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Analysis: CAR

In an four part investigation of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., America's second largest railroad, by the Star Tribune, the reporter used computer assisted reporting.

The reporters pooled many court documents to pull this article series together. The provide the documents they refer to in PDF links alongside the article. They write an article about the whole controversy with the BNSF Corp., but also provide a different type of media each day for four days.

The first day they use an interactive map to show readers the BNSF Corp.'s past history with the courts in seven states, including Minn. The court documents are again provided.

The second day the reporters a side story about one particular case involving two dead workers. It gives a specific example of how the main article is relevant to others. This means the reporters went through court documents and after analyzing certain cases, furthered reported on specific people.

The reporter's go on to give the readers different pieces of the puzzle and let them put it all together.

Analysis: Numbers

The Star Tribune ran a story on the rising commodity costs affecting the prices of many common grocery items.

The writer uses numbers while explaining different things throughout the article. Because numbers can become confusing, the writer begins by demonstrating the message of the article, listing some companies who are expected to raise prices in the next year. This way, even if the reader gets lost by numbers, they understand right away what it all means for them.

The writer focuses a good deal on inflation, and uses numbers throughout the whole article to back up his statements. He pads the numbers with quotes from businesses explaining the cause and effect of the numbers presented. In this way, the writer once again gives his readers an escape. If they don't understand the numbers, they still get explanation of what the numbers mean for them.

The writer attributes his sources clearly after numbers are used in the story.

Analysis: News Obituaries

The New York Times posted an obituary for Artie WIlson. It uses the standard obituary lead, noting the name of the person, a notable characteristic, where and when he died, and how old he was.

The rest of the obituary also follows the classic obituary format, following the lead with the claim to fame section and the chronology section.

The only attributed source in the article is Wilson's wife Dorothy. She is attributed in the second paragraph where the cause of death is announce, and she is quoted at the end of the article. The rest of the article is full of information that is easily verified and therefore doesn't need to be attributed.

The obituary differs from a resume because it is much more than a simple list of accomplishments. Anecdotes are used to create a snapshot of the person's life and attitude. It is much more personal.

Analysis: Speeches/Meetings

The Star Tribune ran a story on the speech given by President Obama at a rally for DFL candidate Mark Dayton.

The speech was covered by multiple staff reporters, and gives a first-hand account of the rally, including the energy in the crowd and the way the president conducted himself.

The writers included some full quotes, adding to it with their own observations. This particular coverage is more about the speech and the response to the rally by students and the other Minnesotan gubernatorial candidates.

Analysis: Multimedia

The Star Tribune's multimedia section has a full range of options including video, podcasts, and slide shows and photo galleries. The videos complement the news in different ways. Some videos are connected to a story, letting the reader go deeper after reading what is printed, but others are stand alone shows like the one called "newsbreaks". These videos are short stories that resemble broadcast news. The writing that accompanies the pictures in the photo galleries is simple, but effective.

CNN mainly offers video on their sites aside from the pictures that accompany some of the stories. The captions for the pictures are usually only two sentences, or less, and simply describe the picture and ties it into the story. They compliment what is written in the body of the story. CNN's videos act as a deeper or more emotional look into many of the topics it also writes about. One video on the miners rescued in Chile showed the scene before and after the rescue, and made it more personal for the reader.

Analysis: Structure

In a story posted by the Twin Cities Daily Planet, a GOP related group in Minnesota is accused of avoiding campaign finance laws.

The story is structured using the inverted pyramid. The writer summarizes the story in a general way for the reader in the lead, followed by a paragraph that refreshes the lead with the names of the groups and a few more specific details.

The important event is that the charges have been made, so that is placed in the lead. The actual charges are explained in a later paragraph. In this way, the reader can read on to learn the specifics of the story, but can choose to stop after a couple of paragraphs, or even the lead, and still know the basics of the story.

It is effective in getting the pertinent information to the reader. The writer could use a different style of writing, but as it's a story about law and finance, and not actual people, it would be difficult to use a feature story style. Sticking to a hard news format is the best for this story. It is also nice because updates can be made easily to the story as people are interviewed and information comes in.

Analysis: News Lead In a Star Tribune Article

The Star Tribune recently did an article focusing on a man missing from Roseville and its lead was effective, but could have added more information.

The lead for this particular story fulfilled the "who" and the "what" criteria, at least in general. The following paragraph gives us the information to fill in the "when" and "where", and goes into greater detail about the "who" and "what". The news values used in the lead are proximity and immediacy. We don't know who this man is, but we do know that he is missing, and that he lived close to us. It has happened recently, and the Star Tribune was updated on Sunday with new information, keeping the immediacy present.

The lead is a straight-forward hard news lead. In a later follow up article, the writer allows a little more room to play with emotions, but for the initial report, the Star Tribune delivers simply the facts.

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