Recently in Analysis Category

By Kelsey Lund

The White House has been omitting and falsifying information on visitor logs, an investigative report from iwatch news found.

This iwatch news story detailed the holes in White House visitor logs and why those gaps of information were important. The reporters used the White House database of released visitor logs to inform their story.

The reporters had to analyze the database of visitor logs for what areas were left blank, who was recorded as visiting, when visits were missing, what visitors never showed up but were listed as having done so, and how many of the visitors were actually on group tours.

Computer skills were necessary in order for the reporters to sift through this huge amount of data and get results worth reporting. They had to be able to sort the information and analyze it for patterns.

The reporters also needed computer skills to know where to look for this information, and what sort of information was relevant to their angle.

By Kelsey Lund

A story in the San Diego Union-Tribune addresses the positive image of America many of the youth in Yemen have.

The story uses quotes from Yemenis the reporter taught English to, as well as his observations of teenagers when he lived in Yemen for a short period of time to report that most young Yemenis idealize America.

Ibrahim, who asked that only his first name be used for privacy reasons, a Yemeni international student at Augsburg College said this report does not delve into the complexities of how the people of Yemen view the West.

I "had people telling me that I am an American spy or that I converted to Christianity," Ibrahim said of some conservative Yemenis who disapproved of his choice to study in the US. "There are very religious young people and very open young people who watch American movies and try to dress like Americans in spite of the culture opposition."

In all, although this report takes a different approach than labeling Yemenis as hating America, it does not attempt to grapple with the complex issue of how Yemenis view Americans.

By Kelsey Lund

A Los Angeles Times reporter used numbers to tell the story of dropping birth rates in the U.S.

The reporter used a lot of numbers in the story, which was overwhelming at times for the reader. Although the numbers were limited to only one in each paragraph, every single paragraph had numbers. The story ended with bullet points containing more numbers.

The reporter could have made it easier to take in the story by adding other information about the numbers, possibly in terms of the actual babies born. The reporter also could have interviewed workers at a maternity ward about their take on the lowered rates to add some perspective to the numbers.

Most of the numbers in the story were put in terms of percentage points. The reporter compared the number of births per number of women once. Overall, the reporter could have used math to crunch the numbers and make them more effective by not just presenting them in terms of percents.

The source of the numbers is a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics--which is not attributed completely until the end of the story.

By Kelsey Lund

The obituary published on Tuesday in the New York Times for Frank Neuhauser, 97, took a more creative approach than the standard obituary format. It began with a lead introducing the winning word that Neuhauser spelled at the first National Spelling Bee in 1925.

From there it continued with its creative format, telling the story of Neuhauser's monumental win, and not until the sixth paragraph even stating that Neuhauser died.

I think the lead worked because it set the scene for Neuhauser's biggest accomplishment, an accomplishment he achieved at the age of 11. It grabbed the reader by introducing him/her to the most fascinating details of Neuhauser's life. Even though it did not exactly read like an obituary, it worked for the sake of telling Neuhauser's story.

The article cited Neuhauser's son as confirming his death, Neuhauser's own interviews with publications, and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Most of the reporting was done about the spelling bee and the circumstances of Neuhauser's spelling career, and there were no quotes about his personality from family or friends.

Overall, the obituary was nothing like a resume because it only focuses on one part of Neuhauser's life--his experience with spelling bees. Although it briefly skates over Neuhauser's other accomplishments, its one focus is his spelling bee legacy. A resume would not go into the amount of detail of Neuhauser's legacy, nor the humanizing story of that portion of his life like his obituary did.

By Kelsey Lund

The Los Angeles Times used a press release and telephone conference from the Food and Drug Administration to form its story on Wednesday about the 500 unapproved drugs the FDA pulled off the market for safety reasons.

Although the reporter used a few of the facts and parts of quotes from the FDA press release to inform the article, for the most part he structured his article differently than the press release.

Most of the information was quoted from sources the reporter probably had to seek out himself. He quoted a pharmacist from the American Pharmacists Assn. The reporter also used direct quotes from the conference, instead of quoting the same basic facts provided in the press release.

The reporter chose to form the story his own way, rather than forming it along the lines of the press release. He made it clear that while the FDA deemed the removing of these products necessary for health reasons, any actual negative results from the drugs was unproven--something the press release did not detail.

Overall, the reporter maintained a neutral stance concerning the FDA's actions, and mostly relied on his own reporting to craft the story--choosing to use the press release as background to gather further information directly, possibly to avoid any public relations spin. The reporter chose to go beyond what the press release provided for the story to create a more balanced news report.

By Kelsey Lund

The New York Times multimedia site and the Washington Post multimedia site are surprisingly different in the variety of multimedia options they offer.

The New York Times seems to boast a larger variety of multimedia options, providing maps, graphics, audio, interactive features, and pictures.The Washington Post focuses mostly on photos on its multimedia homepage, but contains a sidebar with links to news video, documentary video, and more photos.

The photos on the multimedia sites help to complement new stories by giving the reader a different angle on popular topics. For example, the Washington Post has photos entitled "Moammar Gaddafi through the years," which is a slideshow showing the history of Gaddafi's reign in pictures, giving readers a chance to succinctly see Gaddafi's history in Libya, rather than read a lengthy biography.

The photos also may help the reader to see parts of the news that sometimes a story can't tell. For example, the New York Times' "Map of Key Locations in Manama, Bahrain" gives readers insight into the protests in Bahrain from a geographical understanding. Similarly the New York Times' "Searching for Survivors after New Zealand Quake" slideshow gives readers a look at the scope of destruction that a story could not explain as fully.

For photos, and other multimedia video/audio, the writing is minimal and maintains the hard news style consistent with hard news stories. The photos generally tell most of the story, while the accompanying writing simply directs the reader to the important facts of the photo. Only one or two sentences tell the story of the photo, and the sentences are concise.

Analysis: Spot and follows on Wisconsin union protests

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By Kelsey Lund

The Wall Street Journal contained stories Thursday and Friday following the protests of public employees concerning Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposed bill lessening the state deficit by removing collective bargaining rights and increasing the costs of pensions and health benefits.

The first story's lead detailed the bill public employees were protesting. The follow story's lead had new information--the fleeing of Democratic lawmakers while employees continued to protest.

The lead in the follow story advanced the story by pushing the newest information, the fleeing lawmakers, to the lead and putting the details of the protests and bill later in the story.

The main news is summarized in different ways in the first-day and second-day story.

The first-day story is shorter, summarizing what the bill means for employees in Wisconsin, with a few quotes from the president, the governor and a union leader.

The follow story is longer, containing both new events and the same older information with more detail. Various lawmakers are quoted in the story. In all, the follow story contains less focus on what the bill means and more on the reaction of citizens and lawmakers to the bill.

There is no response to a competing news organization's report, because no other news organizations are mentioned.

Overall, the two stories contain much of the same information. The follow story just advanced the news by pushing the recent events to the forefront, while still maintaining the facts from the first story.

Analysis: Structure in story about collision of officers

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By Kelsey Lund

The reporters in the Star Tribune's story about two police officers' cars colliding summarized the most important information in the lead. The lead summed up that two officers were involved in a collision on their way to a robbery and one of the officers ended up in the hospital.

The story progressed to tell the injuries of the officers, the details of the crash, more details about what the officers were responding to, and finally even more details about the officers' years of service to the Roseville police force.

The reporters ordered the information by summarizing the most important overarching facts first, and then getting further detailed as the paragraphs went on. This was effective as the story was smooth and logical to read. By learning the facts about what happened first, I was ready to read more in-depth details about the officers and the crash as the story went on.

In the structure of the story, I thought it made sense overall. The fact blocks could have been arranged a little differently. The paragraph about the actual bank robbery the officers were responding to could have been put up higher, perhaps right after the paragraph detailing how the crash happened.

The robbery was the reason the police cars collided in the first place, and I found myself wondering what happened in the robbery as I read the article. The reporters could have mentioned the bank robbers who got away as a result of the crash, although that information may have not been available at the time of the report.

Analysis: Attribution in story about passed Senate bill

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By Kelsey Lund

The Star Tribune's story about the Minnesota Senate passing an alternative teacher licensing bill contained two source attributions.

The two sources were said to have opposite opinions of the bill, which made the article seem balanced and unbiased.

The first source attributed was the Education Minnesota teacher's union. Unnamed union officials were paraphrased and quoted in the story. The attributions were always set up in front of the quote.

The next source was Sen. Terri Bonoff. She was first introduced as a senator from Minnetonka who supported the bill. In later paragraphs she was quoted. The attributions for Bonoff were placed after the quote or in between two quotes.

The attributions to both the union and Bonoff were scattered throughout the story. The union was attributed in the beginning, but was also attributed and quoted in the last line of the story. Bonoff's words took up a majority of the middle section of the story.

I thought the attributions were clear and well placed. The writer set up his attributions in the front, middle and end of quotes, integrating the attributions into the text for a smooth read. I found it interesting that the writer used words such as "stressed" and "cited" in addition to "said" when attributing.

Analysis: Lead in story about U of M student body found

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By Kelsey Lund

A lead concerning the body of a missing University of Minnesota student found in TCF Bank Stadium in the Star Tribune is an example of a straightforward hard-news lead. It works by giving a summary of the article, while emphasizing the parts that are most newsworthy, including its proximity and impact.

The action of the lead is given right away by saying there was the discovery of a missing body on campus--this important action of the story grabbed my interest right away.

The writer details the who, where and what of the story in the lead. The lead tells the reader the article is about a University of Minnesota student. It specifies this student was missing before being found dead. The lead gives the location of the body as TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. These details are important in giving the basic summary of what happened to maintain the news value of the story.

The details of the lead are also kept general. The name of the student is not given. The exact location the body was found is not specified. Finally, the date the body was found and who found it is not put in the lead. These details are not the most important parts of the story, and so can be told later in the article.

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