug wars will cripple Mexico's $12 billion tourism industry." Great lead for this article! The Star Tribune's piece, "Drug violence in Acapulco may scare away tourists," talked about how drug cartel dealings are now happening closer to five-star hotels. To make the story better they should have placed the deaths and beheadings closer to the top of the story to draw in the audience more strongly. Also, the only quote was from the mayor. The story would have had more substance if prospective or recent tourists to the area were interviewed.

February 4, 2007

Litvinenko Murder Suspect

The Guardian (UK) article "UK wants to try Russian for Litvinenko Murder" was very confusing to read. It jumped around from one point to another with no coherent connection to the paragraph or point made before. I would best classify it as an inverted pyramid but towards the end it started on a completely different subject. By the lead I assumed the article was going to be about Andrei Lugovoi, and for a couple paragraphs it was but it didn't even try to analyze what his possible motive would have been.Then it talks about President Vladimir Putin being a suspect in the murder and then it starts on a new subject about Russia using their control of energy and gas supplies for political power. Next, the article brings up a report done by the Health Protection Agency about polonium-210. I feel it was poorly organized and difficult to follow. Scottland Yard refused to comment and so the author just gave up on trying to find any other outside sources to contribute to the speculation of Lugovoi's guilt/innocence.

Europe and U.S Dealings With Iran

Trying to convey complex political information to the masses can be difficult but in the N.Y Times article "Europe Resists U.S Push to Curb Iran Ties" did so very effectively. It talked about Europe's commercial and economic ties with Iran, including the historical relations between the two countries. At the end they also mention that the European Commission will meet later this month to discuss bank transactions for Iranian companies so that tells us that there will be follow-up on this story. The article effectively transitioned between talking about European/Iranian relations, U.S/Iranian relations, and U.S/European relations as well as financial and oil issues at stake. The article could have been better by putting in more quotes and using attributions other than "said an American/European official." But it covered a wide range of issues dealing with this topic without oversimplifying too much yet still making it readable.