November 12, 2007

Clinton Campaign Plants Question in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton answered a question about global warming Tuesday in Newton, Iowa, that had been planted by one of her staff members. Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff told her school newspaper that someone on Clinton’s staff told her to ask the question during a town hall meeting to discuss clean energy. John Edwards who is also a democratic presidential candidate was highly critical of Clinton, comparing her actions to something President Bush would do. The Clinton camp fired back saying that Bush attacks democrats and that Edwards’ actions were comparable to those of Bush. Clinton says that she was unaware of any planted questions.

The New York Times and Fox News both covered the story on their websites. I actually thought the lead for the story written by Major Garrett for Fox News was better than the lead written by Patrick Healy for the New York Times. Garrett’s lead is just straight to the facts, saying who, what, when and where right away. The Healy column was sort of confusing and I needed to read it twice and I still did not really know what the story was about. It does not say exactly what happened, it just talks about Clinton wanting questions from her audience while she was in Iowa and that something (from just reading the lead it is hard to tell what) would never happen again. The Times article also never mentions the exact question and answer, for the planted question, while the Fox News article does. At the end of the Fox News article it seems to become less objective while taking a couple parting shots, “Clinton's critics have accused her of being a double-talker who refuses to answer tough questions specifically. Now her campaign has acknowledged planting at least one question.? I think it is difficult to say this is what her critics say, without specifically quoting a critic who is not currently in a presidential race against her.

Beckham Comes to Minnesota

Soccer star and pop culture icon David Beckham was at the Metrodome Sunday when his Los Angeles Galaxy played the Minnesota Thunder. Beckham was the main story here; he is a world-famous soccer player who is also married to Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice from the Spice Girls) and has his own cologne among other things. He used to play in Europe but was recently signed to a huge contract to play for the Galaxy in the MLS.

The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press both covered the story for their websites. Both stories focused on the fans at the game and Beckham’s celebrity appeal. Michael Rand who wrote the story for the Star Tribune started off with a few quotes from fans about why they like Beckham, mainly that he is a good soccer player, and he is hot. Both articles focused more on why people came out to see Beckham, than the sport side of it, which I thought was necessary and smart. The only reason this game even happened was because people all over the country want to see Beckham.

Numbers:

There were 20,123 people in attendance at the Metrodome. Buzz Lagos was quoted in Tim Leighton’s column for the Pioneer Press website, “this kind of support tells me that we can support a top-level soccer team.? However, in the Star Tribune story it is mentioned that Lagos expected more than 46,000 people to show up to see Beckham. It is also mentioned in both stories that on Wednesday 48,172 people showed up to see Beckham play in Vancouver. I would have expected Leighton to follow that quote from Lagos with something mentioning that less than half the expected attendance actually showed up, and that more than 28,000 people attended a similar game in Canada. These numbers indicate to me that Lagos is wrong when he says that this kind of support indicates that Minnesota could support a top-level soccer team.

November 5, 2007

Peterson Breaks Rushing Record with 296 Yards

Adrian Peterson led the Vikings to victory over the Chargers on Sunday with his NFL-record 296 rushing yards. Peterson who had three touchdowns broke the record formerly held by Jamal Lewis with a monster second half that gave him 253 yards alone. He did not do it against a weak rushing defense either, the Chargers rank seventh in the league. Peterson is on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards set in 1983. Peterson has 1,036 rushing yards after eight games, which also puts him in reach of the all-time record of 2,105 yards set by Dickerson in 1984. The Vikings, 3-5, won 35-17, also getting help from quarterback Brooks Bollinger after Tavaris Jackson got injured at the end of the first half.

ESPN and the Star Tribune both covered the story on their websites. ESPN’s coverage focused on Peterson’s place in history as well as aspects from the game that were not Peterson related. ESPN had a list of records set in the game and records that Peterson might yet break. The Star Tribune article focused more on the remainder of the Viking’s season as well as a lot of love for Peterson. I liked the ESPN story more because it seemed more professional, probably because of the national scope of the article.

Mob Boss Arrested Monday

Salvatore Lo Piccolo, the man vying to become the Cosa Nostra’s next boss of bosses was arrested Monday by Italian police, near the Sicilian capital, Palermo. Three others were also arrested including Lo Piccolo’s son Sandro. The other two men are believed to be local bosses. The men were at a summit of Mafia bosses when they were arrested. All four men were among Italy’s top 30 most wanted Mafia suspects. Lo Picolo, who has been on the run since 1993, was one of the men expected to vie for the Mafia’s top spot after authorities arrested Bernardo Provenzano, the reputed No. 1 of the Cosa Nostra crime syndicate, on a farm near Corleone in April 2006.

The International Herald Tribune and BBC News both covered the story on their websites. This was breaking news and both stories focus on which men were in a power struggle for the title “boss of bosses? in the Cosa Nostra crime organization. The BBC had pictures of both Provenzano and Lo Picolo while the International Herald Tribune did not provide any photos. I thought this was a big mistake by the International Herald Tribune because I doubt many people outside of Italy know what these men look like. The Tribune mentioned that police had been monitoring Lo Picolo for a while, waiting for him to hold an operational meeting. Both websites had great quotes from mafia experts.

American Gangster Tops Weekend Box Office

American Gangster beat out Bee Movie at the box office this past weekend. The violent crime drama starring Denzel Washington as a heroin kingpin and Russell Crowe as the good cop pulled in $46.3 million while Jerry Seinfeld’s animated family film came in second with $39.1 million. This news surprised some because of American Gangster’s long running time (two hours and 40 minutes) and R rating. Bee Movie, which is rated PG, is only 90 minutes long. Even though it was beat out by American Gangster, Be Movie still did better than expected. American Gangster, which drew a very diverse audience, is associated closely with hip-hop. The movie stars rappers, RZA, Common, and T.I. and has also inspired a new Jay-Z album titled “American Gangster? which will be released on Tuesday. Thanks to Washington and Crowe, 53% of the audience for American Gangster was female. This was the biggest movie opening of both actor's careers.

USA Today and the Star Tribune both covered the story on their websites. USA Today went into far more detail, citing the hip-hop influence, diverse audience, and long running times. The Star Tribune only had a couple sentences and a list of the top 10 at the box office. I thought there was definitely a lot more there that the Star Tribune missed.

Hamline Football Players Suspended for Halloween Costumes

Six Hamline University football players were suspended from the team after they wore black face paint for their Halloween costumes. The students were supposed to be African tribesmen from the movie King Kong. Pictures of the students were taken at an off-campus Halloween party and posted on Facebook with the caption, “spooks and ooks.? There have been other similar instances across the country.

The Star Tribune and KSTP 5 Eyewitness News websites both covered the story. The Star Tribune’s coverage was more in-depth. They had quotes from Samuel Imbo, head of Hamline’s African-American Studies program. They also mentioned that similar costumes have sparked controversy at other universities across the country. The student that was quoted supported the suspended players and did not think they meant any harm. KSTP’s coverage was less detailed, however they did have the full caption from the Facebook photo, the Star Tribune only had the word “spooks? in their story. KSTP also had a few quotes from a player on the football team. KSTP mentioned what the players were trying to dress up as, while the Star Tribune did not specify.

October 15, 2007

Gophers Loose Heartbreaker to Wildcats

The University of Minnesota’s football team lost 49-48 to Northwestern in overtime on Saturday. The Gophers lost their fifth straight game after giving up a 21-point lead to the Wildcats at Ryan Field. The gophers went for two after matching Northwestern’s score in the first overtime and the two-point conversion failed. Chip Scoggins covered the game for the Star Tribune's website while Marcus Fuller wrote about it for the Pioneer Press website. Scoggins article made Tim Brewster’s decision to go for two the main focus of his story. Fuller took a different approach in his article focusing more on the 21-point lead that the gophers squandered. Scoggins provided quotes from the players saying that they agreed with Brewster’s decision at the end of the game. Scoggins also provided a quote from Brewster where he says that he would definitely do it again. Fuller starts his article off with the sentence: “This was the kind of game that got Glen Mason fired.? He keeps going with this angle mentioning the 28-point lead that the gophers gave up in the Insight Bowl last year. Both articles bring up valid points. I think Fuller’s article is more critical of Brewster, while Scoggins article takes the side of the players.

Cleveland Wins Game 2 in 11 Innings

The Cleveland Indians tied the ALCS at one game a piece after beating the Boston Red Sox in the 11th inning on Saturday night. The hero was Trot Nixon who had spent 10 years playing for the Red Sox before hitting what turned out to be the game winning single for the Indians in the top of the 11th. Joe Christensen covered the story for the Star Tribune's website and Jerry Carsnick covered the story for ESPN's website. I liked the way Carsnick started his story by showing how things changed throughout the game that lasted five hours and 14 minutes. He mentioned a lot of things related to the Boston region to capture the feel of the game. Carsnick’s column is also loaded with great quotes from the prominent figures in the game; an area that I think was lacking from Christensen’s article. Working for ESPN probably allowed Carsnick more access for interviews than Christensen, but nonetheless, the quotes definitely added to the story. Christensen did have a great quote about Boston’s unreliable relief pitcher, Eric Gagne, from Boston’s General Manager, Theo Epstein. The quote was from before the game and it was an attempt to support Gagne, saying that he has not hurt them yet in the postseason. Gagne ended up being the losing pitcher and walking off the field at Fenway to a chorus of boos from the Boston fans.

Peterson Leads Vikings to Victory

The Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 34-31 on Sunday after rookie Adrian Peterson set a franchise record with 224 rushing yards in the game. The Star Tribune and Kare 11 both covered the story on their websites. The Star Tribune article that was written by Kevin Seifert starts with burying the lead. They focus on the conditions (it was raining), and the 54-yard game winning field goal by Ryan Longwell. They then went on to talk about Peterson and the aggressive style of play that helped them win the game and is rarely seen from the Vikings. They also go on to list important stats that were accomplished during the game. The Kare 11 article was written by the associated press and starts with a direct lead focusing on Peterson’s performance. The AP article talks in more detail about specific runs that Peterson had as well as key plays by Devin Hester that kept Chicago in the game. I thought that this was critical because the two key stories from the game were the performances by Peterson and Hester and Seifert’s article does not focus as much on Hester. This is probably because for the local paper, people do not necessarily want to read about players from the other team and their performances. The two leads are also indicative of the audience of the articles.

October 1, 2007

Favre Gets Touchdown Record

On Sunday Brett Favre broke the NFL record for touchdown passes by throwing his 421st pass for a score in the Green Bay Packers’ 23-16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome. Dan Marino held the previous record of 420. The story that appeared on ESPN’s website was provided by the associated press, while the one that appeared on the Star Tribune’s website was written by Patrick Reusse. The associated press article took more of a wide scope view of the event and Favre’s place in history. It mentions the history of the position of quarterback and where Favre ranks in a variety of different categories. The article also compared the record to Barry Bonds’ home run record. The article written by Reusse went into greater detail about the play that broke the record. There were a lot of insightful quotes regarding Favre calling an audible and changing the play at the line of scrimmage, which led to the record-breaking touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. While the associated press article did talk about the game and the specific play, Reusse’s article did a better job of catching the entire feel of the game and the moment.

September 24, 2007

Hunter Receives Possible Farewell

It might have been Tori Hunter's last home game as a Twin on Sunday night and the fans let him know how much they have appreciated him. Hunter was replaced in the top of the ninth inning of the Twin’s 7-1 victory over the White Sox and as he left the field he received a standing ovation. Hunter has long been one of the faces of the Twins franchise. He started with the Twins in 1997 and since then has been to two All-Star games and won six gold gloves. Hunter turned down a three-year $45 million contract, speculation being that he is looking for a five year deal. Hunter said that he does not want to negotiate any more until the end of they season, but there is still a possibility that he could come back. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire definitely wants him back, “he should be a Minnesota Twin the rest of his life.? Minnesota is a small market so there is the possibility that another organization could outbid them. Hunter is not thinking about that though, “I cant believe I’m saying goodbye, when I have a chance to be back.?

Gophers Need to Limit Turnovers

Turnovers are one of the main reasons for the Gopher football team’s poor start. Unlike previous years the Gophers are giving the ball away at an alarming rate. Last year the Gophers had the best turnover margin in the nation and this year after four games they rank last and they lead the nation in turnovers with 16. First year Head Coach Tim Brewster benched senior running back Amir Pinnix in Saturday’s game after he fumbled for the second time in as many games. Brewster is serious about turnovers and will not tolerate players who cannot take care of the football. “Ball security is the No. 1 issue in my mind that determines wins and losses,? Brewster said. He added, “those that turn the ball over consistently will not play. We're going to put people on the field who have great ball security.? Pinnix was not the only one who has struggled to protect the football this year. Quarterback Adam Weber has had six turnovers in the past two games and Jamal Harris fumbled after he picked up a blocked field goal on his way to a sure touchdown. Brewster said that he was “absolutely flabbergasted? after Harris fumbled. The Gophers ended up losing 45-31 to Purdue on Saturday bringing their record this season to 1-3, which puts them at dead last in the Big Ten.

Pakers and Chargers Headed in Different Directions

After the Green Bay Packers defeated the San Diego Chargers on Sunday almost everyone involved was Surprised. The Chargers were one of the preseason Super Bowl favorites and the Packers were no more than an afterthought in most people’s minds. When Brett Favre was asked if he thought the Packers would start 3-0 he replied, “probably not.? It was an especially big day for Favre who tied Dan Marino’s all-time record of 420 career touchdowns. Unlike the Packers who are feeling the great, the Chargers are now 1-2 and looking for answers. Chargers’ running back LaDainian Tomlinson was taking the loss hard, “I am actually at a loss for words right now? he said after Sunday’s loss. The Chargers fired last year’s coach Marty Schottenheimer after he lead them to a winning record and a playoff appearance, and now they have a losing record and a lot of work to do. The Packer’s coach Mike McCarthy called some questionable plays down the stretch and got bailed out by his defense and a game winning 57-yard touchdown pass from Favre to Greg Jennings late in the fourth quarter. After the game McCarthy had this to say about his quarterback, “Every time he takes the field, he's adding another log on the fire of such a brilliant career that will continue to burn, hopefully, for a while.? If Favre keeps playing like this he probably will.

September 17, 2007

Season Lost for Oden

Greg Oden is scheduled to miss the entire 2007-08 season after he underwent microfracture surgery on Thursday. Oden was the first pick in the 2007 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, going ahead of Kevin Durant who Bill Simmons argued should have been the first pick. Simmons who writes for ESPN says that contrary to popular opinion, Durant who was picked second by Seattle was the safe pick. There had been questions about Oden’s long-term health and there were none of these same questions regarding Durant. Now the Trail Blazers and their fans will have to watch as Durant likely cruises through a solid first season and wins the Rookie of the Year, with Oden watching from the sideline.
It is hard to not feel sorry for Portland fans, especially since they might be going through this disaster for the second time. NBA fans will remember that it was Portland who drafted Sam Bowie first overall in the 1984 NBA draft, passing on Michael Jordan. There are a few things working in Portland’s favor this time. Amare Stoudemire who plays for Phoenix flourished after coming back from microfracture surgery last year. Oden like Stoudemire is young, so Portland fans can be hopeful of a full recovery. They can also be hopeful because they will likely lock up another lottery pick for the 2008 NBA draft to complement their young stars Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Oden. Hopefully Oden can successfully come back because Portland fans do not deserve to go through Sam Bowie twice.

Bill Simmons' lead is a direct lead but it is also unconventional. It gives the who, Greg Oden. It gives the what, microfracture surgery. He lists his source as "someone who knows things". That is the extent of the information. It is a very short lead and it contains a quote. I think it is effective because it is shocking and you know all you need to know about what the story will be about.

Original Story:
1. http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/blog/index?name=simmons
2. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-oden091307&prov=yhoo&type=lgns