April 25, 2009

Public Records

In the investigative series, The Informant, two Star Tribune reporters uncovered corruption that was being done by Minneapolis cops.

As the article wrote, "The Star Tribune, through confidential police and court documents, has retraced the inner workings of that public corruption probe from its origins on the streets of Minneapolis in late 2006."

The reporters had to have strong knowledge of how to request police and court documents and how to find valuable information from them.

They received documents from the Minneapolis Police Department, the FBI, federal and state courts, and the offices of the Minneapolis city attorney, the Anoka County attorney and the Hennepin County sheriff.

Some examples of the types of documents they requested are transcripts of Minneapolis police internal affairs unit interviews with police officers and officials, and with an informant in the public corruption probe, an FBI report recounting the investigation and confession of a police officer who accepted money from an FBI informant, and a federal indictment of a police officer who confessed to taking money after providing confidential information to an informant.

There are many other sources they used but all of these reporting methods helped them to write a comprehensive and accurate story that began as an anonymous tip.

April 12, 2009


In the article Banquet celebrates the good news with the Hmong economy, a Twin Cities Daily Planet reporter writes about a Hmong banquet.

The banquet celebrated the success of local Hmong businesses despite the economy.

The article is not necessarily a substantial piece of reporting because it does not probe very deeply into any issues facing Hmongs in particular.

However, the journalist covered the event well because clearly told the important achievements of certain business owners in the Hmong community.

Most of this information was told by observations of the event as well as quotes from speakers.

While this article does not convey a stereotype in any way, it is not very substantive.

April 4, 2009


In the Pioneer Press article "More office space sits empty," many numbers were used to describe the rising office-vacancy rate.

The reporter used numbers for the difference in rates in the overall metro area, as well as in different segments of the area. The change in dollar amount per square foot of office space was also described with numbers.

I thought the article was overwhelming because of the excessive use of numbers and lost interest quickly in the story.

I think he could have reported the percent change between two rates (ex. the rate has increased by 20%) instead of writing both rates in numerical form.

The sources are not listed.

I understand that numbers had to be included in this story, but the story had no energy or interest.

March 29, 2009


An obituary published in the New York Times demonstrated many of the elements discussed in class.

Irving R. Levine's obituary was a good example of the general obituary structure.

The lead began by introducing the Levine with his claim to fame, where he died, when he died and his age. The cause was then written in the second paragraph.

The next paragraphs elaborated on his "claim to fame" as a NBC news correspondent and were followed by the chronology of his life. Finally, the journalist ends the obituary with information about the surviving family members.

The journalist included a lot of strong biographical information but none of it was specifically attributed to a source. This probably is because Levine is important enough for information on his life to be considered well known.

This obituary is effective because it focuses on the most important aspects of Levine's life without sounding like a resume. The key to this effect was focusing on how Levine effected Americans with his economic broadcasts.

March 8, 2009


In the article, Bhutan Day held in St. Paul, the Star Tribune advanced an upcoming Bhutan Day celebration.

However, the story is more than just a listing or advertisement because it has a certain angle. The immigration of Bhutanese refugees is a highly relevant issue because the city has become home for many refugees recently.

The article cites Minnesota Public Radio as a source.

The article also includes details about Bhutan, such its current political situation and why the refugees are fleeing.

Lastly, the article gives a description of the event for readers who may be interested in attending or learning more.

March 1, 2009

Press Conference vs. News Story

When President Obama spoke Feb. 9 in his first prime-time news conference, reporters from the New York Times wrote a comprehensive news story using both the given transcript as well as outside information.

In the article, Obama Makes Case as Bill Clears Hurdle, reporters used the speech's transcript in order to clearly state the speech's main points and use quotes to provide support and color.

Although the speech was designed as a press conference, the reporters made the story fair and credible by providing outside background information on the stimulus bill and related the speech to other current events.

If the reporters solely reiterated the contents of the speech, they would not have done their jobs. But by incorporating details from past events, opinions from other people involved, and filling the reader in on the entire issue at hand, the reporters crafted a complete news story.

February 22, 2009

Spot News

A recent example of a news event that has been followed for several days is the speculation surrounding the alleged assault between Chris Brown and Rihanna.

When the story broke on February 8, the L.A. Times wrote the story R&B singer Chris Brown booked on suspicion of making felony criminal threats. The story detailed the information released by police as well as some speculation on what happened.

Ever since, the L.A. Times has written many follow-up stories as related news has become more available. For example, only an hour after the first story broke, another one appeared: Singer Chris Brown under investigation in alleged assault.

This story has several of the same details as the first story, but verifies that Chris Brown is under investigation in connection with the assault.

Information on the story is continually being added as other celebrities, such as Kanye West, family members, such as Chris Brown's stepfather, or the victim herself makes a public statement.

The spot news format is helpful for this news story because it highlights important developments in the story while summarizing the most essential information from past stories.

February 15, 2009


In the Wall Street Journal article, Investigators: Turboprop in Intense Roll Just Before Crash, the progression of news information in the story contains several different elements.

First, the story is an update or follow-up of a breaking news story, so the newest information about the findings of the federal investigators is placed in the lead and further explained in the nut graf.

After this, the story turns into a chronological narration about the events that lead up to the plane crash.

At the end, some fact blocks that have already been placed in earlier stories are repeated, such as the number of people dead.

This was an effective structure for the story because it updated the reader on the newest information but also provided older details in case this was the first time the reader had read about the story.

February 8, 2009


In the article 65,000 gallons of oil sludge spills near Chicago, several examples of attribution are given.

Even though the article is small, seven attributions were used. Most of these sources were officials involved in the incident, such as a U.S. Coast Guard officer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency or police.

None of the sources were named in the lead, but most of them were eventually named after the information was attributed.

Attribution from different sources were scattered through out the story in order to make the story seem more credible and fair.

Many of the attributions are crediting comments from interviewees. The only exception would be a statement issued by the Caterpillar company.

Overall, the way the reporter chose to attribute his/her sources was effective and clear.

February 2, 2009


Dozens killed as petrol tanker explodes in Kenya, an article published in the Guardian, is an example of a piece of hard-news that begins in true inverted-pyramid form.

Here is the lead and a few subsequent sentences from the article:

"At least 111 people were killed and more than 200 injured after an overturned petrol tanker exploded in Kenya yesterday, police said today.

The tanker exploded in the town of Molo, about 105 miles from Nairobi, after crowds had gathered around it in an attempt to collect free fuel.

Nearby hospitals were filled with victims, including small children, who had suffered severe burns in the blast."

The lead begins by describing the action or the "what" - the deaths and injuries from the tanker. The journalist mentions the "how" by explaining the that the tanker exploded, but no specific cause is mentioned. The lead also includes a general mention of the "where" and "when" but like the "how," is not specific until later in the story.

This type of lead works since the explosion just happened Saturday, so the emphasis of the lead is on the current death toll. Once the cause of the explosion is reported, that may become the new emphasis of a lead.