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February 28, 2007

Muslim Cabbies Refuse to Fold to Airport Requests

The Metropolitan Airports Commission is considering a crackdown on taxi drivers who refuse service to those possessing liquor, according to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Taxi drivers may refuse service for a number of reasons, most notably religious as the Muslim religion forbids the carrying of those with alcohol as it involves "cooperating in sin" according to Islam. MAC staffers said tougher penalties are needed to ensure reliable service at airports.

The article has a standard hard news type of lead, presenting the conflict. The sides are then elabored upon, with the article establishing the position of the Airports Commission and then that of the employees. Quotations are given from both sides, as well as statistics showing the extent of the issue. The Muslim belief is then elaborated upon a bit, and the article closes on the note of another issue that the Muslim faith takes a stance on.

The article on the same subject published by the Pioneer Press newspaper leads in with a question that addresses the issue, which seems less effective than simply stating the issue like the Star Tribune coverage did. The arguments are presented at the start as with the Star Tribune piece, and the article then looks ahead to the Republican National Convention in 2008 and suggests that if the experience is bad for people there will be a bad reputation for the city. The article also talks about the the consequences would be for cabbies that refuse service.

Between the two articles they both cover a lot of the same ground but the Star Tribune article isn't as long and I feel like it does a better job concisely outlining the issue whereas the Pioneer Press piece kind of devotes a lot of unnecessary space to it, though the talk of the effect it might have on the city was a good addition.

February 26, 2007

Nation of Islam Leader Gives Final Speech

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, delivered what is believed to be his final speech yesterday in Detroit reports a New York Times article. The religious leader criticized the Bush administration and called for citizens to impeach the president, and made an appeal to the crowd for religious unity. Though he has not yet stepped down from the position and named a successor, this is believed to be his final address. This puts the Nation of Islam at a crossroads as it searches for a new face to front itself and choose a direction to take.

This story is newsworthy because it reflects the newsvalues of timeliness and import, it affects tens of thousands of people and will decide the shape of a populated group's decisions to come. It is a speech coverage story, and of course the figure is heavily quoted as a result. However, in addition to desctribing the scene and the main points he addressed, the article also describes the impact and affect that his departure from leading the group will have. It lays out the possible moves and gives some consequences and opinions of others about each.

An article published in the Chicago Sun Times takes a different approach to the story, not leading with a hard, factual lead but one that describes the scene briefly by hinting at it. The article does not mention the state of the Nation of Islam and how it will be affected by Farrakhan's departure like the New York Times article did, and it seemed to quote less, and was a shorter article overall. It was set up differently but ultimately got some of the same points across. The options facing Nation of Islam however was an important point to address, and it seems to me that it should have been addressed. For this reason I prefer the New York Times treatment of the story. The organization is important and its fate should be addressed, especially when the leader is essentially stepping dwn in the speech being covered. It seems like it'd make perfect sense to address the issue.

Cheney Visits Pakistan and Afghanistan to Consult With Presidents

A Reuters article published today has reported that Vice President Dick Cheney has made surprise visits to both Pakistan and Afghanistan today to consult with the presidents of both countries. Cheney urged both to step up eforts against the Taliban and al-Qaida groups, whose activity quiets down in the winter and are due for a resurgance in the spring. The United States plans to increase the amount of its troops.

The article reflects the news value of timeliness and import, because a large amount of people will be affected and it's happening soon. The article is largely of a speculative nature because the events haven't happened yet, but a surge of al-Qaida and Taliban attacks are anticipated in the spring judging by past trends. The lead mentions the visit and its purpose, but goes into further depth and at the end presents a history of the conflicts with the groups and the U.S. presence in the country. The meeting itself isn't really enough to sustain an entire news story by itself, so recounting the past events is important.

An article on the same event published today in The Australian approaches the story in a slightly different way, and doesn't mention the anticipated spring offensive from the Taliban group until the 3rd graph. An important detail that this article puts forward is that U.S. accusations of al-Qaida training camps in Pakistan, claims the article says the country dismissed as absurd. There's also no quote from the Pakistani president like there was in the first article, talking about what Cheney discussed with him. However, the article does make it clear that the U.S. considers the two countries to be allies in its war against terror.

I feel like the article in The Australian actually contains more information, between the two of them. It stresses how violent the previous year was for Pakistan, and seems to do an even better job of giving a history of the country's relations with the Taliban organization. There also seems to be more information specifically about U.S. relations with the country, which really is the focus of the article.

February 23, 2007

Blogger Jailed In Egypt for Posted Comments

A Reuters article published today has reported that a court in Alexandria, Egypt has convicted an Egyptian blogger to 4 years in prison for writing against Islam and the Egyptian president on his website. He had been held in custody since November, and convicted today. People fear the case may set a precedent with regard to how Egypt treats freedom of expression on the internet

The article is your basic hard news story focusing on another part of the world, ntoable because of its harsh actions taking against something most of the world would allow. The lead is hard, and the article runs through the facts and opinions of those present at the trial who think his punishment was not harsh enough, to those in the blogging community who are worried about the verdict. There is a point and then support system that is used in the article to flesh out the situation, as well as the opinions of the community it concerns. It does seem to be just a bit of an extension of the average inverted pyramid story.

An Associated Press article about the story that ran in the Washington Post is much shorter, but establishes the point about people being afraid of freedom of speech in Egypt much quicker, which is important. Less quotes are used, and the article's size gives it much less room to establish a point and support structure.

I prefer the Reuters article. The Associated Press article gets the point across quicker, but the detail given by the Reuters article gives viewpoints on the issue as well as concerns of those it affects. The AP article is fine, but the Reuters article contains more reporting.

February 22, 2007

Support Builds For Longer Minnesota School Year

An article printed today in the Pioneer Press has reported that two proposals that would lengthen the school year in Minnesota have been approved by a key legislative committee. The proposals would lengthen the school year by 5 to 8 days, and make it legal to start schools before labor day. The changes are supported by school boards and administrators, but the tourism industry is concerned about the change. The proposal would raise the amount of days children are required to attend school to 180, up from the 171 they currently attend. This would make Minnesota schools even with those in other states.

This article begins by introducing the key issue at stake in the lead, and then going into details about the polemic and the two sides. The ramifications of the bill are then mentioned, and Minnesota is compared to other states. A key part of the article is that this isn't the first attempt at lengthening the school year, but rather a scaled down version of a proposal previously put forward that asked for 200 days total. The article ends by saying that the bill was unlikely to go far in the house, and that the extra school days would end up costing the school district a lot of money. The point and support format is used, for instance the introduction of the previous bill and then another paragraph explaining how the current proposal is different. A frequently used format is also to introduce an idea and then back it up with a quotation, which is the case with the section about school board reactions.

The same story was written about in the Minneapolis Star Tribune emphasizes the same issues: that the bill passed a preliminary hurdle but the costs will more than likely keep it from becoming a reality. The article is shorter, and brings up the fact that it's a toned down version of a previous bill earlier on. Since it's short, there's less room to incorporate a "point/support" format, and the article is mostly a recounting of the issues and concerns at hand. The instance point and support comes at the end when a quote is used to illustrate the Senate Education Budget Division's thoughts on the bill.

I think that the Star Tribune article was more effective because of its slimmer, quicker structure. THis isn't a story that requires as much text as the Pioneer Press gave it, but rather one that can be told just as well in about half the length. There's not all that much to go into other than what the Star Tribune article gave.

February 21, 2007

Mayor Seeks to Complete Ayd Mill Road

An article published in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press has reported that Mayor Chris Coleman has expressed interest in linking Ayd Mill Road to Interstate 94, a debate that has made its presence known in the past. Local residents fear the connection may lead to a north-south freeway, causing the area to become trafficked, polluted, and lose its character. According to the article, the city is seeking $2 million to buy land for the $44 million project. The proposed changes come as a surprise to a lot of people, who feel they would only contribute to pollution and cause problems for the neighborhood and city. Others who run business in the area feel that the connection would improve their patronage.

This article is surpsingly complicated given the subject matter, there's a lot of history here and some pretty deep reporting. The article puts the current evens in the context of a much larger battle that has been waged for years over the area in question. The lead emphasizes this by opening with "reopening an old wound," and there are plenty of examples of the "point and then support" system. For instance, before quoting the city council member Jay Benanav, they describe is reaction, so the point is then supported with the quote. The point about business' patronage being improved is mentioned, and then the businesses are quoted and statistics are given. Points are supported well in the article in a way that flows.

An articles on the same subject from the Star Tribune today must have been published later, because the article actually takes a completely different angle. The headline says that the Ayd Mill Extension is not a priority, according to mayoral aides. The 2 million dollars for land purchasing is among 100 other proposals, a detail which is emphasized in this article but not even touched upon in the Pioneer Press' account. The moyral aides also reveal that more than Ayd Mill, Coleman is concerned with other transportation issues like the Central Corridor light rail project. There is time in the article for a brief chronology and the views of local businesses aspect is touched upon, but not in the level of detail in the Pioneer Press article. Despite being much short and completely different, the article does utilize the point/support system in basically the same way.

Between the two articles, I want to say that I prefer the Pioneer Press article because they did more research and put more effort into getting business' responses and giving the history of the debate, but their entire article is thrown into question by the news that the mayor does not intend to focus as much on Ayd Mill. Regardless of what the current status and situation of the project is, I think the Pioneer Press story was written better and in a way that presents the drab issue in an almost captivating way.

February 19, 2007

Six People Dead Due to Weekend Avalanches

A total of five seperate avalanche incidents over the weekend has left six people dead, according to an Associated Press article published in The New York Times. The avalanches occured over the course of this weekend, with an incident on Montana's Big Belt Mountains killing two people, two seperate incidents in Utah left two snowmobilers dead, a Massachusetts man died after getting caught in an avalanche skiing out of bounds on a Utah ski trail, and another Utah man died in an avalanche near Idaho Falls' Palisades Park. The event is noteworthy because of the infrequency that avalaches are reported, and how notable it is that several would happen on the same weekend.

The Associated Press structured the article in a unique way, basically devoting maybe about a paragraph or two to each seperate incident with attribution from local authorities. There's more space given to the first incident reported in the article because it concerned two people dying instead of one, and the rest of the article just continually pummels the reader with incident after incident, until it ends.

An article on the subject printed in the Salt Lake Tribune was written before the other three incidents had been reported, and instead focuses simply on the coincidence of the first two happening so close to one another. This article gives an actual chronology of these events, and quotes people including sheriff's departments and avalanche experts. It also gives several details that the AP article does not, such as that it was the 8th day in a row of human triggered avalanches.

The two articles are taking different approaches, having been written at different times. However, I feel the Associated article may have ended up being perfectly readable past the headline had they actually went a bit more in depth on reporting the incidents. As it stands it comes off almost like a recounting of statistics without much interest to it, whereas the Salt Lake Tribune's article made the incidents interesting and provided more information.

Train Attack Attempts to Disrupt Peace Talks

According to a Reuters news article, two bombs that exploded on a train bound from India to Pakistan have killed over 66 people. The explosion has been identified as an attempt to disrupt peace talks between the two nations. Two undetonated bombs were recovered from the train, indicating that the attack could have been much worse.

The article is an international story, and the journalist has approached the issue assuming that readers may have little familiarity with the situation and clarifies the past relationship between India and Pakistan. The lead is hard and details the events of the story, but then goes into giving the reactions of some of the important figures involved, who insist that the attack will not affect them. The article then begins a new section, which focuses on the drama that the moment contained and graphically describes the scenario and the danger. There are then quotes from families complaining about lack of security, and talks about how the attacks occurred almost 5 years from a set of different attacks.

A BBC News article covering the same story begins by emphasizing that the nations would not let the attacks disrupt their peace talks, rather than focusing on the carnage of the incident itself. It is a bit more optimistic in this way, although the graphic scenes are still described later on. The big important quote from the Pakistani president insisting that their resolve will be stiffened is still a focal point, but more quotes from witnesses are added to give the dramatic parts more weight.

Of the two articles, I prefer the BBC News' coverage of the event because of their emphasis on the larger repurcussions for the two countries early on in the article, showing that the acts of terrorism are not disrupting nations' search for peace overall. It's important to stress this aspect of the article in addition to the tragic part, and while they both do a good job at these tasks I think it works better for the major political effects to be upfront like they are on the BBC News story.

February 16, 2007

Evidence of Water Found On Mars

An article published today in the New York Times reports that photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter have shown evidence of underground streams of liquid. The evidence shows that these streams may have once flowed long enough(meaning several weeks or maybe longer) to sustain simple forms of life like bacteria, researchers say.

This article is notable because it deals with something that affects our knowledge of the world around us, it affects the way we look at the solar system. The reporter took to the story a simple, straightforward approach the emphasizes the speculative nature of the news. The news is delivered right away, with one of the co-authors of the study being quoted to solidify the information in the story. It fits in a pretty standard inverted pyramid format.

An Associated Press article on the same subject published in the Washington Post takes the same inverted pyramid approach, but is longer and delves more into explanations for the conclusion being drawn. It explains what the observations the study contained actually mean, for instance that the area of light colored bedrock that the group observed represent areas where water once flowed. They write the article in a way that someone unfamiliar with the subject would be able to understand it, but there's still a nice level of information present.

I think for an article on a scientific study about a key scientific subject(the soloar system) one ought to include as much of the information as possible, so it seems odd that the New York Times article would choose to contain less information related to the observations. I prefer the Associated Press article in this instance because it contains that information, which in my opinion is important for someone who really cares about getting an understanding of the story.

February 15, 2007

Father Charged With Death of Daughter

An article published in the Star Tribune newspaper has reported that a man was charged Wednesday with the unintentional second-degree murder of 15-month-old daughter. After the child was taken to a local hospital, medical examiners determined that she died of internal bleeding from blows to the chest and the abdomen. The child's mother initially told medical examiners that the child had sustained the injuries after falling from a bed, but soon admitted to covering up for the father's attacks. The child had been placed in foster-care several months earlier and was recently returned to the parents.

Again, this is a case of something that could have come across entirely differently had the story not been done as it was. The story begins with a chronology instead of an ordinary lead, specifically a dramatic scene of a mother calling 911 about her child. The article goes on to talk about what happened, describing in detail the child's injuries and really emphasizing the idea that her parents were negligent. The way the article's written, a more personal and dramatic tone, may cause the reader to have more sympathy or emotion for the events than if it were just a normal hard news story.

The issue was reported on in the Pioneer Press and was given a much harder news approach. The lead gives the details of the story, rather than focusing on telling the story in a narrative. It goes down the list of facts simply recounting them all, and the detail is even more graphic than the Star Tribune article. No direct quotes are used, unlike in the Star Tribune story, which quoted the county attorney.

Between the two of them, I think the Star Tribune story works better because it does more with the events than simply running down a list of facts. Establishing a narrative and adding to the drama of the story certainly makes it more readable. If the story had to be reported and published in a paper at all, I guess the Star Tribune's approach is more effective.

February 14, 2007

Public Art is Stolen and Scrapped

Two bronze statues valued at $10,000 dollars each were stolen from Minneapolis' Wirth Park Thursday night, reports a Star Tribune article. The statues were intended to serve as a public display and a monument to Wirth, who helped develop Minneapolis' parks and make them public. The thieves chopped up and attempted to sell the statues on Tuesday, and were apprehended soon after.

The story easily could have been just a simple hard news story, but it's given an introduction and there's a lot of research put into it that turns it into something more. Instead of a hard lead, the writer approached the story with an introduction that was more creative, and still got the point across. After establishing the events that occurred, which is actually only a short part of the article, the reporter goes on to talk about Wirth and the work he did for the park system. The end result is an article that in a way saddens the reader because of the way people are mistreating a public gift. The co-founder of a group called the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society contributes quotes that add to this feeling.

An Associated Press article published in the West Central Tribune reports the same story, and includes almost all of the same information, but presents it in a style that is radically different. It's actually much more typical of a hard news story format, and doesn't ease into the information like the article in the Star Tribune did, and it feels like you're reading off a list of facts, like any inverted pyramid story. The same quotes from the MPLS co-founder are used.

In the case of this story, I prefer the Star Tribune's treatment. It comes off as a bit corny, but I think it does a better job of making the reader think about the issue of distruction of public property, or at least feel some emotion about the action. The Associated Press' barebones treatment of the story really doesn't make me think anything like that, and it comes off as any other crime story.

February 12, 2007

North Korea Nuclear Disarmament Talks Advance

An Associated Press article put up by the Washington Post today has reported that a tenative agreement in talks on Tuesday could bring about the first progress shown in the 3 years of attempts at nuclear disarmament of North Korea. Six nations are involved in the talks, among the North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, and the U.S. The proposed deal would provide North Korea with financial aid if it were to disarm its nuclear weapons, with the five other countries involved agreeing to help provide the aid. However, North Korea has not yet specified how much energy aid it would receive under the deal, and some are concerned the country may demand too much.

The article is a bit longer than the average article due to the history of attempts at reaching an agreement, and the lead emphasizes the uncertainty of the conclusions and agreements made. There are several smaller chronologies in the article, with scopes that range from detailing events of the past few ours to those of the past several years. The issue has a history that the article recounts, and there's also plenty of speculation involved. The article addresses all of these, and gets opinions and remarks from the spokespeople for the different countries involved in the talks. The article states that there is a possibility of North Korea rejecting the draft and demanding more energy, and it ends by recounting what sparked nuclear disagreements with North Korea in the first place.

The subject was covered similarly in a Reuters article published in the Malaysian Star, with the news being emphasized as differences blocking the draft disarmament deal being resolved. Negotiations were slowed by North Korea's demand for aid, but agreements were reached that could result in a formal deal within the next day or so. The envoys are again quoted in the article, with positive quotes that reflect the news of a potential agreement. However, they also note that it is too early to be certain on the draft, and these quotes are used after the more positive sounding ones signaling the progress. There's no real chronology blocks in the story, it's more of a standard summarizing of events that've happened in the past, like your average news article.

The Associated Press article definitely seems to offer more details about the story, so I prefer it in that respect. It's important to give details of the past talks and attempts at a resolution in order to know where the situation stands currently, and the Associated Press article just does a better job at fleshing out the history a bit more, I think.

Harvard to Name First Female President

Harvard University of Cambridge, Mass. has recently appointed the first female president in the university's 371 year history, a New York Times article reports. Drew Gilpin Faust, a historian running a research institution at the university, was recently chosen for the post by a selection committee. The prestigious university's former president, Lawrence Summers, was encouraged to and eventually did resign after making several inflammatory remarks. The choice of Faust is intended to help rebuild a consensus that Summers' presidency may have broken.

The article is straightforward and essentially delivered in an inverted pyramid style, but there a lot of details given and they are divided up into sections, and the writer found a way to fit in a chronology. The lead gives the main event, the appointing of the president, and then goes on to describe her accomplishments and history with the university and give quotes from faculty about her character. There are several brief chronologies of her history with the university and the selection process that took place, and it kinda jumps around from subject to subject, mostly ended up back at Faust and talking about her past. Attribution in the article is direct and full, except in one instance where evidently not for attribution remarks were made, "Some other faculty members, though, who declined to be identified, said they feared that Dr. Faust lacked the vision and tough-mindedness to be a strong leader."

An article on the same story published in the Los Angeles Times yesterday came several days later than the New York Times article, and contains some excellent quotes made by Faust as a result of being published several days later. The focus is obviously the same, the focus being that she is replacing a president who drew controversy and that she will be the first female president of Harvard and that now 4 of 8 Ivy League schools have female presidents. Faust's colleagues are again quoted and a shorter history of her accomplishments is given with the article, but nothing as in-depth as the New York TImes' article talking about the research institute she runs at Harvard.

This is a pretty basic story whose primary objective would be to announce the event and then give a profile of the individual involved, and I feel that even though it lacked some of the detail of the New York TImes article that the LA Times article gave a better portrait of the individual involved. The quotes they took from her were used effectively, and really defined her better. For instance, "I was the rebel who did not just march for civil rights and against the Vietnam War but who fought endlessly with my mother, refusing to accept her insistence that 'this is a man's world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you'll be,' " she writes in an essay in the book "Shapers of Southern History: Autobiographical Reflections."

February 9, 2007

DNA Evidence Solves 18 Year Old Murder Case

A Star Tribune article published yesterday has reported that DNA evidence has allowed authorities to identify the perpetrator of the 1989 stabbing of a St. Paul man. Dale Heinold was stabbed in his apartment in 1989, but recent DNA testing has matched blood found at the scene of the stabbing and identified it as blood belonging to a convicted killer named Larry Brigman. Brigman had already served time for a killing committed in the same year. The connection was made upon a re-examination of the case.

The article is structured in a way that goes beyond the normal inverted pyramid style, both in length and presentation. The story is broken into three parts, with the first part giving a barebones summary of the case, the second part describing Heinold's life and a chronoloy of the killing, and the third part talking about the case being solved through DNA evidence. It's not an incredibly complex story but organizing it this way makes it more interesting to read. The quote used at the end also makes the article memorable. Very few quotes are used, most one from Heinold's family members and one from Brigman himself at the end of the article, giving the story its kicker. The lead is a straightforward telling of the news event.

The story was reported in the Pioneer Press newspaper as well, being a story that concerns the death of a local man. The structure is a bit sloppier, it's far too long for your average inverted pyramid story, and it's not as nicely divided up as the Star Tribune article was. There's no chronology section, and the primary focus is on the DNA testing and how the wife of the man killed was influenced to ask for it by watching TV shows. The lead is similar, but there is more attribution and from different sources, such as the Senior Commander of the Saint Paul police.

I feel like I prefer the Star Tribune's article because it recognized that there was potential for a chronology and took advantage of the opportunity, and I just think the way it was structured lends itself to easier reading. The Pioneer Press article feels more like an assemblage of facts without a real central focus, though it seems to be leaning towards preaching the usefulness of DNA evidence testing more than anything else, something that most people already recognize.

February 8, 2007

City of Saint Paul Seeks Relief on Building Payments

A Star Tribune article published on Wednesday reported that the city of Saint Paul has begun to push for debt relief through a bill introduced by its state senators last Friday, and a bill to be introduced today as well. The request in the bills ask for the state to pay off the nearly $100 million in city debt incurred by the construction of the Xcel Energy Center and the Rivercentre. As of the article's publication, there had been no talk about the bills among the Senate leadership. This request is given added standing because of the upcoming Republican National Convention in the city, and city officials have said that the money would help prepare the RiverCentre before the convention and pay for renovations at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

The article is structured a bit differently than most. It's not quite inverted pyramid because it's not a hard story and it's quite long with useful information present throughout most of it. However, there's no chronology either. The earlier part of the article establishes the news event and the viewpoint of the Finance Committee Chairman who proposed it. The rest of the article tries to analyze where the city may be coming from, and whether or not the payment would be justified. People responsible for the initial construction of the buildings are interviewed, and officials for the city of Saint Paul state their case for the proposal. The article ends with a quote from the Minnesota Wild chief financial officer, who talks about the importance of a city achieving economic impact. The article feels pretty haphazardly structured, I can't really see any pattern or flow to the way it doled out the information.

A similar article about the proposal ran today in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, but included a larger level of detail. Right after mentioning the proposals, the article mentions that it might be a tough sell, and gives a quote from Tim Pawlenty's spokesman saying that the governor is unlikely to support the bills. Cohen, the FInance Committee Chairman who proposed the bills, is again quoted a lot to justify his proposal. The article is clearly an in-depth report about the bill's potential effects and possibility of being accepted, and attribution is always full and includes Representatives for the two buildings involved, state representatives, and Saint Paul City Council members, among other people.

Between the two articles, I feel like the Pioneer Press article did a better job of telling the story. It was published several days later, and had the opportunity to hear comment from a Pawlenty spokesman about the bills, which is a key part of the issue. Not only that, but the article just seemed to be structured and flow much better, despite containing much of the same information. A lot of the Star Tribune article was difficult to read in succession, there were points where it was necessary to stop and process what was just read.

February 7, 2007

New York Senator Proposes Ban on Personal Electronics in Streets

A Reuters artcle published in the Boston Globe today has detailed the plans of New York State Senator Carl Kruger to propose a ban on usage of any electronic devices in the middle of the city's streets. Kruger is proposing the legislation citing the dangers of distraction that the devices may pose as the primary cause, with 3 people having been killed in traffic accidents due to them in the past 6 months. The legislation would enforce a $100 fine if someone were to be using a cellphone, mp3 player, video game, or other electronic device in a New York street.

The article is handled in standard inverted pyramid style, and since it documents a proposed or upcoming event it serves primarily to inform about the basics of what lies ahead. The lead specifies the news event, and the body elaborates on who proposed and it and what triggered the proposal. Attribution in the article is focused entirely on the senator, who is identified and tries to justify his proposal, calling the electronic device distraction a "nation-wide problem".

An article on the same subject from a USA Today blog handles the story in a similarly quick and efficient manner, but has a softer lead and uses different quotes from the senator. The entry also collects some of the senator's past legislative decisions as a comparison, which is effective, and ends with a comment about electronics laws in other cities.

Both articles are short and since the legislature hasn't been proposed yet it isn't a big deal, but between them they accomplish pretty much the same thing. However, I think the USA Today entry including past legislation measure from the senator was a nice touch, and that the quotes they chose for the article did a better job of showing where the senator is coming from.

February 6, 2007

Astronaut Charged With Attempted Kidnapping After Botched Effort

A New York Times article published today has reported that an astronaut drove cross-country to confront and attempt to kidnap a romantic rival. According to the article, she drove over 900 miles and was charged with attempted kidnapping, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery. She last served in a space mission in July, and could face a maximum of life in prison if convincted of the charges.

This is a pretty bizarre story that lends itself well to a format outside that of the inverted pyramid structure. The article begins with a broad lead that gives the pertinent information in the story, but it encourages the reader to keep reading because it's so odd. The article eventually starts a chronology that recounts the woman's trip and the confrontation between the two women. The article quotes police officers who give the potential consequences, and then gives some information about the three people involved and their relationship to one another. Both cases of attribution are full, and are from a NASA spokesperson and the police sargeant who is the spokesperson for the Orlando police department.

The story was covered today by Reuters as well, but takes a much more conventional approach to writing about it rather than introducing a chronology and telling a story like the NY Times article. It is written in the inverted pyramid style, but written later so it gives the outcome of the events and the court proceedings, which was that the accused was permitted bail, made to wear a satellite tracking device, and released. The only attribution in the article is brief, and comes from the accused's statement to police about her intentions when committing the act.

Between the two articles' coverage, I feel like the New York Times' article presented the story in a more interesting way that did it justice. It kinda covers the news value of novelty in a way, and to tell it chronologically in the article engages the reader until the end, and makes for a memorable story. The Reuters' format is servicable but not really as memorable or remarkable.

February 5, 2007

Indonesian Floods Leave Many Dead and Homeless

An article to be published in The Independent today has reported that massive flooding has hit the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, causing hundreds of thousand of its citizens to evacuate the city and killing at least 29 people. Indonesia is prone to large monsoon rains annually, and so the fact that this situation was not anticipated and given a better shot at prevention is a concern for indonesians and many are questioning the government's efforts. The storm drains intended to curb the flooding were piled with rubbish, and forested hillsides south of the city intended to stop floods like this have been removed in order to build houses for the rich. It is a case of poor urban planning and natural disaster anticipation. Disease is now a large threat to the area's denizens, as well.

The article is one that emphasizes the news values of timeliness and impact. Not only is this unfolding right now, the impact it's having is incredible and hundreds of thousands of people are affected. The events and their causes are outlined in the article, and a special emphasis is placed on the refusal of the government to take responsibility for prevention and handling of the crisis. A quote from the governor of Jakarta is used to illustrate his unwillingness to take action, and quotes from citizens of the city are also used to elaborate on the government's inaction. An emphasis is also placed on the threat of disease, which could potentially be one of the effects of the floods. At the end of the article an economic expert is quoted as saying that the events will not affect inflation. All quotes are full and full attribution is used. The lead is handled over the course of several sentences, with the first sentence alone not being enough to get a full picture of the key events. The story is written in a basic inverted pyramid style.

An Associated Press article about the flooding that ran in the Star Tribune newspaper today chooses to emphasize many of the same points, with the only exception being that it lacks a section about the projected economic impact of the disaster. However, the focal point of the article outside the events themselves is the government's poor response to the disaster, with the same quotes from the governor of Jakarta and the citizens being used to illustrate this. There seems to be more of an emphasis on using numbers to try and illustrate the magnitude of the catastrophe, which helps, and the lead gives the important details quicker than it did in the article in The Independent. The attribution in the two articles is essentially the same.

I prefer the Associated Press' article because it gets to the point immediately, letting the reader know how many people are effected. You have to read deeper in The Independent's article in order to understand that. I like how both articles chose to emphasize the government's inaction and lack of preparedness, because that's an important part of the issue and for a government to be handling something like this so carelessly is quite newsworthy and needs to be one of the main points of an article.

February 2, 2007

Guerilla Marketing Campaign Shakes Boston

A USA Today article published in the Detroit Free Press has reported that the city of Boston shut down for a day earlier this week after mistaking a guerilla marketing campaign for a terroristic threat. The marketing campaign in question consisted of a number of LED signs that had been placed around the city several weeks ago to promote an upcoming Turner Broadcasting System cartoon movie. The city found out about the devices several weeks after they had been placed, and dispatched the necessary means of determining whether or not they were bombs.

The article itself was printed today, several days after the events in question. As a result, the article focuses more on the aftermath of the marketing plan and peoples' reactions to Boston's decisions. So, the basic events of the story are eventually recounted, but a big focus is put on peoples' reactions and attribution becomes important. Local residents, business owners, and officials in the city are interviewed and give their differing viewpoints on the decision, establishing a nice polemic. There is one or two quotes that are paraphrased but for the most part it's all just straight and direct quotes.

A smaller publication called the Frog City Journal has run a similar report that focuses on peoples' reactions in San Francisco, one of the other cities that was a target of the ad campaign. The article notes the contrast between San Francisco's practically muted reaction, and Boston's alarm. Local people and authority figures are again interviewed here, with a direct and clear attribution format used. It's pretty similar to the other article.

Between the two of them I don't think one does a better job of reporting on the subject, they both contain the same types of information and do a good job of including a nice range of opinions on the matter. It's a type of story that lends itself well to using quotations, because it's basically just looking to see what peoples' reactions to the campaign and resulting action were.

February 1, 2007

Talk Show Host Considers Senate Bid

An article in yesterday's Star Tribune paper has reported that radio talk show host and comedian Al Franken intends on running for Minnesota senate in 2008. He has reportedly told several House members of his intention to run for the position, claiming that it will be a direct challenge to Norm Coleman. Though he has not made an official announcement of his decision at this point, he announced on Monday that he was leaving his radio show on February 14th, a decision that suggests a political carrer may be likely.

The article is relatively straightforward, simply detailing the news which is really only strong speculation at this point. There is some speculation throughout the article as to the potential for success that such a campaign would have, including likely supporters or reactions. Attribution in the article is very weak, with several cases of anonymous attribution because the sources in the House did not want to reveal themselves and potnetially ruin Franken's official announcement. Franken himself wouldn't even be interviewed for the article. While there are people supposedly confirming the legitimacy of the story, they are anonymous and such attribution weakens the article.

An article on the same subject published in the Pioneer Press today opts to paraphrase the quotes from the anonymous sources, rather than using them directly. This makes more sense to me, because a direct quote really has none of its strength without a source to back it up. The rest of the article is essentially the same, with the same quote from Franken's spokesman used in the other article, and a brief biography of the candidate.

However, near the end and also in the middle of the Pioneer Press article there is speculation included from political science authorities at the University of Minnesota regarding the viability of the campaign. This sort of gives the article a point that I don't really think it had without straight quotes from any of the key sources. Because of this, I think the Pioneer Press did a better job on the story out of the two papers although there really wasn't much official word to go on and I'm sure there'll be yet another story on the subject whenever his official announcement comes.