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November 26, 2007

International Story 11/25 Chess legend arrested for protest

A judge sentenced chess legend Garry Kasparov to five days in jail for organizing an unsanctioned procession Sunday. Kasparov's coalition, Other Russia, has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin for turning the country into a dictatorship. Kasparov believes the government is trying to harass him.

CNN wastes little time getting Kasparov's side of the story, one of his quotes makes the fourth paragraph after a set-up paragraph by the writer. It then follows with an explanation of just what is happening in Russian politics: Putin, who was elected twice, cannot run for president again, but many feel he will retain power in some form. The article ends with a United States perspective from the spokesman of the National Security Council.

Clifford Levy of The New York Times doesn't mention Kasparov's arrest until the second paragraph, instead giving a broader picture of the situation in Russia to put in the lead. There is a more thorough explanation in the article on Russia's affairs, reporting on Putin's popularity that has been aided by Kremlin control of government agencies and news media. However, interviews with sources are not very plentiful, although an opposition leader is quoted in the story. The overall tone suggests that Kasparov's arrest was only one branch of the main news value.

November 25, 2007

Local Story 2 11/25 Eden Prairie defeats Cretin Derham-Hall to win 5A state title

In the most anticipated championship game for the Minnesota State High School League football tournament, Eden Prairie destroyed Cretin Derham-Hall 50-21 to take the class AAAAA title. Eden Prairie has now won back-to-back state titles.

John Millea of the Star Tribune has a little fun with the lead, poking fun at his own observations of Eden Prairie not giving up a point in the first quarter all season. He continues with his comedic storytelling for a couple paragraphs before starting to analyze the game and give the audience the key plays that set up for Eden Prairie's win. Millea includes an observation he made at the game before ending the story with what he says are two letters needed to spell domination, E and P (Eden Prairie's initials).

Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press also uses a comic lead, but only for one paragraph, quickly addressing the score with a nutshell analysis of the game. A few paragraphs later, he gets interviews with head coaches from both teams and volleying between players of both teams, seeking for insider details on how the game came out the way it did. In fact, the article ends with Eden Prairie's head coach, Mike Grant, praising his son, Ryan Grant, quarterback for Eden Prairie.

Local Story 1 11/25 2 killed in plane crash in Faribault

A small plane crashed Sunday near Faribault Municipal County Airport, killing at least two passengers. No status has been given on the other two passengers in the plane.

WCCO didn't send out any reporters to cover the story on their first tun of the story, instead providing quick hits on the most important details. Aviators curious to know what happened would get a lot of information as WCCO was able to contact an FAA spokesman to discuss the crash.

An Associated Press feed reported the same information in the first three paragraphs. They supplied additional information, including a quote from the Fairbault police chief to descrive his account of the scene, which was very short. The final paragraph in the short inverted pyramid shows that more details will be released Monday when the FAA investigates. A level one story overall that informs its audience to stay tuned to get their questions answered.

November 18, 2007

International Story 11/18 Ukraine mine blast kills dozens

A methane mine blast in Ukraine Sunday has killed at least 63 and left 37 missing at Donbass coalfield. It is believed to be one of Ukraine's most serious accident since its independence from Soviet rule in 1991.

Reuters' Lina Kushch uses a direct lead and follows with a description of the scene. The article doesn't focus on the accident alone, Kushch then reports on the president's criticism of the Ukraine government before supplementing more information on the main idea. After elaborating on survivors' accounts and the likelihood of finding the missing alive, the pyramid's tip ends with background on the safety of Ukraine's mines.

The Associated Press also uses a direct lead. The specific location is identified later in the story, along with the number of people who were in the mine at the time of the explosion. Statistics are then used to highlight the dangers to Ukraine miners, about three die for every million tons of coal brought to the surface, followed by a report to increase coal energy production.

National story 11/18 Jimmie Johnson wins back-to-back NASCAR titles

In a Chase that lacked much drama, Jimmie Johnson had no trouble fending off Jeff Gordon to capture his 2nd career NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Johnson, who won by 77 points, is the first driver to win back-to-back titles since his teammate, Gordon, did the same in 1997 and 1998. Johnson had an 86-point lead going into the race and only needed to finish 18th or better to win.

The New York Times' Viv Bernstein uses the lead to reflect on Johnson's dominance of the most popular auto racing sport in the United States, pulling some statistics on how the sport has changed since Gordon won back-to-back Cup titles (Only 17 teams were competing full time back then). The champion then speaks about his strategy, followed by other things that happened in the race. Also, as expected, the runner-up is also quoted before reflecting on Johnson's performance during the race and during the 10-race Chase, NASCAR's playoff format.

Terry Blount of ESPN spends half of the article with a page-by-page story and reaction as soon as Johnson knew he had won his second title. Quotes from Johnson aren't included until a few paragraphs down, before Blount interviews the race winner, Matt Kenseth. However, the main news value isn't lost in the statistics of the race, Blount quickly goes back to Johnson and interviews his crew chief, Chad Knaus.

Local Story 2 11/18 MSU-Mankato student killed

A student at Minnesota State University-Mankato was killed early Sunday and another was seriously injured when they were struck by a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old

KARE-11 didn't send any reporters to cover the story, although a follow-up is likely once the identities of the victims are released. The lead lists the basic information and the location of the accident is given in the second paragraph. KARE-11 does get the president of MSU-Mankato to speak about the incident. Information on what MSU will be doing is also included.

Chao Xiong from the Star Tribune follows the same format as KARE-11, being a hard news story, but also included information on the location of the accident to provide an answer to questions of why the accident occurred in the middle of the night. Also reported is the specific time of the accident and the event that led to it Outside of that, there isn't a lot to work with as details have yet to be released, but there is some anecdotal information on previous deaths of MSU-Mankato students.

Local Story 1 11/18 Rhodes Scholars

Two female students from St. Olaf College in Northfield were named Rhodes Scholars for 2008 Sunday. Ishanaa N. Rambachan, of Apple Valley, Minn., and Nicole L. Novak, of Iowa City, Iowa, along with 30 other women and 32 men were selected from a pool of 764 applicants.

An Associated Press version of the story was a brief summary of the Minnesota college students who won the award along with some background info on other winners and the program itself. It was likely a level one story, as they relayed the announcement and gave readers an idea of how big a deal it is to be Rhodes scholars, but did not interview any of the scholars themselves. It could also be a first update with the human aspect to come later.

The Star Tribune's Randy Furst wasted little time with the human interest aspect. Furst uses a delayed lead to tell the audience what makes the 2008 scholars tick, then tell the story on their own immediately after the main news value is introduced. The focus is then broadened to include the professional perspective from St. Olaf before telling more about the scholars.

November 11, 2007

National Story 11/11 Hershey "kisses" goodbye to Board of Directors

Chocolate maker Hershey announced an overhaul of its board of directors Sunday as the charitable trust that owns the company looks for a solution to recover its languishing stock. Six members quite after being asked to resign, two left on their own.

Nelson D. Schwartz of The New York Times uses a direct lead for the story. No full quotes are used, although two are used to report on the overall mood of the company from people in the trust. Financial information, including some mathematical computations, is reported to better clarify the struggling situation at Hershey (shares have dropped 25 percent in the last six months).

The Associated Press differs in coverage by naming the directors that left the company, perhaps to inform shareholders who may not have heard of the situation. Not much investigative reporting is used in the story, with the bulk of it name-dropping from those who are bowing out and board members who will replace them. A statement from the company's future CEO, at the end of the story, is the only source to explain the overhaul of the board.

International Story 11/11 Italians riot after soccer fan shot dead

A police officer accidentally shot and killed a soccer fan Sunday while trying to break up a fight between supporters of rival teams. Enraged by the killing, hundreds of fans rioted in Rome.

The Associated Press uses a direct lead for this story with its much darker tone. After the first block of information, observation supplements the lead, illuminating the magnitude of the riot with local Italian media outlets. The victim isn't named until halfway through the story, but they do give readers a slight glimpse into who he was, along with a quote from his brother after he found out about the incident.

Soccer is also a big deal in the United Kingdom, although the BBC didn't waste time with the obvious. In a contrast to the AP article, the victim is named in the first paragraph, a practice usually not used with reporting in the United States. Before elaborating on the victim and what caused the accidental shooting, the BBC reports on the violence that broke out before and after the victim was killed.

Both sources provide very descriptive details of property and people that were attacked during the riots, painting a very brutal scene in Rome and Milan.

Local Story 2 11/11 Numbers - Packers shut out Vikings

The Green Bay Packers picked the Vikings apart, cruising to a 34-0 win at Lambeau Field Sunday, improving their season record to 8-1 in the process.

The Associated Press don't use too many numbers until the second half of the story, with the main news value (for Vikings fans) being the injury suffered by Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The lead is delayed, with the injury not appearing until the second paragraph. When it does come time for numbers, the article is tailored to football fans who are familiar with the terminology (yards, points scored).

Kevin Siefert of the Star Tribune incorporates game statistics in his report of the game, no doubt a hard job to provide objective coverage given the nature of the game. Again, the numbers used in the story reflect that the audience has a general knowledge of football as more analytical statistics are used, including first downs and time of possession. Quotes from Vikings players are used for more than just reaction this time; Siefert uses them to illustrate the overall themes of the game.

November 6, 2007

Local Story 1 11/6 Arrests made in Amber Alert case

Two people were arrested Tuesday in connection with the kidnapping of a St. Paul teenager, whose disappearance triggered an Amber Alert Monday. Jacqeline Mendoza was found with her alleged 18-year-old kidnapper, who was Mendoza's ex-boyfriend, according to her family. Another woman who allegedly assaulted Jacqeline and her mother, Zuleyma Cordoza, was arrested Tuesday afternoon. The names of both suspects were withheld as charges have not yet been filed.

Heather Brown of WCCO uses a direct lead to begin the story, articulating on the events that led to the kidnapping and what occurred when Mendoza was found. She uses only one quote, from Cordoza, supplementing the rest of the information used in the story from authorities. The story ends noting that police are still investigating details, including the nature of Jacqeline's relationship with the kidnapper.

With more than 300 missing children recovered safely since Amber Alert's implementation, KARE-11's Scott Seroka covered more detail on the system's effectiveness. To get the law enforcement perspective, Seroka went to the St. Paul Police spokesperson, Tom Walsh. Walsh gave only anecdotal data on the success of the Amber Alert system in St. Paul, although it's unlikely Seroka or the editors at KARE-11 were looking into an investigative report as the main news value. Seroka also interviews Jacqeline's mother, who is referred by Corado in this story. And for the curious, Seroka reports the Amber Alert lasted six hours.

One possibility for two last names being given to Zuleyma is that she uses both Cordoza and Corado as a last name, or there may have been a factual error in reporting.

November 4, 2007

International Story 11/4 Europeans freed from Chad

Seven Europeans, including three journalists, who were charged in an alleged plot to kidnap African children for adoption arrived in Paris on Sunday after French President Nicolas Sarkozy held emergency talks in Chad.

CNN runs an in-depth report in a hard news style. In fact, they presented so much information on the issue, including the number of people still in custody on charges of the operation, that no people are used as sources until the fifth paragraph and no one is quoted until the 10th paragraph. The story continues on other areas of concern, including whether the incident would affect relations between the two countries.

Across the Atlantic, BBC begins the story with a direct lead, simultaneously observing what took place when the plane carrying the released Europeans stopped in Madrid. No quotes are used, but that doesn't stop the BBC from viewing the story under a different microscope. A Paris correspondent reported that French television was showing footage taken by one of the journalists, saying the film implied that the charity organization charged in the case concealed from local people and authorities its intention to fly children out of Chad.

Local Story 2 11/4 School levies

On Tuesday, 99 Minnesota school districts will ask voters for more money to stave off what they say will be crippling staff and program cuts. School districts have acknowledged difficulties in getting levies to pass as more baby boomers become empty nest parents.

In this enterprising feature, Minnesota Public Radio narrows the focus to two districts: Robbinsdale and Stillwater. These two districts were noted in the article as having organized opposition, making the debate a sharp one. Using institutional sources as a background, the story is narrated by informal and institutional human sources.

The Associated Press looks at Bloomington, White Bear Lake and Anoka-Hennepin, districts with growing numbers of elderly residents. While the topic isn't necessarily just on the 99 school districts asking for levy approval on Tuesday, the lead is delayed. Multiple human sources are also used to gauge perspectives from both the professional and informal sides of the debate.

Local story 1 11/4 Yo Adrian!

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was the story of the day, setting an NFL record for must rushing yards in a single game Sunday. Peterson tallied 296 rushing yards with three touchdowns as the Vikings pummeled the San Diego Chargers 35-17, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process.

Kevin Siefert, Vikings beat reporter for the Star Tribune, takes the "standard" enterprise approach when writing on your local professional team. With the record-breaking performances from both teams (the Chargers set a record for the longest play in history, a 109-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown), Siefert spends a lot of time interviewing Vikings players and head coach Brad Childress. He mixes some statistical analysis, such as the Vikings being 2-0 when Peterson rushes for 200 yards or more, and making observations outside of the stat sheet, including a speech from Childress about the 2005 Vikings winning six straight after losing five of their first seven games.

The Associated Press is quick to mention Peterson's record as well. The AP provides a statistical recap, mixing quotes from both Chargers and Vikings personnel. The article ends with some game notes, citing Peterson's rushing total outrunning nine of the NFL's other 17 teams who started their games at noon Sunday.