December 10, 2007

International Story 12/9 EU ministers debate Kosovo's future

Kosovo remains a province of Serbia, but ethnic Albanians are threatening to declare independence once a deadline posted by the United Nations passes. Ministers from the European Union will meet to discuss its future and NATO will keep its 16,000 troops to deter any clashes.

The BBC uses a direct lead and follows an inverted pyramid format, spending most of the story on the recently failed negotiations and reporting on a previous flare-up three years ago as the BBC mentions the myriad of plans from foreign ministers regarding Kosovo's status. In the final news bloc, Iran's nuclear programming, an unrelated issue, is also reported.

Middle East news outlet Al-Jazeera also uses a direct lead, but uses it to report an assertion from Russia that the deadline is not a binding one. The first news bloc then follows the same direction as the BBC version. Al-Jazeera, when quoting sources, also uses partial quotes more frequently than other outlets, often mixing paraphrasing with a quote. The majority of the Al-Jazeera story focuses on the effort to make Kosovo an independent nation before the pyramid style directs readers to highlight which EU members fear recognizing Kosovo as a nation.

December 3, 2007

International Story 12/2 Venezuelans reject Chavez's referendum

In a fiercely contested referendum on Sunday, voters said "No" to reforms that would have scrapped term limits on Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's rule, given him control over foreign currency reserves and boosted his powers to expropriate private property. About 51 percent of voters voted against the referendum as more than nine million of Venezuela's 16 million registered voters went to the polls.

CNN goes with a direct lead, mixing quotes from Chavez throughout the story, only getting one quote from the opposing side. Details on what Chavez did and observations, including thousands of people who gathered to sing the country's national anthem, make up the bulk of the story. The article ends explaining how the referendums would have affected power in Venezuela had they been approved.

Reuters reported their version of the story in a way not often seen in articles; their lead is almost split into two paragraphs. The first simply states that voters rejected Chavez's referendum, the second gives more details about when and what happened. Like the CNN story, Chavez remains the main news value for the duration of the article, ending it by informing readers that despite the defeat, Chavez still holds enormous power in Venezuela.

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 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.

November 11, 2007

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.

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.

October 28, 2007

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 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 14, 2007

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.

September 30, 2007

International Story Blog 9/30 U.N. envoy meets Myanmar

A United Nations news release said that U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari was unable to meet with top military junta leaders in Myanmar, who have come under fire for violent crackdowns on anti-government protesters, particularly when Buddhist monks joined the cause. Gambari was able to meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.

Although multiple sources have reported on this story, some of them have taken contributions from the Associated Press, an interesting move considering the investigative nature and worldwide impact of the protests.

Speaking of the Associated Press, this is a pretty clear example of the inverted pyramid format. Much detail is given on Ibrahim's visit, followed by Myanmar's biggest world influences, including Russia and China. At the very end of the article, Pope Benedict XVI is given some space to express his concern, with the AP citing that 1% of Myanmar's population is Catholic. The lead is direct, but much longer than a typical lead for a news story.

CNN does come up with a few things of their own though. Through an interview with a witness who requested anonymity, any tell-tale sign of military violence on the streets was swept clean before Ibrahim arrived. To add to the chaotic situation, CNN informs its readers that it cannot independently verify some of the facts given to them due to media and oppositional reports.

September 23, 2007

International Blog 9/23 Italians missing in Afghanistan

Two members of the Italian military have been reported missing and believed to have been abducted after crossing a checkpoint in the Haret province of Afghanistan, according to the Italian Defense Ministry.

The Associated Press uses this piece of breaking news as an introduction to ongoing problems with kidnapping in Afghanistan. Not much is said about the two missing soldiers, an indication of the distance from the United States to where the story takes place. They also use the soldiers as a transition to the overall violence plaguing Afghanistan, describing a major battle that took place where the two soldies were last seen, in the Shindand district.

BBC News published a shorter story on the subject, but had the same amount of detail on the kidnapped soldiers as the Associated Press. They also focus on the insurgency issues in the Shindand district, although it was mostly attribution to an Italian Embassy official. Following the inverted pyramid format, the article ends with a short sentence on Italy's military presence in Afghanistan.

September 16, 2007

International Blog 9/17 Thai plane crash

Dominating the international headlines today is a plane crash in the island of Phuket in Thailand, killing 87 of 130 people on board. Dozens of European tourists were on a One-Two-GO carrier as the aircraft attempted to land against heavy rains and strong crosswinds, then caught fire after its crash landing. Phuket was one of several regions hit by the Asian tsunami in December 2004

As this is a breaking news story, CNN covers the crash using a direct lead followed by information from multiple sources. The story is heavily supplemented by witness accounts, including one who landed in the same airport five minutes before the crash and from survivors who described the chaotic situation inside the plane. The story ends with a couple tidbits of information regarding the airport where the crash happened.

The Associated Press also has a hard news approach with a direct lead. Their report does contain some statistics of past airplane crashes in Thailans, listing the Phuket accident as the deadliest in that country since 1998. The AP ends their story with a segment on how Asia's booming airline industry has often been overshadowed by a series of wrecks in recent years.

September 9, 2007

International Blog 9/10

On the international front, CNN and the Associated Press ran extended articles on former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as he is set to return from seven years of political exile for tax evasion and treason to reclaim his old job after growing tensions with the current prime minister.

The majority of CNN's article reports on Sharif's departure for Pakistan and the anticipation for natives, including the arrest of 2,800 protesters. The rest of the article profiles Sharif explaining the reasons for his exile and the events that caused the exile to be lifted while fueling his desire to return.

The Associated Press covers the story from different perspectives. It starts in the same fashion as CNN describing Sharif's preparation, but finds relevancy with the United States by informing that Pervez Musharraf received monetary funding to combat Al-Qaeda. The AP goes further with information that another Pakistani exile, Benazir Bhutto, is also planning to return.

Interestingly, neither organization lists any attributes or sources regarding Sharif's conviction of tax evasion and treason.


Associated Press