News report analysis – the 5 Ws

I noticed I still haven’t done the analysis we were expected to do two weeks ago… Here it is:

Horrific Car Crashes Take Toll on Bulgaria

Five people died in car accidents in Bulgaria overnight. Photo by BGNES

Five people died in car accidents in Bulgaria overnight. Photo by BGNES

Part of the Sofia downtown was blockaded Saturday afternoon due to the collision of two cars near the building of the Military Medical Academy.

Three people – a man, a woman, and a child – were wounded in the accident. According to preliminary information of the police, one the drivers caused the crash as he was driving drunk.

A total of 5 people died overnight in 13 severe crashes across Bulgaria; a total of 15 people were injured, one of them is critical.

In the more than a month since the start of 2011, 51 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in Bulgaria, and 578 were injured.

The 5 Ws that need to be in the news report are:

  • Where?
  • When?
  • What?
  • Who?
  • Why?
  • How? (bonus?)

Apparently, even though it is a very short report, it has them all:

  • Where?
    Sofia, ‘near the building of the Military Medical Academy’
  • When?
    Saturday afternoon (the date the article has been published is clearly cited, so it is clear when the accident happened)
  • What?
    collision of two cars
  • Who?
    ‘Three people – a man, a woman, and a child – were wounded in the accident.
  • Why?
    ‘According to preliminary information of the police, one the drivers caused the crash as he was driving drunk.’
  • How?
    ‘one the drivers caused the crash’

If I were writing the report, I would probably also try to include the types of cars and also which driver was likely to have caused the crash. I would also try to find out if the man, woman and child hurt in the crash were a family or if they were in the same car, because it isn’t clear from the report, but since they cite a man, woman and a child, people are lead to conclude they could be related. What is their condition? Is anyone of them seriously injured?

Also, ‘a part of Sofia downtown’ is a too general term – I would try to be more precise exactly which part of Sofia downtown was closed – for example, which boulevard/street, or which district. This would give drivers more information about which areas to avoid.

Even though this report answers all the basic W-questions, it only reports that something has happened, without any link to real life – in the end, I personally think this information is not very useful – it doesn’t say which roads to avoid, it doesn’t say where it happened. It is just basic statistics.

Another very important aspect of the news report is the title. This particular story has a title that is too strong and powerful compared to the content of the story. So the reader sees that ‘Horrific Car Crashes Take Toll on Bulgaria’ and would expect to read some details about what makes the crashes horrific, but ends up reading a simple statistics news entry.

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