Recently in Analysis Category

Analysis: The uncomfortable truth about American wages

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In this article, the author used sets of data produced over the past four decades to analyze trends in earnings among Americans. The data shows that there has been decline in wages (adjusted for inflation) since 1970, especially for male workers. Unemployment and other factors have contributed to this.
The connection between higher wages and education is also featured in the article, and the data that the author presents shows that the percentage of males with a college degree has barely increased in the past 30 years, while the percentage of females with a degree has grown rapidly, surpassing the percentage of males in the 1990s.
The data that the author uses was gathered from the US Census, and is presented in graphs which illustrate the trends that have emerged in earnings and education among Americans ages 25-64. These graphs are very useful and help the reader to understand the trends that the author is writing about. The earnings are adjusted to coincide with the value of the dollar in 2010, which makes the stagnated standard of living for American workers over the past 40 years clear.
The author of the story is the director of the Hamilton project, which produced the study. The only computer skill required in this article is the ability to produce a graph which shows trends over time. The graphs allow the reader to get the gist of the story by simply examining them. There are also links within the story that the reader can click on if he wants to learn more about these trends.

Analysis: Diversity

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A feature story published by the Baltimore Sun last week highlights the ten year anniversary of the Howard County Muslim Council. The group was the first of its kind in Maryland, and its objective from the start has been to present the true image of Islam and to encourage Muslims to become involved in their communities. The author of the story makes mention to the fact that the group was founded while the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were fresh in the public's mind. He also mentions the group's goal of attaining equality for Muslims within the community. These are the only instances in which stereotyping is referenced, and the reporter presents the many areas in which the group has flourished and benefited the community over the past ten years as a way of moving past the stereotype.
The reporter's sources include two senators from Maryland, the founder of the council, the council's current president, and a member of the group. Senator Jim Robey was one of the first officials to meet with Anwer Hasan (founder of the council) to discuss the formation of the group ten years ago. He praised the council for following through with their objective. The other senator, Allan Kittleman, acknowledged the positive impact that the council has had on the community as a whole.
This story about a movement to empower local Muslims to get involved in their communities rarely makes mention of stereotypes associated with the group. Instead, it highlights the contributions that a particular cultural group has made to a community.

Numbers Analysis

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An article published by Reuters on Sunday assesses the damages caused by Superstorm Sandy. The use of numbers is essential to telling this story. The article cites the death toll with an exact figure (121), and uses approximate numbers to express the financial damage caused (an estimated $50 billion), the number of power outages (about 167,000 currently), and the amount of water that flooded a tunnel in Brooklyn (an estimated 43 million gallons).
Numbers are also used when referring to the relief efforts. The number of items distributed to those affected are expressed in with approximate numbers (2 million meals, 50,000 coats, etc.).
The reporters who compiled this story used numbers as a way to express the enormity of the news story they are covering. This story continues to affect the lives of many people in the nation's most densely-populated region. The numbers cited often segue the story into new directions, which works well in this case.
"Authorities" and "officials" are the sources for the majority of these numbers. The U.S. Energy Department is cited specifically, but outside of that reference, the sourcing is vague.
The use of numerals is a bit overwhelming in this article. While some numbers are essential (death toll, cost), others are not (gallons of water). An article about a story with such a wide range of implications is bound contain a lot of numbers, and for the most part, this article does a fine job of informing the reader of the widespread devastation caused by the storm.

Obituary Analysis

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By Luke Peterson
Phyllis Thornley, a lifelong Minneapolis resident with a passion for books, took her love for reading and transformed it into a career as an administrator and librarian for over three decades in the Twin Cities area.
A reporter for the Star Tribune wrote an obituary for her which, on the whole, closely resembles the New York Times style, though the lead does not. Instead of leading with the name of the person and concluding the lead with the date and location of her death, this obituary begins with three anecdotal sentences which provide some background about the subject's love for books. In the fourth paragraph, the author combines 'the lead' and 'the cause' from the standard structure, and then follows with 'the claim to fame,' 'chronology,' and 'family' sections with quotes inserted from Thornley's family and friends.
The main news values of this story are proximity and prominence. The subject is a woman who had lived in Minneapolis for most of her 87 years, and worked in Minneapolis schools for a large portion of her adult life. Consequently, she was likely to have been known by a large number of people. Her peculiar love of books seems to add a bit of novelty to the story, but not really enough to classify it as a central news value.
Some of the obituary does read like a resume in the claim to fame and chronology sections. However, quotes and information about Thornley's hobbies and personal life are mixed to paint a more humanized picture than that of a resume.

Analysis: Obama "Romnesia" Speech

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CNN's Kevin Liptak published a story about a speech President Barack Obama gave on Friday at a rally in Virginia. Liptak chose to craft his story around the "condition" Obama has dubbed "Romnesia," a sort of flip-flopping condition that he alleges his opponent suffers from. The author cites numerous quotes from the speech in which Obama accuses Mitt Romney of changing his position on issues in an attempt to gain a wider appeal.
The lead of the story is two paragraphs, which cover the elements of newsworthiness present in the story, and summarize the President's agenda within its context. He cites the specific areas in which Obama attacks his opponent, and in doing so accomplishes the goal of writing a solid lead- the reader is intrigued to continue reading on, but could also stop reading at this point and know what the speech/story was about.
The author uses the quote-support model for the body of the speech. Following each statement, a sentence or two of background information is given. Much of the content the author quotes was delivered in a comic tone by the president in regards to his "Romnesia" claim. Obama uses the "...then you might be a redneck (Jeff Foxworthy)" formula when referencing "Romnesia," while the author elaborates with further context on the inconsistent stances for which the republican candidate is charged.
It seems that the author has chosen certain comical quotes to emphasize the comical atmosphere that is the political circus which accompanies these elections every four years. The reporter does a fine job in clarifying with ample detail the issues presented in this speech, and in doing so, provides the reader with some useful information as he/she continues to follow the campaign. The event covered is part of a much larger event that will take place in a few weeks, and the reporter synthesizes the past and future nicely with the present event at hand.

Analysis: Function of multimedia in news reporting

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CNN and The New York Times utilize a number of different multimedia platforms on their websites.
Many of CNN's articles are accompanied with a slideshow featuring several photographs of the subject of the story, along with a brief caption to each. They also have videos to go along with most of the articles, often short clips which were aired on their network.
The multimedia complements the article- the slideshow is often above the story, and the video is to the side on the webpage. It seems to be the format for this news organization to include multiple platforms on a single page.
Additional multimedia options offered by this website include a large video section, with short clips of the day's top stories, accompanied with one sentence captions; several different channels with featured journalists and television personalities, with a 1-2 sentence caption of the main topics; and the option to watch CNN live if you are a subscriber. This site combines the news article, video and slideshows very effectively, though the pages tend to be a bit cluttered.
In addition to the written story, the captions which accompany the slideshow often provide a background to the person in the story and more of a "human" spin on the news. The videos speak for themselves and are accompanied with a caption that tells the reader what it is about. The site also offers pod casts.
The New York Times uses many of the same techniques as CNN, but they differ in a few ways as well. The organization of the news on the website is a little different, in that the videos, slideshows and news articles are generally separate entities, as opposed to all being on the same page. The multimedia stories act independently and are accompanied with a link to a related news article. The writing for the slideshows moves the story along and gives perspectives from many angles.
The New York Times has a number of interactive features on its website that set it apart. One of these is a presidential debate feature which provides play-by-play analysis and fact checks on key/controversial statements made by the candidates.
Another interactive political feature breaks down the candidates budget proposals in a graph in which the viewer can drag his/her mouse over a particular section for a detailed explanation.
The site has many more interactive features that provide different and interesting perspectives on news topics. The surface writing that goes along with these features is generally minimal- it is presented in a visual manner. However, further explanation is often available and can be retrieved easily on the site.

Analysis: Syria/Turkey Conflict

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I have been following the conflict between Syria and Turkey for the past several days. On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal reported that the two nations had exchanged air strikes. A Turkish border village was struck by a mortar shell from Syria. Turkey quickly responded. This was the lead to the story, and the rest of the story provided details about the attacks and the relationship between the two countries. The next day it was reported that the Turkish government had authorized military action against Syria for up to a year following the previous days' attack. The next paragraph explained the reasons for the decision, and basically re-stated the lead from Wednesday.
In an ongoing story like this, the most recent events are what makes the leads of stories, and the following paragraphs generally restate previous leads and provide background information. The first story I read broke the news, and the second one advanced the story by providing details about the consequences of the events in the first.

Analysis on structure in a news story

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The reporter of one of the stories I read which was covering the movement of chemical weapons in Syria explained what happened in the lead and used the next four paragraphs to further elaborate on the news that Syria has moved some of their chemical weapons to an unknown location. Each of the first five paragraphs attributes the information to either intelligence, US officials, or the defense secretary (when quoting him specifically).
The next three paragraphs explain the background (why this is newsworthy) and the concern about the status of these weapons in the hands of such a volatile nation. It is revealed that President Obama had, at some point (doesn't say when or in what context), threatened serious consequences if these weapons were used or moved. I think that if this was attributed properly to Obama I would have placed it higher up in the story.
Also, mentioning that Syria is in possession of what intelligence says is the world's largest stockpile of these kinds of weapons would be something that I would try to work into the first couple of paragraphs.
This is an effective article, but a person would need to know some background to understand the magnitude of the situation, and for that reason, I would rearrange things a little bit. However, the reporter does a nice job of concisely covering the main points of a very complicated, ongoing debacle.

Attribution Analysis

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The authors of the Minnesota Daily story about the stabbing on Como Ave. last Monday used three different sources: the police, a witness and a spokeswoman for Hennepin County Medical Center.
Each of the three sources are named and are scattered throughout the story. The story consists of ten paragraphs, and seven of them contain a reference to a source. All except for one of the references are quotes from people who are named, the other being "police said," which is either a reference to the police report, or to the officer who is named in the story.
The attributions to the officer and the spokeswoman for HCMC come after their contributions are given, with their names preceded by their titles, while the witness (Tim Kvernen) is referenced without an introduction.
The attributions are effective, although I feel that seven references is a few too many. The officer's contributions could have been grouped together, as could have the witness'. It looks right, and the attributions come from good, named sources, but seeing a person's name repeated over and over again comes off as redundant to me.

Lead Analysis

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Anti-American protests have erupted in the Middle East over a crudely made film mocking the prophet Muhammad, resulting in violent embassy protests around the Middle East, fallout in the U.S. presidential campaign and heightened security at U.S. facilities abroad.
This AP lead summarizes the who, what, where, when and why elements of this complicated story effectively and sets up the "meat" of the story nicely. The what (film, protests, fallout) and why (response to blasphemous film) are addressed in detail, while the who (protesters, victims), where (Middle East) and when (now, this is ongoing) are more general. The what and why are the most important elements of this news story, so it is fitting that they would be covered in greater detail. "Have erupted" suggests that the action of the story is going in the present, so putting a specific time in the lead is not necessary. "Around the Middle East" is a vast, general area, and because these protests are going on all over the place, it is specific enough. The only person specifically mentioned in the lead is Muhammad, the defamation of which is the reason for the protests.
It is a straightforward hard-news lead and it sets up a rather lengthy story effectively by concisely summarizing the news in a single sentence.

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