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April 30, 2007

Smaller Fires Near Georgia Blaze Expected to Be Examined

According to an article published in the local Georgia paper the Atlanta Journal Constitution, has stated that firefighters today have asked for arson experts to examine 3 smaller fires near a large Georgia blaze that has burned for the past two weeks. The Georgia Forestry Commission decided the blazes appeared suspicious enough to warrant further investigation, as it seemed they could not have been started naturally as a result of the larger fire. The larger blaze has been a presence over the past two weeks, burning over 125 square feet of forest and swamplands, and destroying over 20 homes. By Monday morning the fire was over 60 percent contained, with firefighters achieving more success throughout the day. Schools were closed last week but reopened today. Families evacuated the areas where more fires have broken out.

Despite being an article by a local paper near the event intended for a local audience, it seems to have a national appeal because it doesn't get too caught up in specifics of location, and describes things in a way that a national audience can understand, while more than likely providing more information than your average wire service article about the incident. Officials from the Georgia Forest COmmission are quoted early on about the action their taking, and this part of the article seems to only last for about 4 graphs before the rest of the article takes a focus on the larger blaze and the damage it has caused over the past weeks. It doesn't assume that people have been following the event too closely, and gives some rudimentary statistics about the situation that help put it into perspective. Two different Georgia Forestry Commission spokespeople are directly quoted.

The Associated Press coverage of the event published in the Washington Post contains all information from the article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, but trims out some of the stuff that might be less necessary, resulting in a more concise article. One of the same forestry spokespeople is also quoted, with the same quote used. It suits the story well and would serve as a nice means of getting the information out to a wider audience without overburdening them with information.

I prefer the Atlanta Journal Constitution article because it seems to be just as readable, but gives more information and context as to what the region is going through right now. The Associated Press article would certainly suffice, but it doesn't mention anything about the idea of potential new, intentional fires that the Atlanta article does. There is also a lot more detailed information about the extent of the fires, which I feel is important to understand the story. They're both fine for what they're meant to do.

British Terrorists Convicted in Bomb Plot

An Associated Press article that ran in the Washington Post today has reported that five members of Al-Qaida were arrested for planning to bomb a nightclub, and Biritsh power plants and a company doing work in Iraq. All five men were British citizens, and were determined to be linked to Al-Qaida and convicted of the crime after a year of deliberation in what has become Britain's largest terror case. The men were linked to a 2005 bombing of a London subway car, and surveilance on one man revealed his intentions were terroristic. The link between the plotters and the actual bombers was kept secret to ensure a fair trial. These revelations go against what was said by the British government in 2005, which was that the attacks were perceived as unknown and unpredicted. All five men were sentenced to life in prison. Recorded conversations revealed the men conspiring to terrorism. Piecing together the plot took effort, but eventually happened.

The lead is very long, and gives some details I feel are kinda superfluous, like the targets for instance. However, it does reveal all the necessary details of the article. From here there is more information given about the suspects how the intelligence arrived at their conclusions. The article flows from point to point, going from the suspects descriptions to connecting them to the 2005 subway attack to discussing the British government's intelligence surrounding that issue, then to the trial and sentences that the men received. Britain's counter-terrorism chief is quoted directly and receives full attribution, commenting on the mens' link to Al-Qaida. The article ends with a quote from the MI5 chief, who says that his men will regret not preventing the 2005 bombings.

Coverage of the story on a UK website called The Argus is tailored much more specifically to residents of the UK. The lead feels week because it just focuses on one man being convicted for some reason, instead of the fact that there were 4 others convicted with him. This detail is mentioned later on. More specific locations familiar to British readers are mentioned, including where the terrorists hail from and what their planned targets were. Details about those being convicted are given again, along with the fact that they denied the charges. No direct attribution is used, with quotes all being paraphrased for the most part. It ends with the detail that the jury were out for a record number of days.

I prefer the coverage given by the Associated Press article in the Washington Post, because there's more specific detail about the link between the incident and the bombings in 2005, not to mention more attribution and direct quotes from those in positions of authority. The other article didn't seem to give the same level of information, and the lead feels like it doesn't tell the whole storyi mmediately anyway, which was odd.

April 26, 2007

Astronomers Discover "Second Earth"

According to an article run in BBC News yesterday, astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our solar system, and that this world could actually have water running on its surface. The planet is over 20 light-years away, and the temperatures there suggest that any water there could exist in liquid form, which means that there could be life as well. Scientists estimate the temperatures on the planet to be between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius. Scientists believe the planet to be a key target for future space missions and the search for extra-terrestrial life. The planet is around a star called Gleise 581, that allows it to reach habitable temperatures. Scientists have insisted on this planet's apparent ability to support life. The fact that it's over 20 light-years away means humans will not be visiting it anytime soon, though with future innovations it could be a possibility.

Well the article is a scientific one, and thus prone to all sorts of jargon that the article effectively cuts through. THe details are explained in such a way as to facilitate easier comprehension by those of us who are not well-versed in scientific vocabulary. The headline pretty much leads into a smaller bolded section giving more details, which leads right into the beginning of the article detailing the planet's perported location. We then get information about the planet itself and what makes it earth-like, featuring some direct quotations from those responsible for making the announcement. Information about the planet is sort of scattered along the article, in between sections that seem to focus on scientists' opinions on whether or not visiting the planet could become a reality, as well as how the planet was even discovered. The article ends with a quote saying that the new planet and those near it will be prime targets for future NASA space missions.

A report on the new planet run in The Guardian takes an even simpler approach, giving just the necessary details and one instance of direct attribution from an astronomer who emphasizes the planet's significance. The lead is basic and just reveals the discovery and the bearing it has on the idea that we might not be alone. The Earth-like traits of the planet are emphasized and discussed, and some basic details are given. such as its size and the events leading up to tis discovery.

Both articles are competent and intended for different audiences, obviously. Neither one is bad, and it just depends on what type of coverage is desired because the Guardian article is a bit simpler but gives all the necessary information, while the BBC News article is more complicated and in-depth and more of a commitment to read. I prefer the BBC News article because of the information it gives and the way it presents it so that it's easier to understand, but they're both fine.

Saint Paul Passes New Dogs Ordinance to Curb Attacks

An article published in the Star Tribune reported that the St. Paul CIty Council today was expected to pass a dog ordinance intended to curb the abuse of the animals. The ordinance was passed, and though not directly linked to the recent string of dog attacks, will prohibit owners with a history of dangerous dogs from having dog liscenses. The ordinance was sponsored by council president Kathy Landry, who doesn't know if it would have prevented Tuesdays attack of a woman by two pit bulls, but says that it would stop people from owning dogs who have had two dangerous dogs in a five year span.

The lead in the article emphasizes how soon the ordinance is being passed after the recent dog attack, but doesn't really say what the ordinance is going to do. It then gives a more general description of what the ordinance would do, but again lacks details that aren't revealed until near the article in a paraphrased quote by the president of the saint paul city council. In the middle of it we get a description of Tuesday's incident, which the article even admits probably has nothing to do with the ordinance as the ordinance was being worked on awhile before the incident occurred, so I'm not sure why it's included. The article closes with the reason why Landry introduced the ordinance. It's a relatively short piece with no direct quotations used.

Coverage of the new law in the Pioneer Press is done in an article that is even shorter than the Star Tribune piece. However, it is much more detail oriented and actually gives specifics about the effects of the law. It gives a general description of the law in the lead and then gives specifics near the end, with only a sentence devoted to Tuesday's incident and how it did not trigger the law.

The Pioneer Press article is short and contains more information than the article in the Star Tribune. The news works best presented as a short piece like both of them did, but the Pioneer Press article just does a better job and actually gives specifics about the changes and outlines the current situation as far as dog ordinances go.

April 25, 2007

Teen Charged With Murder On Bus

Police have arrested a boy and charged him with the murder of another young man on a bus early Sunday morning, according to an article in the Pioneer Press. The shooting happened at times when the suspect's parents insist he was at home, and he does not match the description of the suspect given in police reports. Police insist thatb ased on photos, they have found the right person. Metro Transit continues to insist that its mass transit services are safe, despite 4 serious incidents since the beginning of March. The victim of the shooting was a father, whose death leaves his partner to care for their 1-year-old son. The killing supposedly occured after the bus had stopped, with the suspect reaching inside the bus doors and firing the gun at the victim.

The piece's lead sets it up as a feature, introducing the differing actions of the two families involved at present. Rather than a hard news lead that would describe the action in an objective way, the article chooses to wait until the third sentence to state the news event, and then quotes relatives of the victim. The suspect's parents are then quoted, giving alibis, and then the police however are quoted insisting that they have the right man. A listing of the recent problems Metro Transit has had is then given, followed by a brief biography of the victim and a short chronology of the incident that resulted in his death.

The Star Tribune's coverage of the story also thrusts the reader right into the action, but in a different way. It describes a seemingly manic scene of 40 people yelling for the suspect's freedom from connection with the shooting. It mentions the event higher up. The reason for the conflict is also given earlier on, that of the two boys being members of rival groups. The article is short, focuses only on the suspect, and doesn't mention Metro Transit at all.

Both articles are fine, and take interesting angles with their instead of just treating the story as a simple hard news piece. However, the Pioneer Press covers all aspects of the story and paints a more vivid picture of all those involved, as well as how the bus company reacts to the issue, which I feel is important. It also contains almost all the details that the Star Tribune's article does, so it just feels like better coverage of the situation.

April 23, 2007

Gonzales Scandal Continues to Escalate

An Associated Press article published at Forbes.com has reported on the current status of the Attorney General Gonzales scandal concening the firings of several prosecutors simultaneously. The article gives an update on the scandal after Gonzales testified on Thursday, revealing that his testimony caused several republican senators to call for him to quit. He continues to lose GOP support, but refuses to back down. He has asserted that he will stay and continue to serve. The article gives evidence that pretty much the only continued support for Gonzales is coming from Bush. As expected, there were fresh calls from democratic senators calling for the attorney general to step down. Primary support for Gonzales comes from the White House.

The article could almost be considered a type of speech coverage, it deals with the testimony given by Ginzales last Thursday and does actually describe that particular event at several points throughout its duration. It gives both details about what he said, and most importantly for the purposes of the article, the reactions of his contemporaries, both supproters and detractors. There's a lot of direct quotes and straight attribution from senators giving their opinions on the case. In between this certain statements connect the direct quotes and show their relevance, attempting to allow the article to flow a bit better and breathe a bit more. It doesn't feel like there's really a rigid structure and it's kind of all over the place, and there's certainly no chronology involved. The article does find a way to fit in the necessary details about the incident in between attributions, since it is an article follwing up on an important contemporary issue that has come ot the forefront in recent days.

In the New York Times article update on the issue, the point is gotten to much faster. Republican Senator Arlen Specter is quoted in the lead as saying that Gonzales' failure to step down is bad for the U.S. justice department. Spector is focused on in the Times' article because he is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his comments were aired on a FOX television show and focused on in the article. Specter is mentioned in the previous article, but not with as much detail though he is shown saying that Gonzales' testimony was variant with the facts of the situation. The New York Times article is much shorter, and only quotes one other senator, a democrat named Charles Schumer who talks about a potential successor.

I think the New York Times coverage is better because it focuses on a key GOP senator and is generally much shorter than the other article, which quotes many people but may actually have a lot of unnecessary text. The New York Times article says just as much in my opinion, except with many less words.

Nigerian Elections Over, Results in Dispute

Umaru Yar'Adua has been declared the winner of Nigeria's presidential poll, a poll that is being rejected by the opposition and labeled a "charade" by outsiders. Yar'Adua was Nigeria's ruling party candidate, but opposition and observers have labeled the election a fraud due to violence influence the decision, and rigging of the polls, according to a Reuters article published in the Washington Post. Yar'Adua received over 24 million votes, 18 million more than his closest rival, Muhammadu Bahari. The vote should result in the first time that power in Nigeria has been handed over from one civilian to another. European Union observers noticedm any flaws and criticised the result. However, attempts to change the result could result in instability for the country as its current leader is required to hand over power by the end of May. Over 60 people have been killed so far in election related violence.

The article's lead gets across that Yar'Adua won the election, and also mentions in the same sentence that the results are being dismissed and rejected. The article then goes into explaining the significance of the election and the opinions of specific groups such as opposition and observers. There are no direct quotes immediately from election winners, only partial quoted of phrases in quotation marks. The first full, direct quotation comes from a European Union observer in the second section of the article ,which focuses on the accusations and evidence of fraud in the election. The current leader of the country is given an optimistic quote near the end when the piece turns to a more speculative tone about the future of the country, and there's statistics about election violence and government action, with the government labelling those who oppose the election results as coup-supporters.

An Associated Press article run in the New York Times about the issue focuses on telling more about Yar'Adua early on, but also mentions the opposition to the election results in the lead. His opposition's qualms about the results are given earlier on, and the article actually describs the scene of the elections on Saturday which is effective and gives a clearer idea of what exactly the corruption that went on might have been. Many of the same figures and positions are established, while generally giving more on Yar-Adua's life and accomplishments.

I prefer the Associated Press article because it gives more information on the issue. The both have similar structures and patterns of expositions, it's just the the Associated Press article has more information on the candidate elect, as well as the political climate in Nigeria and how the election will affect the country. For someone wanting to casually learn about the issue ashorter article might suffice.

April 20, 2007

Abstinence Education Programs Deemed Ineffective

An article published on the website citizenlink.org looks into a recent study released last week by Mathematica Polcy Research, a study that claims that anstinence-only education is not effective in delaying sexual activity among unmarried youth. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services commissioned Mathematica to evaluate the programs after 10 years, and Mathematica has recently declared the programs it examined to be ineffective and potentially medically inaccurate. However, the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association claims that only four out of over 700 abstinence education programs were examined in the study.

The lead in the article establishes both viewpoints in the same graph, which is pretty much how the article then proceeds to do things. It gives a summary of the Mathematica group's findings, and then goes in to give the opinions of those who support the program, using forms of direct attribution to show their opinions. The director of the National Abstinence Education Association is quoted, as well as an analyst for sexual health at Focus on the Family Action. It's a short peice that reveals the group's findings and then present's another side's reaction.

Coverage of the issue in a column featured at slate.com is much more in-depth, actually giving information about the nature of the study and more figures about exactly how much money is being plugged into these types of programs. In the past decade, the federal government has spent over 1 billion dollars of taxpayers' money on these programs, which, according to the four examples examined by the study at least, have no effect. This is the main focal point of the article, as well as the nature of the funding that states receive for these programs. No coverage is given to the other side of the argument, as the research done by the group commissioned by the government is basically treated as it should be-that is, trusted. There's a much more opinionated slant to the way the facts are reported.

I prefer the cover of the issue on the slat.ecom page because of the level of detail it goes into about the figures being paid for the programs, the testing conducted by the Mathematica Group, and how the funding for the programs works. Having this level of detail helps the reader get a better understanding of the issues in question. I think coverage of this subject is important, because to be spending such a large sum of money on something that is being shown to potentially be largely ineffective is distressing, and such decisions deserve scrutiny and evaluation.

April 19, 2007

University of Minnesota Evacuated Due to Bomb Hoax

Classes in 8 buildings at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus were evacuated Wednesday afternoon after a threat was found in a bathroom on campus, according to an article published in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune. The threat turned out to be a hoax, and classes will resume today. The threat was a sheet of paper found in a bathroom listing specific buildings, and in light of Monday's tragedy authorities were not taking chances. The school sent out emails to around 80,000 students, and evacuated the 8 buildings. A search by a bomb squad with dogs did not turn up any results.

The article focuses on getting reactions and responses from students at the university. Students on the campus are interviewed and their reactions and thoughts on the incident are given. It's a long article, describing the resulting events caused by the threat and giving faculty action and reaction as well. There's almost a type of narrative, and also space for the article to provide peoples' critiques on the action the university took. It's pretty much divided into two sections, that of the main event summary and that of the reactions. Direct attribution is used for authority figures like the police chief and for students, and the lead focuses on today, saying that "classes resume after a threat shut down the school yesterday," giving the article a sense of immediacy from the beginning even if the event is over and done and ultimately may not have done anything significant.

The Pioneer Press' coverage of the event adds the human element even more specifically even earlier on, mentioning the specific student's name who found the bomb note, and describing in detail the actions he took, and quoting him, the same quote used in the Tribune's article. They also mention the specific buildings earlier on, including the detail that one of the threatened buildings contained the university president's office. Similar to the Star Tribune's article, the latter half seems to be focused largely on student reactions to the threats.

I prefer the Star Tribune's coverage because although it doesn't lisat some important details later on, the idea of focusing for so long on the student who seemingly innocuously found the note and casually reported it seems like a waste when there's actually a lot more that could be reported on. The Star Tribune article is also longer and has a larger reaction section, which isn't entirely necessary but shows that more reporting was done for their piece, I think.

April 18, 2007

Dispute Between Cab Drivers and Airport Employers Grows

In the latest development in a conflict that has been a problem in Minnesota for awhile now has taken place Monday, with the Metropolitan Airports Commission voting unanimously on Monday to order Muslim taxi cab drivers to pick up all passengers, regardless of whether or not they are carrying alcohol. Transmitting alcohol in this way goes against the Koran, but starting May 30th any cab drivers who refuse service will be given suspensions, according to the article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. There were 27 alcohol-related refusals out of an estimated 120,000 cab rides from mid-November to January. The issue is not as bad as it was in the summertime, but many muslim cabbies have expressed intent to continue to refuse if the situation comes up again, regardless of threats of suspension. It is expected that neither side of the dispute will step down, and that it could lead to a national test case on the issue.

The article opens by summarizing the issue as though the reader were not familiar with it, despite it being a presence in the news media off and on over the past few months. It then segues into the results of the recent vote and the results, and then into the reactions of the director of the airport and muslim scholars. Statistics are then given that show the extent that the issue may affect the community. The last part of the article is interesting because it focuses on the issue's potential for a court case, citing a precident involving the amish and road laws, and its potential application in this instance.

The Pioneer Press article about the subject chooses to emphasize the airport's decision upfront in its lead. THis is different from the Star Tribune's coverage, which places that decision in the third graph. Again, the issue of transportation with the Amish case from 1990 is brought up, but some different people are quote and overall the article seems to flow much better, and rather than what feels like a choppy series of statements and figures almost becomes a narrative, closing with an effective quote a local Muslim prayer leader and cab driver supporter, giving the story a human element.

For these reasons I prefer the Pioneer Press article. It establishes the overall issue/conflict, but then goes on to explain the recent decision in the lead and overall as an article just flows a lot better. The note it chooses to end on was also successful, in my opinion.

April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting Largest in History

A gunman opened fired on a college dormatory and classroom two hours apart, killing himself and an estimated 30 other people in what has become the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, according to an Associated Press article published online at Forbes today. Students criticized the response of the staff on campus as there were two hours in between the two seperate incidents, and the students were not informed. In addition to the potentially over 31 people killed, at least 26 others were being treated for wounds at local hospitals. After the shootings, the campus was closed and classes for the rest of the day and the next day were cancelled.

It's a wire news service article, and it has a lot of the conventions of those types of pieces. The lead is very typical, outlining straight the events in the tragedy in the way a hard news story would. It goes in to give student reactions, and a quote attributed directly to the president of the university. After this, it then jumps back into the events of the story and offers some details that seem to describe the scene. Student reaction then gets a direct attribution, before more specifics are given and a brief history of these types of massacres is given. A bit more information about the extent of the damage, and a quote from a university spokesperson are given, and this latter half of the article generally seems to be filled with esoteric details about the shooting that aren't crucial but add to the piece, though not much is yet known about the nature of the crime (ie potential motives, the perpatrator). A spokesperson for president Bush is also quoted.

A Reuters article published on the website swissinfo.org covers the issue in a similar way. First of all, however, I feel like the lead flows a bit better. There's less to it and it seems like it conveys the same level of information, while still giving a quick feel for the nature of the scene. The story is much, much more graphic and begins with a detailed chronology and retelling of the incident, giving a student's/victim's perspective and describing the nature of the crime and how the investigation was proceeding. A lot more attribution is used, from victims, police officials, physicians, and interest groups. Voices on the matter are given a chance to speak, and the article finishes with some concrete and basic details about the campus itself.

I feel like the Associated Press article is a bit more tasteful and less sensationalist. In a way I feel like the Reuters article is almost exploiting the tradgedy somehow. It feels like their reporting and descriptions are almost treating the situation like a form of entertainment, or a story to be enjoyed or something. I dunno, it just disturbs me. The whole incident does. Neither article is pleasant to read so don't get the idea that I enjoyed reading either one, but the Reuters piece goes beyond what I feel is acceptable in terms of reporting on something like this. The level of detail is just too much.

French reports show French secret service aware of al Qaida 9/11 planning.

A Reuters article published today on defensenews.com has published an article saying that the French daily paper Le Monde has published information saying that French secret services produced 9 reports looking at the al Qaeda threat to the United States, and knew the terrorist organization intended to hijack an aircraft. The reports show that French's foreign intelligence knew about the planned attack as early as January 2001. The reports show that the attack was meant to happen at some point in 200, but was pushed back. Le Monde quoted a former secret official at France's DGSE secret service agency as saying that although France was aware of a potential hijacking, it was unaware of the plans to fly the plane into a building. The documents also showed that BIn Laden was receiving aid from family members and senior officials in Saudi Arabia ahead of September 11th.

The article's rather short, and its lead simply gets across the key information about the potential knowledge of the hijacking. It then goes into detail about the specific documents that the article is talking about, giving their length and content and who saw them. A senior official with France's DGSE secret service is quoted, and talks about the significance of the documents and the actions taken by those in possession of them.

An Associated Press article published online through Forbes also covers the issue and gives more details about the reports themselves, which are important. More attribution is used in the article as well, more quoes from those in the CIA and other intelligence agencies. It is revealed that the note listed potential targets, and also that it was not all that different from intelligence that the U.S. also possessed. The chief of staff with the French DGSE is quoted again.

Between the two articles I prefer the Associated Press' coverage because it contains more information and attribution, and it's clear there was just more reporting done to get to the final article. For this reason I prefer it to the Reuters article.

April 14, 2007

Wind Gusts Cause Southern California Fires to Escalate

A Los Angeles Times news article has reported that area winds have caused the spread of intense fires in the region, and lead to extremely reduced visibility. This fire is the latest in a string that have plagued the region in what is becoming its driest winter ever. The winds and fire have so far severly damaged three homes, and have caused around 120,000 homes to lose power. The winds have also created problems for drivers, and winds in the upper atmosphere have reached speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. An ordinance requiring all houses to be rid of wooden roofing by 2013 might end up being advanced to sooner date by the mayor.

Being in the LA Times, the location of the fire, the article is very rich in detail about the incident. The lead gets across information the problem very early on and describes some of the dmaage caused by the fire already. The significance of the fire is then elaborated on, and there is a type of chronology about the outbreak and prevention attempts. A National Weather Service employee is quoted to good effect describing the extent of the problem, direct attribution. There is a section about how the storms and fire have affected driving as well. Direct attribution is also used when talking with homeowners on the street where the fire broke out, as well as those working in the vicinity at the time, and this gives the article a human touch. It's a detailed article about the incident intended to serve the community.

The coverage of the story in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press is understandably different, and is an Associated Press article. There's a lot less detail, and almost no attribution except at the end of the article from the highway patrol, and a bit of the human element from victims in the middle of the article. All the same basic information related to the extent of the fire's damage and history remains. It's trimmer and less interesting.

I guess I prefer the LA Times' coverage of the article, even though it's not really as relevant to the rest of the country as it might be to LA. There's a lot more detail and it flows nicer. The AP article in the Pioneer Press though goes quicker and delivers the same basic information ,and probably succeeds better outside of LA as just a nice basic hard news story.

April 12, 2007

Teens Arrested After Lobbing Molotov Cocktail

Two teenagers, a 19 year old and a 16 year old, were arrested early Wednesday morning for allegedly throwing a molotov cocktail at a squad car, according to an article in the Star Tribune. The bomb landed about 15 feet away from the car, and the incident did not take place on a crowded street. The officers inside the vehicle were unharmed, and the teenagers told authorities that they were not specifically targeting police, but rather aiming at the next oncoming vehicle. The teens were arrested on suspicion of aggrevated assault and have not yet been charged.

The piece is just a short, hard news piece with a news value of proximity, since it probably happened close to some parts of the paper's readership. The lead is actually longer than any other chunk of the story, and describes the event before going on to give the outcome and possible motivations. It's a short piece that might have run in the local news section or something. Interestingly enough, the online version has added a small subheading underneath the headline that basically renders any reading of the rest of the article unnecessary. It repeats itself a lot and probably did not warrant treatment on this level.

An article in the Pioneer Press seems to present more information on the incident, commenting explicitly on the fact that no damage was done, quoting a police spokesman, and giving the name of the teen old enough to have his name released. More detail is also given about the apprehension of the two suspects. There's also some speculation about what might have happened had the bomb connected with the vehicle.

The Pioneer Press article seems to repeat itself less, it gets the point across just as fast, and contains more information. Both are presented in styles that reflect the sensibilities of a hard news story, like what we practiced writing earlier this year. I think the Pioneer Press article does the better job of the two pieces.

April 11, 2007

Baseball Stadium Proposal Advances

On Tuesday a deal was proposed by Hennepin County commissioners that would allow the county to vote for land acquisition to be filled with a ballpark worth over $500 million, according to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. The deal is hinging on the the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railway, whose approval would allow the project to begin. The deal also depends on the Minnesota Twins baseball team putting forth money to help with the construction. The stadium design will be unveiled on Thursday, and everything seems poised to go off fine land deal permitting.

The article is at once speculative yet recounts the history of the project up to this point. It begins by talking about the most recent developments in the stadium project, segueing into a section talking about what has to happen in order for the park to become a reality. Key figures are quted directly, including commissioner Mike Opat and the president of the Twins. The latter half of the article focuses largely on what is left to come with the project, and specifically the land issue, which is a key concern at the moment.

The Star Tribune's coverage of the article contains more information in the lead related to where the funds will be coming from, and also emphasizes the speculative nature of the current state of things with the land-use issue. Different quotes are used, including quotes from different commissioners who oppose the project. Both sides of the polemic on the upcoming stadium are shown, which is important. Other than that the detail is presented in largely the same way, though it's more concentrated at the top and leads into opinions near the bottom.

I prefer the Star Tribune's treatment of the story for giving equal space to both sides of the argument. It also gets teh essential information to the reader faster, and in a way that for me was just as readable. The project will in all likelihood go on as planned, but representation of those opposed to it is a nice inclusion.

April 9, 2007

Bush Calls For Immigration System Reform

Bush spoke today in an Arizona town near the border of the country to speak about gathering support for a new type of immigration bill that would emphasize security and enforcement as well as assimilation, according to an article in the New York Times. The president established that he is serious about the issue, and insisted that harsher restrictions were working and cited statistics that affirmed that. A bill was passed in the senate last year that would have put more illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship, but stalled due to conservation opposition in the house. The feelings about immigration vary, but the need for reform in the system is generally agreed upon.

The article exists mostly to give an idea of the president's intentions about immigration reform, and after summarizing the speech he gave and the event it goes into sections that attribute heavily. The article is coverage of a speech, essentially, that outlines some recent activity related to immigration but mostly just quotes Bush as well as those in the senate, giving their opinions on the issue. Bush's speech is quoted from heavily first, and the article then goes into giving the opinions of certain important senators like McCain, who will be campaigning for president.

The Washington Post's coverage of the issue quotes the speech and ends with a Bush quote on the immigration issue, and the lead is similar, but the overall body of the article does not draw as much from his actual speech like the article in the Times. More detail is given about the location where the president gave the speech, a state of the art border patrol system, which given the topic of the article is a key detail, and there's also a much longer history of the immigration issue and Bush's contributions to fixing it. Not only this, but a potential reform plan to be embraced by Bush is actually outlined by the article.

For these reasons I prefer the Washington Post article. It doesn't just quote Bush like the Times article did, it adds a lot of extra content and the addition of a detailed description of a proposed reform really helps the reader see what direction Bush is taking with the issue.

Iraqi Citizens Protest U.S. Occupation on Anniversary of Baghdad's Fall

An article published in the New York Times has reported that Iraqi citizens today marched in the city of Najaf to protest the fourth anniversary of Baghdad's occupation. The demonstration was held at the request of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sakr, and consisted of tens of thousands of those loyal to him marching in the holy city of Najaf, burning American flags, and cursing America. The demonstration is reported the largest in the city since 2003. Sadr went into hiding in mid-February, and the protest remained peaceful throughout the day as he had requested. The protest unfolded as heavy fighting continued in parts of Diwaniya, a city in southern Iraq where American and Irqai troops are fighting against the Mahdi army.

The article is covering a breaking news story and has been updated frequently throughout the day. The lead introduces the event and the central figure who provoked it, and goes on to describe the significance and consequences of the protests. The story involves a lot of details, and the article does a fine job of giving them all to the reader. The history is necessary to understand the current events. The article also places the events in the context of the fighting going on against the Madhi army, giving even more of a recent backdrop for the events. Direct attribution is used when quoting a speech given today by Sadr, as well as the American military colonel and the Iraqi national security advisor.

An Associated Press article that ran in the Washington Post today follows a similar stregy of providing an insane amount of information for the reader to drown in. The event is explained early on in the article and its lead, but Sadr is not introduced until the third graph. However, once Sadr is brought into things the Post article actually does quite a bit to explain who he is and what his influence has been, which is helpful. The article quotes a lot of the same sources the TImes article does, and overall they have the same format of presenting all these details and attempting to do it in a reasonably readable and comprehensive manner.

Frankly I felt like both of the articles were borderlind unreadable about 4-5 paragraphs in due to the abundance of detail, and the Post gives more crucial information early on so I guess I prefer that one. They explain who Sadr is and what his significance is immediately after mentioning him, unlike putting it off like the Times article did. It's also shorter, but still manages to quote a lot of the same people. It does the same thing in less words, so I prefer the Post article here.

April 6, 2007

Greek Cruise Ship Sinks, Two Missing

According to a Reuters article published in the New York Times today, a Greek cruise ship ran onto the ground near the island of Santorini and sank, and Greek rescuers are still looking for two missing French tourists. Over 1000 other passengers were safely evacuated, and the ship was due to return Friday before running aground and eventually sinking. Coastguard crews were cleaning up an oil slick caused by the accident.

The article is short and summarizes the main actions. The most important part of the story other than the ship actually running aground and sinking is the missing tourists. Both are mentioned in the lead. Details about the accident and the people are then given, as well as quotes from officials dealing with the situation. Direct attribution is used from officials talking about the situation and what is being done about the missing people. The article ends by recalling a tragedy in 2000 where 82 people died on a Greek ferry similar to this one and standards were forced to increase. It's a short piece that gets the essential information across and does the story justice.

An Associated Press article published by MSNBC
goes into a bit more detail with the story, giving more figures about measurements of the ship and how the rock it hit formed. The fact that the two missing passengers are father and daughter is mentioned immediately, padding the lead with information I don't feel is entirely necessary. The figures also differ from the Reuters article, listing around 1600 rescued instead of 1100. The recounting of the scene however is much more vivid, and almost constructs more of a narrative and gives a picture of what the scene must have been like.

For this reason I prefer the Associated Press Article. It is a bit lengthier than would be necessary for an article like this, but they use this length to paint a vivid picture of the scene and construct a somewhat compelling narrative.

April 4, 2007

University of Minnesota Student Dies After Falling From a Parking Ramp

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that a firstyear University of Minnesota student died early on Sunday after falling from the third floor of a parking garage. University of Minnesota police are investigating the incident, and it is believed to be accidental. It is unknown at this point if alcohol was a factor. After the situation is described, quotes from family members regarding the student's interests and life are given.

This is a simple, short obituary style piece that deals with the story in a succinct way. The exact cause of the student's fall is unknown, but the incident is described in the best detail possible after the lead has been established and following a paragraph that has the student's father describing him. After the details of the incident are established, family members are quoted and talk about the students skills and interests, giving the piece a very personal touch. It ends with the funeral information. Direct attribution is used and quotes are given from the boy's family and the police chief at the university.

The Pioneer Press takes what I feel is a more effective approach to the lead, opening with "A University of Minnesota student died" instead of "Police are investigating..", which gets the point across quicker. The incident is also described in more detail, as are the actions taken to try and save the student. The incident is mentioned alongside the death of another student last weekend, who drowned, and a statement from the vice provost of student affairs is given. Quotes from the student who fell's father are again used, though the article goes into less depth about his life than the Star Tribune did.

Of the two articles I prefer the Pioneer Press' coverage. It's a seemingly simple story to cover, but I think their lead choice as well as their mentioning it alongside another student death makes the story more effective and memorable, with the quote from the vice provost of the university used to good effect. The two papers handled it with a surprisng amonut of variation considering the incident.

Fundraising Efforts For Both Democratic Candidates About Even

An article published by the New York Times has indicated that the amount of donations received by Senator Barack Obama for his bid at democratic candidacy is comparable to the amount received by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The article lacks concrete figures, but says that he came from behind to raise an amount that is close to that put forth by Clinton. The article traces Obama's political career and past fundraising efforts, ending by saying that several large Clinton supporters have become donators to his compaign and that Obama is actually favored in Clinton's hometown of Chicago.

The article suffers a bit due to not really talking about what the headline mentions. It's essentially an overview of Obama's political career up to this point, with quotes from those involved in his past efforts and successes testifying in his favor, for the most part. The article opens with a type of narrative that resents a situation comparable to now that took place in 2002, with Obama running for senator and in a position without a lot of funding. It then connects the story to the present day, outlines that, and then jumps back into a history of his political career. There is attribution used in the article from those who have worked with him, but Obama himself denied to be interview for the piece.

An article on the same subject written with the Associated Press ran in Forbes and focuses much more on the situation at hand. It lists the amount of donations Obama received as being 25 million, compared to Clinton's 26 million donations. It also says that Obama's donations came from 100,000 people, half of whom used the internet. After establishing key information, it explains each candidate's donation solicitation strategy and generally confines itself to talking about this particular situation happening right now, going really in-depth about the process of fundraising and earning donations for each candidate.

I prefer the Associated Press article because it contains specifics and actually talks about each candidate's fundraising. The New York Times piece is longer and probably researched more, but it's much more of an overview of Obama's political career than a slice of a current event, which is a problem. It doesn't list specifics and the main news point seems to be overshadowed by the rest of it, in my opinion.

April 2, 2007

New York Times Correction Page Examples - 04/02/07

For a paper regarded as one of the best in the country, the New York Times still has its share of mistakes when reporting stories and makes the corrections availiable online at http://www.nytimes.com/ref/pageoneplus/corrections.html. The corrections cover a range of articles and dates, and it appears as though the list is changed every day as the errors are discovered.

One such correction is listed this way, "A front-page article on March 9 about Reading First, the Bush administration’s program for low-income children, referred imprecisely to the involvement of G. Reid Lyon in the National Reading Panel, which recommended effective ways to teach reading. Dr. Lyon, a former head of a branch of the National Institutes of Health, advised his former boss, Dr. Duane Alexander, about candidates nominated for the panel. The final selection of members did not rest with Dr. Lyon; the law creating the panel called for Dr. Alexander to make that decision." This correction refers to a specific story and corrects what the article claimed the role an individual served was. The article was incorrect, the paper was probably contacted with the correct information, and the correction was published.

Another correction listed on the page is "A front-page article on Thursday about criticism of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales by federal prosecutors who questioned the firings of eight United States attorneys omitted a reporting credit. Rachel Mosteller contributed from Houston, where Mr. Gonzales was speaking; the article was written from Washington." This correction signifies that a reporter who contributed to the story was neglected when the paper was crediting reporters, and the paper was correcting this error by acknowledging his contribution.

Sometimes factual mistakes are made as well, as in this instance, "A sports article on Thursday about Jim Harrick, the former college basketball coach who is now the head coach in California of the Bakersfield Jam in the N.B.A.’s Development League, misstated the name of a competing team in the state. It is the Anaheim Arsenal, not the Admirals." The article got the name of the team incorrect, a basic piece of factual information. Correcting these mistakes and pointing them out is key to maining a paper's reputation and keeping its journalistic integrity at a level that people will be able to trust it at.

Earthquake Hits Off Coast of Solomon Islands; 12 Dead

According to a news article posted on Reuters.com, an earthquake has triggered a tsunami off the coast of the Solomon islands in the South Pacific, killing 12 people and leaving others missing. The quake was shallow and had a magnitude of around 8.0, a very severe quake, and triggered a tsunami around 2 stories tall. The tsunami hit residential areas and destroyed homes, and government/red cross disaster teams are working in the area to give aid to those who need it. It is expected that more quakes are to follow, as the Solomon islands are located in an area prone to extensive volcanic and earthquake activity.

Reuters reports the story by describing the events and giving facts and figures, intially. The lead gets across the main event with ease, then gives figures and talks about how the quake progressed. Solomon Islands' government officials are quoted, and Australia's reaction to the event is given, that being that they put out a warning out of fear of a repeat of a previous tsunami threat. The second chunk of the article gives some reaction from residents of the islands, and figures/predictions by the expert seismologists saying that more quakes in the coming days are likely.

An article on the same event was published in the New York Times and featured contributions from the Associated Press. At the time this article was published, exact death numbers were uncertain. There's also not as much data in the article that compares it to similar, past storms like the Reuters article. However, after giving the basic information, the article does an excellent job of introducing the human element that people can relate to, by giving the personal accounts and reactions of people who lived through the disaster, which is its strongest point. It also gives some technical information about plates being what caused the quake and tsunami, something the Reuters article left out.

I feel like I prefer the New York Times' work getting the personal accounts, but there's more concrete and definite information in the Reuters article, so in that respect I think Reuters is better. Each succeeds at different things but I guess I'd prefer the Reuters one.