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October 30, 2007

National Story 10/30 - Pediatricians urge autism screenings

The American Academy of Pediatrics released two reports after its annual meeting Sunday suggesting that parents screen all their children for autism twice before age 2. Autism is currently diagnosed in one out of 150 children in the United States with no identified causes and no cure, but experts say early intervention can reduce its severity.

An enterprising report that blends the results of the new studies with recent developments in autism awareness is what you'll find in the Associated Press version of the story. Contributing to this long story is a fact pointed out by one of the article's sources, a co-author of the reports from the University of Texas, who said autism was virtually unknown 10 years ago. Now, Dr. Chris Johnson says she gets parents coming in worried their children have autism. The story has a very professional tone, as all but one source are doctors who have experience with autistic children. The only informal source was a parent of a now 18-year-old autistic daughter.

Serena Gordon of HealthDay shows us the difference between a reporter for a news outlet and a reporter for a more-specific audience. Gordon quotes only one source, an institutional one at that. Gordon then released more specific details of the reports; the first discusses warning signs that a child may have autism. The second advises parents on what to do after a child is diagnosed with the mental disability.

October 28, 2007

National Story 10/28 Red Sox crowned 2007 World Series Champions

Here's an example of just how quickly stories can be published in the digital era.

The Boston Red Sox don't waste time winning World Series titles these days. Boston's 4-3 victory Sunday over the Colorado Rockies gave the Red Sox a series sweep, winning their second World Series title in four years four games to none. Mike Lowell was named most valuable player of the series. The Red Sox won the 2004 World Series in the same fashion when they swept the St. Louis Cardinals, a championship that ended an 86-year World Series title drought. Both the 2004 and 2007 World Series championships were won while Boston was the away team.

The Associated Press strays from the hard news lead, referring to the Red Sox as the new monster in baseball. A few quotes are used from Red Sox players mixed in a barrage of details about the World Series and the change in attitude for Red Sox fans and the overall sports scene in Boston (Their New England Patriots are still undefeated). If it's any consolation for Denver sports enthusiasts, the AP ends their story by pointing out they can provide their full attention to the Denver Broncos for a Monday night football game against the Green Bay Packers at Denver.

Reuters was also there. Their version of the story was less enterprise and more hard news style, recapping statistics from game four. Reuters' reporter, Larry Fine, does include factoids to break up the statistical barrage, such as Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester taking chemotherapy to treat lymphoma last winter. It is likely that Fine was at the game and only needed to add a few paragraphs to publish the story once the final out was recorded.

International Blog 10/28 Argentina

First lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner swept to victory in Argentina's presidential vote on Sunday to become the first woman elected to lead the country, television exit polls showed. Fernandez will win the election without a runoff if official results confirm she has 45 percent of the vote or 40 percent with a margin of victory 10 percent or above her closest competitor.

Reuters uses a standard lead, supplementing it with details about the election and describing the frenzy that took place at her campaign bunker. The story continues in an enterprising fashion with other news related to the election, followed by a chronological time line of Fernandez's path to the presidency.

The Associated Press begins their report in the same fashion, but adds a quote from an informal source (one of Fernandez's public supporters) and capture her elation with exit polls declaring Fernandez the victor. Both outlets make a point of Fernandez growing up under Argentina's dictatorship from 1976-1983 and why it makes her victory special. She says that she grew up where no one could say anything. Finally, the AP ends with a factoid about Argentina's electoral process: all 27.1 million registered voters are required to cast a ballot.

October 24, 2007

Local Story 2 10/24 Mother spared deportation to care for child

In an update on a heavily covered story in the Twin Cities, a mother of four (or five, details below) has been allowed to stay in Minnesota for a year to care for her terminally ill daughter. Cecilia Sanchez-Zurita was to be deported Tuesday but now has returned to her home in St. Michael. Her four-year-old daugher, Samantha, has been diagnosed with a rare cancer and is not expected to live past two years. Cecilia Sanchez-Zurita was deported in 1997 but returned to the United States illegally in 2000.

KARE-11 publishes a statement from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, stationed in Washington, D.C., explaining their decision to issue a deferred action. They continue the follow-up reporting with an interview from Cecilia, who talked through an interpreter, to get her feelings on the change of events.

Sue Turner of WCCO turns what would be an update to a story and turns the new pieces of information into a story of its own. The beginning of the story contains the same data as KARE-11, reflecting the main values of the story (what has changed, what will happen now). Although Turner only quotes Cecilia, she does add some background to this update, including arguments, what likely will happen when Samantha dies and the law firm representing the family.

October 23, 2007

Local story 1 10/23 Minnesota man dies of rabies infection

The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that a Minnesota man in his 40s died from rabies likely caused by a bat bite. This is Minnesota's second case of rabies since 2000.

The Pioneer Press supplements the lead for three paragraphs, including details on the risk of transmission from person to person, before pausing on the man's story to report on the status of bats in Minnesota; most of them are migrating for the winter. The story only uses one quote and features a mini-profile about the progression of the man's rabies before ending with some background information on how many cases of rabies are reported each year, how many total cases in Minnesota and the first successful rabies treatment when the disease was in its latter stages. Rabies primarily attacks the central nervous system and brain.

Tim Harlow of the Star Tribune published an article with little change in format compared to the Pioneer Press. Only once is a quote used for the story. The differences were minor considering the main value of the story; Harlow tells his audience that the state Department of Health believed the man would have survived if he had sought treatment but didn't seek help because no blood was drawn.

October 22, 2007

International story 10/21 Cheney calls Iran an obstacle to peace

Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday described Iran as an obstacle to peace in the Middle East and said the world could not stand by and allow it to develop a nuclear weapon as he spoke with a forum organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Reuters uses a direct lead and waits until the third paragraph to show its find from fishing for Cheney's "quote nuggets". They do so to summarize recent U.S. rhetoric against Iran in the second paragraph. In this enterprising story, after quickly briefing Iran's stance on nuclear development, the article details Cheney's criticism of Syria, accusing the nation of interfering with Lebanon's attempt to elect a new president. All the sources used in the story are from the United States.

The Associated Press decides to quote Cheney in the second paragraph and refers to the organizers as the Washington Institute for Near East Studies (Policy is the correct reference). The AP sticks only to Cheney's stance on Iran, ending this inverted pyramid with recent activity from Congress, mentioning a resolution that passed in the Senate to label Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

October 21, 2007

Local story 2 10/21 - U of M men's hockey swept by Colorado

The University of Minnesota men's hockey team got swept in their WCHA season opener to Colorado College after a 2-1 overtime loss at World Arena Saturday.

The Minnesota Daily uses a direct lead for the story followed by a quote from one of the Gopher players in the second paragraph to dissect the game in a nutshell. The next few paragraphs provide further statistical analysis of the game to answer the questions Gophers fans may have had on why their team managed to score only one goal in the game. The overall direction of the story goes in chronological order based on the scoring.

The Star Tribune also uses a direct lead, but the focus of the story is slightly different as Roman Augustoviz interviews the Colorado College player who scored both goals in Saturday's game. Little time is wasted to tell readers that CC's Chad Rau played high school hockey at Eden Prairie. The story has the same format as the Minnesota Daily, but Augustoviz does more of a balancing act with input from both the Gophers and CC.

October 20, 2007

Local story 1 10/20 Gophers lose to North Dakota State

The Minnesota Gophers' woes continued with a 27-21 loss Saturday at the Metrodome in front of 63,000 fans. 30,000 North Dakota State fans traveled to the Metrodome to watch the Bison take care of unfinished business after last year's 10-9 loss.

KARE 11's Greg Vandegrift runs a short piece summarizing the game. He uses a delayed lead to communicate that fans of North Dakota State have been eager for redemption after last year's matchup, telling his audience that thousands of NDSU's supporters traveled to the Metrodome.

Sue Turner of WCCO also covered that angle, but in a different light by first interviewing Gophers fans to get their reaction as Minnesota football is now on a 6-game losing streak. The story's focus is more on the fans who attended the game than the game itself. In fact, no summary of the game is provided until the end of the story. It's a good example showing how the inverted pyramid scheme works when covering a sporting event where the theme of the story isn't scores and statistics.

October 18, 2007

National story 10/18 - Autistic teen who wandered off during hike found

A young autistic adult was found alive Thursday after wandering off during a hike in the Dolly Sods Wilderness area, part of the Monongahela National Forest, in West Virginia. Jacob Allen wandered away while hiking with his parents Sunday. He is reported to have the mental capacity of a 3- or 4-year-old.

An Associated Press story that ran on CNN begins with a typical direct lead, followed by a quote in the next paragraph explaining a possible reason for Allen's disappearance, also standard. It follows with supplemental details about conditions in the area where Allen was missing, efforts from search crews to find him and experiences from two of the searches that were looking for him. This story, a follow-up from the time he was reported missing, puts a lot of effort into answering any potential questions readers may have, with the exception on what autism is. As such, autism doesn't play a big factor in the man's disappearance outside of his mental capacity.

WBOY-TV, a TV station in West Virginia, starts in the same fashion. Surprisingly, no direct quotes are listed in the story's transcript and list the location Allen was found as Boars Nest Trail. A quick research shows that Boars Nest Trail is part of the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. WBOY looks to cover the impact angle by listing all the agencies and departments involved in the search towards the end of the article. One small piece of evidence suggesting the station's proximity is reporting what tipped rescuers to Allen, in this case, a hat he was wearing.

October 14, 2007

National blog 10/14 Cave explorers found safe

Three University of Texas students were found Airman's cave Sunday in Austin, Texas. Rescue crews found the group, two women and one man, after a 30-hour search.

CNN begins the story with that account followed by a brief description of the cave, located four miles south of the Texas campus. There aren't many details, so CNN sticks with a quick inverted pyramid with updates likely to come soon. CNN was able to conduct an interview with the spokesman of the Austin Fire Department to add information about the cave where the students had gone missing. A short dig in the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service also shows that the students told a friend to call 911 if they had not returned by a certain time.

The Associated Press ran this story just before the students got out of the cave. The AP was able to find a parent whose son was among the missing in the cave after they had been found. They find another source with the division commander of the county's emergency medical services, although that information was mostly background for the lead. The AP also interviews the Austin Fire Department's spokesman, who said that rescue crews were aided by citizen cave explorers.

Although similar to CNN's version, the AP worked a little harder to add relevance to the story outside of the missing college students for the national audience.

International story 10/14 Rice starts Mideast trip

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice downplayed chances of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace affairs Sunday as she began a trip in the Middle East to prepare for an international meeting the United States plans to host in November. After stopping at Israel Sunday, she will visit the Palestinian president Monday.

Reuters runs an in-depth article on the issue, leading with a recap of events that have taken place so far in Rice's Middle East trip, before quoting her in the fourth paragraph to establish what was said in the lead. The remainder of the story reports on the status of both the Israeli and Palestinian governments and what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas are looking for as the international conference draws closer. The article ends with Rice stressing the delicacy of the situation.

Voices of America also uses a direct lead, with the plans that Rice has for Monday, which is meeting with Abbas, before telling its readers what occurred on Sunday. There are no direct quotes in this version of the story, although the same angles are covered, including what the two sides want. One key difference in this inverted pyramid scheme is details on where the conference si expected to be held - Annapolis, Maryland.

Local story 2 10/14 Regents give final approval for reciprocity deal

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved a reworked tuition reciprocity deal as a response to U of M students from Wisconsin paying less than students from Minnesota at their Friday meeting in Morris. Under the deal, U of M students from Wisconsin will pay the same rate as Minnesotans, with Wisconsin paying the difference between its tuition rate and the Minnesota rate to the schools. The ruling will go into effect next year.

An Associated Press feed that ran on KARE-11 used that approval as the lead, although very long for an AP article. The story continues with other items of interest the Board of Regents dealt with at the meeting, including a funding request to the state legislature for projects and total donations to the university in the 2007 fiscal year.

Minnesota Public Radio tells the same story with a shorter lead. Their account is mostly a detailed list of the changes that will take place with a quick explanation on why the Board of Regents approved the deal.

Local story 1 10/14 Wii-hab

Nintendo's innovations with their Wii gaming console has seen benefits beyond the realm of entertainment. The Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hopsital in Minneapolis has been using the Wii to help patients with spinal cord injuries regain their motor skills. No data has been released yet, since the Wii has been commercially available for less than a year, but employees at the hospital credit the higher physical challenge from the Wii compared to other gaming systems.

Maya Nishikawa of WCCO begins with a lead that doesn't mention where the Institute is. It could be because of the local audience, although many suburban viewers who don't visit the Twin Cities may be left in the dark. Nishikawa describes what patients do in the "Wii-hab" sessions and uses two employees, an occupational therapist and the Director of Research, and a patient as sources (again, no data has been released). The therapist describes what she has seen from patients who use the Wii, the Director of Research explains how the Wii is benefical, and the patient talks about how much he enjoys using the Wii.

Devin Henry from the Minnesota Daily also uses the Director of Research as a source, and as you might expect from a university-oriented newspaper, interviews two associate professors and a student majoring in biology. The style of this article takes a different approach, reporting on how the Wii fits into the phases of rehabilitation while the university sources talk about the potential benefits, such as the Wii being a good tool to answer the boredom of traditional exercises. Henry doesn't get any patients using the Wii for the article, making it difficult to evaluate just how effective the Wii is.

October 7, 2007

Local Story 2 10/7 13-year-old reported missing

While police are looking for the 17-year-old teen from Worthington, a Bloomington couple has requested for help in finding a 13-year-old asthmatic girl who walked out of Children's Hospital Friday evening.

WCCO's John Lauritsen gets most of the information used in the story from her girl's father, along with a statement from Children's Hospital and an account from a faculty member at a middle school Sonna Williams attends. Despite getting sources from few subjects, Lauritsen finds a fact that makes the story more mind-boggling, that Williams was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital Saturday after being admitted Thursday.

Julianna Olsen of KARE-11 also points that fact out. She was also able to get surveillance video, but we get a different side of the story as Olsen interviewed the chief medical officer at Children's. From this perspective, the audience may not know as much about Williams compared to WCCO, but do get details about how teen patients are treated. Specifically, they are not required to wear electronic monitors or hospital gowns.

In both versions, the most unusual highlight in the story was both the CMO and William's father believing there was no indication that Sonna Williams wanted to leave the hospital.

Local Story 10/7 Worthington girl reported missing

Details of this story are short, but the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is on the lookout for a 17-year-old female believed to be with someone she had a protection order against.

An Associated Press feed reports the details relevant to the case, such as a phone call made before noon Saturday and a vehicle that may have been occupied by the two that was found in Des Moines, Iowa. With a number to contact for information, the story likely was meant to be a detail provider that would help readers who come across the article.

WCCO does some reporting on their own, although it didn't make the newscast, according to the last visit on their website. As such, readers will not get much more information compared to the AP story, except that authorities alerted nearby hospital about two people possibly seeking treatment.

National story 10/7 6 killed in shooting spree

An off-duty sheriff's deputy went on a violent rampage early Sunday, killing six young people and injuring another before he was shot dead by authorities in Crandon, Wisconsin.

Most of the local TV stations were carrying Associated Press feeds of the story. After explaining what happened in the lead, the next two paragraphs provide supplemental information about the shooter and the victims. After volleying back and forth with more info on the suspect and victims, intertwined by a quick sound byte of what was going on at the time of the shooting, neighbors who witnessed the incident are interviewed. The article ends with some background information on Crandon, given the likelihood that readers outside of Wisconsin don't know where it is.

Chao Xiong of the Star Tribune fuses parts of the Associated Press story and does some reporting of his own. One example is his work to make a Minnesota connection; his research dug up a similar incident that happened in the Red Lake area in 1992. It also connects to a possible motive Crandon residents told Xiong, as the shooter and one of the victims recently broke up. Xiong also begins the article with a community angle by speaking on telephone to a father of three children who are in high school.