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New Passport Rules in Effect Today

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday about the new passport rules that are taking effect for air travelers. As of today, people traveling out of the country will need a passport to get back into the U.S. While this was the case previous to Tuesday, areas needing a passport now include Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. U.S. territories, however, are exempt from the rule. This includes Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. This rule does not go into effect for land and sea travelers until January of next year. The need for a passport now also includes travelers of all ages, including infants.

While the issue was not a particularly difficult one to cover, Ellen Tomson provided the facts that travelers need to know about the new rules and regulations.

The Star Tribune also covered this event, but used a different approach to the same story, which was released in print on Monday the 22nd. Received via the AP wire, the article focused on how the new rules are or will affect the lives of Americans rather than on the strict changes of policy. Along the course of the story, readers were informed of the changes, but it was written in a more editorialized format. The Star Tribune story also included more insight from businesses like AAA and Expedia.com about the notifications they have been giving potential travelers. The only major disparity between the two stories was in the statistics about current passport holders in the U.S. The Pioneer Press reported that 94% of Americans already had passports, while the Star Tribune claimed that "only about a quarter of U.S. citizens hold valid passports."

I felt that the Pioneer Press did a better job of reporting the changes, as they simply gave the facts about what to expect and where the changes are taking effect. The Star Tribune got the point across, but only on a very basic level, and was hard to find through all of the anecdotes from specific people. This may have to do with the fact that the Star Tribune's story was received from the Associated Press, but the directness of the Pioneer Press was appreciated. The leads of the two stories were also very different. Again, the Star Tribune starts out with a direct story from someone in Atlanta, and then gets to the information later, while the Pioneer Press begins by giving the most important and useful information right away.