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Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

By Sam Preston

I covered a story from, called 'Resources for covering floods.'

The records and analysis used to produce this story came from all different sources, such as clips from other newspapers as well as several databases and tipsheets. I would say that the computer skills that the reporter who put this story together would need is of course, primarily, how to navigate the internet in such a way to find the websites of other newspapers. Beyond that, they would need to know where to go to access the databases and tipsheets that they used, and they would need to know how to read them beyond that. They would need to know the sources that they would want to address for this story, and how to find information about them on the internet. All in all, a reporter would need much more than basic navigational skills in order to put together such a complex story, because if they could not read the sources that came in front of them, it would be no use.

Analysis: Culture

By Sam Preston

The story I chose to cover was from the New York Times, called A Delicate Balancing Act for the Black Agenda.

What this story basically went over was how certain members of the black community feel about President Obama's term so far. According to this article, there are many citizens right in Obama's hometown of Chicago who are not happy with what he has done in office so far.

In my personal opinion, this article does not follow any stereotype associated with the black America, because through a series of quotes and other data, they break stereotypes.

In some of the quotes and other things presented in this article, the reporter makes the black public out to be educated, interested in politics, and opinionated.

Now though I do not stand behind or think any stereotypes to necessarily be true, it has been my impression that stereotypes surrounding the black community is that they are uneducated, involved in gangs, like to shoot eachother, etc.

Now, in this article, they are reporting about black citizens of Chicago coming together to listen to a panel discuss their unhappiness with the Obama administration. People shared their thoughts and input as well, which made them out to seem educated on the situation and able to participate in the discussion.

I asked my roommate, Stephanie, who is a student here at the U and black, to read the article. She said that she also did not think there were many of your standard stereotypes about balck people in the story, and then also gave me some of her input on what the story covered.

I'm not sure if what she thinks about Obama is relevant, but what I am trying to get at is that this article moved beyond stereotypes to get into the more substantive story of a people who were once happy to see a man of color get into office now question if Hillary Clinton would have been better.

Analysis: Numbers

By Sam Preston

I looked at an article in the New York Times that covered a survey done about what Haitian's thought their most pressing needs were following the destruction of the January 12 earthquake.

I thought the reporter used numbers very well in the story. They did not introduce the numbers until the third paragraph, giving the reader plenty of time to figure out what the story was about before having numbers thrown at them.

In the third paragraph, the reporter uses numbers in such a way as presenting the top 3 needs identified by the survey and using percentages to say how they ranked. This was successful because it was in a very readable format, such as "x percent thought such and such was needed."

The numbers are not overwhelming because beyond the initial introduction, numbers are not introduced again until the reporter references the next top things listed by the people polled. They then finished with a dollar amount of how much Haiti expected its damages to be, so the reporter only used what they need.

They did not need to use math to compress anything down because they were very concise, and did not list all of the results listed by the survey. They knew what they needed to tell their story and stuck to it. They also only used one decimal, saying 5.5 percent of the population felt security was most important to focus on. Overall, it was very easy to follow from a reader's perspective.

Obit Analysis

By Sam Preston

I chose to do my analysis of an obituary I found on the New York Time's website, titled Elinor Smith, One of the Youngest Pioneers of Aviation, Is Dead at 98.

There were several sources used in this article, the first of such being her son. After that, they quoted a New York Times reporter whom had written about her when Elinor was younger, and then they had some quotes from Elinor herself. So this resembles what we learned in that when writing obituaries, you should stick to interviews with people who were close to the subject.

This specific article did not have a standard lead, because the only typical elements in this particular articles' lead was the name of deceased, and something notable about her. They talked about her first flying lesson as a girl, which tells you something about her, but didn't really go into the fact that she was a flyer. When and where she died, as well as how old she was at the time of death, was not included.

I feel like this lead works because it is setting up the whole thing, as this obituary is set up more as a narrative, more like the Portraits of Grief we saw in class. They work in the other details a bit later, which works from the reader's point of view. The narrative style is one of the things that makes this article differ from a resume, as well as the elements of the quotes from the insiders, and more details rather than listing of what she did.

Analysis: news story vs. press release

I have selected to compare a story written by the New York Times about a meeting Obama held about healthcare. I found the agenda on the website of the White House.

The story I found is one that covers what they think will be said at the meeting, more so than what happened at it. They talked about what the concerns with healthcare are, and what each party will be pushing for.

They touched on concerns the republicans will have with the Democratic-friendly bill before them, and what will happen if they can't reach a concensus.

I chose this story because I thought it was almost more interesting to see a story anticipating what will happen at a meeting than one written after it. It seems to target pepole that are really interested in what is coming up, so much so that they can't wait.

This story covers in-depth analysis of what other sources have also said, and further analyzes what could happen as a result of the meeting.

After looking at what the agenda of the meeting was, the report in the Times was highly accurate. It doesn't say whether they received knowledge about the agenda before writing the story, but more so it seems that they had enough information to go off to be able to make a prediction.

Multimedia options

The New York Times has far more multimedia on their website than that of, for example, St. Paul's Pioneer Press.

On almost any given day, the Times will have a slideshow featured on their homepage, as well as pictures accompanying major stories and videos.

The Press will usually have maybe one or two pictures featured, but I have never seen a slideshow or any videos on the homepage.

I feel vidoes and pictures can complement a news story in that it attracts the reader, and pulls people to read that story first.

As far as slideshow's, they complement news because the pictures help to tell the story.

The Times will have copy with their slideshows whenever they are up, which tells you what is going on in the pictures and how it realtes to the stories. When they just have a series of pictures, they'll generally just have one tagline for all of them, but that is usually for an event that just took place that most people already know what is going on.

The writing that goes along with the multimedia is always very short and to the point. They want the pictures or videos to be the focus of the reader's attention.

First-day vs. next day story analysis

I would like to do an analyis on a story I was following this week, the one about the 18-year-old who shot and killed his father. The leads from the Pioneer Press differed as follows:

First-day: "A family dispute turned violent Saturday in St. Paul, leaving a father shot to death and his son arrested."

Next day: "The 18-year-old man who allegedly shot his father to death on Saturday at their St. Paul home was trying to protect his mother, according to a criminal complaint."

I chose the Pioneer Press leads because it is the paper for St. Paul, which is where the incident took place. The main difference between the two is that the next day lead has a lot more information in it, mentioning the age of the man who did it, as well as why it may have taken place.

The main news is summarized in the first-day article more up-front, in that it takes 5 paragraphs to get past any basic information and add some voice, via a quote, to the story.

In the next day article, there is a quote in the third paragraph. It seems as though since most of the hard news came out with the first coverage, there is room for more investigative and interviewing in the second story.

The second story does advance the news though, by adding pictures of both the man who did it and the man who was shot, as well as a picture of the scene. There are a lot more quotes from the family, and even parts from an interview of the man who did it.

This story doesn't really strike me as responding to a report from a competing news organization, mostly because I noticed that the Pioneer Press released their follow up story at 6 p.m., whereas the Star Tribune didn't release theirs until 9 p.m.

I chose this article because it had the most sources out of all of the ones that I did. it had a total of 6 sources.

The sources that are names are: Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. Courtney Mickalonis, a spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Airports Authority. A spokesman for Pepco, a local utility company in Washington. Andre Francis, another spokesman for Pepco. School districts from Baltimore to Spotsylvania County, Va., and an Amtrak spokesman.

The sources are scattered throughout the story, but in my opinion they are very appropriately placed with the part of the story that is being discussed. For example, this journalist began talking about Virginia, and so had a spokesperson from there first, and then respectivly people from wherever they were then talking about.

The information is all from people, though some remain nameless and are just referred to as 'spokesman', which seems more like they are placing emphasis on the company as making the statement.

The reporter sets up the attribution almost each time with a quote followed by 'he said/she said', but there are a couple of times when they just paraphrase the information and simpply state 'a spaokesman/woman said.'

I had no problems following the attribution at all, so I would say that it was very clear and kept the right people linked with the right information.

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