Analysis: Same driver stopped twice in same hour in Minn. for going at least 100 mph

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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.

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This page contains a single entry by ryanx790 published on March 26, 2012 7:26 PM.

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