Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kim Komando lists tips to help cell phone users save time and money

USA Today tech writer Kim Komando helps AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and TMobile users learn tricks to navigate more cost efficiently through their cell phones. In the article titled "Save time, money with cellular secrets," Komando provides a long list rather than a well-written article. The only traditionally structured part of the article is the lede, which in my opinion is to the point but rather unexciting. Also, Komando uses sentence beginnings that I was taught growing up never to use. They are "and" and "so". For simplistic, journalistic purposes, however, they may work. From reading the article, I don't think Komando was trying to write in an impressive matter, as it appeared that the facts in a understandable manner were more important.

As very recently new member of an AT&T IPhone, this weekend in fact, I found this article conveniently helpful. Tricks such as the following were provided in the article: how to text in an e-mail format, how to block certain types of text messages or specific phone numbers, how to skip over the voicemail greeting of the person you're calling, how to check for balance, remaining text messages & remaining minutes, how to text a landline, and also provides shortcuts for navigating through your own voicemail. There are no exterior sources and no citations, but it can be assumed that all of the information was either discovered through use of the phones or thorough research.

There is no proper ending to the article, as the entire body is primarily in list format. While not being the conventional type of article that USA Today publishes, Komando still did an adequate job of delivering the content that was intended to be delivered. While to mode was different, the information was not made any less helpful.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

USA Today's Swartz gives a brief summary of Facebook departure

Joe Swartz, tech writer for USA Today write a short overview of an update in the Facebook staff titled "Facebook CFO resigns." Using a summary lede, Swartz addressed the:
-who: Gideon Yu (CFO of Facebook)
-what: Yu is leaving Facebook after two years
-when: currently
-where: not relevant to story
-why: no reason yet given

Given the article is only three short paragraphs, Swartz, in my opinion, does a great job of addressing the pertinent and necessary information. The article isn't necessarily only about Yu, but also about the other changes in employment and management to Facebook. "Co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Chief Technology Officer Adam D'Angelo" both left last year, in addition to "Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, an engineering manager at Facebook" who "left to form a startup to build software they hope will be 'to your work life what is to your social life.'"

The ending sentence, however, is slightly confusing as Swartz gives an update about an employer already mentioned earlier in the article. "D'Angelo jumped last year for parts unknown." This sentence is a weak concluding sentence as it doesn't even relate to the initial subject of the article. While the article delivers the changes to Facebook staff in an understandable way, the title is misleading because it makes the reader think the article will go more in depth about the reason for which Yu left and how he went about doing it. It is only touched on on the surface, and I feel more delving needs to be done to report more information to the reader.

Lastly, I think Swartz should have used a source from within Facebook regarding Yu's departure. A quote from Facebook is used (Facebook says it's looking for a CFO with "public company experience."), however, it is not attributed to a person or website. I think Swartz should have tried to get an interview with the CEO or one of the founders who are internally linked to Facebook and who would have known the exactly events leading up to and reasons for Yu's decision to leave. All in all, while it gives a great summary, Swartz should lengthen his article to fit in more specific and informative content.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vergano Breaks Down an Anthrax Discovery

Dan Vergano of USA Today wrote an article titled "Tracing anthrax's American roots" about a new discovery that was made regarding the origins of the strain of Anthrax most commonly known for it's presence in 2001 mailings. Vergano begins the article with, in my opinion, a great, straight-forward lead that proves to summarize the basic content of the article.
Following this lead is a paragraph that does a superb job of breaking down the concept of anthrax and putting it into terms that are understandable to the common reader and help them to understand the context of the situation better. He addresses where anthrax comes from (the soil--some in North America) as well as the effects it can have on animals that eat the soil that it is found in.
As the article progresses, Vergano narrows it more and more until it finally touches base with the content that the title gives way to. He explains that the Ames string of Anthrax, the one that was used in the bioterror attacks, has roots that are traced to Texas. Vergano's sources are not only credible, but come from a wide-array of experts on the topic of anthrax. Between an author, a geologist, a researcher, and another LSU rep, the information given is credible and very informative.
In my opinion, Vergano did an excellent job of breaking down the issue with diction that made the reader much less confused reading about anthrax than usual. He breaks it down and aboids jargon, however when jargon is used, he takes time and detail to explain what the terms mean.
Overall, I think Vergano is a writer that can easily relate to readers, as he has this skill of writing in a way that anyone could understand. He broke down the issue and spent the proper amount of text and time describing each necessary detail to fully comprehending the meaning of the article. The zinger at the end is when Vergano leaves the readers with something to think about regarding anthrax's ancient roots from the US.


-In terms of the 5 W's, Vergano has them all...except why perhaps. I'm not sure why all this research is being done in the first place regarding the origin of anthrax, however, I assume it's just a regular thing and there's no special occasion spurring the research. Vergano even addressed the how, explaining the ways that the origin is found and the process behind it. ANother how: the theories behind how the anthrax ended up in Texas are explained in detail in the article. In my opinion, Vergano did a great job of covering all parts of the story, and it shows that he planned out his research and sources very well beforehand.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Calum MacLeod Discusses China's Privacy Issue

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Calum MacLeod of USA Today wrote "Depsite official ban, spyware (such as camcorder pens and sunglasses) and  is hot seller in China," about the spyware trend that's currently progressing in China. Through a summary lede, MacLeod introduces the topic in a way that efficiently summarizes and informs the reader. The lede is followed by a quote that grasps the basic theme of the article in one short sentence. His choice of quote, in my opinion, is highly effective because it foreshadows the direction that the article takes, and is delivered by a source that has credibility in relation to the issue.
With six quoted sources throughout the article, it's apparent that MacLeod did a thorough job investigating the issue regarding the heightened popularity of spyware in China, despite laws banning it. MacLeod delivers view points from all sides of the issue: those selling the spyware, creators of the spyware, regular citizen, and government-affiliated people.
The organization of the article was well thought out, as the story first summarized the problem and described the spyware from an insider's view point, then in the section titled "Official Surveillance," MacLeod introduces the whole ironic governmental aspect of the issue that involves the Chinese government installing over 300,00 additional security cameras, and then in the final section called "Benefits and Drawbacks," MacLeod gives both the pros and cons of the spyware and their effect on the Chinese society.
I like that MacLeod ends his article with a quote that leaves the reader thinking and that sums up the issue that the article was about. As the article primarily discussed the spyware's pros and cons and those effects, his finishing quote seems appropriate. "The advance of technology does not always mean progress." However, this quote could be looked at as showing bias towards a negative attitude on the spyware, as it correlates the spyware with digression. I guess given all the facts of the article, the reader is left to agree of disagree with the final sentence.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Swartz introduces new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz


 Jon Swartz, Writer for USA TODAY, delivers an article about the new changes that are expected to come from Yahoo since the appointment of a new CEO, Carol Bartz. The summary lede introduces Bartz in an interesting way while delivering significant news, saying that CFO Blake Jorgensen is leaving as a result of new CEOBartz. Swartz does an effective job at neutrally describing the effects of Bartz, but uses words such as "hard-charging"  and "direct manner" to describe Bartz demonstrate a tone that Swartz uses to relay Bartz.           

I think the title is slightly misleading, however, as "Yahoo CFO leaving as new CEO prepares shake-up" makes it seem as if the article will talk all about the CFO's departure. The article, instead, is all about the changes that Yahoo will undergo in order to correct "Yahoo's flagging financial performance and stock price."

            Swartz does not really get any sources for the article, but instead pulls most of his information from Bartz's blog posts. His only direct source is Kevin Lee, the CEO of Didit, a company that does work with Yahoo. I don't think I would have chosen Lee as a source, as his pertinence to the issue is not very clear to me. 

            At the end of the article, I am left feeling that the tone is skeptical of Bartz's abilities in bringing Yahoo the success and change that she promised.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jefferson Graham is Informative About New High-Def Cameras


In the USA TODAY article titled "Small cameras deliver big on high-definition video," writer Jefferson Graham delivers an informational article about the new appeal of handheld, digital cameras. The article begins with a summary lede, covering all of the crucial facts. The first sentence, in my opinion, is the perfect lede as it sums up the general theme of the article. Graham stays very neutral throughout the entire article, never editorializing the topic. 

It is clear that thorough research of the issue is conducted, as there are a multitude of facts and statistics about camera sales, and their projected sales. The sources that Graham uses are effective and help give credibility to his points. Almost all of his information is credited, as it should be. (exception is one statistic that he doesn't attribute to any source)

His background on last years camera sales coming to a halt and falling behind in the fourth quarter, his discussion of camera manufacturers' plans to make cameras with high-definition video capabilities, and his coverage of new, attractive features on cameras give a thorough and complete overview of the issue and help to make it understandable to readers. 

Overall, the organization and use of sources (such as Chris Chute-analyst at market tracker IDC, Chuck Westfall-Canon technical manager) and statistics allow him to effectively deliver an unbiased report on a release of new-age cameras.

Monday, February 23, 2009

USA TODAY Personal Tech Writer Points Out the Negativities of Facebook


In the article titled "How to make the most of social networking on Facebook" by Edward C. Baig falls short of merely a how-to-socialize-on-Facebook article. Instead, it ends up pointing out the faults of Facebook through it's attempted tips. Throughout the article, Baig highlights ways to personalize your Facebook account in a safe way, but while doing so he develops a tone that almost makes a mockery of the social network. 

As Facebook underwent a lot of criticism last week for changing their Terms of Use to full ownership of any information put on Facebook, they decided to change back to their original policy. Baig shares advice like "familiarize yourself with the privacy options," "think long and hard about the information you reveal in your profile," which are neutral and helpful. However, he also points on that Facebook's filtering and organization policies about thing such as wall-to-wall feeds "need fixing."

Finishing with a voice that trivializes the network, despite having an account himself, Baig  questions the purpose to having a Facebook in the first place. After saying three criteria to consider when uploading information ("would you be upset if your mother saw it? would you be upset if the most nefarious person you ever heard about saw it? would you be upset if it was on the front page of USA TODAY?), Baig concludes his article questioning the worth of Facebook and makes his negatively-skewed perspective clear. "What good is a social network if you're too timid to be social?"

A few notes:
-NO qutoes---disappointing and, in my opinion, makes the article lose credibility as everything is Baig's personal input (he does, however, indirectly quote a Facebook friend and CEO)
-Summary lede--it addressed the "who," "what," "why," "how," (where is not relevant)
-Good use of numbers and statistics to put the information into understandable yet intriguing terms