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Numbers analysis: drunk driving in Lee County, Florida

News-press.com's article about a sobriety-check in Lee County, Florida, utilizes many numbers.

This article summarizes a brief sobriety-check study's results for an 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift and clearly lists that the sources are three police departments.

The article has only two full sentences: the lead and the conclusion.

Its numbers are overwhelming but are listed, making it simpler to follow.

The numbers are not transformed into effective data. For example, it would be more informative and interesting to read the percentage of drivers who received a a punishment instead of the simple number of recipients.

Obituary analysis: Zev Aelony

In an obituary about a civil rights activist, the Star Tribune reporter emphasizes Zev Aelony's fight for civil rights in the 1960s.

The lead is not a standard obituary lead; it is an alternative lead that starts with a quote of a hebrew phrase, "Tikkun olam," which means to mend a broken world.  Although the rule of thumb is to never start an article with a quote, this works well because it opens the article in focus of Aelony's will to mend problems through activism.

The obituary includes a lot of information about the activism in his life, but does not list his experiences as a resume might have.  The information is not attributed.

Aelony's wife, Karen, family, friends and fellow activists are quoted and attributed.


The city of Minneapolis's press release about the Second Avenue conversion to a two-way street and the Star Tribune's coverage of the news Thursday are very different in length.

The press release tells the story in 213 words and 9 long sentences. The article covers the story in 70 words and five shorter sentences.

The Star Tribune's article compresses the information the press release gives and cuts 143 words.

The article omits the press release's extra details that are related to the larger project and leaves a brief description of the purpose: "The two-way conversion is part of an effort to help drivers get into and around downtown, city officials say."

The newspaper article is much simpler to read than the press release. Both include a website where readers can go to get further information on the topic.

Multimedia analysis: Star Tribune and New York Times

The two newspapers focus on multimedia differently.

Once one clicks the "Multimedia" tab on the Star Tribune website, one is taken directly to a list of videos.  Once on clicks the same tab on the New York Times website, one is taken to a list of slide shows.

The Star Tribune features podcasts, audio slide shows, photo galleries, and more. The New York Times features interactive features and audio slide shows.

In a typical slide show posted by the Star Tribune is similar to an audio slide show posted by the New York Times. For these, pictures play as audio of interviews or events play along.

Although one would typically assume then that the Star Tribune's photo galleries would then be similar to the New York Times' slide shows, it is not.

The Star Tribune's gallery of the Gopher game against Penn State shows photos of the game and one-sentence descriptions of each photo: "Penn State running back Evan Royster (22) left Minnesota defenders behind as he headed upfield.." 

In the New York Times' slide show, there are similar descriptions of photos, but there is also deeper, in-depth information about the event or activity: "This photograph was taken during Game 3 of the 1989 World Series at Candlestick Park. Just two or three minutes after the earthquake, the crowd was still standing and surveying the damage."





Spot and follow analysis: man sought in series of stabbings

The pioneer press wrote two articles on Saint Paul police's search for a man who stabbed his children's mother.

The second article was written nine days after the first, but added crucial information about Freddy Rivera's involvement in other recent crimes.

In the first article, the reporter focuses on Rivera's assault against his soon-to-be ex-wife during which he slapped, punched, cut and stabbed her.  It also briefly stated that investigators were trying to determine if Rivera was involved in other recent crimes.

In the second article, a different reporter focuses on Rivera's assault on two other individuals.  It describes his conviction of disorderly conduct in 2007, a knife fight in mid-September 2009 and a butcher knife stabbing in mid-September 2009 at a bar.

The second article also updated the charges against Rivera.



Structure analysis: small-plane crash

A Star Tribune article on a small-plane crash near the University of Minnesota Rosemount Research Center on Saturday has a martini-glass structure.

Allie Shah and Joy Powell, the reporters on this story, started the article with a concise sentence that included important, but vague, information: "Two people were injured Saturday when a single-engine plane crashed into a Rosemount cornfield."

This lead includes who was involved, what happened, when it happened, and where it happened.  The information gives the reader a general knowledge of the incident, but it is vague enough to leave the details for later.

The second paragraph includes information on the injured pilot and the specific time and place it occurred.  The third paragraph includes details on the passenger who was found semiconscious.

The fourth paragraph includes a quote from the fire chief explaining the condition of the two individuals. The fifth paragraph summarizes what happened in chronological order, and the last paragraph explains that there is an investigation on the matter.

This article is very short, showing that a martini-structured article does not have to be long.  The reporters compress their words and report what is needed to be known.

This structure is effective because although one would assume that a martini-glass-structured article would be long, these reporters do an excellent job of proving the opposite.  The information gets to the reader quickly and efficiently.


Analysis: Attribution in embryo mix-up article

BBC News' article on a woman who was implanted with the wrong embryo attributes to its sources in both a specific and vague manner.

BBC News names three sources.  One is Carolyn Savage, the woman, another source is CNN and the last is an unnamed statement.

The writer attributes in six of the nine paragraphs. 

Of those six, four attributed Savage with the same format and different content. It follows the "Mrs. Savage, ..., said..." format, but the blanks are filled with new information, making the article interesting.

When using a quote captured by CNN, they wrote, "Carolyn was quoted as saying by CNN." This way of attribution is effective but unnecessarily long.

When using information from the statement, BBC wrote, "Carolyn Savage and her husband Sean said in a statement that the baby was delivered at St Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio."  The source, a statement, remains unidentified throughout the article, raising an issue of unreliability.




Analysis: The lead in an article on a swine flu vaccination

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Donald McNeil Jr., a reporter for the New York Times wrote a short and clear hard-news lead for his Friday article on the swine flu vaccination.

"More than three million doses of swine flu vaccine will be available by the first week of October, a little earlier than had been anticipated, federal health officials announced Friday," McNeil wrote.

This lead quickly reports most of the main who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. The who answer provided directs readers' attention to health officials. The what answer involves the availability of the recently-found swine flu vaccination. The inclusion of "Friday" describes when the announcement was made.

This lead does not include where the vaccination will be available, and how or why it is available. The lead remains vague on when and where the vaccinations will be available because this information may not yet be set.

Readers are expected to understand why information about a vaccination for the swine flu is important because it is a dominant topic in the media. Readers are not expected to understand how health officials found the vaccination because it is a complex scientific process.

McNeil does specify the amount of doses available because this information is important for the American public. Three million doses are available. However, the United States has a population of 304 million.

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