November 25, 2007

Suspects re-arrested in Holloway's disappearance

Three men initially arrested after American high school student Natalee Holloway went missing in Aruba in May 2005 have been taken into custody again by Aruban authorities. Now, officials say there is enough evidence to prove Holloway is no longer alive, and that these men are responsible. The case was heavily followed by the media, and has remained a top headline-maker since Holloway disappeared. Again, the arrests have become a top story, and the public is anxious to see what the new evidence is. In a piece from NBC's Today, the story was reported largely from the angle of Joran van der Sloot's attorney. Van der Sloot is the main suspect in Holloway's alleged death, and is charged with involuntary manslaughter -- consistent with accidental, unintentional death -- a point which his legal counsel emphasized. Uniquely, this piece described in greater detail the legal processes and standards of Aruba, where any criminal proceedings would take place, providing a valuable context for the reader now and as the case progresses. In a CNN piece, reporters focused more heavily on case background and the arrest developments. Instead of focusing on the typical "he-said, she-said" nature of cases like this, the story's central aim is to eduate readers about what type of evidence the new arrest-spurring material is likely comprised of. Each story took a twist on the traditional newsy-type angle of this often-sensationalized story, which helped lend credence to its importance in being covered, as opposed to overdoing it, as has been done with this case and others similar to it in the past.

November 18, 2007

German school rampage thwarted

In Koeln, Germany, two high-school students were apparently planning to kill many at their school before turning weapons on themselves, both CNN and MSNBC (via the Associated Press) reported. CNN reported the story much more conservatively, attributing nearly everything to German outlets or investigators, whereas the MSNBC/AP story was more detailed, graphic and liberal in its presentation of the so-called "facts." CNN is likely more conservatively reported because its writer pulled together information from other outlets and liaisons in Germany, rather than using its own resources and clout to get exact information straight from the horse's -- or official's -- mouth, like the AP is recognized for doing.

October 28, 2007

First lady claims victory in Argentina

Interestingly, in two different Associated Press reports written by the same AP writer, different information is conveyed about Argentina's new leader. In the piece run by the Pioneer Press, writer Bill Cormier writes succinctly about the most notable political accomplishments of the newest world leader's life, mostly in chronological order. In the second piece, found on AP-laden Yahoo! News, Cormier's work is vastly elaborated upon, with ties to U.S. government officials, such as Hillary Clinton. Since the Pioneer Press is not necessarily meant to cover such things, a more brief version of the story might have been the more appropriate approach; certainly a piece as long as Cormier's second wouldn't run in the print issue unless there was a major snafu with assessing available space for stories. But for Yahoo! News, an outlet many look to for relatively in-depth and informative news of the world, the lengthier piece fit right in. The disparity between local news outlets and general news outlets is apparent in this case, and also understandable.

October 8, 2007

Diana inquest jury visits site of Paris crash

An inquest jury looking into the specific cause of Princess Diana's 1996 death visited the site of her death in Paris this week. The group is touring sites relevant to the investigation, which aims to place blame for the deaths of Diana and her companion, Dodi Fayed. The Associated Press article focuses centrally on the conspiracy theories behind Diana's death, including that the driver of Diana's Mercedes was intoxicated and tipped off paparazzi that Diana and her boyfriend -- supposedly her fiancee as of that night, according to Fayed's millionaire father -- were leaving. Some sources attribute the crash to the photographers' aggressive pursuit of the pair. The Reuters piece focuses mostly on the inquest and inquest procedure, spending little time detailing the possible what-ifs and the sensational speculation many have expressed since the incident. Each article has a certain newsworthiness and a certain appeal, though the Associated Press' attention to details surrounding Diana's actual death is likely more compelling than the Reuters piece centrally about the legal proceedings of the jury. The sensational nature of a princess dying in the way Diana did is compelling in itself, and conspiracy surrounding such a surprising death adds to the mystique. Undoubtedly, this story extends beyond the realm of celebrity news, though it is undeniable that its main appeal is its glamour and star quality.

September 10, 2007

Focus shifts to parents in Madeleine McCann disappearance

In Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, the report about the highly covered Madeleine McCann disappearance included previously reported material cited as being from various Portuguese newspapers. As long as the already-reported information is cited and properly attributed, it strengthens the Daily Mail's individualized story. Without the content from the Portuguese newspapers, the story from the Daily Mail wouldn't be as compelling. Similarly, the British newspaper's original reporting enhanced the story because it became more localized and meaningful to the Daily Mail's target audience -- not to mention more thorough and more informative and content-filled. The reporting was remarkably unbiased, considering the high-profile nature of this case, which has drawn international coverage and has propelled Madeleine McCann and her now-accused parents, Gerry and Kate, celebrity status.

In the brief piece in the Belfast Telegraph centering on the naming of the McCann parents as suspects, the reporter succinctly and subtly seems to back the parents despite Portuguese police's serious allegations of their responsibility for their four-year-old daughter's murder. The article is one-sided, talking only of the parents' frustration and exasperation at being the focus of what has essentially become a disappearance-turned-abduction-turned-murder investigation. This is relatively obvious, and would be more noteworthy if they expressed disinterest at being named suspects. Moreover, the charges are not discussed in detail, thereby minimizing them and reducing the side of the police in favor of the McCanns.

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