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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.

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.

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.

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.

April 4, 2007

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.

March 26, 2007

Attorney General Continues to Lose Support, Remains Backed By White House

United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales continues to deny that he played little role in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, in spite of a growing body of evidence that supports the contrary, reports an article in the New York Times. Gonzales denies being told about the dismissal plan and claims to have left it up to his chief of staff to plan, but documents released reveal that he was told about it on at least two seperate occasions. The discrepancies netween the written record and Gonzales' claims have lead to calls for him to step down from his post from those in Congress. The rest of the Bush administration, however, continues to support the attorney general. A major turning pointi n the issue is expected Thursday when Gonzales' former chief of staff is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Committee, with Gonzales testifying next month.

The nature of this story is that it is detailed and tied up in all sorts of administrative departments, with the credibility of our nation's own government officials being called into question. There is a clear path that the story follows, with the story first detailing what has happened up to this point to bring Gonzales into doubt. The article seems to serve as a means of recapping the events that have already happened, with a special emphasis on the conflicting relationship between newly discovered documents and Gonzales' statements about the situation. Statements from Gonzales are reprinted in the article, and Bush is quoted, showing his apparently unrelenting support for the man. The article ends on the note speculating about the potential ramifications of his upcoming testimony, which a republican senator is quoted as saying will be a "make or break" day for Gonzales.

An Associated Press article about the story running in the Seattle Times is much shorter, giving only the barebones essentials of the story and almost no direct quotes. However, it gives the crucial information in much less space, which is important. The only direct attribution given is from a longtime colleague of Gonzales', calling him innocent.

While the New York Times article is obviously better reported and written not only structurally but simply because it gives more information, the Associated Press article is worth paying attnetiopn to because it delivers the necessary information in a much more concise way, and it really could be argued that a lot of the other stuff is superfluous given the nature of the story and the events involved.

March 19, 2007

Pet Food Recalled After Link to Kidney Failure in Animals FEATURING NUMBERS!!

An article published in the New York Times has reported on a demanded recall of over 60 million cans of dog and cat food produced by an Ontario company called Menu Foods. The pet foods were produced between early December and early March, and have been linked to the deaths of 10 animals nationwide due to kidney failure. The company shipped to stores such as Walmart and Safeway, and produced foods for brans such as Iams and Purina.

The article aims to provide a general overview of the information surrounding the recall, with no real information on kidney failure being provided and no straight attribution given from officials involved, but rather paraphrased information. The focus is just on identifying the main issues involved and providing a general summary of the events.

About the same style of story is given on a piece written about the recall in the Washington Post. There is a bit more detail in the story about the exact reach of the company, and the specific type of food recalled, and the same information is given from the company spokeswoman attributing the potential cause of the kidney failure to a switch in gluten suppliers to the company.

The two articles do an adequate job of reportingo n the situation, and there's really no difference between them. The New York Times article might be a bit longer and give a little more information about the isssue, but it's nothing substantial and I think both probably used similar sourcing anyway. Their formats are also pretty similar, so there's really no better or worse between the two of them.

Numbers are used in the articles to give an idea of the extent of the problem, the recall is huge and 60 million is listed as the approximate number of units recalled, which is immense. Numbers are also used when describing the amount of animals afflicted, and are mostly just statistics that show what has happened with the story at this point. They're not like statistics or odds or budgets or anything, just facts.

March 5, 2007

Bush's Planned Trip to Latin America to Be Met With Opposition

A Reuters article pushlished today has written that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez plans to lead a leftist rally the same day President Bush is due to visit the neighboring country of Uruguay. Many Argentine activist groups are going to be attending and participating in the event, which they have described as an "alternative message" to U.S. policies in the region. Activists speculate that Bush's visit may be serving as an attempt to break up the Mercusor trade bloc and establishing a free-trade deal with the United States.

The article is relatively short, but lays out all the key histories and people involved. The lead focuses on the upcoming rally, and the article goes on to establish the cause and the upcoming event, quoting activists against it, and establishing their motivations. It's a succinct piece that summarizes the events and their origins.

An Associated Press article about Bush's upcoming visit to Latin America also focuses on the problems he'll face, and how the U.S. has been accused of ignoring the region. The latter half of the article focuses on the issue of Chavez and the rally, establishing that Chavez sides with Castro and sees Bush's visit as an attempt to cause problems in the region. Political experts are quoted and Bush's objectives are given, and the article generally seems to use more quotes and information than the short Reuters article, which means there's more information for those committed to it.

Between the two articles I think the AP article is the better of the two, because of the level of information it gives a reader about the issue. For something that could very well have a significant impact on U.S. relations with the region, Bush's visit to this area should be covered with the level of depth it gives, and the quotes and extra information help with this.

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.

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.

February 12, 2007

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 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.

January 29, 2007

Gray Wolves No Longer Endangered in U.S.

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

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

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

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

January 23, 2007

Support For Stem-Cell Research Grows

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

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

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

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