January 2010 Archives

Janitors vote to strike across the Twin Cities

According to an article in The Star Tribune, the janitors of Service Employees International Union's Local 26 voted late Saturday night to authorize a strike.

The vote was crucial to the union's bargaining committee who is currently trying to negotiate a contract with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association. MPR News Q reports that the union's 4,000 members have been working without a contract since Jan. 8.

The main snag in the negotiations is benefits. Spokesman Javier Morillo said that health care is a major issue.

A statement from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association said that "it was disappointed but committed to negotiating an agreement... in their mutual best interest."

Two more negotiation meetings are scheduled later this month.

Analysis: News Leads in "The Guardian"

The Guardian led with this story on Sunday:

"Tension between the US and Iran heightened dramatically today with the disclosure that Barack Obama is deploying a missile shield to protect American allies in the Gulf from attack by Tehran."

Many news elements are present in this lead, and at the same time, there are some unresolved questions.

Major questions like who, what, where and when are answered. The players are The US and her allies versus Iran. A missile shield shield is what has entered the conflict and the action is taking place in the Persian Gulf (though not explicitly named as such) today (Sunday).

The wording is overly general in this lead. A reader has to assume many things with this lead. Readers not familiar with geography, or a reader looking at this story later in the week, might have a different frame of reference than that which the writer uses.

Also, the word "disclosure" is too vague. The sentence is constructed to conveniently skirt around the fact that Barack Obama did not make a direct declaration of this missile shield. In fact, it isn't until the fifth paragraph that the writer of this article admits that this information comes from a leak by an unnamed senior administrator and that the announcement is not "formal."

This lead reflects timeliness, conflict, prominence (with Obama), and especially impact. But sensationalism seems to be the prevailing element.

Since The Guardian is a British news organization, it is possible that some of their customs in writing news are different than what we are learning in our American classroom. But this particular lead still leaves some things to be desired.

Author Salinger dies at the age of 91

CNN reported Thursday that J.D. Salinger, author of such works as "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Nine Stories," died Wednesday evening at the age of 91 of natural causes.

A statement released Thursday by Salinger's family and his literary agent Phyllis Westberg said that Salinger's health "had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year." He reportedly did not suffer at the time of his death.

In recent years, Salinger had become a legend as a result of his constant quest for seclusion. According to his obituary in The New York Times, Salinger escaped the public eye to a 90-acre compound in New Hampshire shortly after the publication of "Catcher."

The New York Times relates Salinger's hermetic life to the fruition of the main character Holden's fantasies at the end of "Catcher." But due to the popularity and great meaning that Salinger's works have held for readers over the past 40 years, peace was never completely granted to the famous author.

In 1986, a suit over the publication of an unauthorized collection of short stories brought Salinger's case all the way to the Supreme Court. Then later, in both 1998 and 2000, Salinger's one-time lover Joyce Maynard and then Salinger's daughter Margaret published scathing biographies about their lives with the reclusive writer--pointing out the author's bizarre habits, diets, and obsessions.

At the same time, however, The New York Times portrays Salinger's life as long and colorful. He is regarded as one of the great American authors and extremely influential in the literary world.

Salinger is survived by his fourth wife Colleen O'Neill, his two children Margaret and Matthew, and three grandsons.

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