This news blog is an educational exercise involving students at the University of Minnesota. It is not intended to be a source of news.

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Analysis: Data

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For this analysis, I found a New York Times article about illegal internet gun sales that was posted on NICAR's Extra, Extra! blog.

This story draws on online postings for gun sales, criminal records, and past interviews/articles to flesh out this story. The reporter had to have some knowledge of searching databases to find the criminal records and interviews, Also, the reporter would have to have some knowledge of general search skills if they didn't know about online gun retailers like Armslist before reporting this story.

This story used interactive graphics primarily to show some of the online ads for weapons it describes through text. Some words in the descriptions of these ads are highlighted with a little picture of a camera next to it, which is how the reader would know its a graphic. Upon clicking on it, a small box with the ad will pop up on the page, allowing the reader to see the original ad without having to navigate away from the page. These graphics are interesting, because they give the reader to see how casual these arms dealers are in their online interactions in a way that just text really wouldn't be able to convey.

Analysis: Diversity

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For this analysis, I chose this article about immigrants training to become teacher aides in Burnsville classroom.

This article moves beyond focuses on stereotypes of the immigrants (those interviewed are from Somali, but the article also mentions Spanish speaking immigrants) to focus on their training and the opportunities they receive to teach students who speak their native languages. In fact, the article doesn't mention that the woman the story is about is even from Somali until the fifth paragraph. The story is mainly focuses on the program and how it's benefiting immigrants and students, rather than focus any stereotypical cultural elements of those involved in the program.

To get information, the reporter spoke with two women from Somali who are trained in the program, as well as the program director and two other district employees who helped design the program.

Analysis: Numbers

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For this analysis, I used this article from USA Today about how 5 million U.S. households are getting rid of their TVs. The story uses numbers to describe the number of households that have gotten rid of their TVs and the number that have added cable subscriptions, the percent of households that still have TVS, and the difference between the number of households that have TVs today compared to in 2007.

The numbers in this article are spread across the story, and are broken up with quotes from TV execs and viewers, so they don't seem overwhelming. The reporter used math to combine monthly fees from Netflix and Amazon, and probably to calculate the percent of households in the U.S. that have TVs. All of the statistics in this story come from a Nielsen study.

Analysis: Obituary

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For this analysis, I looked at an obituary in the New York Times for Simpsons writer Don Payne. The obituary used two sources, fellow Simpsons screenwriter John Frink, and an old interview with Payne. The quote about Payne's cause of death was attributed to Frink.

This obituary follows standard New York Times obituary style, with the lead including the deceased's name, "claim to fame," location and day of death, and age. The news value of this obituary was that Payne was a successful writer for not only the Simpsons, but also movies like "Thor." Also, he was only 48 when he died.

This obituary differs from a resume in that it digs into who Payne was as a person more than just listing his jobs and accomplishments. The reporter included a quote from an older interview with Payne, describing his nervousness when he started writing for the Simpsons. Through details like that, the reader gets to know more about Payne than just his past writing experiences. The inclusion of his family member's names also added more to drive home the fact that he was more than just a Hollywood screenwriter.

Analysis: Speeches/Meeting

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I chose to look at an article about President Obama's sequestration speech, from the Chicago Tribune.

The reporter in this story did lead with the fact that Obama was making remarks on the sequester at a press conference, but chose to at first focus on Obama's combative nature towards Republican lawmakers, and a remark he made about a "Jedi mind-meld," mixing up Star Wars and Star Trek in a pop culture reference.

After a few paragraphs made up of mainly quotes that Obama made toward the GOP and their unwillingness to come to a deal on the sequester, the reporter stepped back and talked about recent remarks by the president and Republicans on the deal, and some background information on the budget cuts.

The reporter then ended the story by going into more detail on the "Jedi mind-meld" gaff, explaining the difference between the two references, and pulling from Twitter remarks made by the White House and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

I think the reporter did a good job at stating the importance of the sequester in this article, and explaining the disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on the matter. The reporter also did a good job at not leading immediately with all the hard details, but rather luring the reader in with the humorous gaff about the mind-meld.

The story was well crafted in that it informed the reader, and didn't shy away from the details about the sequester or Obama's press conference. At the same time, it included a humorous anecdote that may lure in a reader who isn't too concerned with politics, or interested in fights between the two parties. By giving this important event and topic a slightly lighter side, this reporter succeeded in pulling in people with a concern for politics, as well as people who may just be interested in the President making a misguided pop culture reference.

Analysis: Multimedia

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For this analysis, I chose to compare a local newspaper, the Pioneer Press, with a very multimedia-heavy news organization, USA Today. I've chose to compare the two because of the Pioneer Press' role as a traditional print paper who is supplementing their publication with an online edition, and USA Today's focus on multimedia.

The Pioneer Press has a section of their website focused just on multimedia, called the Twin Cities Media Center. Within the section you have the option to look through by story subject, or type of multimedia, including photo galleries, local video, national video, and audio. Readers also have the option of buying photos. This section gives greater depth to some of the stories that run in the paper version of the Press by including more photos than are possible to include in print. However, the majority of this section is dedicated to photos. These photos and galleries are accompanied by captions, written like a typical newspaper cutline. They are short and to the point.

The USA Today homepage is filled with multimedia, like videos, a stock market chart, photo galleries, and a thumbnail photos arranged like tiles to show the day's news stories. These features complement the news stories by giving them a visual side, perhaps drawing in more readers than a simple headline might. Full stories accompany the photo tiles on the news page, probably mirroring the stories that USA Today runs in its print edition. The photo galleries are accompanied by captions describing what is going on in each photo. They are written like newspaper cutlines, very short yet descriptive.

Analysis: Structure

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For this analysis, I will be looking that this article from the Smoking Gun about a man who slapped a Minneapolis toddler on a flight to Atlanta.The structure of this story begins with the story of what happening leaded up to the man being charged with assault, followed with the fact that he was been charged. I disagree with the way that the reporter structured this part of the story. I think that since the most recent news is that the man has been charged with assault, this fact should have been put in the lead.

Going on, the story then constructs a narrative of what supposedly happened on the flight using interview clips from the man charged with slapping the toddler, details from a report filed from the FBI agent assigned to the investigation, and information from the mother of the toddler told to investigators.

After laying out how the incident happened, backed up with quotes from both sides of the story, the article goes into further detail about the man, including that he may have been intoxicated. After this, the reporter includes a small part about how the man has been charged with assault. As I mentioned earlier, if this is the most current news, this information should be higher up, and have more detail. Since the actual incident occurred on February 8th, chances are that the real news here is that he was charged with assault. However, the article fails to describe where he was charged, if he's still being held in custody, etc.

Finally, the story goes digs deep to find some interesting tidbits about the man's past criminal activity. This includes published a list of his past charges, and a quote in which the man claims his arrest for carrying a concealed weapon was simply for carrying a wine corkscrew. I thought this story did a good job at creating and detailing the narrative of the original event on the plane, but I think the reporter could have done a better job at looking into the actual event of the man being charged with assault.

Analysis: Attribution

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In this story from the LA Times about a Duke fraternity that has been suspended for throwing a racist Asian-themed party uses a variety of sources, including students, school administrators, Duke's school newspaper, the fraternity's chapter president, national director, and the email invite that started the whole ordeal.

The sources are spread about the story, which allows the it to flow well while still allowing each side involved to tell their side. While most of the sources are actual people, the parts of this story quoted from the email invitation serve as the most effective, detailing the racist comments made by the fraternity and allowing the reader to understand the gravity of the situation.

The reporter who wrote the story attributed each part of the story effectively. For example, a quote from the fraternity's president originally ran in Duke's student paper was attributed to both the president and the paper. Specific facts about the fraternity's history that wouldn't be considered common knowledge are attributed properly as well.

Overall, the attribution in this story does a good job of expressing who was involved, and why their opinion matters. The reporter also did a good job at including a variety of sources, and providing equal each side involved with fair and balanced coverage.

Analysis: Leads

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In this article by the Associated Press found on the Star Tribune website, the lead to the story includes general details about the capture of the mistakenly freed convict, as well as details providing a bit of back story as to why he was free to begin with.

The lead begins with a bit of back story, incorporating the "who." The author describes that the convict was allowed to leave a jail that he technically did not need to be in two days ago. There is just enough detail in this part of the lead to fill the reader in on the previous part of this story, the fact that this convicted killer was just allowed to walk out of jail, but not bog down the lead with too much background information. This part of the lead also hooks me in as a reader, by providing just enough detail to avoid being vague, but at the same time make me want to keep reading.

The last part of the lead takes care of the what and where in a fairly straightforward manner. We know that the who (the convict) was captured again (what) in northern Illinois (where). The last W, the when, isn't as straightforward as the rest of the lead. We know that the recapture of the killer happened two days after he was mistakenly allowed to walk free, but this lead doesn't give a specific date or day of the week that this occurred. However, the lead does include that the man was recaptured while watching TV, a detail that can fall into the "when" category but mostly seems to be added to lighten the mood of the story, and reinforce the fact that the man didn't put up a chase and went willingly with police.

Over all, this lead does a good job at communicating details to establish that this is merely a new part in an ongoing story, while still (for the most part) giving the four W's in a straightforward manner that informs the reader, and hooks them in to wanting to read the rest of the story.

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