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February 22, 2007

Same Story, varying headlines

I noticed a story on the Star Tribune's website that is an AP story about national test scores are unimpressive however grades are improving. I googled this topic to look for other stories on this topic but I was only able to find the same AP story on several different sites. I did, however notice that the headlines for each story was different and in some cases changed the immediate interpretation of the story. I thought I would break the mold from previous blogs and look at the varying headlines on the same story.

Star Tribune: Test scores lag as grades improve, reports say. In this headline they use an attribution in the headline, which I do not think I see very often. Furthermore they mention BOTH test scores and grades. They mention the test scores lagging but then mention the improving grades. They do not focus solely on the bad. Furthermore there was no attribution in the headline

High School Test Sores Unimpressive: This headline takes a straight shot at the test scores and does not use a soft word like 'lag.' They just boldly say that the test scores are unimpressive. Furthermore they do not mention the fact that grades are improving. They are giving the reader the 'bad' and none of the 'good'

High school test scores unimpressive yet grades, transcripts improving: This headline, much like that of the Strib story mentions the test scores as well as the grades. However this headline goes further to mention that student's transcripts are improving as well. They mention the poor test scores than somewhat balance that out to the reader by showing them that grades and transcripts are improving. By showing one negative aspect but two positive aspects its as if they want a more positive connotation associated with the story. Also, like the previous headline, there is no attribution.

I found this blog very interesting that the same AP story could contain three very different headlines. It is interesting how different they all can be. I do not think any of the headlines perfectly encapsulated the story however I do think the Star Tribunes is the best. They mention the test scores as well as the grade and use attribution. The other two either do not offer enough information in the headline or use too much.

Wolves collapse vs Bobcats

The Minnesota Timberwolves gave up a 17 point second quarter lead to the Charlotte Bobcats and lost 100-95. Charlotte rookie Adam Morrison scored 26 second-half points including 15 in the fourth quarter, outscoring the entire Wolves team who only managed 14 points in said quarter.

Star Tribune beat writer Steve Aschburner did a great job encapsulating the team’s woes into his column after the game. Not just focusing on the loss of the game but the team’s struggles to gel at this late stage of the season. He uses a delayed lead that is very effective and timely by talking about today’s 2pm trade deadline. This encourages the reader to continue reading because as any NBA player knows the trade deadline is a very crucial part of any season. Another thing Steve does well is uses the quotes from the coaches effectively, I will get to more of this later on in the blog. http://www.startribune.com/511/story/1016878.html

This story was also covered by the AP. I read this article on ESPN.Com. This article obviously takes a look at both teams and does not focus solely on the Timberwolves. Since this is a national piece the writer obviously focuses on the biggest story, that being of Adam Morrison. Adam Morrison was the national college player of the year last year and has thus far struggled in his rookie campaign. However scoring 26 points in a half to single-handedly beat a team will silence any naysayer. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=270221016

Both sources included quotes from head coach Randy Wittman and Adam Morrison. I was also at this game, covering it for the station in which I intern. I was there during both interviews in which quotes are used. Steve Aschburner did a much better job of getting the quotes accurate than the AP did.
-"I'm tired of guys pouting on the floor during games because of whatever, not enough minutes, not enough touches, not enough shots. You cannot do that and win games." ,

-"Our frame of mind is more focused on me rather than we," Wittman said. "We were up 17 and really kind of had control of the game, and got caught up in 'Am I getting enough shots? Is the ball touching my hands enough?' We quit playing.?

Those last two quotes are from Aschburner’s Strib column and are completely accurate. There are other times in which Asch may not have gotten a complete quote and just uses words in quotes like “pout?

The AP however uses this quote, "I'm tired of guys pouting on the floor, during the game," said Wittman, whose team had just two assists in the second half after piling up 19 before halftime. "You cannot do that during games. Give me guys that have no talent, and you're going to lose the game but go down fighting. We didn't go down fighting tonight."

Here the writer uses this as an exact quote, but this was not the exact way he said it. The writer took it upon himself to correct the grammar of the coach as well as take pieces out. While he did not change the overall theme of the what the coach was saying, this is definitely not an exact quote as I remember it.

February 12, 2007

Explosion near U.S. base in Japan

A small explosion on a U.S. Army base South of Tokyo took place today with no injuries or damage.

There is an AP story in the Star Tribune, this breaking story and was added to the site just minutes ago. The lead properly explains the situation and has proper atribution however the final sentence of the lead "A Japanese news report said police suspected an attempted attack on the base." could have been shorter or put somewhere else in the story. Overall, the lead was rather long. The story does do a good job of explaining what took place as well as getting quotes from the proper people in the story.

An AP article also appeared on this topic in the International Herald Tribune. Their lead contains information that the other AP story did not even have, that someone was arrested on suspect. Otherwise the articles length and information is fairly comparable to the other AP story. This one gets more in depth into the possibility of the attack being carried out by extremists and also gets into past occurences.

For being a story that just broke both articles did a good job of handling the information. However I would obviously favor the one in the International Herald Tribune do to the fact that they have more information on the story that the other article does not contain.

St Paul Fire

A 29 year old man was killed after a grease fire got out of control in his kitchen trapping him inside.

An article was written about this story in the Star Tribune on Feb 11 and was rather brief, only 7 paragraphs long. The lead starts out by saying 'authorities believe' and so do the paragraphs that follow. Never once is it state who exactly these authorities are. The story does have a good quote from a St Paul Fire Chief where he explains grease fires to the reader.

The Pioneer Press also covered this story and it came out today (monday) so the information is much more detailed. The lead contains much of the same information however it is more specific and has no attribution in it whatsoever. Furthermore since the article was written later the victims name was released as were many other specific details into the story and how the fire started.

For a 'breaking news' type story the Trib did a good job with obviously not a lot of information to work with. The Pioneer Press did a great indepth follow-up piece that gets into more details and has a lot more information.

Mauer Gets Paid

Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins catcher, avoided salary arbitration with the Twins when he signed a 4-year 33 million dollar contract extension. The deal will ensure that he is on the Twins when the new stadium opens in 2010. The contract is weighted as such that he will receive 3.75 million next year and earn 12.75 million the final year of the contract.

A local article that wrote about this news was in the StarTribune and was written by Joe Christenson. The writer has a very long awkward lead, delaying the news. It is not until the fourth paragraph that he actually announces what took place. The reader does not care that Joe was planning on playing golf with fellow Twin JD Durbin, they care that their star catcher just signed a long-term contract. The article did do a great job fully explaining the situation as well as getting into the details of the contract. Furthermore the addition of quotes from Twins GM Terry Ryan was very beneficial to the story.

I also read an AP article about this on ESPN.Com. The lead was much more direct and to the point than the Tribunes. They announce the contract in the lead and then later get to less newsworthy items such as he plans on celebrating with teammates over the weekend. The article has quotes from Mauer that were attributed from other articles, Mauer himself did not comment specifically on that story as it states midway through the article. The AP story does a surprisingly good job of going through the local MInnesota side of the story as well.

Overall I liked the Tribune article more as a reader. Although the delayed lead was rather unnecessary in my opinion it got into much more detail and into the nitty gritty aspects of baseball contracts.

February 2, 2007

Boston Bomb Hoax

A device used to promote an upcoming movie was mistook as a bomb in Boston.

An assosicated press article that I read on a Boston news site was did an alright job getting the information across to the reader. The lead in the article contained too many details. The fact that the device was specifically promoting a late night cable show and what exactly the characters were doing on the device was not information that was crucial enough for a lead. The second paragraph does get right into the person responsible for the hoax and I thought this information was very interesting to read.

Another AP article I read in the Star Tribune was far worse by comparison. The article was quite brief and did not do nearly as good a job as the article that appeared on the local Boston news site. The lead was especially way too long getting into specifics regarding the whereabouts of some of the mysterious packages. Furthermore the article was only 6 short paragraphs long. It did not seem ample for an article such as this.

In my opinion the article that ran on the Boston site was far superior to that of the one that ran in the Star Tribune. Although neither lead was that breathtaking, the Boston article did a better job communicating with the reader as to what the who, what, where and why.

Minnesota wrestling suspended

Due to a herpes break out the Minnesota State High School league has suspended high school wrestling for 8 days. The break out has infected as many as 24 wrestlers. This may be putting the State Tournament in jeopardy.

The writer for the Star Tribune story did a good job identifying the issue in his lead without being too wordy and giving away too many details. He did use the word unprecedented in his lead which may have been a bit over the top perhaps. He used good quotations from sources that were cited well and added to the story.

The associated press also covered this story and I found the article on ESPN.Com. The AP article has a similar type of lead that does not get too detailed. However the AP article did not use the word unprecedented which I thought may have been a bit much. The local article clearly gets into more details about the infection as well as uses more quotations from local officials, which is to be expected from a local article.

I think the Star Tribune columnist did a great job handling a rather important Minnesota issue. I have always been a fan of this particular Trib writer for his prep sports writing and now that I am learning more about the intricacies of news writing I am starting to appreciate him even more.