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Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

In the Federal Food Stamp article from, you find that the article did not require a lot of computer assisted researching.
The reporter essentially just detailed the food-deserts in Chicago and the exploitation of food stamp retailers and food stamp users.
While the reporter did link their summary to WBEZ91.5, the Chicago radio station that covered the story, and interviewed food stamp users and retailers, as well as food desert specialists, that appears to be it.
The small summary does detail, briefly, the exploitations of the retailers and users of food stamps, but does not do any analysis or in depth look at the records of previous food stamp users, those who live in food deserts, or what you must do to be a certified retailer for food stamps.
The small article does very little, though the link to the Chicago radio station site provides a more detailed look at the story.

Analysis: Diversity in News

In reference to the criticism President Barack Obama has been taking these past weeks for the hold up and almost government shut down over the budget, I looked at the coverage of the President.
While most news organizations (LA Times, New York Times, etc) are portraying Obama's part in the mess favorably, many continue to relate his successes and his failures down to his race.
When I spoke with Shawn Garrett, a sales associate for a national electronic retailer, he felt that the portrayals of Obama would not leave the stereotypes alone.
From what we discussed he felt that many Americans were holding Obama responsible for the mess our government has been in since 2001, instead of looking at how ineffective our Congress continues to be.
When toes are stepped on in Congress and useful bills and laws continue to not be passed through for the President to approve or veto, the simple thing to do would be to hold the President responsible, instead of looking for the deeper answer.
And the issue with a lot of that is that, Garrett found, people were all too willing to relate our Presidents successes and failures down to his race.
So the question remains, would Obama be more popular with what he is doing for our country if he were light-skinned?

Analysis: Numbers Use

In a story run by the Pioneer Press, they covered the angel tax-credit with Minnesota start-up businesses.
They used numbers in many different ways throughout the story, and while some of it was confusing and muddled, they did a decent job explaining the finances of the story fairly clearly.
The reporter used numbers in the story to convey how much the angel-tax credit means to start-ups, and what its doing as far as returns and for Minnesota. With the numbers, you get a more clear picture of how the angel tax-credit is helping businesses.
The numbers comparing the differences in venture capital investments between years got pretty confusing to deal with, but as far as how the credit was benefiting, the numbers were very clear. Percentages used throughout the story were also very clear to understand.
The way the numbers are used for the most part helps to tell the story more effectively, but in some parts, like the venture capital investments area, did need more clarification.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers Money Tree is one of the sources of data, as well as the data from the angel tax-credit investment numbers, but you do see some, 'past studies' sourced for their numbers. It doesn't even list what it is for the study either, just the results, making the numbers confusing and hard to believe.

Analysis: Obituary for Elizabeth Taylor

I looked at the obituary in the New York Times that was written about the death of noted actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday, March 23rd.
The obituary has many different sources, many of which come from her former directors and from her family of multiple husbands and children. A few different celebrities are also quoted in the obituary, but most sources are those from MGM, co-stars and directors of the films Elizabeth was in.
The lead used for Taylor's obituary was a standard lead from the New York Times, which definitely works because it is so simple and clear, but because she lived such a life in the public eye, needed a lot of explanation on the New York Times part of all that she had done in her life.
It is different than a resume from the personal feel you get from the obituary, because while it discusses clearly all the awards she won or was nominated for and all of the different actors she'd gotten to work with, as well as the films she'd been in, its very easy to find the human tone. They use anecdotes of Taylor, like her laughing at Mickey Rooney when he was trying to give her advice on how to cry, or making fun of herself for getting married so often.
They have multiple quotes for Taylor's obituary from costars, directors, and family of Taylor, and that as well helps it read with a more personal tone. While it spends much of the time chronicling her contributions to the movie industry, you finish it with a sense of Taylor.

Analysis: Multimedia Comparison

Both the New York Times and the Star Tribune have a multimedia page to their site, although their appearance is quite different.
The New York Times has a lot more content to offer, focusing their large photo spread, interactive maps, timelines, and video clips of the different events. Right now on their multimedia site, they have multiple links to different kinds of content tracking the situation with Quaddafi in Libya. You can watch clips of protests, look at pictures of what has been happening, track when its been happening, and look to see exactly where. And that is just for the situation in Libya, as they have many different links for major stories they have been covering, as well as the Lens Blog, which allows you to look at the Times' photos of the day, along with their captions of the news.
The Star Tribune's multimedia page is not nearly as extravagant nor as detailed as the New York Times', but it has many useful video clips as well as photographs. They surround their main video spots with other popular video clips, which you can then sort by category, ranging from MN original, to Entertainment, with the latest clips, and sports.
While the Star Tribune's multimedia site is mostly videos and pictures, the New York Times' site is a lot more diverse with its content, which surrounds itself with news coverage of the event as well. The New York Times' site has the related story positioned nearby the media clip, whereas with the Star Tribune, you would need to do some site searching to turn up related story coverage, which is more rare.
With the Times' wide reach and high level of focus on their media, their detail on their site is to be expected.

Analysis: Spot and Follows

Although the two stories cover the same topic, the leads are very much so different in the two. In the LA Times' story from Saturday, the lead is discussing more on the fact that the Libyan strongman Kadafi would not acknowledge the protesters demands, focusing on the fact that Kadafi had likely hired snipers to shoot those at funeral processions and protesters.
In the second lead from the LA Times, they had just had a speech on Libyan television where Kadafi's son had briefly spoken, and he also conveys that Libya will continue to punish it, that they will 'fight to the last bullet.
The main story from the second day summarizes the shootings of the funeral processional protesters, and covers much more of Kadafi's son speech, which is in direct response to the activities in Tripoli, Benghazi, and all over Libya.
Many news organizations are following the same stories here, so while they are all competing with eachother, it does not look like this story is in response to a competitor's story.
The follow up story has developed itself a lot, giving much more concrete information of what is happening in Libya, especially difficult as the country is on lockdown with no phone service, no internet, and no foreign reporters are given any access. The fact that Kadafi's son has publicly acknowledged the situation is a huge step for knowing what exactly is happening in Libya.

Story Structure Analysis

Structure in a news story is very particular, and important to get right. You want to keep the reader interested but give them enough to continue reading. You don't want to overwhelm and you must keep it clean.
The structure of a news story generally follows the martini glass shape. You've got your lead first and your nut graph following it, filling up the big brim of the glass, most significant detail first. Then you've got you're fact blocks next. If you've done those right, they can be moved up or down the story, and where you put them helps to emphasize the tone or angle of the piece.
This is especially helpful in breaking news, as you will likely need to open up that stack of fact blocks to put more detail and news in, and take the unsure or scanty information out. Keeping it as clean and uncluttered as possible makes this simple for a reporter.
After the long rim of fact blocks you have the stand of the glass, where you've got the end to the story. Don't make it cute or cliche, but feel free to finish with a bang, a quote, or an interesting fact about the story. And when in doubt, just finish the story, you've got all your main details in there anyways!
The Star Tribune does a nice job of keeping such simple structure in their short piece on taxes in Minnesota. They've got the lead, giving you the detail. There's not really a nut graph in something so short as this, you're ready to jump into the fact blocks. Then you've got the fact blocks. Clean and simple sentences, ready to be switched around if needed. No grand finale, just a simple finish with the Star Tribune. A clean example of a clean story.

Attributions in Articles: Egypt's Information Revolution

Attributions are a necessary part to any good news story. Its absolutely vital that you attribute things to everything, correctly.
Attributions are everywhere, but its really easy to find examples, and the New York Times does a great job showing them off.
For example, in their stories involving Egypt, you see a lot of quotes needing to be attributed to the Egyptian government. This is usually done with a driving quote, followed simply with Mr. Blank said, with his title here, and then another exciting quote to follow up.
Though it can be done in many ways, it must always be correct, and the New York Times is littered with good examples with how to do it correctly. Its very common to see them begin with a quote attributed to a person, though paraphrasing what that person has said saves time and ink, and as long as you attribute it correctly, can be a useful tool.
Everything in the story needs a source, unless of course you were there, and with something as revolutionary as what is happening in Egypt, you need to make sure that everything said is clearly explained and has a clear source. Its the straight facts, the hard facts, and nothing but the facts, so the he said, she said, is necessary here, as long as its the whole truth.

Leads being used in stories about Egyptian Protests

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The lead of an article is a very simple thing in the article to find and identify, although it is arguably the most important part of the article, if not the most important sentence.
The lead's job in the New York Times' article does an excellent job here, as it clearly conveys everything a good lead does. It tells you exactly what the news is, giving you the who, what, where, and when, in an exciting manner. It lets the story do its job of capturing your attention, giving you only what you need to ensure you continue reading.
In the New York Times example, you've got many different things qualifying for a newsworthy story, and deciding how to phrase the lead right is a fundamental element to the story. With thousands protesting, the President of Egypt being involved, the citizens moving to overthrow their government, and the Egyptian government doing things like cutting off Egypt's internet and cell phone service, you've got a story with great potential, with the lead doing its job well. As you cannot have a great story without a great lead, its necessary to give this basic news element a lot of attention, every time.

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