January 2012 Archives

Analysis: use of lead in drunk driving story

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The lead in the Star Tribune story included enough information to update readers who had been following the story while simultaneously drawing in new readers by including unique details of the story.

The story used multiple news elements in the lead. Proximity was one element in the lead, because details about the location (a St. Paul man, Twin Cities airport) could interest readers in these areas. The final element, and possibly the element playing the largest roll in this lead, was emotions. Simply mentioning that the drunk man ran over a child would tug at a reader's heart strings, but the fact that he was on his way to welcome his soldier father home from the war is a unique and devastating situation sure to catch a reader's eye.

The lead also included 4 of the 5 W's: Who, What, Where, and Why. It leaves out the When, because even though the charges were recent, the actual accident happened last month so it is not the most timely. Specific details included where the man was from, what he was charged with, the age of the boy, where the accident took place, and why the boy was there. It was more general on the other W's, and we had to wait until later paragraphs to find out the name of the man and the boy and specifics on the accident.

The lead begins as a straight-forward hard news approach, giving us a general sense of what the story will be about. In addition to this, it also includes important background information that makes the story unique and newsworthy.

Man who ran over boy at MSP charged with drunk driving

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A St. Paul man has been charged with driving drunk after he ran over a 6-year-old boy at Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport last month, who was his way to greet his father returning from military duty in Iraq, news sources report.

A criminal complaint filed Thursday said Tommy Rodriguez, 61, told police he had drunk 32 ounces of wine shortly before he hit Zachery Drew with his car on Dec. 16, the Star Tribune reports.

Rodriguez has a previous drunk driving conviction from 2004 and is charged with criminal vehicular operation and third-degree driving while impaired, according to the Star Tribune.

Witnesses told police Rodriguez ran over Zachery Drew and dragged the boy for several feet. The vehicle did not stop until it hit a concrete wall, and Rodriguez admitted to not slowing down or steering away to avoid the boy, the Star Tribune reports.

Drew suffered a broken leg, nose, and jaw. He was released from the hospital in late Dec., CBS Local News reports.

Rodriguez's blood-alcohol concentration measured 0.07 percent nearly two hours after the crash, which is just under the legal limit for Minnesota drivers. He said he drank four 8-ounce glasses of wine a little over an hour earlier that evening.

According to the criminal complaint, "extrapolating backwards from that time" his blood was tested, "the defendant's blood-alcohol concentration at the time of the driving over the victim would have been at least 0.08 percent," the Star Tribune reports.

Dozens dead after Iraq car-bombing

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A suicide car-bombing killed at least 31 people and wounded 60 others when it struck a Shiite funeral in Baghdad Friday, the latest violent act of many in the turbulent country, news sources report.

The attack was a result of suspected al Qaeda militants attempting create open sectarian warfare by provoking a counterattack by Shiite militias on Sunnis now that U.S. troops are no longer in Iraq, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

According to CNN, officials said the bombing happened as mourners were heading toward a hospital to recover the bodies of relatives shot the night before.

The violence continued when minutes after the explosion, gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint in Zafaraniyah. The attack killed two police officers, police officials told the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to the London-based Iraq Body Count, a group that tracks civilian deaths, in the last five months, there have been 398 deaths Iraq in August, 394 in September, 355 in October, 272 in November and 371 in December.

Friday's attack would bring January's deaths to more than 400, Hamit Dardagan, co-founder and principal analyst of Iraq Body Count told CNN.

"It's not a pretty scenario. There doesn't seem to be a stabilizing presence or force," such as a regional power or a credible mediator to resolve the crisis, Ramzy Mardini, Institute for the Study of War analyst told CNN.

"Iraq has entered a new era of post-Saddam politics," Mardini said to CNN.

By Alysha Bohanon

A recent comment from former "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon stating she is gay by "choice" has sparked controversy in the gay and lesbian community, news sources report.

"I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line 'I've been straight and I've been gay, and gay is better.' And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it's not, but for me it's a choice, and you don't get to define my gayness for me," Nixon stated in an interview with the New York Times published January 19.

The comment was riled many gay activists, such as John Aravosis, who says Nixon is bisexual, not gay. He went on to write that Nixon "needs to learn how to choose her words better, because she just fell into a right-wing trap, willingly. When the religious right says it's a choice, they mean you quite literally choose your sexual orientation, you can change it at will, and that's bull," as quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

Nixon is currently in a relationship with Christine Marinoni after coming out as gay in 2004. The couple have a son together, and Nixon has two children from a previous relationship, msnbc.com reports.

Former presidential hopeful Bachmann to seek Congress

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By Alysha Bohanon

U.S. Representative and former Republican presidential nomination hopeful Michelle Bachmann announced Wednesday she will seek a fourth term in Congress, news sources report.

Bachmann's announcement comes three weeks after ending her campaign for the 2012 Republican president nomination, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Bachmann withdrew from the race after receiving just 5 percent of the vote in the Iowa nominating caucuses, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Minnesota representative's decision ended speculation that she might move on from the House.

"I know how to create jobs and I am a job creator," Bachmann told the Associated Press, "I do have a formula for success. I have lived that formula. ... We need that voice here in Congress."

Bachmann represents the Minnesota's 6th Congressional District. Unless the Republican-leaning area undergoes major redistricting when new lines are drawn for 2012, Bachmann will most likely be a heavy favorite, the Associated Press reports.

Dayton backs Metrodome site

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By Alysha Bohanon

After backing an alternate site less than a week ago, Gov. Mark Dayton told Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf Monday night that a new stadium would have to be built at the current Metrodome site for Legislature to pass a deal this year, news sources report.

According to the Minnesota Daily, Dayton's push for the Metrodome site comes after he supported the Linden Avenue site near the Basilica of St. Mary at a press conference less than a week ago.

Another preferred option is the Arden Hills site in Ramsey County.

Although the governor referred to the Metrodome as a "default" stadium site only last week, he now defends the option, calling it a "very, very attractive site," the Star Tribune reports.

Dayton said Wilf was "disappointed and frustrated" by the news, according to the Star Tribune. He explained that his sudden change in opinion came after realizing that an analysis of the Linden Avenue site could not be finished in time for legislators to pass a deal for the stadium this year.

The Legislature convened Tuesday, and the stadium debate will be an item of heavy discussion over the course of the session, which ends this spring.

If a stadium is built at the Metrodome, the Vikings would have to play three seasons at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, costing millions of dollars in necessary upgrades and lost revenue, the Minnesota Daily reports.

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