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May 3, 2007

Artic Ice Melting Faster Than Anticipated

An article published on theage.com.au has reported that the artic ice cap is melting much faster than anticipated by predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Global Climate Change. The ocean at the top of Earth could be free of ice by the year 2020, three decades sooner than anticipated. No ice on the top of the Earth like this could be a major catalyst to global warming, because ice reflects light and heat and with it gone the earth and sea will absorb it. Glaciologists believe the change is a result of greenhousr gases.

The lead establishes the main point of the article flatly, and leads into the details of the changei n prediction, 30 years ahead of schedule. The rest of the article basically hinges on statements attributed to various climate experts and glaciologists. What might be the most important detail is saved for the end of the article, with the glaciologist asserting that the levels are not a result of natural climate change, but rather due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Coverage of the story at cnn.com is much more in-depth, but covers the same basic points. It feels like it's overwhelmed by details about the study done by the panel, but at the same time it des manage to clearly convey the main points, which are that the study is anticipated to be off by 30 years, and that the change is probably due to greenhouse gases.

The CNN article is less immediately readable than the article written for The Age, and saturates the article with facts that feel superfluous. There's also not as many quotes given from people working in the field, which doesn't help it.

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.

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 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 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.

March 31, 2007

Mystery of Great Pyramid Unraveled

A Reuters article publsihed in the New Zealand Herald has reported on a French architect's new theory explaining how the Great Pyramid of Egypt was built. The pyramid, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, has puzzled historians, and previous theories regarding its construction have included the idea of using ramps along its exterior. The new theory, put forward by architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, proposes that the pyramid was built from the inside out. The theory was worked on and proven to be possible over the course of 2 years of working with a 3D design company, and now there are talks of probing the pyramid to see if this is indeed the case. Houdin reportedly spent around 8 years figuring out the theory.

Houdin is obviously quoted heavily in the article because it's his theory, and his quotes are used to flesh out the idea and give a better idea of specifically what his theory is, in the second half of the article. The article's lead is the sort of sensational lead that an article with this subject would suggest, proclaiming the news that the architect has potentially cracked the riddle. The news and research process leading up to the declaration are given, and the end of the first chunk is then written with information suggesting potential future activities, such as researching the interior of the pyramid to test this theory's viability. The second chunk of the article focuses on the specifics of Houdin's theory, and what lead up to its formation. The article ends with a quote from him about his belief in the curse that affects those who enter the tomb. Through the article Houdin is quoted along with an Egyptologist. An illustration is used to expound upon the text.

An Associated Press article on the same subject was published in The Guardian opens by immediately specifically mentioning the ramp on the inside instead of just saying inside out, which clarifies things faster. There is no direct attribution and the article is shorter, and it says that Houdin has planned non-invasive tests which is basically the exact opposite of what the other article said, which was that a team was being assembled to probe the pyramid. There's no real flow to it and it just seems like blocks of information arranged in a way the might be best, or might not.

So, I prefer the Reuters article out of the two because there are direct quotes from several individuals involved, and it just goes into more detail about the subject and ends up being more interesting to read than the general summary given by the Associated Press article. Not only that, but due to the conflicting natures of the articles, with one saying he's planning on doing non-intrusive research and the other saying that a group was looking to go inside, I am inclined to trust the Reuters article's claims because there is actually direct attribution.

March 24, 2007

France Makes UFO Archives Availiable Online

An Associated Press article published in the Star Tribune on Friday has reported that France has published the entirety of its weird sightings archives availiable online. The agency that holds the claims is known as CNES, le Centre National d'Etudes Spaciales, and France is the first country to make such archives availiable online for public perusal. When the first part of the archives went online, the website received much more traffic than initially anticipated and crashed. The oldest recorded entry dates from 1937.

The story is newsworthy because it reflects a value of novelty I suppose, being that this is the first time such reports have been made public. The article's lead is interesting because instead of leading with the news that actually happened, which might have ended up being dry, the article has a sort of narrative that lasts for about a sentence or so and segues into the news. The article then describes the extent of the archives and the organization, and what the website is and why it matters. There is attribution in the article from the man who heads the UFO department, and the article ends by describing whati s believed as one of the most credible incidents, a short narrative that is easy to read and ends the story well.

A story on the same subject run by CBC News features a much mroe straightforward approach. The lead just mentions the opening as the main event, the head of the UFO department's quotes are used again, but the article does go into a bit more detail about the content of the files, which is says consist mostly of witness testimony to the existence of the phenomena. The article also says that the website was unable to be accessed due to heavy traffic .

Between the two articles I think the Associated Press article is more interesting because it actually has a small narrative that is included, describing the situation with the childrens' encounter with supposed extra terrestrials and opening the article with the brief narrative as well as opposed to taking just a hard and drab approach to the lead.

March 9, 2007

Democrats Plan to Support Pullout of U.S. Troops From Iraq by 2008

An article published in the New York Times has reported that democrats in the senate have plans to establish a specific date and proposal for the United States to pull troops from Iraq. Republicans plan to go against the proposals, but a new democratic edge in the senate could affect the outcome. Democrats in the senate presented potential legislation Thursday that put restrictions on U.S. military operation in Iraq and prohibit military action in Iran. In addition the plan has proposed an allotted amonut of money to aid U.S. troops in recovering for tours of duty. However, the plan would cost a lot of money and it remains to be seen if it will be approved.

The article is important because it deals with something that affects our nation on such a large scale, and that is the war on Iraq. Proposing definitive legislation is a major step towards ending the conflict and is a newsworthy story. The main focus seems to obvious be on the bill itself, and the lead shows that and through the article important figures in the senate are quoted to give an idea of what the general opinion seem to be. This is probably the strongest aspect of the article, is the frequent use of quotes from senators about the bill, showing how people are reacting. It's kind of a difficult story to structure because there's no chronology and it seems hard to arrange it in order of importance, but they basically outline the bill, give some initial projected reactions, and then launch into detailing the bill and giving more quotes from figures.

The same story covered in a BBC News article covers all the same bases, but gives less quotes from figures in the senate. The article introduces the idea of the bill and the two sides involved in the issue, and then gives some of the thought behind the proposal, with a U.S. general in Iraq quoted as saying that political, not military intervention is needed.

There's no clear structure to the BBC News article and I prefer the New York Times' coverage because of the larger level of depth that it goes into. More people are quoted, more potential outcomes are delivered, and it generally seems like mroe work went into it because it's one of the nation's leading papers and has to cover U.S. centric stories with a certain level of detail.

March 3, 2007

Danish Police Continue to Battle Protestors

A Reuters article published on swissinfo.org has reported that Danish police continue to resist riots staged by youth protesting the eviction of quatters from the Copenhagen youth center. The conflict has been occurring in spurts off and on since the year 2000, when the government sold the youth center to a religious group. Officials have been countering the resistance with force and teargas, while protestors have been torching cars and vandalizing schools. Around 600 activists have been apprehended in the recent 3 days of increased activity.

This is a hard news story with a broad, worldwide scope reporting on a high level of violence that is affecting a lot of people. The scenes are described in detail, with quotes used to flesh out the history of the conflict. However, only one quote is used where there would be reason to use a lot more. The statement "and many Copenhagen residents say they support the youngsters' wish to stay in the youth house." has no quotes to support it. A history of the country and its reaction to the violence is given, which helps establish the scene for those unfamiliar, which is likely most people.

An Associated Press article published in the Chicago Sun Times also talks about the incident, but emphasizes different details. Instead of saying that police fought street battles, it says that police searched homes for activists, and it talks about the Copenhagen youth center, itself and the types of people it was a haven for, really early on, like in the lead. Police spokesmen and authories like the Justice Minister are quoted, talking about how the violence had The article also says that foreign activists are helping the radicals in their struggle.

In general it seems like the Associated Press article just has more information. There are more quotes, more histroy is given about the youth center that the struggle is taking place over, it generally just gives more information. I would say it's the better article of the two in just about every way.

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 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 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 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.

January 26, 2007

Misguided Man Madly Mauled by Mannerless Mountain Lion

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

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

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

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