Recently in Analysis Category

by Sarah See

Computer-assisted reporting was used in a story by msnbc.com about the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis that revealed holes in federal data.

The records used to produce the story were from the National Bridge Inventory, the Federal Highway Administration, federal audits of the bridge inspection process, pitches from vendors of safety equipment, and inquiries from members of Congress.

The analysis used to produce the story was made by msnbc.com applying the Freedom of Information Act and receiving about 500 internal e-mails from officials when the investigative reporter requested information.

The computer skills that the reporter needed to do this reporting include knowledge of how to search and find the necessary records, reports, documents, etc., along with who and what types of sources to contact.

Moreover, the story shows that the reporter searched through many state records, especially those concerning federal funding and bridge data, in order to write about the specific problems in certain states.

The reporter must have had to go through the hundreds of e-mails that were released to compile them as .pdf files, so they could be posted on msnbc.com for the public to read and gain more information on the issue.

by Sarah See

A public hearing took place Monday night in a story by the Star Tribune about the Roseville City Council voting to approve the paving of an unfinished section of Ramsey County Road C2.

The role the meeting itself played in the story was important because it provided the basis for the story and the event that led up to the voting to finish the road.

The story was not completely a recap because it included information beyond the scope of the meeting.

The story's focus was mostly on the debate of plans for development in the proposed areas and the controversy over completing the road projects.

One issue it highlighted was the concerns of the residents related to traffic patterns and the predicted increase of vehicles in their surrounded areas.

Also, it covered a range of issues because it stated the outcome of the vote, residents' cases for and against the road completion, some background on the debate, and relevant numbers (i.e. costs, a study predicting when there will be an increase or decrease of vehicles, and when the work will begin).

The story is an advance of the meeting because it gave more information about the overall issue, beyond the step-by-step account of what took place during the meeting.

The reporter got the information most likely from attending the meeting at City Hall and by taking note of what residents--proponents, opponents and people who are members of groups, such as Share C2--said during the public hearing.

Aside from residents and a city engineer, the sources tapped for the story included may have been the Roseville City Council and records and other documents of the council and city regarding their past meetings, plans for road projects, budget, and construction schedule or calendar.

Analysis: Two News Organizations' Multimedia Options

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by Sarah See

The New York Times and Star Tribune are two news organizations that feature multimedia options in their stories.

The kinds of multimedia the New York Times features are slide shows, photos, videos, audio (podcasts), and other interactive features (graphics and maps).

The kinds of multimedia the Star Tribune features are slide shows, photos (galleries), videos, and audio.

Those complement news stories by providing visuals and/or audio that can help readers to better understand and connect to the stories.

Those also catch the initial attention of readers which can interest them enough to engage in the stories and find out more.

Moreover, the multimedia can give readers visual and/or audio aids to remember certain stories by, more so than stories without them.

The kind of writing I see in those items, particularly in the slide shows, is much like hard news leads.

The characteristics of that writing are short--usually one or two sentences--but still descriptive of the photos and 'straight to the point.'

The writing states what is shown or going on in each photo and/or usually provides some background information on the stories.

by Sarah See

A news event that had a first-day story and then a follow story the next day was on CNN about a California workplace shooting.

The leads in the two stories differed because the first-day lead said that two people were killed and four were wounded at a rock quarry, according to a report by CNN affiliates.

The second-day lead, however, said that a manhunt was under way Wednesday for a man suspected of killing three people and wounding seven others in Cupertino and of attempted carjacking.

The main news in the first story was summarized by following the inverted pyramid structure and stating the who, what and where in the lead.

The subsequent paragraphs gave more details about where the shooting took place, who did the shooting, and what authorities were doing in response.

The main news in the second story was summarized by following more of the martini glass structure and including chronological details about how the event unfolded.

The second story advanced the news because it was more in-depth, giving specific details such as the times and names related to the location, people involved, sources, etc.

It also gave a clearer description of the event and provided background information, specifically on the shooter.

The second-day story did not appear to be a response to a report from a competing news organization but, rather, from CNN affiliates, the CNN Wire Staff, and a CNN reporter.

That has shaped the follow because the story used information received only from credible sources such as police and other governments officials involved and received only by CNN's own journalists and news organizations--KGO-TV and KTVU--with which CNN is already associated.

by Sarah See

An example of structure and the progression of information was a story by the Associated Press about 18 people who died aboard a plane that crashed in Bahorok, western Indonesia.

The reporter summarized the important elements by getting right to the point with the who, what, where and when of the story and by attributing the source of the information in the lede.

The reporter ordered the information by news value, according to the inverted pyramid structure, and gave more details on the what, where, and when in the second paragraph.

The reporter continued the story by introducing and providing quotes from the head of the local search-and-rescue team and victims' relatives.

The reporter ended the story with some background on the aircraft and the related causes of transportation accidents in Indonesia in recent years.

It was effective because it presented the most important information first and was then organized by the arrangement of other key fact blocks.

It could have been done differently because it was longer than a news brief and shared characteristics with the kabob and martini glass structures.

If it followed the kabob, it could have focused more on how actual people were affected in the event, and if it followed the martini glass, it could have focused more on including the chronology of the story and explaining how the event unfolded.

by Sarah See

About four sources were used in a story by the Associated Press about the heavy rains that triggered flooding and landslides in China.

The sources that were named were the country's meteorological agency, Xinhua News Agency, National Meteorological Center, and Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The sources were scattered throughout the story and not clustered together.

The information appeared to have come from the organizations in general, but it may have come from specific people in those organizations who were unnamed in the story because the information they provided was representative of their organizations as a whole.

Some of the information is from records, specifically the paragraphs that source the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the numbers they determined in regard to the effects of the floods and landslides.

The reporter set up the attribution in the story by putting the most important information first.

It was effective and not confusing because the reporter said what happened by presenting facts with critical details, before having people read through the sources.

Because some people may be in a rush for time when reading the news, the way the reporter set up the attribution allows readers to get the main news value of the story right at the start of every sentence or paragraph.

Analysis: How News Lead works in story about Oakdale Deaths

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by Sarah See

The news lead in a story by the Star Tribune about three people found dead in an Oakdale home was a straightforward hard-news lead.

The news elements that were in the lead were who, what, where, and when.

The reporter, Pat Pheifer, began with the most important information first and said what happened.

Pheifer also focused on the main news value and presented only the facts.

The girl and the three people found dead were detailed to an extent because the story said she was 6 years old, and two of the three dead were adult females, and one was an adult male.

The time was more general because the story said the incident occurred on Thursday afternoon, but it did not yet indicate the specific hour and minute in the lead.

The location was also general because the story said the scene of the incident was in an Oakdale home, but it, too, did not yet indicate the numbered address or street of the house in the lead.

The news lead adhered to the structure of the inverted pyramid in news writing and reporting and worked in the story to reflect the main event of the story.

It highlighted the news value by being general and specific enough to tell the story because the most important feature of the story was found and summarized.

Moreover, detail that was not critical was eliminated from the lead and put instead in the following paragraphs.

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