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.