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Analysis: Records

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I used NICAR's "Extra! Extra!" to find a Reuters story about Amazon Corporation's "billion-dollar tax shield."

The story was done by examining accounts filed by 25 Amazon units in six countries. The accounts show how the company has avoided paying more tax in the United States. Amazon used inter-company payments to form a tax shield behind which it has accumulated approximately $2 billion.

The IRS announced last year that it would seek $1.5 billion in back taxes from Amazon.

Writing this article would require a great deal of tax knowledge. The article explains certain aspects of tax policy in depth in order to help readers understand what Amazon has been doing.

I'm guessing the reporter used federal transparency laws to request access to related IRS records.

I think the story could have been done better if Reuters had used interactive graphics or other online tools. I found the story quite heavy and would have appreciated something to make it more readable.

A timeline of events might be useful in this story.

Analysis: Diversity

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A recent article in the Contra Costa Times addressed homelessness. The article is about a California church that offers a weekly free lunch to the homeless and those in need of a meal.

The church-sponsored event also offers free hot showers and free haircuts.

This article addresses an issue regarding homelessness carefully, without using any sort of stereotypes.

Several homeless people were interviewed for the article, lending the story an air of authenticity. They are portrayed neutrally, without any negativity.

Interviewing homeless people for an article about a church that helps the homeless makes sense, and gives the homeless, people who don't often have a chance to have their voice heard, the ability to contribute their opinions.

The church's pastor is also interviewed.

Analysis: Numbers

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A recent article in the Star Tribune broke down a study about exercise into easily understandable information.

The article identifies the study and gives its main point in the lead--exercising every day can extend life by an average of 3.5 years.

The author makes the study results understandable by using terms like "twice as likely" instead of constantly using figures. The article uses no more than two figures in any given paragraph, which keeps the facts from overwhelming readers.

In between articles filled with facts and figures, the author gave explanations or interposed relevant quotations.

The article identified the nature of the study to attest to its validity and interviewed a cardiologist who could speak to its credibility.

Analysis: Obituary

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The New York Times's recent obituary for Letitia Baldrige follows its standard obituary procedures.

The lead begins with the name of the deceased, followed by the reason for her newsworthiness. It states where and when Baldrige died, as well as her age.

The obituary for Baldrige, etiquette adviser and Jackie Kennedy's White House Chief of Staff, is long, a testament to Baldrige's contribution to American society.

The "claim to fame" section is long and filled with Baldrige's various achievements, and the chronology describes the Baldrige's childhood, career, and personal life.

The quotations used in the obituary come exclusively from interviews done with Baldrige throughout the years. These quotes span several decades.

Analysis: Speech

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Bill Clinton spent time in Wisconsin this week, speaking to a large crowd at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Friday evening, according to an article in the FDL Reporter.

The article written about Clinton's speech follows some of the basic rules discussed in class. The reporter used strong words to describe Clinton's speaking, words like "making the case," "defended" and "blasted."

For the most part, the article follows the point-quote style. The reporter makes a statement before backing it up with a specific quote made by Clinton.

The article does a nice job structurally, though I would move the second paragraph, which describes where the speech was held and the crowd size, down at least one paragraph.

The article also gives relevant background information concerning the speech, including information about who else has been campaigning for President Obama in Wisconsin. In addition, the article provides information about the election and voting procedures.

Analysis: Multimedia Approaches

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The Amanda Todd suicide story has saddened people around the world recently and provided news outlets with an opportunity to engage their readers.

The Huffington Post and CNN both covered the stories, but in different ways.

The Huffington Post used a number of interactives in its story. First, there was a slideshow with pictures of Amanda Todd. Second, Huff Post included a slideshow that featured messages of condolence posted via Twitter and Facebook. This engages the reader and allows Huffington Post to tell the story with more than just their own words. The article also provided the original YouTube video posted by Todd.

CNN, on the other hand, simply wrote an article and provided a short video describing the situation. This works, but it forced CNN to tell the entire story. The article was quite long as a result, since the situation surrounding Todd's death is complicated.

In contrast, the Huffington Post article is much shorter, because the video and the interactive slideshows tell much of the story themselves.

Analysis: Spot and Follow

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The recent story of teen runaway Kara Alongi and the Twitter hoax she created unfolded over a series of several days, which makes it an excellent example of spot and follow.

When the Star-Ledger broke the story late Sunday night, few details were available. The lead told readers that police were searching for Alongi and gave some information about the Twitter explosion that her disappearance had sparked, but there was no information available about who might have entered her house or where she could be.

An update to the original story came later Sunday night, posted below the original text. The update let readers know that police suspected no foul play, a critical piece of information.

Because of the Twitter explosion that occurred, national news outlets soon picked up the story. CBS News posted a story similar to the original Monday morning, with more information about the Twitter aspect of the case.

Several hours later, the story changed. CBS posted a new story, stating that Alongi's tweet was a hoax, and that a taxi was called to her house at approximately the same time as Alongi tweeted her message. This new information drastically changed the lead of CBS's story. Instead of focusing on the fact that Alongi had suspiciously disappeared, the focus of the story is now that she is a runaway who created a hoax.

CBS posted another update Wednesday informing the public that Alongi had returned home. The focus of the lead was that she had returned safely and gave an overview of the case-Alongi's tweet, the Twitter fury that ensued, the hoax, and her return.

Analysis: Structure

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A quick read of a Pioneer Press article about the arrest of a group of unlawful moviemakers reveals that the story is meant to amuse as well as inform.

The lead gives the main facts, but the main draw of the story-the fact that the "criminals" were shooting a movie-is left for the second sentence. Several jokes are made about this throughout the story.

The story follows the inverted pyramid structure, with the first few paragraphs giving the most important facts, the next paragraphs giving important details, and the last paragraphs smaller details that could be cut out if necessary.

Quotations are used on several occasions, with quotes from police mentioned early on in the story and less important quotes-like those given by neighbors-kept for the end.

Analysis: Attribution

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A CNN article written about a secretly recorded videotape of Romney speaking to a crowd of supporters utilizes a number of attribution techniques.

The article cites quotes from television interviews, polls, and written articles.

The wide variety of sources from which the article draws its information provides depth and insight for readers. Readers understand what happened, what the candidates said about it, and how the situation may affect the presidential race.

The article attributes its information throughout the story using both direct quotes and paraphrased comments. It also provides links to some of its sources.

Analysis: Lead Writing Techniques

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The lead used in the Fox News report about the recent air base attack in Afghanistan seems standard.

The lead is a summary that combines the most significant facts of the situation into one sentence. The lead addresses several key pieces of information-who, what, and where-immediately, drawing the reader into the situation.

The lead sets up the Afghanistan news article into an inverted structure, in which the lead summarizes the most important facts, leaving the rest of the article to add more and more detail.

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