The article Deadly attack on Nigeria's Bayero university in Kano posted April 29 on the BBC News website is an example of an international news story.

At least 16 people have been killed in a gun and bomb attack at a university in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, Nigerian Red Cross officials say.

I would say "an estimated" instead of "at least." It just seems more concrete, which I think this story calls for. "Gun and bomb attack" sounds awkward. Why not just "shooting and bombing?" I like that it was sourced, but was there not a more specific person than just "officials?" Otherwise, it is a solid lede that conveys the most important information.

Six others were in a serious condition following the attack at Bayero University campus where Christian worshippers were holding a service.

I think the "a" before serious condition can be cut. A "the" should be added before Bayero University campus. "Were holding" could just be "held" to eliminate passive.

Police are searching for the gunmen.

It is weird to give this a paragraph all to itself. It is important to know, obviously, but I think it could be attached to the beginning of the next paragraph. "Are searching" is a little passive, but I can only think to replace it with "continue to search."

No group has said it launched the attack, but the violent Islamist Boko Haram group is active in Kano. It has recently attacked churches.

"Group" is such a vague word to use in this situation. I think "terrorist organization" would have been clearer. I think I would have used "admitted" instead of "said" since I think it is a little stronger. It is good to know that there have been recent attacks, but I need more details than that. I want to know how similar they were to this attack so I can understand how strong the possibility is that it was this terrorist organization that made the attacks.

Nigeria's central government has struggled to contain the militant group, which operates mainly in the predominantly Muslim north, but has also struck as far south as the capital, Abuja.

Wouldn't north be capitalized here since it is referring to a region, not a direction? I think this can be split into two sentences at "which."

Sunday's attack took place in one of the lecture theatres used as a place of worship by Christians.

This is good information. It probably could have gone a little higher in the story, just to logistically set the scene.

A witness told AFP news agency the attackers had first thrown in explosives and fired shots, "causing a stampede among worshippers".

"They now pursued them, shooting them with guns. They also attacked another service at the sporting complex."

The period should be within the quotes. This quote really could have been paraphrased since it is mostly factual. The stampede is the only interesting part. Also, it is unfortunate that all the BBC could get was an unidentified witness stolen from the AFP.

Another witness spoke of "pandemonium", and said he had seen two men shooting indiscriminately.

Again, if the witness is unidentified and the only thing you are quoting is pandemonium, this can probably just be cut. Also, what does shooting indiscriminately mean? I think that can be simplified to create a better visual.

Mohammed Suleiman, a history lecturer at the university, said security guards had to run for their lives when the violence broke out.

"For over 30 minutes a series of bomb explosions and gun shots took over the old campus, around the academic blocks," he told Reuters news agency.

Yes, finally a source that is actually sourced! But, it was still stolen from Reuters. Also, I'm more interested in the fact that security guards, who should be protecting the university community, were running for their lives than I am about the academic blocks. Someone should have looked into that story.

A Red Cross spokesman said adults - possibly professors - and three women were among the casualties. Several needed urgent blood transfusions.

I don't understand why it is so hard to get specific names for sources. Also, it is never good to write "possibly" or anything that is unsure. I'd rather the writer state that it is unknown and can't be confirmed than plant a possibly false idea in readers' heads.

Kano state police spokesman Ibrahim Idris said that by the time police arrived, the attackers had "disappeared into the neighbourhood". A manhunt is under way.

This is interesting. How did these guys get away before police got there? Wasn't this attack going on for 30 or more minutes? I think that should be looked into. Also, manhunt is a bit dramatic. Sexy, but I think "search" would have worked just fine.

But the situation at the university was now calm, according to the Red Cross spokesman.

Boko Haram carried out a bombing in Kano in January that killed more than 180 people, its deadliest attack to date.

I think it should be "is now calm" since we are talking about the present condition of the university. The kicker is an interesting bit of information, but since it is still unconfirmed if this group is actually responsible, I'm not sure it is relevant.

Overall, this wasn't a bad international news story. It was written when the story broke, so the lack of proper sourcing can probably be forgiven. My biggest concern with this is the uncertainty the writer reports. It is ok if the reporter doesn't know all of the information because likely no one does yet. But, it should be reported that things are unconfirmed, not that there are possibilities. If this terrorist group isn't responsible, than more damage could be done by this article than good. Ethically, it is always important to remember not to sell the sensational story (such as Christians versus terrorist Muslims) and just write the facts.

The article All eyes remain on Florida jail as neighborhood watch volunteer awaits release on bail by the Associated Press for the April 22 Minneapolis Star Tribune is an example of a national news story.

All eyes remain on the Florida jail where the man charged with murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is awaiting release on bail, and it could be several days before he leaves.

This is a pretty solid lede. It is eye-catching and interesting while still telling the facts. The passive "is awaiting" could just be "awaits" and there should be a separate sentence at the conjunction.

George Zimmerman's attorney was still working Sunday to secure the money for bail and a safe place for the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer to stay. But residents in Sanford, where Martin was killed, don't expect a ruckus once Zimmerman is released.

"Is still working" could just be "still worked" to avoid passive voice. Conjunctions at the beginning of sentences should only be used sparingly, and I think it could have been avoided in this situation easily.

City commissioners haven't received calls from nervous residents. Protesters haven't showed up outside the jail. And talk at one local coffee shop seldom focused on the case.

I stand by my comment on conjunctions at the beginning of sentences from before. I also wonder how this reporter knows these things aren't happening. Did the reporter actually go to the coffee shop and listen? I think this needs to be sourced. It's nice color, but it seems easily made up.

"It's just kind of a non-issue now," said Michele Church, a server at Mel's Family Diner. "That's pretty much all anybody in Sanford wanted, was an arrest, so it could be sorted out in the court system."

Nice quote and a good source.

On Friday, a Florida judge agreed to let Zimmerman out on $150,000 bail. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara has said there are several options for where Zimmerman should go, but would not disclose any of them. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester on Friday indicated Zimmerman would be allowed to leave the state if arrangements with law enforcement could be made for him to be monitored. He will be fitted with an electronic device.

"Has said?" Why not just "said" to avoid passive-ness? I think the second "on Friday" could be left out since it was already said once. The last sentence seems awkward. I know what the reporter means, but it just sounds very strange that he will be fitted with an electronic device. Maybe if the reporter had specified what kind of device it was it wouldn't be so weird.

About a half-dozen photographers and cameramen remained camped outside the Sanford jail Sunday, focused on the door marked "Bonds Rooms," where other people who had been arrested and released on bail exited. By mid-afternoon there was still no sign of Zimmerman, who entered the jail about a week earlier after more than a month of nationwide protests calling for his arrest.

"Remained camped" should just be "camped" since it means the same thing, really. That first sentence is really wordy and could probably be broken up into smaller sentences. There is nice detail, though. This reporter uses color well.

"The mood in Sanford has calmed down tremendously," said Sanford Commissioner Patty Mahany, whose district includes the neighborhood where Martin was killed. "I think now that people are able to see the justice system taking place, even though they understand it's going to be quite slow, people are willing to just remain calm and really we're all getting back to our daily routines."

Is she the police commissioner? When it just says commissioner, I wonder what exactly she is commissioner of. That's a good quote, but it didn't really add much that hadn't already been paraphrased before.

She said there were no special plans by the city under way in anticipation of Zimmerman's release.

A spokeswoman for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office declined to release any information about whether they were increasing patrols or security.

The "under way" seems out of place and should have gone after "special plans" instead of "city," I think. Even though the Sheriff's Office declined to say anything, I think that was an important question to ask. Too bad that's all the reporter could get, though.

Zimmerman has been the subject of scorn and debate in the weeks after he shot and killed Martin, who was unarmed and returning from buying Skittles and iced tea at a convenience store. The case has been the focus of continuing attention and sparked a discussion about race and the laws of self-defense. Before he turned himself in, members of the New Black Panthers had put out a bounty for his arrest.

This is very important background on the story and I think it could have been higher. Obviously, I think everyone in America has heard of this case. But since the article is about what unrest may occur after he is released from jail, it might have been nice to know that the New Black Panthers had put a bounty on him before. It would have put things in perspective of how serious this could be.

Defense attorneys for other high-profile clients who awaited trial on bail have said Zimmerman should leave Florida and refrain from going out in public. Sanford residents say they aren't expecting to see him around the neighborhood anytime soon.

It is weird that the reporter quotes defense attorneys without naming specific ones. It seems too vague. Also, "have said" could easily just be "said." Also, shouldn't it be "Sanford residents said" in the past, not present tense?

"They've already said they're going to move him to a safe place," Church said. "Everyone has calmed down. That's all anyone in Sanford wanted, an arrest."

That's the second time someone has said all people wanted was an arrest. That theme could have been exploited a lot more to make the story more interesting and obvious. Everyone expects there to be drama when this guy is released, but the residents really don't care. That could be more prominent.

Meanwhile, Martin's parents published a "Card of Thanks" in The Miami Herald obituary page Sunday. The note says Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin express their appreciation for all the public's support since their son's death. The notice includes a photograph of Trayvon Martin dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, similar to one he was wearing the evening he was killed.

"Words will never express how your love, support and prayers lifted our spirits and continue to give us the strength to march on," the letter says.

This is very nice detail and very touching, but kind of irrelevant to the story. Quotes are usually pretty weak kickers, and this is not the exception. It should also be "said" not "says."

Overall, this was an interesting follow-up to do on a story that is very well known and will be followed for months to come. Inquiring into what will become of the shooter after he gets out of prison was good reporting. Unfortunately, the story fell a little flat since people didn't really seem to care about his release. That might have been spun into a more intriguing story, but the way it was written didn't do that. Otherwise, the writing technique was pretty solid and so were the sources and reporting. A lot of work went into the story, the color and detail shows that.

The story Northern Minnesota boy, 8, improving after boat accident; brothers' funeral set is a local news story by Steve Wagner of the Associated Press for the April 15 St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The 8-year-old Leonard, Minn., boy injured when the sailboat he was on sank, killing his two brothers, is gradually improving from injuries.

This is an awkwardly constructed lede. It gets the point across and tells the news, but the aside about the brothers dying seems out of place and distracting. I would have pulled that out and just added a second sentence after the lede with that information. Also, "is gradually improving" is a little passive. It's hard to get around, though, so I'll give the writer this one.

Isaiah Risland remained Sunday, April 15, at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, where he is showing positive signs of recovery from hypothermia.

I could do without the "April 15." Actually, since this was printed in the Sunday paper, he could have just left it at Sunday and I think people would have understood. He could have broken this up into two sentences as well at the "where." "Is showing" is again a little passive.

"Isaiah is still gaining consciousness occasionally and responding to voice," wrote Sara Staley, an aunt, in the boy's online journal on the Caring Bridge website.

This is a well-constructed quote. My only question is why take quotes off of Caring Bridge? I understand that family members may not want to talk to the media, but if they have time to write on a website, they should want to share the story in a newspaper that will reach even more people. There are also doctors and neighbors that could be great sources as well.

Dan Risland and his boys - Isaiah, 6-year-old Zechariah and 2-year-old Jacob - were sailing on Clearwater Lake when their sailboat sank. The father swam to shore to summon help after being unable to get the boys to land.

I could have done with this information a bit earlier, maybe, just because this is the first time the reader hears about the accident. "Were sailing" is passive. How did the boat sink? Just spontaneously? This could have been covered in an earlier article, but I'm interested in the logistics of the sinking and why the dad couldn't tow these boys to shore.

The boys were wearing life jackets but spent about an hour in 40-degree water until first responders could reach them. Zechariah and Jacob died, apparently from hypothermia, while emergency crews revived Isaiah, who was airlifted to the Twin Cities.

"Were wearing" could just be "wore" to eliminate the passive. The whole "died" part seems a little harsh. I know it's news, but these are two little boys we're talking about. Also, "apparently" from hypothermia? I think that could have been easily confirmed somewhere. The airlifted part could be a new sentence to improve clarity.

"When he is conscious and someone speaks to him he will turn his head or eyes toward them," Staley wrote Saturday. "His oxygen levels have been staying up and he has overrun the ventilator a couple of times, taking more breaths than the ventilator is set to. (This is pivotal)

"He has been off the temperature control blanket for two days and his body has maintained correct temperature."

Again, it is a fine quote, I just wish it wasn't from Caring Bridge. Also, I'm not sure about parentheticals in quotes. If she wrote it that way, then maybe, but since the quote makes it seem like she said it, no one really speaks with parentheses.

There also will be funeral services for Isaiah's two brothers, 6-year-old Zechariah and 2-year-old Jacob, on Tuesday in Clearbrook.

Several benefits were planned for this week in Bemidji.

Since the writer stated the ages earlier, he could have omitted them in this sentence. I think the "on" can be cut as well. "Were planned" is passive. Who planned them? Churches? Community members? I could have done with a little more detail at the end, like where the funeral services are and where the benefits are so people could attend or donate if they wished. That might have had to be cleared by the family first, but I think it's important.

Overall, this was a pretty solid local news brief. It was clearly a follow up to a breaking news story and I think it worked well. My biggest mark for improvement would be to use more sources than just a Caring Bridge site. A little more time spent in this article with more sources and detail could have made it a lot more interesting and helpful. Also, it is a little embarrassing that the Pioneer Press needed to run this story as AP. If it happened in Northern Minnesota, it really shouldn't be that hard to get a reporter in the cities to cover it.

The story UN urges Bahrain to transfer ailing hunger striker from the April 10 issue of The Independent by Patrick Cockburn is an example of an international news article.

The Bahraini government was under fresh pressure last night as the United Nations said the regime should consider transferring a jailed human rights activist, who is two months into a hunger strike, to Denmark for medical treatment.

This is not a very good lede. First, the writer uses passive voice with " was under." It should have read something like, "The UN renewed pressure on Bahrain." The time element, "last night," is also not in the correct format. It should say "Monday night." The whole lede is pretty long and somewhat confusing and should be broken into two sentences, one about the UN pressure and the other about who this human rights activist is.

The comments from the UN Secretary-General's spokesman came as activists said they were determined to disrupt the Formula 1 Grand Prix due to be held in the island kingdom in two weeks.

This was an awkward way to source the information in the lede. The spokesman (it should read spokesperson, actually, for AP style) should have been moved to the lede and put after the information he/she actually said. Then, the "activists said" source could be moved to the end of the Grand Prix statement. The author could cut the word "due" out as well.

Activists and some British MPs have called for the race to be cancelled, given criticism of Bahrain's human rights record after an uprising by the nation's Shia majority was crushed last year .

This could be reworded to be more concise and to put the news first. The passive "was crushed" is also unclear. Who crushed it? The UN? Activists? I also don't like the wordy "have called" and "to be cancelled." All of those can be changed to increase clarity.

The government has been trying to promote the Grand Prix as a symbol that life in Bahrain is returning to normal, with posters everywhere saying Bahrainis "are all one nation". But the hunger strike of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a veteran human rights campaigner with Danish citizenship, has revived the mainly Shia opposition. This is likely to explode if he dies and yesterday his lawyer expressed concern about his health, given the refusal of the authorities to let anybody see him for several days.

Again, "has been" is not very strong and there is probably a verb out there with more action. There is a punctuation error in the poster quote. It should have the period within the marks. If you are going to use a conjunction in the beginning of a sentence, which should only be done in special circumstances (i.e. not now), at least put a comma behind it. "This is likely to explode" is awkward. What's to explode? The opposition? Can opposition explode? It should be a new sentence at "yesterday his lawyer" because the clause before it is unrelated.

The UN spokesman, Martin Nesirky, told reporters yesterday that "in cases where there is a hunger strike, the health and wellbeing of the person should be the foremost concern".

This is a full quote. Why make it partial unnecessarily? Start with the quote and add "UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said yesterday." Done. Why complicate it?

Bahrain's Supreme Judicial Council had a day earlier refused to hand him over to Denmark.

This reporter really likes to make his writing flowery for no reason. "Had a day earlier" should just be whatever day of the week it was (Sunday, I believe). I also find "hand him over" a little disrespectful. "Release him" might have been better.

The international pressure on Bahrain was reduced in the second half of last year after King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa promised reforms and expressed regrets for excessive repression. But so far only junior officers in the Bahraini security forces have faced punishment.

There is passive voice with "was reduced." See above for comment on conjunctions at the beginnings of sentences.

I was not a fan of this article. I think I could have done better and I'm just a student. This may have been just a brief, but it left me with a lot of questions. I'm still unclear as to who exactly this hunger striker is, what he was protesting, and why Bahrain doesn't want to give him to Denmark. With more sources, this could have been cleared up. Only on quote from the UN guy is pretty thin, I want someone from the Denmark government, someone from the Bahrain government, other activists, etc. The whole Grand Prix angle could have been exploited but wasn't. Formula 1 is taken pretty seriously in other countries and that is a major sporting event. Threatening to cancel the event is huge and should have been looked into. Besides the reporting errors, the writing was not very good and often overcomplicated things. Some basic news writing techniques would have really benefited this piece.

The article Chaos at Oakland religious school as gunman opened fire is recalled by Maria L. LaGanga and Matt Stevens is a national breaking news story form the April 2 Los Angeles Times.

Hours after Oakland police were called to a small religious school on Edgewater Drive, authorities recounted the frantic and often confused events of the afternoon with new detail and clarity.

This is a confusing lede. The reporter made a very simple statement ("A school shooting occurred in Oakland") into a very complex and confusing introduction. This was clearly a press conference or statement of sorts, so I understand not wanting to make the news that a press conference was held, but it could have been lead in better. The writer also began with a phrase ("hours after") when it should have started with the news of "authorities recounted."

Police dispatchers received the first call for help at 10:33 a.m., said Officer Johnna Watson, spokeswoman for the Oakland Police Department.

This is a solid paragraph. It is active and appropriately sourced. The only thing is that this is setting up the rest of the story to be chronological when I think it is more important to do an inverted pyramid model so the news is first.

Within minutes, police and rescue personnel arrived at the low-slung building in an industrial area that is also home to a sprawling car dealership, a food bank and several Korean-run businesses.

First, this should be split into two sentences where the "that" is. Also, "within minutes" should go at the end of the first sentence, not the beginning. It distracts readers from the real point of the sentence. There is nice detail about how the building looked and what kind of neighborhood it is in. The color is good, especially for a dramatic story like this, but there could have been much more detail to make it even more real.

Quickly realizing there was a shooter on the loose, officers called in specialized SWAT units, which made entry into the school building, where at least some of the victims were discovered. It appeared, Watson said, that most, if not all, of the shooting took place inside. SWAT officers methodically cleared each room in the school and in surrounding buildings in search of more victims and the shooter but eventually concluded that the suspect was not inside.

And the author did it again. The phrase beginning with "quickly" should go at the end of the sentence. Phrases confuse readers, so every sentence should be straight forward and clear. The whole first sentence uses many commas which is hard to read and understand. The writer should have considered splitting that sentence up into several smaller ones. Watson's attribution in the second sentence should go at the end, not awkwardly in the middle. The last sentence is likewise confusing with lots of "ins" and conjunctions. Also, how does the reporter know they "quickly realized" or "methodically searched?" Unless that is sourced, it sounds a little like an opinion. This was a very long paragraph that should have been condensed down.

A man suspected of being the lone shooter was taken into custody a short time later. Watson did not identify the man and described him only as "an Asian male in his 40s." She did not say where the man was apprehended or what led police to him. Investigators were still working to determine a motive for the shooting and the man's connection to the school.

Instead of saying "suspected of being" it might have been nice to make that active, as in "police took a suspect into custody." Watson's quote probably could have been paraphrased instead of using an awkward partial quote. The writer did a pretty good job of sourcing, but I think this paragraph could have been split into a few shorter ones for clarity's sake.

Ezra Curry, 48, a bus driver from Berkeley, had a dentist appointment near the school. He arrived about an hour after the shooting had started and described the chaotic scene. "I saw a melee. Cops with rifles drawn, five helicopters flying overhead. I saw a body on a blue tarp in the median. He was still alive, they ... tried to bring him back."

The quote merits its own paragraph; it should not be jammed in with the speaker's introduction. It is a great quote, there is a lot of detail and the word "melee" which is awesome, but I question its accuracy. It sounds like a very stressful situation and if only this guy was spoken to, I'm not sure his memory can be trusted on its own. Also, was the shooting still going on an hour after it started or did he just see the aftermath? That could have been made clearer. Also, the "..." is only for if words are cut out of the quote, not for dramatic pauses. This sounds like it was put in for a pause, and I am not okay with that. This is news, not a novel.

The death toll stood seven by midafternoon, and several other people at the school were injured.

Wow, this news should have been first, in the nutgraf if not the lede itself. School shootings are crazy and as important as it is to know how events unfolded, it is way more important to know about casualties. Also, midafternoon should be specified by what day it actually was (Monday). This could have been two sentences as well.

Writing breaking news can be just as chaotic as the news itself, but this was not well done. It was confusing and hard to follow. It also obscured the real news. I think the writers were trying to give a dramatic spin to the news as well which was unnecessary. The news is dramatic enough, it speaks for itself. There is no need to try and add drama with an artistic lead and circular writing. It just confuses things. The two sources were good, but I would have tried to talk with someone from the school because that perspective was lacking. If more attention was paid to the basics of news writing, the story would have been much more readable.

The article Same driver stopped twice in same hour in Minn. for going at least 100 mph by Paul Walsh in the March 26 Star Tribune is an example of a brief, local news story.

A motorist was ticketed in northwestern Minnesota for going at least 100 miles per hour. Twice. Within the same hour.

Walsh's lede is short and concise. It gets to the point in an interesting way. The only problem is that it lacks the "when" or time element (if you do not count "within the same hour"). It also uses a passive sentence right in the beginning, "was ticketed."

The first time Murat Ayamba Ndikum, 31, of Grand Forks, N.D., was stopped in his 1994 Toyota occurred shortly after 6 p.m. March 13 on westbound Interstate 94 near Alexandria, the State Patrol reported Monday. The vehicle was clocked at 100 mph.

This is a solid nutgraf. It elaborates on the lede by giving more specific detail of the incident. Walsh again goes passive with "was stopped" and could have easily fixed it by saying "police stopped him." He again is passive by saying "was clocked" and could have said "State Patrol clocked him at." The detail he gives paints a nice picture, like the model of his car and exactly where he was driving. Walsh also did a good job of sourcing his information to the State Patrol. The only thing I wonder is why, if this incident happened March 13, the State Patrol only made a statement Monday, March 26.

The second time, on westbound I-94 near Barnesville, Ndikum was stopped after touching 106 mph, the patrol said.

Walsh does not elaborate as much on the second stop as on the first, which is good for clarity and length. The speed increase of six miles per hour was interesting to note. However, he again used passive voice for "was stopped."

The speed limit in both instances was 70 mph. The driver told the trooper during the second stop that he has difficulty realizing how fast he's driving.

I am bothered by the reporter's use of present tense in this paragraph. It should read "he had difficulty realizing how fast he had been driving." If he was not going to quote the man directly, I think the paraphrase should have remained consistent with the tense of the rest of the article.

The average cost of a speeding ticket in Minnesota is about $120 for 10 miles over the limit. Motorists stopped at 20 mph over face double the fine. Those ticketed traveling more than 100 mph can lose their licenses for six months.

This was good detail to include, but it should have been sourced. Obviously, driving over the limit is frowned upon, but people may not know the real consequences unless it is spelled out for them. It was good that he showed the gradual increase in penalties as the speed increased.

During a statewide speeding enforcement campaign last July, law enforcement officers handed 73 tickets for those zooming along at more than 90 mph.

I think this is a terrible ending. Yes, the speeding enforcement thing is interesting as well as the statistic, but he could have done so much more. I get that it was just a brief, but I want to know what the punishment was for this guy? What does it say about Minnesota's law enforcement and its new plan that this guy sped twice before getting caught? Walsh also should have sourced the 73 ticket fact. His use of "zooming along" is cute, but as my editor once told me, there is no room for cute in journalism.

In all, this was a pretty good article, but it seemed like it was written up quickly. Some more time and attention could have improved the writing, such as eliminating passive voice. I also think a few more sources and some quotes really would have benefitted the piece. Some sources could have been the State Patrol, the officers that pulled him over, the actual speeder himself, or a legislator who voted for the speeding enforcement action. All of these could have tightened the angle on the story of why this guy got away with speeding with just a ticket, why he had to be pulled over twice, and what this says about Minnesota law enforcement.