January 2012 Archives

Analysis #1: Leads

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In this CNN international news story about the Italian cruise ship, the lead was very straightforward.

"A woman's body was found Saturday in the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship, Italian officials said, taking the number of people confirmed dead to 17."

The lead of a news story is very much the first impression of the article. Aside from the title, it's the reader's first idea of the seriousness of the story and who and what are involved. This particular lead would certainly be considered a "hard news" lead due to the lack of scenic detail, puns, and statistics.

The story utilizes the gender of the deceased, the day of the week, the name of the particular cruise ship, and where the officials are from. This lead isn't particularly detailed overall, but it gives just enough to interest the reader. The day of the week being mentioned may seem unnecessary because the story was written and posted on Saturday as well. It may be more fitting to leave that part out, but in this story it may have been done because the story was posted in the evening.

The gender of the deceased was mentioned, but not the age or where she was from. This information is not mentioned in the story itself, though, so it can be deduced that this information is not readily available yet. The story did mention that she was in a uniform and that it was suspected that she worked on the ship. This fact was uncertain and was probably left out of the lead for that reason.

The name of the cruise ship was mentioned and this was probably to avoid confusion: the Italian cruise ship story has been in the news for awhile. Still, people could assume that another cruise ship had gone down if both "Italian officials" and "Costa Concordia" were not mentioned.

Essentially, the purpose of this particular lead was to give the very basics, perhaps because the article is fairly long and goes into a lot of detail updating readers about new information involving the ship wreck.

Gingrich defends moon colonization plans

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Newt Gingrich laid out plans to colonize the moon on Wednesday, with hopes of putting an American base on the moon by the year 2020.

During his speech, Gingrich was very serious about his plans despite some of his opponents' jabs at his vision, CNN reports.

Rival Mitt Romney has said that he is simply not willing to invest the money in this kind of project. Opponent Ron Paul went to the route of defending health care and vying to make it more of a priority, Huffington Post reports. Rick Santorum sided with Ron Paul, saying that America's deficit required cutting programs, not irresponsibly exploring the moon.

Gingrich says his moon colonization plans are very much about doing something bold and big to bring the country together. He also mentioned wanting to get there before the Chinese, implying a fear that another part of the world could beat us to it.

The hopeful future president doesn't want to stop at the moon, either. If elected president, Gingrich aspires to tackle Mars as well, CNN reports.

Italian cruise ship death toll is now 17

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A woman's body was uncovered Saturday in the shipwrecked Italian Costa Concordia cruise ship, bringing the confirmed dead tally to 17.

Searches have been carried out daily since the cruise liner hit rocks and rolled onto its side on January 13. 16 people still remain missing, CNN reports. The body uncovered on Saturday has not been identified, although the deceased woman was wearing a uniform. People speculate that she worked for the cruise liner, but this has not been confirmed to date.

The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, remains under house arrest, USA Today reports. He has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before passenger evacuation had occurred.

Francesco claims that the reef he hit was not marked on his nautical charts. He admits that he did make a mistake, but denies that he was going too fast, CNN reports.

Minnesota boy allergic to cold

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A Jackson boy is a typical, outdoors loving 5th grader except he happens to have an allergy to the cold.

Grant Schlager, who turns 12 this week, is literally allergic to the cold. He breaks out in hives and must carry an Epi-pen on him in case his symptoms worsen, Kare 11 reports.

As a Minnesota native, Grant's parents must check him for bumps after just 15 minutes outdoors. He often has to go indoors to take breaks and be careful when drinking icy beverages or swimming in colder water. To be safe, he takes an antihistamine twice a day and carries his Epi-pen much like a child with a peanut allergy would.

Grant's mother Amy Schlager was skeptical that these hives were an actual allergic reaction, Given the growing suspicion, there has been a number of studies done since the mid-nineties exploring the possibility of a cold allergy.

Joshua Milner, a researcher at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases tells USA Today that the condition is more common than people think. A study Milner led found a genetic mutation in 27 people from three different families who all had cold allergy symptoms as well as other immune system concerns and disorders.

It is estimated that 1 in 2,000 people are diagnosed with this allergy, but it is also expected that children like Grant could one day out of it, Kare 11 reports.

Taco Bell adds breakfast menu

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Taco Bell is following the footsteps of other fast food restaurants who have been pressured to add breakfast items to their menus.

The Mexican-style food chain has launched its breakfast menu at nearly 800 restaurants , primarily located within 12 Western states. The new menu includes stuffed burritos stuffed with a wide variety of ingredients, hash browns, hot or iced coffee, and orange juice, Kare 11 reports.

Brian Niccol, Taco Bell's chief marketing and innovation officer, tells Chicago Sun-Times that although Taco Bell has had plenty of breakfast time customers, the company deserves more than just a fair share.

This new menu is expected to help enormously due to the fact that breakfast demand in fast food restaurants has grown so rapidly. Due to economic struggles, people are generally more likely to splurge on a fast food breakfast than dinner out at a restaurant.

If the launch goes as expected, Taco Bell will have breakfast burritos on menus nationwide by the year 2014, Kare 11 reports.

Princess Diana's dress to appear at Mall of America

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Late Princess Diana's wedding gown will be the main feature of an exhibit celebrating her life at the Mall of America this February.

The exhibit, entitled, "Diana: A Celebration" will run from Feb. 4 through June 10, the Star Tribune reports.

The exhibit will display 28 of Princess Diana's designer dresses, paintings, home movies, photos and family heirlooms. The profits generated will go to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The profits from the original exhibition at the Althorp Estate overseas have generated over $2 million for various charities, although the exhibit there is only open two months out of the year.

John Norman, whose exhibition production company Arts & Exhibitions (AEI) is backing "Diana: A Celebration," told the Star Tribune that the Mall of America is a desired location because places with high traffic allow for the exhibit to be viewed by as many people as possible. He added that the space is ideal because of the vast square footage and tall ceilings.

A gift package becomes available starting Friday until Dec. 24 for $75. It includes two exhibit tickets, two audio tours, and one "Diana: A Celebration" catalog. General admission tickets can be purchased the date the exhibit opens, either at the exhibit itself or through Ticketmaster, CBS News reports.

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