December 7, 2008

Analysis of CAR

Mexico Under Siege, an ongoing story from theLos Angeles Times Web site, is an example of Computer-assisted reporting.

This multimedia presentation features an interactive map, multimedia gallery, question and answers section and a substantial list of links to related stories.

Computers have played a significant role in the creation of this story. Without them, the eye-catching and moving graphics would not be possible. Someone had to possess the skills to create such graphics, as well as update them as the ongoing story unfolds.

For example, if someone else were to die in relation to the story, the ticker counting the numbers of death would have to be increased. Also, the interactive map and the corresponding graph would need to be updated.

The map is an example of the extensive research that has been done on this topic. A computer was likely used in order to categorize and determine the cities in which drug related death occurred.

Without the use of computer software, it would be extremely time consuming and difficult to determine and accurately represent the exact number and location of all 6,836 deaths over the past two years.

November 9, 2008

Numbers Analysis

Numbers Story

The above AP report about Hurricane Paloma is from one of the blog stories. This report uses numbers in a variety of ways and it a good choice for demonstrating the differing ways of incorporating numbers in news stories.

Firstly, the reporter uses numbers to detail the strength of the hurricane. Winds have died down from over 145 mph to 30 mph. By using these numbers, it helps readers to grasp just what it might be like near the storm. The height of the waves and amount of homes wrecked are also given, helping to convey the amount of damage Cuba has sustained.

I do not find the numbers overwhelming, in fact, I think they are helpful and necessary.

There are several instances were the reporter has done some math and presented the numbers in an easy-to-understand format. For example, readers learn that "1.2 million people were evacuated" and "about one-fifth of those were taken to shelters in schools and government buildings." By using "one-fifth" it is easier for readers to grasp how many people were taken. It is simple and to the point.

Most of the numbers are attributed to Cuban authorities or the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

November 2, 2008

Obituary Analysis

Merl Saunders Obituary

This obituary, found on the New York Times website, begins with a standard obituary lead. It states who had died, what they were known for, when they died, and then ends with the short sentence, "he was 74."

The cause of death is sourced to Saunders' son.

Partly because of the length of the obituary, the standard "frame" is deviated from slightly as the story then progresses directly into the chronology section. His major accomplishment, such as playing with the Grateful Dead’s lead guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia, are then blended into this section.

The piece ends with information about the surviving family.

Overall the obituary follows the outline given in class with only slight difference. It provides a small snapshot of a man's life. It is impossible to include everything, so the writer has chosen Saunders' most notable and recognizable accomplishments.

This selectivity is a major difference between obituaries and resumes. Resumes often include all the details, as much as possible in an attempt to impress. Obituaries try to condense things down into the most basic details. So instead of listing all of Saunders' musical accomplishments, the story simply lists the highlights.

October 19, 2008

This short story is an advance for the upcoming concert by New York band, TV on the Radio. It focuses on the unique aspects of the band, the features that set them apart from their peers. For instance the article says that "not a lot of bands nowadays make records or put on shows like this arty and innovative New York quintet does."

It also plays up the bands attention to detail and how that effects the overall quality of the concert experience. There is also a tie-in for the band's latest album. Here the album is toted as being on "hipsters" best-of lists, trying to spin the album as something al the "cool people" are listening too.

The writer has presented this advance from the standpoint that this is a "cool" band worth seeing. Since that band is not bland, the writer leads readers to venture that the concert will not be either. More details or background information would have kept this advance form seeming a little more like a listing or standard press release.

Overall I believe it presents the concert with an angle and does a fair job of promoting the event. If someone was reading this without knowing of the band, I believe they would be tempted to attend the concert or at least look into the "ambient soul, funky Afrobeat, frantic punk" music.

October 12, 2008

Meeting/Press Conference Analysis

On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and Department of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman held a press conference in order to release the National Biofuels Action Plan (NBAP). The plan details the collaborative efforts of Federal agencies to accelerate the development of a sustainable biofuels industry.

The news release goes into detail on how, why, and when the plan was first developed. As a response to President Bush's plans to change the way America uses fuel in the 2007 State of the Union Address, the plan is a means in which to meet the president's goal of meaningful biofuels production by the year 2022.

The release states seven areas of research that will receive accelerated federal funds under the NBAP:
Sustainability
Feedstock Production
Feedstock Logistics
Conversion Science and Technology
Distribution Infrastructure
Blending
Environment, Health and Safety

The news report choose to focus in a specific topic that was discusses, mainly what the NBAP means for future ethanol production. In doing this, I believe the reporter chose a topic that is relevant and perhaps most familiar to readers. While the news release is informative, it is very detailed and does not lend itself well to the average reader. However, the news story gets down to what matters and simplifies to for easier reading. Seeing how the use and production of ethanol has been in the news lately, it was an appropriate choice of topic.

The news report includes a quote about how ethanol can "improve sustainability, feedstock production, feedstock logistics, our conversion of cellulosic materials into ethanol, to distribution infrastructure, blending higher inclusion of ethanol into transportation fuels and environment, health and safety considerations."

The report also informs readers that the NBAP calls for the use of higher ethanol blends in cars and that in doing so we move "toward more ethanol in our transportation fuels reduces our dependence on foreign oil, improves the environmental foot print." This selected quote is relevant and timely to the publics concerns of high gas prices and the government's plans for the future.

October 5, 2008

Analysis of Spot News and Follows

Using the two stories on the UW-Madison marching band suspension, one can see how am ongoing news story progresses as more information is available.

The first story from the AP gives reader the basic information on the story. The information is packaged for a large news audience. The lead deals with the main facts: the band was suspended for hazing.

The story then details the fact that a band must sit-out and important game and has quotes from the band's director on his decision to suspend the band.

The second story, while was from a local news source, gives more in-depth information on the story and offers additional details on what was done in the bands absence. As this story is for a local audience, it can be more specific and personal than the first, more generalized, story.

The news is advanced by the inclusion of quotes from band member's parents and those involved with Saturday's game who were affected by the band's suspension.

The second lead focuses on the official investigation efforts, giving the reader additional information not available and the time of the original report. Instead of just noting the suspension, it details how the bands 300 members are being individually interviewed.

September 28, 2008

Structure Analysis

Star Tribune News Story

The above story is a straight-forward news story. It begins with a standard lead. The lead includes all the basic information, or the 5 W's. It explains the most important detail for the most part. One thing that I am unsure about though, is the last line "in an area that is popular with bicyclists." I am not really sure what this adds to the leas. Perhaps this would be better mentioned later on in the story.

Moving on, the next paragraph focuses on more specific details. The bicyclist is named and the exact time of the accident is reported.

From here the report moves on to a move detailed overview of the accident in question. This seems like an appropriate place for this information to me as it is not as critical as the above facts but still ought to be placed higher in the story than say, the victim's personal interests. More information about the victim, such as her address and spouse do appear in the last paragraph.

The reported ordered this information in the ways that have been discussed in class, start with the most important facts and work your way down the inverted pyramid. The location of the accident and the victim's name, if known, should be reported before the victim's address. I believe this is an effective way to write this news story.

Could it have been done differently? Yes, if one wanted to move away from a traditional news story format. One could start with more details about the victim and fashion a more feature-oriented piece. By focusing more on the woman and less on the accident itself, it does change the tone of the story. Less hard news and more feature.

September 21, 2008

The article from the Washington Post focusing on the proposed abortion ban uses a variety of sources in several different ways.

The reporter used direct quotes from people on both sides of the debate, as well as telling readers about them without the use quotes. These attributions are spread out through out the story and correspond with the surrounding information.

As an example from the article, the reporter chose to name a woman and start the article with her personal story Her general information is given first, without any direct quotes. As discussed in class, she is quoted when her words are most powerful-

"I was not going to bury two of my babies," Campbell remembers thinking. "If I can intervene and save one of my babies, I'm going to do it."

In this instance, I am not sure if "remembers thinking" is the best choice of words as she did not "remember" this quote, she said it. Though I believe the reader understands the context.

The reporter goes on to use direct quotes from those on both sides of the ban including doctors and anti-abortion activists.

I believe that overall the layout and choice of quotes makes for and interesting and easily understood story. The reported credited sources wherever nessecary using the techniques discussed in class, such as putting the noun before the verb "said."

Overall the article does not feel quote heavy and the attributions offer insider information into the situation in South Dakota.

September 14, 2008

Bullet may have traveled five blocks to strike Minneapolis Girl

The lead- "An 11-year-old girl is recovering after being shot in the leg while playing in the backyard of her South Minneapolis home on Thursday — but police aren't exactly sure how it happened."

This lead appears to be a fairly straight-forward news lead. In one sentence, the writer sums up the story using the 5 Ws:

Who was involved? A young girl.
What happened? She was shot in the leg.
Where? The backyard of her South Minneapolis home.
When? Thursday night.
Why? Police are unsure.

This lead does add more information than what appears to be the traditional news leads, such as the girl's age and the fact that she was playing in the backyard at the time of the incident. In my opinion, this additional information helps to draw readers into the rest of the story. An 11-year-old being shot is not an everyday occurrence, especially one innocently playing in her own backyard. Mentioning these details in the first sentence brings out questions of whether or not one is safe on their own property, how one can protect their children, and fears about what lies beyond the perimeters of our own backyards.