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Monday, October 30, 2006

Paper vs. Wires

J410 Assignment 7: Write a 500-word content analysis of a newspaper and its online counterpart. Analysis must include both quantitative (keywords?) and qualitative (categorical comparisons?) data and a well-defined inference or conclusion.
Content analysis resource page (Wikipedia): http://tinyurl.com/ylns7w
Deadline: Wednesday (11/1/06) before class.
posted by J410 Applied Multimedia Reporting at 12:48 PM

of “St. Louis tops list of unsafe U.S. cities” (AP) featured in The Tribune and “Report finds St. Louis most dangerous U.S. city” (AP) on MSN.com (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15475741/)

The annual ranking of the United States’ safest and most dangerous cities, created by Morgan Quitno Press, was released on October 30, 2006 and was featured in numerous papers across the nation. Ranking was based on crime rates in the cities and individual crimes like rape or burglary were not taken into account. Crimes were evaluated based on the danger they posed to people.
The story, written by the Associated Press, was included in The Tribune (the “Newspaper of the Central Coast”) under the headline “St. Louis tops list of unsafe U.S. cities.” The story was also on MSN.com, a national online news source, and was titled “Report finds St. Louis most dangerous U.S. city.” Content analysis of the two sources takes into account not just the text but also other features, stationary or interactive, that may be included. Analysis is limited simply to what is visible and what is meant to pertain strictly to the subject of the ranking.
Quantitatively the two stories differ in the way they presented the story. The Tribune used 26” for the story; this does not include the single feature included, which was a list of the top five most dangerous and the safest cities. Online the story took up about 75” discounting the features (though the font was smaller in the newspaper). “Dangerous” was used in The Tribune’s version twice (four including the feature of a list) while MSN.com included it seven times (fourteen times with its other features). Also, in The Tribune, “crime” was included six times and it was in the MSN.com story eight places (ten times including the features).
Qualitative analysis of the content from both news sources also showed vast differences. The sources include different quotes. While The Tribune used a resident’s quote that was not in the online version, MSN.com included six more paragraphs as well a section at the end consisting of five paragraphs that were not in The Tribune. Some information in the added paragraphs online included statements by the president of Morgan Quitno Press and the FBI director, past and present safe and dangerous cities in the rankings, population numbers of cities, and percentages pertaining to crime nationwide and compared to past numbers. The Tribune did explain how data was collected, however, while MSN.com did not. But while The Tribune merely provided a list of ten cities, MSN.com provided a wealth of supplementary features and tools, including a list of its own, an accompanying video on St. Louis’ top ranking, a picture of a St. Louis monument, a message board asking, “How safe do you feel?”, and a box with related articles. There were also the options of printing, e-mailing, and Iming the article, as well as rating the story. And the article with the features was in colour while The Tribune featured the story in black and white.
Based on the data and features presented by The Tribune and MSN.com on the story, it can be said that the online article was better all around in content quantitatively and qualitatively. It included more information, though some was skipped that was in The Tribune. The online article gave the opportunity to view different aspects of the subject to append to one’s knowledge. Though there is the idea that print allows for a story to be more accurate and thus better in quality because more time is taken for it to be written, the online story did say that it had been updated since it had been posted the day before.


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