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November 9, 2008

Analysis: Numbers

A story about the vote recount between Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken involves numbers. It was published by the Star Tribune.

The reporter used numbers several times. First, he wrote about the 100-vote increase from the Iron Range. Later, he explained the changing difference in vote counts, saying "The difference between Coleman and Franken, which stood at 725 votes in Coleman's favor Wednesday morning, has changed several times since then as county officials have checked results, and was 221 by Friday evening."

Finally, he says that the number of votes for Franken in Precinct 1 in Mountain Iron changed from 406 to 506, and that "both Democrats won the precinct by a ratio of more than 2-to-1."

No, the numbers are not overwhelming. They are helpful and necessary to understand the story.

Yes, he used a small amount of math when he gave the 2-to-1 ratio. The ratio is especially helpful to give a clearer picture of the difference in number of votes.

The sources of the numbers is assumed, but the source of the 100 votes from the Iron Range is listed as "an election night worksheet from St. Louis County ...from Precinct 1 in Mountain Iron."

He does not list where the votes came from when he said the count "changed several times."

November 1, 2008

Analysis: Obituaries

There was an obituary written about a University of Minnesota professor at the Star Tribune.

The lead is relatively standard. It starts with the person's name, Peter Firchow, and then gives a detail about the person's life. The only part missing from the lead is his age at the time of death, but his age is given in the headline, so it would be repetitive if it were also in the lead.

"Peter Firchow, of Bloomington, was a native of the United States who spent much of his childhood in Germany during World War II," the lead states.

I think this lead is effective. It gives the name of the person who died, where he was from, and a fact that makes his life unique and interesting. His age was already given in the headline.

One of the sources used was Firchow's wife, Evelyn and daughter, Pamina. They are useful sources because they knew him well and can give insight to his personality and details about his life.

Other sources used were a retired University of Minnesota English professor and a former student who now writes nonfiction. They are useful because they can offer details about his career and the influence he had in his field and at the university.

The obituary differs from a resume because it gives information in a more interesting way. Rather than listing off the person's accomplishments in a bulleted format, it tells about that person's life almost like a story, especially in the chronology section.

October 12, 2008

Analysis: Event Coverage

The Star Tribune reported that the Beastie Boys will be performing at St. Paul's Roy Wilkins Auditorium on Nov. 1 for the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour.

The reporter uses the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour as the angle of the story. It allows the report to be more than simply a listing of the event coming up.

The reporter references the Vote For Change Tour that happened in 2004 to compare to the tour going on for the 2008 election.

The report also notes that the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour, like the Vote for Change Tour in 2004, supports the Democratic candidate.

The Beastie Boys are quoted twice to help emphasize that the goal of the tour is to remind people to vote.

September 21, 2008

Analysis: Attribution

The headline for this story reads "2 dead in helicopter crash into Wis. house." It was written by an AP reporter and posted on Google News.

There are a lot of sources used in the story about a helicopter crash in Wis. In fact, there are seven total.

Most of the sources of information are from actual people, and most of those people are named. A police Sgt., a meteorologist, a neighbor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, an airport operations supervisor, and an air safety inspector for the National Transportation Safety Board are all listed within the story by first and last name. The other source is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who the neighbor in the story originally spoke to, so AP had to list it.

Most of the attributions follow the “______ said� format. The attributions are scattered throughout the story, with about one per paragraph, so the story is not confusing or difficult to follow.

September 14, 2008

Analysis: Leads

The news lead on a Reuters story reads: "HOUSTON (Reuters) - Texas mounted its biggest ever rescue effort as search teams searched through debris and flooded homes on Sunday after Hurricane Ike cut a swathe of destruction and left millions without power."

The lead covers most of the basic Ws. It tells readers what happened (Hurricane Ike hit Houston), when it happened (Sunday), and where it happened (Houston, Texas). The "who" is unclear, as the lead does not focus on exactly who did the rescuing or the specific numbers of those rescued. Instead, it is more general, simply referring to those involved as "search teams" and "millions [of people]."

It is a typical news lead because it covers the basic elements of the story. Readers get the overall account in one sentence, with numbers and other specifics later in the report.