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Analysis: Computer-Assisted Reporting

In NICAR's article about the flooding of the Red River in Fargo, multiple computer-assisted reporting techniques are used.
The article is providing resources for covering floods, and uses databases to help cover the flood, localize the story, and allow the reader to see how well-equipped their town is for a flood or other disaster. Tipsheets are also frequently used and cited throughout the article, providing quick and accessible information concerning the flood.
For the article, the writer would need a strong knowledge of databases. They are referenced multiple times, and are crucial for covering floods. Databases such as Storm Events, the National Inventory of Dams and the National Bridge Inventory are relevant resources to the article and the flood coverage.
Besides knowing how to access databases, knowing how to navigate them is crucial as well. They can sometimes be overwhelming, and the writer would need to know which databases to use and how to extract the most important information from them. Knowing how to use them properly will allow the writer to communicate why they are helpful, and explain the importance to the reader.

Analysis: Numbers

In an article about low numbers of veterans applying for better benefits, numbers are used accurately, effectively, and emphasize the point.
In the lead, they use relational terms, saying that only "a fraction" of veterans have applied for an increase in benefits.
However, from there, they become much more specific. The reporter states that only 921 out of 77,000 veterans have applied for these benefits.
The author also discusses disability ratings in the article. The author makes sure to explain what this is, and what the ratings mean, so as not to confuse the reader. Thus, a rating of under 30 percent disabled with less than 20 years of service receive only a one-time severance payment. Without this explanation, I would have had no idea what this rating meant, or its importance.
The reporter used some math, mainly to calculate percentages throughout the article. Percentages are used often, and effectively emphasize points.
The source of the numbers all come from the Physical Disability Board of Review, and this is stated directly in the article.

Analysis: obituary of Jim Marshall

When looking at the obituary of Jim Marshall, a rock 'n' roll photographer, the New York Times obituary style is used.
The lead states who he is, an identifying characteristic, when and where he died, and how old he was at the time of his death. In continuing with the New York Times style, the second paragraph outlines the cause of death, and more details surrounding the death.
His claim to fame section outlines his accomplishments and why he is well-known, and the chronology details his early life.
Finally, his is not survived by any family members, and this is stated in the article.
The obituary uses quotes from Marshall himself, specifically from his autobiography. The quotes by Marshall explain his photography style and what he looks for when taking a picture. Besides Marshall, quotes by John Coltrane are used, though these are from past interviews. It seems the only source the writer actually spoke with was Gail Buckland, who was the curator of a show of Marshall's photography.

Analysis: Speeches/Meeting

When looking at a press release concerning Gov. Tim Pawlenty's health care plan for low income individuals, and a news report covering the same topic, many key differences emerge.
In the press release, released by the state, there is little background given, and only the plans for the health care plan is revealed. It also focuses solely on the good, and does not acknowledge any difficulties or problems that may arise from the new plan.
In the news report, the story is more fleshed out. Background is given, and different points of view are discussed. For example, the decisions reached came after months of arguments, and after two vetoes by Gov. Pawlenty. This was not discussed at all in the press release.
Furthermore, protests surrounding the agreement by hospital executives, poverty advocates and Roman Catholic bishops were also discussed.
Pawlenty has been very critical of the General Assistance Medical Care program in the past, and the news report focused heavily on this as well. It presented the agreement as controversial, and the settling of a huge dispute, unlike the press release.
Overall, the press release merely stated the basic facts, while the news report found the story behind the facts.

Analysis: Multimedia

When comparing the multimedia options of the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, several differences emerge. I thought it would be interesting to compare two papers that cater to the same audience and are both local. While both have different multimedia options, the way they are approached vary.
The Star Tribune has several different multimedia options. These options include video, podcasts, slide shows, photo galleries, audio, news graphics, NewsBreak, and reader submitted photos and videos. These options are presented in the stories, as well as extras. They add depth to the stories, and allow readers to interact and feel more connected to the story. When looking at the website, it appears that multimedia is used often by the Star Tribune, and many stories are presented with a multimedia option.
The Pioneer Press on the other hand, does not have as many multimedia features. They only have video and photographs, with podcasts and interactive features "coming soon". The options do not seem to be as integrated into the stories, and there are fewer options and features available.
The writing on the slideshows are similar to what was discussed in class. They are typically two sentences, with the first one telling what is going on in the picture, and the second one giving more details and reporting the story. They are written in the present tense, and focus on a specific theme.

Analysis: Spot and follows

In the article about three teens girls killed after being hit by a train, the first-day story reported only the facts and provided few details. In the follow-up story the next day, there were more details, and the event was presented as a story.
In the lead, for example, the follow-up article presents more of a story. It describes the howl of the whistle, the sunset, the helplessness of the friend who watched his other friends get run over. It is more emotional and adds a touch of human interest. It describes what they were doing leading up to the accident, and how oblivious they were to the danger ahead. In the first-day story, this was not reported.
The follow-up contains quotes from witnesses, a timeline of what the teenagers were doing prior to the incident, and the identity of one of the girls killed.
It also described what the scene of the accident looked like the next day. It describes memorials that have been constructed in the wake of the deaths.
In the first-day story, only the facts are reported and there is not a sense of emotion like there is in the follow-up story.

Structure in McQueen story

In the New York Times article about the death of designer Alexander McQueen, the writer must structure his news delicately. The most important aspect of the story is that McQueen died, and that is what was reported first.
While it had not been confirmed, it was suspected that the cause of death was suicide, and this was reported next. Thus, the second paragraph summarized the first, but then provided more details and in-depth information.
Because this is such a delicate subject, and occurred so suddenly, the article memorializes McQueen. The writer talks about McQueen's work and accomplishments, and quotes friends and colleagues. Some of these quotes try to explain or make sense of the death, and explain what McQueen was actually like.
Finally, this occurred at the beginning of New York Fashion Week, thus the writer also wrote about the effect of McQueen's death on the mood of Fashion Week.
However, this was not until the end of the article. The facts were reported first, then he was memorialized, and finally it was put into context.
This was a good way of dealing with a touchy subject, and struck the right balance between reporting the facts and being sensitive to the situation.

Analysis: Attribution in Light-rail story

In the Star Tribune's article about Minnesota Public Radio suing the Metropolitan Council over the construction of the light-rail line outside MPR studios, attribution played an important role in reporting the story.
Because the story was so focused on two parties disagreeing, the writer used many sources from both sides to explain and convey their respective opinions. Thus, he talked to the executive vice president and the managing editor of MPR to discuss their point of view, and the chairman of the Met Council to discuss his point of view.
Many of their quotes focused on why they felt a certain material should be used to dampen noise outside the studios, and were opinion based. They are scattered throughout the entire story, and every time a point is brought up, an attribution is used to back it up or explain more.
The writer also speaks with the mayor of St. Paul's point person for the project, and an administrator for the Federal Transit Administration to get an opinion outside the two parties. Furthermore, these sources have much higher positions and are able to give a different opinion from a state level.
The use of attribution and sources is very useful and important in this story because it gives a deeper perspective and allows the opinions of the two parties to speak for themselves.

Analysis: lead in story about 1998 murder

In the Star Tribune's article about the conviction of two brothers in the murder of their sister, the writer initially used a traditional lead. However, a few days later, this was revised and a less traditional approach was taken.
When the story was breaking news, purely the facts were reported, which were that two brothers were charged Wednesday with the 1998 murder of their sister. The story was later revised, and became a longer article with more details and information on the murder. In both versions of the article though, the time of the murder was emphasized.
Because the murder went unresolved for so long, there was an element of mystery to the story, and the writer focused on this in the revised article. The writer recounts the details of the murder, the long-held suspicion that the brothers were behind the murder, and the victory the solving of this murder represents for law officials.
Thus, the lead is used to set the tone of the story and to draw the reader in by starting at the time of the murder and then working to the present day throughout the story.

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