Winter storm rips through Northeast


CNN’s coverage of the severe and apparently deadly Northeast winter storm provided an accessible and well-organized report of its wide-reaching effects. The lede follows the standard inverted pyramid style, stating what caused this mass destruction and what the exact consequences were. All in the first sentence we find out that the storm is still going on, it is causing major traffic hazards, there were eight deaths and tens of thousands of people are out of power.

After a short intro describing the specifics about the amount of snow accumulated, the story breaks up into three distinct subheads with clear topics. This sort of organization helps the reader, especially if he or she is in a rush or scrolling through the news quickly on their phone (which is where I first came across this story), to quickly acquire the information they want to know about the storm, whether that be about the traffic patterns or the victims it claimed.

It is no accident that the first subhead, “8 related deaths,” comes before the others. Death is always the first and most important aspect of a story (if it pertains to the story). To not mention a death that occurred as a result of the topic of your story is probably one of the biggest blunders a journalist can make. The first item describes the cause of each of the eight victims’ deaths in a short, to-the-point brief.

The next item, entitled “Traffic nightmare, airport delays in New York,” describes the chaos on the roads, which is the next most important topic after death. After all, safety is crucial in these types of storms. They quoted the police and travelers and included Instagram shots of icy roads and an over-crowded Newark airport.

The final item is entitled “Weather forces students to wait in schools,” which rightfully comes last as it is not as severe as death or traffic hazards.

Overall, the formatting of the story, sources used and news media aspect of this story provide an extremely thorough and easy to navigate overview of a tragic and brutal storm.

Trans model attacks Trump agenda


The Trump Administration is making plans to lawfully define gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”

Today, Vogue decided to cover the advent of this leaked government information through the eyes and voice of transgender model and author of the article Teddy Quinlivan.

Instead of just quoting Quinlivan, having her write the actual article better conveys the drama of such a shocking and backwards-thinking potential law. For example, Quinlivan writes, “I’m 24 now, I’ve met dozens of other trans and non-gender conforming people and I know I’m not alone. I no longer feel threatened by the bullies in school and the establishment that protected them and reinforced their prejudice. Now I feel threatened by the United States government.”

Quinlivan lives her own reality of what it means to be a transgender woman in a world that is just beginning to accept them. Her tone sounds serious and dire – and reading this article gives just as broad a picture of what the Trump administration is trying to do as any hard news story you would find on CNN or The New York Times.

In my opinion, this narrative actually provides information in a much more readable, more relatable format. People are often drawn to personal stories that act as nut graphs for wider issues, rather than the sometimes-boring news briefs you see on major news sources.

Quinlivan describes her personal struggle and then segues into the broader implications of trans rights and Trump’s prejudices. The article’s passionate tone in portraying the gravity of the issue makes it all the more appealing to a reader.

Michael coverage varies across board


Six people died in the wake of Hurricane Michael, which decimated Florida’s panhandle, flooded the Carolinas and continues to cause mass destruction on the Atlantic Coast. Entire houses were uprooted and more than one million people were out of power.

I compared CNN’s coverage of the storm to the Sun Sentinel’s and found that although both provided similar information, the presentation and angles were completely different. While CNN’s presentation was much more conducive to acquiring facts quickly, the Sun Sentinel’s coverage almost read as a narrative, using its locality to its advantage with stark Florida references that evoked emotion in its readership.

Even the two news sources’ headlines differed vastly in the message that they sent. The Sun Sentinel’s headline, “Hurricane Michael wipes out Mexico Beach, Fla., in ‘apocalyptic’ assault” plays on the drama of the hurricane and sends the message that the storm has passed, devastatingly, leaving Florida in distress.

CNN, on the other hand, headlined its coverage, “Michael’s not done yet — path of destruction stretches north from Florida,” stressing that although the storm departed Florida, it is still a threat to other coastal states like Virginia — obviously taking a more national lens to the story.

Furthermore, the Sun Sentinel uses similes and metaphors to tell the story of how Michael ripped through the panhandle and shook the worlds of many. Instead of delving right into the hard facts, and after a heart-wrenching anecdotal lede, the author writes, “Boats were tossed like toys. The streets closest to the water looked as if a bomb had gone off.”

CNN, instead, hits the ground running with an inverted pyramid-style beginning, stating in the lede exactly where the hurricane hit already and where it is headed, as well as mentioning some of its effects, like flash floods. CNN also writes a bulleted list of “Key Developments” for readers who want fast facts about the storm, providing the route of the storm, how many power outages there are, who died and more.

Contrarily, it makes sense that a Florida newspaper would only focus on the effects of the storm in Florida, and the narrative style makes for a more interesting, though saddening read. The Sun Sentinel even includes an anecdote about a couple searching for their elderly mother in the ruins of the storm, inserting a quote portraying the way the wife called out for her mother: “Aggy! Aggy!”

Both news sources do a good job of capturing the severity of the storm, but for the Sun Sentinel, the focus was in the past, whereas CNN makes sure to send a message that the storm is still highly threatening. It is always interesting to note how many different ways the same story can be covered based on the location and audience of the news source.

Man dies from ‘brain-eating’ amoeba


Fabrizio Stabile, 29, died from an amoeba found in fresh water that can infect people by swimming up through the nose and into the brain. The deadly infection is extremely rare, but the Centers for Disease Control is investigating samples of water from a Texas surf resort where Stabile had been just days before he died.

The story, covered on by Michael Nedelman, is a good example of a basic news brief with a summary lede and a limited number of solid facts. The topic definitely meets the criteria for a compelling news story, as it is a rare and tragic occurrence, and the author does a good job of capitalizing on this aspect of the story without having all the information.

The CDC is still in the process of investigations at the surf resort to see if the amoeba is present in the water. It is not confirmed that Stabile ingested the amoeba at the surf resort or somewhere else, but it is probable that it happened there.

With some missing pieces to the story, the author decides to delve into some past cases of the infection as caused by the amoeba, even referencing CDC data and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. However, most important is the statement he includes about swimming precautions, warning everyone to try and keep water out of their noses while swimming in freshwater by plugging their noses or using a nose clip when going under.

The only criticism I have for the story is that there are no personal quotations included in the article. Nedelman quotes the GoFundMe page that was created in honor of Stabile, and he has quotes from Brittany Behm, a CDC spokesperson, which were written in an email. It would have been better if Nedelman had spoken to Behm on the phone at least, because email quotes usually sound too formal.

Overall, the story is a solid news brief that gives the reader as much information as the author knows, while at the same time providing background research and precautionary advice to prevent the tragedy from repeating itself.

Vogue covers Juul epidemic in new way


Recently, the FDA issued warnings to several stores that sell Juuls to underage teenagers. They will continue these raids of Juul retailers across the country, following a barrage of complaints from parents and government officials about the detrimental effects of the highly fashionable, yet dangerous vape pen.

I have seen many news outlets cover the Juul craze; they warn of its horrifying health effects and inform readers that the FDA is taking action against the $15 billion company. The conversation has been around for a while, dating back to July, when CNN ran a piece covering the Attorney General’s investigation of Juul Labs and its supposed target market of minors.

However, it was not until I stumbled upon an article in Vogue, in which author Cazzie David, a Juul fiend herself, actually broke down the epidemic, that I became invested in the topic. David’s article, “How to Quit the Juul, According to Comedian Cazzie David,” is written as a first-person narrative that David uses to target the young generation of Juul-ers today.

She admits, halfway through the piece, that she had been Juuling while writing it — taking a “hit” every two sentences, to be exact. She uses stark metaphors to describe just how trapped Juul customers are, not only due to its “dangerously addictive” substance, but also its trendy appeal among the “cool kids,” saying that even “Coca-Cola is also widespread and addictive and still no one is Coca-Cola-ing around town.”

Everything anyone has ever thought about Juuls, but has been too afraid to admit, David blurts out, apologetically, in this piece about how to quit Juuling for good. The way she writes — seriously but masked in a humorous outer shell — makes you want to continue reading.

David lists 13 steps on how to effectively quit Juuling, each one with a more witty twist than the last. Some of her ideas? Letting a sweaty guy at a nightclub take a hit of it, buying a Gucci Juul sticker so you’re embarrassed to take it out in public, staring at yourself in the mirror with your phone in your mouth, or my favorite, imagining the moment God will replay your life for you when you die and realizing how many moments of it were spent sucking nicotine out of that Juul.

Her steps are wildly creative and funny, but many of them are actually plausible. They appeal to a young audience — an audience who is attending nightclubs and buying pack after pack of pods. It makes sense that an airy, yet actually important article like this should work in trying to help Juuling youngsters quit. The academic and sometimes arrogant language of CNN, The New York Times and other major news outlets probably push teenagers away in how they cover Juul news, but Vogue connects to its young readers, letting them know that they are not alone in this addiction, and there are ways to stop.

Rite Aid shooting news raises questions


Three people were shot and killed at a Rite Aid distribution center in Maryland yesterday. Unfortunately, as the years tick on and the number of mass shootings multiplies, each tragedy holds less and less weight in the eyes of the American public. 

Perhaps one of the more unique facts in this story is that the shooter was a woman — usually it is more common to see male gunmen., in its coverage of the act, used a headline that mentioned that a woman had shot the victims, and they wrote a lede that began with “A woman killed three people and wounded three others…” to be as specific as possible. 

It seems fair that a news source, if they have knowledge of who the gunman was, to state it immediately in the story. NPR clearly didn’t think so. Their headline read, “Multiple People Killed And Wounded in Maryland Shooting,” and their lede began with “Three people were killed…” 

They do not even identify the shooter until paragraph two, completely disregarding the need here for a classic summary news lede — with all the most important facts right at the top. 

It seems any news source would want to capture readers, no matter how morbid the topic, by providing an angle that might differentiate this shooting from every other story we read. 

Nevertheless, CNN and NPR both provide sound facts from law enforcement, which give the reader a clear vision of what exactly happened. However, CNN, in the second paragraph, explicitly asserts that the shooter was a “disgruntled employee,” which is an important fact to know when pondering the reason for the murder. 

NPR, on the other hand, does not come out and say that the woman was an employee, simply stating in the fourth paragraph that the “shooting may have been tied to a work-related grievance.” Unclear over whether this woman had actually worked for the Rite Aid or not, I had to seek other sources after reading NPR. 

CNN’s coverage was overall crafted more strategically and organizationally than NPR’s which made for an informative and easy read, with no loose-ends to tie up in your mind. 

Vogue praises amputee model


When model Lauren Wasser lost her leg to toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in 2012, her life, which had been full of modeling and basketball, changed forever. After five years of pain and very little physical activity, she decided to have her second leg amputated, too. When the news outlets first covered her story, it was all about the dangers of TSS and the devastating effects it had on Wasser’s life. 

Today, Vogue published a story on Wasser that couldn’t be more different. The story takes a complete 360-degree turn from the sob stories told in 2017 when Wasser had her second leg amputated. Vogue instead covered Wasser’s recent success in modeling and her mission to prevent TSS from affecting others. 

Vogue’s article title, “How Lauren Wasser, Fashion’s Girl With the Golden Legs, Made a Triumphant Return,” grabs audiences with its upbeat, positive tone, and intrigues readers who may not have otherwise known about Wasser with the word-choice of “Golden Legs,” which isn’t a phrase normally used to describe fashion models. 

The story does a good job of condensing the events of Wasser’s tragic loss of her legs in one sentence, before quickly moving on to the main subject of the story — Wasser’s return to the modeling world. 

Author Janelle Okwodu provides important background information as to Wasser’s childhood, growing up as the child of model Pamela Cook, and how modeling is in Wasser’s blood. Today, Wasser models not only because she enjoys it, but in order to send a message. The other purpose of the article is to describe Wasser’s efforts in advocating a bill that would force brands to list the ingredients in their tampons. 

What seems to be missing from the article are quotes from Wasser, however there is a video which complements the story and follows Wasser on her journey from Los Angeles to New York City for Fashion Week. 

The Vogue story also proves an important point about the changing nature of journalism today. Video content is becoming the emphasis and written stories, such as this one, are playing second fiddle. 

The 300-word story almost acts as background for the main event — the video content, which expertly tells Wasser’s story with scenes in her own bedroom, town and then with the backdrop of New York City where she re-emerges into the fashion world.

Overall, Vogue’s coverage of the story is unique and refreshing in comparison with the multiple other stories written on Wasser which all dance around the tragedy piece. Their use of video content allows the story to appeal to a much wider audience and is more marketable this way on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. 

Kardashian attracts press for clemency


After her first visit with President Trump in June to lobby the release of Alice Marie Johnson from her lifetime prison sentence, Kardashian West returned to the White House this Wednesday to attend a listening session on clemency reform.

An article on, headlined “Kim Kardashian at White House for clemency review session,” briefly mentioned Kardashian West’s participation at the meeting, but quickly moved on, focusing rather on other reform activists and attendees. 

Authors Jeremy Diamond and Betsy Klein chose to interview human rights attorney Jessica Jackson Sloan, who attended the session to advocate the reduction in inmate populations of federal prisons. Sloan complimented Jared Kushner and other White House staff for their efforts, and even regarded Kushner as “one of the most persistent and passionate advocates for criminal justice reform.”

The article even went on to discuss the progress of the First Step Act — a bill pushing to entice prisoners with early release if they participate in rehabilitation, thus decreasing the number of federal prisoners — which is still in limbo after pausing in Senate this summer. 

The article mentioned that Kardashian West gave “concrete feedback” at the meeting and brought up her involvement with another drug-related imprisonment case, quoting one of her Tweets on the subject. But, that’s it. 

There was not one direct quote from the reality star, and her presence in the article seemed, in my opinion, out of place. The purpose of the article was to report on the progress of various sentencing reforms, as well as explain what was discussed at the clemency review. 

Despite the clear goal of the article, Kardashian West’s name seemed to plague the headline, lede and first three paragraphs of the story — not to mention the video interview with her at the very top of the article. It is obvious that the beauty icon’s insertion into a blatantly political article was a media ploy to appeal to a larger readership. 

The strong emphasis on Kardashian West was unnecessary in achieving the goal of the article and actually proved misleading as to the contents of the rest of the piece, which did not have much to do with her. The authors could have definitely mentioned her attendance at the meeting, but should have probably chosen a different headline, lede and visual medium to accompany the story. 

Nonetheless, what the article does well is detail Trump’s involvement on the issue, as well as the standpoints of various attendees of the meeting, including former federal judge Kevin Sharp and the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump. It is also well-reported, quoting three attendees of the listening session.