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Analysis: Data Sets

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Source: Investigate West

I found an investigative report about Boeing and how it managed to manipulate the government of Washington State into not passing pollution rules that would have protected Native Americans from polluted fish.

The story gathered a wide range of sources for its reporting. Many of these were not public documents but included emails between legislators and even emails from private company officials. The reporters likely gathered these sources either form a leak provided to them or by seeking out people close to the sources who had access to them.

Throughout the story, the reporters link to the documents digitized and hosted on their sites when they reference material from them. This allows readers to see what exactly is in the documents without the reporters needing to spell it all out in their article. This improves the flow of the writing while also including all the behind-the-scenes information.

This feature is just one in a series of stories about businesses triumphing over public health. Links to these stories, organised in an orderly sequence, is displayed on the right side bar of the story. This lets readers jump to them easily.

Analysis: Numbers

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Source: Star Tribune

In this article, the reporter is providing information on Sanford Health and Fairveiw Health Services, two companies involved in a potential merger. The reporter uses extensive use of numbers to describe aspects of the two companies, comparing and contrasting them.

The article includes many different figures, such as a count of the number of clinics Sanford Health operates, the revenue of both companies, the percent of the market share that Fairview controls in the Twin Cities and a chronology of dates. A number of different figures, such as donations totaling $600 million that one man has donated to Sanford, and the $540 million price tag for a hospital Sanford is planning to build in Fargo, are thrown in to provide further background information.

For the most part, the reporter does not overburden his article with numbers. Each figure he provides is adequately explained with accompanying text, and plays a part in telling the story. It doesn't seem the reporter did significant data-crunching when writing the article. Most of the numbers in it are basic financial measurements.

The reporter fails to provide sources for many of his numbers. While this improves the flow of the article by cutting the clutter of citations, it does fail to provide the context of where the numbers are coming from. It is impossible to determine how the reporter put the article together ; whether he used multiple sources or only a few.

Analysis: News Obituary

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Source: The Washington Post

Phil Ramone, a Grammy Award-winning engineer, arranger and producer, died Saturday at the the age of 79. For the most part his obituary, written by the Associated Press, follows a standard format. It establishes the importance of the person's life, listing his major accomplishes and what made him who he was.

The article uses a number of different sources to establish a summary of Ramone's life. His family provided information on how and when he died, while the people he once worked with gave insight into his talents as a musician. The obituary also uses Ramone's own words to supplement information provided by other people. For instance, the writer cites Ramone's memoir for his recollection of working with a particular author. Doing this lets the person's actual voice come out in his obituary.

The lead of the obituary is relatively standard. It tells us who died, what he did in life and touching on when and how he died. It ends with a second short sentence telling us his age.

The news value of the obituary is that Ramone was influential and respected in his field of work. He worked with famous celebrities and musicians, and his death gives the world a chance to look back on his life's achievements.

An obituary differs from a resume markedly. Obviously since the person is dead, he can't use the information in his obituary to land a job. Instead, the obituary is supposed to honor the person's life, rather than advance like a resume does.

Comparing Al Jazeera's and Game Informers use of multimedia

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Al Jazeera and Game Informer are vastly different media organizations that cover immensely different content. Al Jazeera writes and broadcasts hard international news stories, while Game Informer covers electronic entertainment. Both publications, however, make vast use of multimedia on their websites.

Video is an important part of Al Jazeera's online appeal. Brief video segments accompany most important articles, such as this one covering the end of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. Al Jazeera also produces longer videos, including this documentary on political struggle in West Papua. Their videos complement their written material by providing readers visual and vocal imagery of places and people the story is about. The article as a whole becomes more impactful, interesting, and easier to understand.

Game Informer also uses a ton of video content on their website. Examples of this are a series of informative video segments called Test Chamber. The Game Informer editors play sections of upcoming games, providing commentary on their features, strengths and weaknesses. This is more effective at showing readers what the game is like than written descriptions, because video allows them to actually see how the game looks in action. Unlike Al Jazeera, which often uses video as a secondary part of the article, Game Informer tends to make its video the main focus of the artilcles the put it in. The writing accompanying the videos is usually short and often only there to introduce the video.

Blogs are a common feature on both news websites. Al Jazeera has a number of blogs of different kinds. They include live blogs on ongoing events, such as this one delivering breaking updates on the Syrian Civil War, along with blogs from staff members. This one is from Laurence Lee, Al Jazeera's London correspondent, who writes about the economics and politics of the region he is assigned to. Game Informer also makes use of blogs, included staff blogs and user blogs created by readers. These strengthen Game Informer's online community by adding a way for readers to interact and take part in creating the web site's content.

All of Game Informer's editors have twitter accounts, an example being Associate Editor Dan Ryckert. They use these to guide their Twitter audience to noteworthy articles on their site. Mainly, however, they use Twitter as a platform to build relationships and trust with their readers.

In the New York Times article, "California Schools Finance Upgrades by Making the Next Generation Pay" the author attributes the feature's information on schools using long-term bonds to many different legitimate sources. This allows him to build credibility and tell a complete picture of the story.

The topic of the article is how various schools in California are borrowing money through a controversial method that will eventually shift the debt's burden onto taxpayers. In the beginning of the article, the author includes a number of figures without giving a source for them. Instead, he focuses on giving readers the general background of the story. A possible reason for why the author doesn't cite in the opening, is that the information is either considered general knowledge, or has already been sourced in past articles,

Latter in the article, the author quotes various officials to support the findings of the feature. The people's names are always given, unless the author is citing a generic source, such as "officials." Most of them are included to either criticize the schools' money borrowing practice, such as with State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, or defend the schools, as we see with Tom Duffy, a former superintendent.

The author incorporates a variety of sources with different points of view in order to be balanced and fair. It also makes the article more interesting by presenting multiple sides of a conflict and allowing their quotes to compete for the reader's sympathy.

In the New York Time's feature, "Reformers Aim to Get China to Live Up to Own Constitution," the author chooses to not summarize the entire "who, what, where, and when" components of the article in the lead. Instead, the author goes beyond the basic news lead and starts the story off with a lead that will grab the reader's attention.

The author starts out summarizing the historical background of the current events detailed in the article. The story is about how reformers in China are trying to liberalize the country's often authoritarian political system. Their main strategy is to promote enforcement of the Chinese constitution.

The lead explains why and when the Chinese constitution was written in a single sentence, it outlines that its creations came in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution and that its purpose was to enshrine individual rights and ensure that the country's leadership was subject to the law. This sets up the idealized hope for rule of the law in China that the rest of the article explores

The lead uses strong active verbs such as "Write," "ensures," and "suffer" and sells the article by explaining the historic precedence behind why reformers in China hold constitutionalism in such high regard. While readers might not know what some of the things mentioned in the led, such as "the Cultural Revolution," or the historical importance of them, the lead is structured in a way makes the basic gist of what the story is about easy to grasp.

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