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January 31, 2007

Global Warming Given Attention in Minnesota

An article in the Star Tribune newspaper yesterday has reported on a Tuesday meeting at the Minnesota State Capitol atended by legislators and environmental speakers that discussed the adverse effects of global warming. Methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions were a topic of discussion, as well as the consensus that a group of scientists had reached regarding its harmful effects and causes. The event is noteworthy because it marks one of the first times that leadership in the country has recognized the issue as one that effects everyone and convened to discuss it.

The Star Tribune covers the issue well, with a story that covers all the necessary factual information that reaers may not be familiar with, as well as the views of those in opposition of the meeting. The article mentions the proposed solutions, the significance of the meeting, and gives quotes from key figures involved or notable ones who have spoken out on it. Particular focus is placed on Pawlenty's proposed Next Generation Energy Initiative, as something that directly relates to an important figure in Minnesota. Attribution style in the article varies. There are equal amounts of paraphrasing, direct sentence quoting, and fragment quoting. The quotes are from figures ranging from officials for Xcel Energy, to former legislators to the state's governor, and they serve to emphasize the importance the issue has.

An article on the same topic was printed in the St. Paul Pioneer Press a day later, highlighting that climate change is finding a platform for discussion at the capitol when last year there was no desire for lawmakers to acknowledge the issue. This article does not include any information on the opposition to the meeting that did exist, and actually undermined it by including "Almost everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, stood and applauded when he finished." which seems kind of pointless in a story like this. Attribution is similar in this article, but much less lone words are quoted, which is good, and there are a nice amount of full sentence quotes that work in the story.

The two articles both have their strongpoints and are essentially the same if anyone actually read them entirely, but the Star Tribune article cuts right to the point in its opening sentence by saying that global warming is a real threat, and Minnesota lawmakers are acknowledging it. You have to dig pretty deep into the Pioneer Press article to get to a spot that talks about the consequences of the problem, which is not an effective way to have written it, in my opinion.

January 30, 2007

Date Set for North Korea Nuclear Disarmament Talks

An Associated Press article printed in the Star Tribune today has reported that international talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons programs will continue on February 8th. Washington has been trying to get the country's capital city of Pyongyang to disarm after a nuclear test staged by the country in early October of last year. The previous talks, held in early December of last year, did not make any progress on the situation. The U.S. has imposed financial restrictions on the country due to alleged smuggling and counterfeiting, and in September of 2005 North Korea had agreed to end its nuclear program in exchange for security and aid from the U.S. So far the nation has done nothing to show that it agreed to this.

This is a very sensitive issue of international importance, and the article does an excellent job of covering it with the depth it requires. The article begins by focusing on the recent development in the issue, and then goes into the history of what has lead up to it. Attribution is absolutely essential to this article's strength, and it spends the middle to latter part of the article giving quotations from important figures and agencies who will be involved in the talks such as the Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for the United States about the financial restrictions aspect, and various Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministry spokespeople. These quotes give both speculation and state the intent of these officials, and give a general idea of where the situation may be headed.

An article on the same subject published by Reuters covers the story differently, with a much shorter format that requires less commitment to read. Rather than saying that China said the talks with resume Feb. 8th as the Star Tribune article did, the Reuters article says "The United States expects," which is an interesting discrepancy. Apparently at the time the Reuters article was written the U.S. was still waiting on an announcement from China, and the Reuters article has a focus on the U.S. Negotiator in the talks, with the last paragraph describing what the talks will be. The once instance of attribution is used to describe the negotiator preparing for the talks, and the article is much shorter. It's a standard attributed quote, following the format, whereas the other article frequently quoted sentence fragments and lone words.

More reporting clearly went into the Asoociated Press article printed in the Star Tribune, and the article's longer and does a better job of summarizing the situation for those who may not have followed it. The use of quotes and attribution from many of the different parties helps, and in my opinion the article covers the issue more fully.

January 29, 2007

Gray Wolves No Longer Endangered in U.S.

An article published by Reuters today has reported that the United States' gray wolf population near the Great Lakes has grown to the point where the animal can no longer be classified as endangered. The government had protected the animals under the Endangered Species act over the past 30 years, when the population had reached a nadir of around 700 remaining in the 1970s. The article reports that the U.S. is also considering taking gray wolves near the Rocky Mountains off the list.

This article seems to be a simple barebones summary of the news event, with no direct quotations from officials and the only attribution included being mentioning "The U.S. government" and "The Interior Department" at the beginning of paragraphs. This is probably because Reuters is a more international news source and would not be as concerned with an event like this as some other publications.

For instance, a USA Today article focused on the same topic published an hour earlier is much longer and detailed than the Reuters article, and is also more interesting with regard to attribution. This article goes beyond the basic news story that the other reported and has quotes from those on different sides of the issue including wildlife advocacy groups and hunters. The attribution in this article is different from what we've discussed in class though, with "he told" being used instead of "he said" and many fragmented quotes introduced by lengthy sentences, for instance "Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Monday that the agency's threat 'raises the interesting question of whether any (wolf) packs outside Yellowstone in Wyoming are even necessary.' " There are also numerous one word quotes used, with their originators identified in advance.

I realize that the articles were intended for different audiences and that the USA Today article's audience is more likely to care about the story and it's content, which necessitated the extra reporting and inclusion of different viewpoints and a small conflict of some type. However, it was the more interesting and compelling of the two to read simply because of the extra work put in, the Reuters article only communicates the barebones information required to understand the story, where the USA Today story goes a bit more beyond that level.

January 26, 2007

Misguided Man Madly Mauled by Mannerless Mountain Lion

An Associated Press article printed in the San Francisco Gate newspaper has reported a man is now hospitalized after being mauled by a mountain lion Friday. The man was hiking in a California state park when he came upon a mountain lion who attacked him, and he was saved when his wife clubbed the lion and they were able to escape. Officials later shot the lion to check for rabies.

The article is an news story with a headline that immediately captures interest, and the construction of the article reflects that of a chronologically arranged story rather than an inverted pyramid story. The lead is straightforward and explains the events in a nutshell, before elaborating and giving a narrative. The lead tells the most important details of the story, and then expounds.

An article on the same events printed The Scotsman newspaper gives a lot more detail on the story, giving interviews with both involved in the attack and filling in minor details about their lives, giving it a more personal touch. The lead chooses to emphasize that the woman saved her husband, rather than that the lion was eventually shot, and this gives the narrative more of a rescue story feel.

In my opinion, the Scotsman article did a better job with the piece because they gave it the treatment that I though it deserved, really emphasizing the more narrative qualities of the story and making it exciting to read. The lead gives one the impression of the story being about a rescue, rather than simply an attack.

January 25, 2007

Local Cereal Creator Dies at Age 99

An article published in yesterday's MinneapolisStar Tribune paper has reported that the local man responsible for the creation of Cheerios died on Sunday. Lester Borchardt, age 99, was a General Mills executive and died at his home in Edina.

The article is a fairly straightforward profile piece that the paper likely ran because of the significance that the man's creation has in the lives of many people. It gives a brief rundown of his life and accomplishments, with a lead that tells the reader very concisely the who, what, where, and when of the story. It's probably about as straightforward a lead as could be possible.

An article on the same story ran in the same day's edition of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, but had a pretty different format. There's still the primary objective of informing about the man's life, but the lead is done much differently. The article doesn't even tell you that the man died until about the third paragraph, after establishing his significance. The article also includes a story from the family about how Cheerio's may have saved their daughter's life, something that deviates from the rigid profile that the Star Tribune did.

The Pioneer Press feature is interesting and aims for a more personal touch, but I feel like the Star Tribune's was easier to read and keep interested in because of the way it simply presented the essential facts needed to understand the story. For me, the Pioneer Press' story has this quality to it where it feels like it has an excess of emotion, especially for something that I recall reading on the newspaper's front page.

January 24, 2007

University of Minnesota Seeks to End Wisconsin Reciprocity

A Saint Paul Pioneer Press article published on Friday has revealed that the University of Minnesota is losing millions of dollars annually due to its reciprocity agreement with Wisconsin. Wisconsin-born students attending the university pay over $1000 dollars less in tuition annually, and because of frequent tuition hikes this has begun to lead to a considerable loss of money. The article discusses Minnesota's desire to renegotiate the agreement, and his Wisconsin has thus far shown no interest in doing so.

This article is not set up in the inverted pyramid style we've been discussing, but rather approaches the subject in a less conventional way. The lead is much more informal, being the sentence "Wisconsin college students get a sweet deal in Minnesota: If they go to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, they pay $1,200 a year less in tuition than Minnesotans." The story is probably set up this way due to the potentially uninteresting nature of the news, and by presenting it this way the reporter has made things a bit more interesting.

An article in the same subject published today in the Green Bay Press Gazette features a much more traditional lead, one that immediately makes clear the who, what, where, and when. It adds that both Wisconsin and Minnesota are expected to begin negatiations soon, a detail that the other article did not mention. It holds to the inverted pyramid style, and is much more of a typical news story than the more laid back approach the other article takes.

Between the two of them, the Green Bay Press Gazette's article is more concise and delivers the information more efficiently, but I feel like the Saint Paul Pioneer Press article may have been more interesting to read because it breaks from the formula used so often and does it to decent effect. They're different ways of presenting the exact same material, and it honestly may be better suited to a straight-laced short informative piece, but the Pioneer Press' coverage on it was a bit more interestng structurally.

January 23, 2007

Support For Stem-Cell Research Grows

An article published today in The Lakeland Ledger has reported that last Thursday the senate paased legislation to lift restrictions on stem-cell research. However, the voting results were not the two-thirds majority that the senate would need to override an inevitable presidential veto.

Because the event being reported occurred nearly a week ago, the article focuses on giving a deeper understanding of the issue. The article discusses the two standpoints on the issue, and how the results of this vote were different than in the past because more democrats and stem-cell research supporters are in the senate now. The lead lays out the news event, and the likely reaction of another party concerned with it.

A University of Pittsburgh Jurist article on the bill mentioned a press release issued after the bill's passing that said the White House "characterized embryonic stem cells as human life, and promised to veto the bill." It then discusses the president's consistent opposition to stem-cell research, and emphasizes that the new bill is not safe from veto. The lead feels much weaker than the first article's because it does not set up both sides of the issue, but only that the house of representatives passed the bill.

In my opinion, the article from the Ledger does a better job of covering the issue because it includes quotations from representatives on both sides of the issue, and also looks ahead to the future in 2009 when a new president may support the research. There was more time to prepare the article and it was not a breaking story when published, so there was more time to accrue this information.

January 22, 2007

Strikes Turn Violent in Guinea Capitol

Reuters reported Monday that strikes against Guinea's President Lansana Conte resulted in more than 20 deaths in the nation's capitol of Conakry . The demonstrations began two weeks ago, and the latest violence has left over 150 people wounded.

Since the article deals with events that have been ongoing, its lead focuses on highlighting the latest developments. The lead contains the most shocking new detail about the strikes, and also includes an explaination of what lead to the killings for people who may be unaware of what is going on.

An Associated Press article on the same story published two days ago by the International Herald Tribune treats the lead similarly. The most recent deaths at the time of publication are again the focal point, as they are the most notable consequence of the events. This reflects the negativity news value. The article goes on to say that "the strike began on January 10th as a result of Conte halting the trial of two men accused of stealing millions of euros from the state".

I feel the Reuters article is superior to the Associated Press article because it goes further in depth and outlines more issues that caused the strikes. It also identifies the two main labor groups involved, and gives a much better background of the events so far. The Associated Press article is too brief to give a full understanding of the circumstances, and would have benefitted from another paragraph talking about the key groups of protestors.