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Analysis: Data

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For this analysis, I focused on a collection of stories from ICIJ writers about offshore banking.

The main story, written by seven journalists, analyzes data from leaked files about offshore bank accounts, spending, and more.

The authors analyze the secrecy permeating offshore banking and corporations. They use data about money transfers and links between individuals and corporations. According to the story, they crunched numbers they extracted from over 30 years of emails, records, and files, detailing offshore banking in over 170 countries.

The authors explain the significance of the data by making comparisons. For instance, according to the article, the amount of data measured in gigabytes in the leaked files is 160 times more than the files involved in Wikileaks. That kind of simple comparison to a situation that Americans are generally familiar with helps readers wrap their mind around the huge impact of these files.

The investigative journalists use the immense amount of data and information to break down a complicated subject like offshore banking to readers. It is the job of the journalists to "translate" the information to readers who may be otherwise uneducated about the issue.

On the main page of the collection of articles, there is a sidebar of infographics, interactive maps, and similar links that break down the subject even further. For example, this interactive map shows readers the location and identity of certain people who are buying up British land and property through tax loopholes. By clicking on a house graphic on the map, readers are shown a street view of the property as well as information on the property's owner.

To produce these stories, the various journalists needed to be able to comb through seemingly endless amounts of files and emails. They had to possess adequate computer skills to navigate the files and extract the data. The journalists and graphic creators needed to be able to create the infographics and make sure they were easy to use by the readers.

Analysis: Culture & Ethnicity

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For this analysis, I will focus on USA Today's coverage of the Chechen and Russian ties to the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

The suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings are brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. They are of Chechen ethnicity, but never lived in Chechnya. They have been U.S. residents for the past decade, and prior to that lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, reported USA.

The relationship between the U.S. and Russia has not always been friendly, so maintaining objectivity in reporting on the Tsarnaevs' Russian connections and ancestry is challenging.

With a history of violence and bloody wars in Russia and the former Soviet republics, it is easy to assume that violence translated through the generations to the Tsarnaev brothers. The risk is attributing the bombing to the Tsarnaevs' Chechen ancestry.

However, as Oleg Orlov, chairman of the Memorial Human Rights Society, points out in the USA article, the bombing wasn't a result of the brothers' heritage, but of their radical Islamic beliefs.

I think that the reporter of this article maintains a balance while reporting on a difficult subject. The reporter writes about the violence and wars between Russia and Chechnya, but does not center on them. She is also not quick to assume that the suspects' Chechen heritage is the cause of the bombings.

She makes it clear that the brothers were not actually raised in Chechnya and have lived in the U.S. for a large part of their lives. She shares the other side of the story by quoting Russian authorities and political experts on that region.

While she doesn't exactly paint a peaceful picture of Russia or Chechnya, she seems to portray them honestly and makes it clear that there is no evidence for a significant link between Chechen violent extremists and the Boston Marathon Bombings.

Analysis: Numbers

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For this analysis, I will be looking at the Minnesota Daily's coverage of the recent GAPSA and MSA elections.

The article's author, Tyler Gieseke, uses numbers in the story in three ways: to explain the percentage of the vote each candidate earned, to explain the voter turnout, and in a graph that shows voter turnout.

I don't think that the use of numbers in this story is overwhelming. Percentage of votes is a fairly common use of numbers in news reporting. Gieseke reports the numbers in a logical manner: he first tells what percentage of the vote the winner received, and then explains what percentage of the vote the runners-up received. Because he reports the numbers in quick succession, it is easy to follow along and understand the information being conveyed. One caveat to that is the fact that he includes MSA's third runner up, with 11 percent of the votes, toward the end of the article and not near the top with the others. This isn't necessarily confusing, but it works better in my opinion to keep related numbers close together.

The paragraph in which Gieseke explains the change in voter turnout is clear and easy to understand. It's a little confusing to switch from a percentage to a statistics, but Gieseke uses a helpful line graph to show the change in voter turnout over five years. After reading the article, looking at the graph helps to make everything clearer.

The sources of the numbers are not entirely clear, but Gieseke does cite Quinn Handahl, the events and logistics coordinator for the All-Campus Elections Commission as a source.

Analysis: Obituary

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For this analysis, I chose an obituary for Roger Ebert written by a close friend of his, Bob Greene for CNN. I also reviewed this obituary for Ebert, written for CNN by Alan Duke.

Greene's obituary takes the form of a personal narrative. He recalls happy memories of Ebert from their decades long friendship, and shares his private grief over the death of his friend. Duke's obituary is more of a collection of memories. He quotes Ebert directly, as well as including memories written by Ebert's wife, Chaz, the mayor of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times Editor-in-Chief, and others.

Both obituaries have alternative leads. Greene's begins with a memory of the last contact he had with Ebert. Duke's begins with a reference toward Ebert's lifelong career as a film critic.

Ebert's contributions to the film critic industry and the film industry in general had a huge impact on American movie-going. He was a household name, and his passing is intensely newsworthy. CNN's obituary's for Ebert are a way of honoring a man who was nationally beloved.

While Greene's obituary is more personal and less hard-hitting news, it still has news value in giving the public insight into a man who is currently the center of news coverage. Duke's obituary includes more facts about Ebert's life and death, including the cause and circumstances of his death.

Obituaries are different from other kinds of news in that they tend to be more sentimental and emotional. They include more background information to fill the reader in on the life of the deceased and often include more anecdotal rather than factual information.

Analysis: Multimedia

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For this analysis, I looked at USA Today and CNN's coverage of the 95-car pileup in near the Virginia-North Carolina border. Both articles included raw footage and a written piece.

In general, my experience is that CNN.com has a wider library of online videos and options for live viewing. For instance, I have been able to follow the Jodi Arias trial live and watch follow-up videos online. CNN supplements Arias trial coverage with articles analyzing the trial, photo slideshows, and other documents from the trial.

In the coverage of the pileup, CNN had a video at the top of the page depicting scenes from the accidents. There was no reporter and no voice-over, just clips cut together showing the damage. In addition to the video, there was a short write-up with the basic information about the accident. The article didn't go into too much detail, which let the video speak for itself.

USA Today's video was much more raw. It was just one continuous shot that appeared to be taken by someone driving slowly past the accident. Again, there was no reporter. USA Today's article was a bit longer and included more background information, quotes, and details. There were also two still photos showing twisted vehicles.

While USA often uses videos in its reporting, it seems to have a wider collection of still photo slideshows.

As more and more people began to rely on the internet for news, news companies had to experiment with different formats and media content to get the news to the consumers faster. Videos and photos allow the reader to digest the content quickly and move on. A quick video news report gives the synopsis of the event and users don't have to waste time skimming articles if they're too busy. Videos and photos that are accompanied by articles typically summarize or augment what is written.

Multimedia gives the news consumer a broader, and sometimes more in-depth look at an event. When reading about a crime, an accompanying photo of the criminal or the crime scene allows the reader to fully picture the scene in their heads and gain better comprehension of how things occurred.

Analysis: Progression

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The Ohio rape case that garnered world-wide media attention in the past few weeks came to a close Sunday as the two teen defendants were convicted of raping an unidentified teen victim, according to an article on CNN.com.

The article is relatively long as it provides information on the crime, the trial, and the outcome and reactions of the case. The writer, Steve Almasy, leads with references to the attention the case received from social media and bloggers. He then briefly describes the trial and the judge's ruling. Next he explains what the ruling will mean for the defendants. Almasy describes reactions from the defendants and others involved in the case. Next, Almasy goes into a description of the crime, the victim's testimony, and how the crime has impacted the town it took place in.

Overall, I think the ordering of the information is effective. Personally, I wouldn't lead off with the references to the social media attention. I think that it is trivial and not as newsworthy as other information in the article. It could be moved lower. I think the information about the sentencing and what the defendants will face in the future is more newsworthy.

The reporter placed the description of the crime later on in the article because the crime had been covered several times since the story broke. The focus of this article was the sentencing, not the crime itself. I think this is effective in giving the reader the newest information at the top and later providing background information.

As this case is delicate in that it involves a rape, the reporter had to be careful in how he summarized the information. He had to give enough information that the reader could understand the situation, but not enough that the description became inappropriate or violated the victim's privacy.

I think Almasy's summarization of the trial is fairly succinct. He includes important quotes that lend color to the article and doesn't overindulge in narrative.

Analysis: Sources

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A article from Fox News describes the religious tension in Pakistan after recent arson attacks on Christian homes in Lahore, Pakistan incited Christians throughout the country to protest the treatment of members of their religion in the primarily Muslim nation.

The sources cited in the story are mainly police officers involved in controlling the riots and in the initial case of blasphemy that caused angry Muslims to set fire to about 170 Christian homes. The first person quoted is police official Malik Awais. Two more police officers are quoted later. Their firsthand information about the riots and the arsons provides valuable insight into the situation. As police officers, they have the authority and reliability that is important in a news story.

The writer also includes a first person account from a Christian man whose home was burned to the ground. The man, Yousuf Masih, explains how he is disappointed with the government's actions in response to the fires. This information gives the reader an important perspective of the victims that helps to explain why Christians in general were so upset with the government.

The writer also uses a government spokesperson and a Lahore bishop to add more insight and help the reader understand the situation. To provide some background and context, the writer cites information from the Human Rights Watch. This way the reader has a better idea of the tension and historical context in Pakistan.

The quotes are spread fairly evenly throughout the story. The writer introduces the source, shares what the source had to say, and then adds analysis or explanation of the quote or paraphrase. This gives the reader a more broad and complete understanding of the story.

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