February 16, 2007

Samuels Gets Burned
I found this article on the Strib website. This article is about Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels and the response to comments he made about North High School in this month's Mpls.St.Paul magazine. In the magazine article he was quoted as saying, "I've said burn North High School down! I can't be paying as a taxpayer for the education of my neighbors and 72 percent of them are failing." The comments caused outrage among students, parents, faculty, and North High community members. At a special committee meeting Thursday held at the school, Samuels apologized yet again for the comments and tried to explain that he meant well. In his speech he outlined plans for improving the school by creating a partnership with Minneapolis schools and bringing in educational experts. The crowd of about 250 people was not very receptive. Students and faculty spoke on their personal experiences at North and criticized Samuels for looking down on their community. Faculty and community leaders hope the meeting will force Samuels to follow through on his plans for improving the school’s conditions.

I think this article is a pretty straightforward follow-up story. It was good that the author included the original quote from Samuels that caused the controversy. The article gave a good description of what the community thought of his comments, but didn’t really elaborate on his defense. The meeting was described as being a chance for Samuels to speak to the community about what his comments and explain, but the article only included two sentences about what he actually said.
I couldn’t find another article in the PPress to compare this to. So instead I searched the Strib archives for the original story. The original story gave much more insight into the incident. After reading the follow-up I didn’t get a sense that his comments were racial in nature, but the original story is mostly about black community leaders speaking out against Samuels. The original article even said they called for his resignation and protested at Minneapolis City Council meetings. The original article also makes reference to a future meeting with Samuels at the school which is the basis for the follow-up story.

After reading both articles, I think that the follow-up story would have been more effective if it included more of Samuels’ plan to rectify the situation. After the story broke it was the reaction of the community that made it newsworthy, but the follow-up just reiterated the same points instead of giving Samuels’ response.

February 11, 2007

Flu Scare
I found this article on the Pioneer Press website. The article is about the increased demand for flu vaccinations. Three children in Minnesota died this year because of the flu causing parents and children to flood clinics in order to protect themselves. The article interviews a family at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. Children’s Hospital vaccinated more than 1,500 people Saturday. The article also lists information from the CDC on groups that have a higher risk of flu infection such as the elderly and young children. The author (Rachel E. Stassen-Berger) included a quote from a mother whose children attended school with one of the children who died from flu. The article ends with contact information for getting vaccinated.
I think one challenge the author faced when writing this article was to not sensationalize the danger of contracting flu. She included the fact that 3 children had died from the virus, but didn’t try to scare the reader. Instead she laid out how easy it is to get vaccinated. She used a lot of informal sources to make the story more colorful, but also included information from the CDC and the director of infectious disease at Children’s to give the story more credibility.
I also read an article from the Star Tribune’s website about flu vaccines. The Strib article (by Maura Lerner and Josephine Marcotty) told the story from a different angle. The article was about whether or not vaccinations should be done in schools. This article included most of the same statistics as the PPress article and even quoted the same person, but it went more in-depth.
I think the Strib article is more interesting. It includes the same basic information as the PPress, but touches on a bigger issue. The PPress article was almost more like PSA, whereas the Strib article brought up an issue of controversy.

January 25, 2007

Cruella DeJailed

This article was on the front page of the StarTribune today (Jan. 25th). Basically, it's about a St. Paul man receiving Minnesota's first lifetime ban from pet ownership. Last summer, 20-year-old Kimanie Carter was charged with snapping the necks of 10 puppies, a felony charge. The act was an attempt to terrorize his girlfriend into giving him a ride. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty and now faces up to 12 months in prison, behavior counseling and is banned from owning an "animal companion" for the rest of his life. Though lifetime pet bans have been used as crimminal punishment before in Virginia, Maine and New York, this is the first time such a sentence has been given in Minnesota.
This article is obviously eye-catching because most puppies are pretty adorable and most people would agree that there are very few things a puppy could do to warrant an untimely death. The author chose to mention they way the puppies were killed in the lead to add some shock value and draw the reader in, but kept the rest of the article almost void of more gruesome details. Instead, he chose to focus more on the meaning behind the sentencing and cited Minnesota as one of only 11 states to have laws banning people from pet ownership.
The Pioneer Press also did an article about this incident, but not as a front page story. The PP article didn't focus so much on the sentencing or animal rights legislation, but rather on the incident itself. It gave more detail about the build up before Carter offed the puppies and how he elluded capture from St. Paul police.
In my opinion, The Strib article was more effective. In class, we discussed how including the latest information gives a jounalist a competetive edge. The PP article just recanted information that was already known where the Strib focused on the most recent developments and expanded the significance of what happened to a national level by including information on other states dealing with simliar cases. After reading both these articles I am ultimately more informed about animal rights legislation and am left with a strong desire to watch 101 Dalmatians and have a good cry.