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Anaylsis: Data

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On the ESPN-affiliated Minnesota Timberwolves blog, "A Wolf Among Wolves," staff writer Zach Harper uses a handful of different data sets and graphics for his story about the Wolves' 3-point-shooting. In sports, in-depth analytical writers have more-so recently began using these intricate data sets in their stories to present an argument. This change comes along with what has been somewhat a statistical and analytical revolution for all sports, especially basketball.

In Harper's story, his goal is to present how poorly the Minnesota Timberwolves have shot from behind the 3-point line this season and how the team's shooting rates will only go up as the season goes on. First, he uses a scatter plot to show the percentages of how each of the Wolves players have shot uncontested threes this year. He also included a spreadsheet with percentages of open threes, as well as contested three-pointers by each of the players. Harper finishes his story with a graphic showing the team's three-point percentages from different areas on the court. This high level of analytics has been a recurring theme in in-depth sports writing the past few years.

Harper needed an understanding of Microsoft Xcel and an ability to generate and alter graphics to effectively display his argument. Using these graphics give the reader a visual understanding of the points he is trying to make it; it makes it much easier for the writer to describe his argument without being too wordy or articulate. Harper and many other writers have been using these data sets and graphics in their stories for the past couple years, thus creating an even better environment for fans and readers to gain a greater understanding of the sports they love.

Analysis: Speech

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On Sept. 6, 2012, Huffington Post writer Sam Stein wrote an article called "Barack Obama Speech at 2012 Democratic Convention: Perseverance Replaces Change." Stein emphasizes the speech President Obama's speech given at the convention before the election this past fall as a shift in political strategies for Obama and the Democratic party. Excerpts from the speech are sprinkled throughout the story, including an admission to the changes that are referenced in Stein's hypothesis. He also stresses the idea of the speech as the definition of the tone/mood of the entire Democratic Convention and the remainder of the presidential race.

Another way that the writer highlights the significance of the speech was by comparing and contrasting Obama's remarks at the 2008 convention. With the comparison, he further stresses the idea that the Democratic party and Obama's outlook on the presidency is much less optimistic and more leveled, as expressed in the title of the article. Stein also uses the speech as a signal of Obama's strengths in comparison to his opponent, Mitt Romney. Most importantly, the writer does not simply rehash everything the president said, he takes small portions of the speech and relays it to a common theme/thesis.

Analysis: Numbers

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In an article by CNN about how women impacted the election last Tuesday, the writer uses several different numbers to make his point. The numbers he uses are pretty straightforward, including the number 20 -- the amount of women who will hold U.S. senate seats in 2013. This number shows the impact women currently have in politics and the progress women are making with holding public office. One of the new twenty women senate members is Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first openly gay member of the Senate.

Another set of numbers he uses are percentages, information from an exit poll conducted by CNN. The percentages demonstrate what portion of the male population voted for either Obama or Romney, and with whom women voted for as well.

The numbers used in this article are pretty effective in proving the point that women had a great impact in the election. Unless the reported played a significant part in conducting the exit polls, I doubt he had to do any math for this story. Since there wasn't an abnormal amount of numbers used in this story and they weren't presented in a complicated manner, there isn't much I would change to help with the clarity of this article.

Analysis: Obituaries

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For this blog, I looked at the obituary of Booker T. Washington that was written in the New York Times on Nov. 15, 1915. Although I am sure that obtaining sources back then was a very different process for a writer, the author of Washington's obituary did something very practical that is still commonly used today to find information. His primary sources came from the correspondence of Washington himself; he quoted Washington's own personal letters as well as information from his biography.

The lead used was pretty standard; it informed the reader who died and how and where it happened, as well as why this person is important. As he is now, I am sure Booker T. Washington was a very notable figure during the time of his death, so it is certainly newsworthy. The news is valuable because of Washington's prominence, primarily in the black community but he also had a country-wide significance.

The obituary is different than a resume because it lists his accomplishments in chronological order as opposed to being in order of significance. It also explains what was known about his childhood at the time. It's similar to a resume too because of its reference to people who endorsed Washington, as well as where he worked and how long he was there. It finishes in the standard way of mentioning who he left behind in his death.

Analysis: Multimedia

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When looking at the multimedia centers from CNN and the Pioneer Press, you see two very different kinds of options. Considering that one site is for a cable news channel and the other a newspaper, it would make sense that CNN's multimedia would be much more prodigious than the Pioneer Press.

CNN offers an assortment of video options on its site, including news clips from its television shows. Surprising to me, the site also has a whole bevy of clips related to popular culture - including topics like "The Best of Conan O'Brien" and "Dancing with the Stars." You also can access segments from their news shows, like Anderson Cooper 360 and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. On many of its news stories, CNN compliments the writing with video effectively, being that video news is its specialty. You are also given links to news clips similar to that story.

The Pioneer Press multimedia center is much different than that of CNN; it is primarily made up of photo galleries that compliment different news stories. The writing included in the galleries are typically a couple of paragraphs; the pictures are used to further tell the story. It seems that often the writing doesn't actually address the picture; for instance, a picture of high winds on a beach on the east coast of the United States with a couple of paragraphs about Hurricane Sandy underneath. The Pioneer Press's multimedia, as well as its website, is a lot more primitive than CNN's

Analysis: 'Fiscal Cliff' Not Only U.S. Economic Threat

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In the Washington Post article Saturday about the imminent "fiscal cliff" facing the United States economy, the writer presents a multitude of figures and percentages to clearly identify the looming issues facing the economy. He begins the article explaining the term "fiscal cliff" and lists several of the policy changes that are supposed to cause this.

Each of the beginning paragraphs act as components of a laundry list of new American policy. It illustrates a cause-and-effect situation for each of the policies, from the expiration of a payroll tax cut that benefits 160 million workers to the decline in the payroll tax that funds Social Security from 6.2 to 4.2 percent.

The first source cited by the writer occurs in the ninth graph: a prediction that the changes in current economic policy could "do at least as much to slow the economy as any other government action in the past half-century" from Moody's Analytics.

The writer finishes the article with a couple of quotes, first from a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former top official at the federal reserve. The writer attributes the economist in between the quote. The writer also references a statement made by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geitner about the decision not to renew the payroll tax, demonstrating the White House and Congress's indifference on the subject.

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