December 9, 2007

Minnesota woman killed in Colorado shooting

A Minnesota woman and an Alaska man were killed in a shooting in a Colorado missionary training center.

12 hours later and 65 miles away, another man was shot and killed at a Colorado Springs megachurch, reported the Star Tribune. Police are investigating whether the incidents were connected.

The gunman who killed the Minnesota woman, entered the missionary center asking to spend the night, the Pioneer Press said. When he was told he could not stay, he opened fire. He is still missing.

The stories were very similar. They used a lot of the same quotes.

Potential contestants wait in cold line for Deal or No Deal auditions

Despite subzero temperatures, over 8,000 waited in line outside Denny Hecker's Inver Grove Heights car dealership to try out for NBC's "Deal or No Deal."

Potential contestants started lining up before dawn, bundled in warm clothing, waiting for hours for their chance to win $1 million, reported the Star Tribune.

People had 30 seconds to make themselves stand out among the crowds, the Pioneer Press said. Some did the chicken dance, some wore costumes, others just talked about all the good things they'd do with the money.

The Pioneer Press story was a little longer and spent more time talking to the people in line.

C.I.A. destroyed interrogation tapes

The C.I.A. destroyed two interrogation tapes, one featuring terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah.

The videotapes show terrorism suspects being subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, reported the New York Times. The C.I.A. said they destroyed the tapes because they had no intelligence value and could potentially reveal the identities of operatives. One official said that there are many documents that could reveal operatives' identities, but this one was probably destroyed because of the legal implications of the techniques used.

According to the Washington Post, the C.I.A. did not release the tapes to the federal judge of terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the 9/11 commission, both of which requested information of that nature. C.I.A. officials said they didn't judge the tapes to be valuable to those cases.

The two stories were very similar. The New York Times story was better organized and easier to read.

9 killed in Omaha mall shooting

A 19-year-old man shot and killed eight people and himself in an Omaha mall Wednesday. Five other people were injured.

The shooter, Robert Hawkins, was a troubled man who was living with a friend's family after being kicked out of his home, the AP as printed in the Washington Post said. He had recently been fired from his job at McDonald's and broken up with his girlfriend.

Hawkins entered the Von Maur department store with an assault rifle and began shooting employees and customers, the New York Times reported. Witnesses described a scene of panic.

The New York Times spent more time on what the witnesses had to say, while the AP talked more about the shooter's background.

Iran abandoned nuclear weapons program in 2003

According to a new National Intelligence Estimate, Iran halted it's nuclear arms program in 2003.

The report, a consensus of the major intelligence bureaus, said that they were "highly confident" that the arms program was shut down in 2003 and "moderately confident" that it remains shut down, the New York Times reported. The report said that Iran probably wouldn't be able to produce a nuclear weapon until 2013.

The Bush administration's reaction indicates that there will probably not be a huge change in policy as a result of this information, despite the fact that it contradicts previous intelligence, the BBC said. However it may complicate efforts to pass a U.N. Security Council Resolution imposing sanctions on Iran.

The two stories were similar, since they were both first reports of the intelligence. The BBC story was shorter and more to the point, as they tend to be, and it included information about how this would affect U.N. processes.

December 2, 2007

Refinery Worker's Body Found

The body of a missing oil refinery worker was found today.

The Pioneer Press reported that Nicholas Gunter, 29, went missing yesterday at 8:30 a.m. after a fire broke out at the Marathon Petroleum refinery where he worked. 70 employees, firefighters and volunteers searched for him.

Gunter's body was found at 1:40 p.m. today inside the fuel tank that caught fire, the Star Tribune said. He was most likely sitting on top of it, checking the gauges, when it caught fire.

The two articles were very similar. The Star Tribune had a few more details than the Pioneer Press.

Snow

Guess what? It snowed this weekend.

The Star Tribune reported that Minnesota is buried in 2 to 8 inches of snow, depending on where you are. Despite the 338 traffic accidents, the people the paper talked to seemed happy about the snow.

The Pioneer Press reported that the snow did not stop people from participating in Grand Avenue's Grand Meander or Nicollet Avenue's Santa Run.

Both papers spent a lot of time focusing on how much people were enjoying the snow. That's biased. What about the people whose cars got stuck or who don't particularly enjoy shoveling?

L.A. Riders will have to Pay

The Los Angeles transit system, which has long functioned on the honor system, will add turnstyles to prevent customers from riding free.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted 11-1 last week to add ticket booths to the subway and light rail systems, the New York Times reported. It could cost up to $30 million to install and $1 million a year after that, but is projected to save $6.77 million a year.

According to the L.A. Times, riders had mixed reactions. Some said they hardly ever see anyone boarding without paying, and they see the endeavor as a waste of money. Others say people do it all the time, and the plan is necessary. Around 5% of riders do not pay.

The L.A. Times story had more quotes and spent more time on resident reactions. It also was more specific about how many people weren't paying.

Russia Votes

Partial parliamentary election results show that Russian President Vladmir Putin's party, United Russia, won the majority of seats.

According to the BBC, United Russia has 63 percent of the vote so far. 80 percent of the ballots have been counted. There were a number of reports of fraud, although party officials asserted that they were minor.

The New York Times reported that the success of the party will likely benefit Putin, who is unable to run for reelection next spring. Instead, he may attempt to become prime minister.

The New York Times story mostly focused on Putin and what the election means for him. The BBC talked about Putin, but only briefly at the end.

Venezuela Votes

Venezuelans cast their votes Sunday on whether President Hugo Chavez's reforms will go into effect.

The BBC reported that suggested reforms include indefinitely extending Chavez's right to run for reelection, reducing the work day to six hours, putting the Central Bank in Chavez's control and reducing the voting age.

According to the New York Times, opposition groups have found a common cause in encouraging voters to vote against Chavez.

The New York Times article seemed to be more openly anti-Chavez. There was a lot more background information and most of it was negative. It was telling that the BBC reported a huge voter turnout while the New York Times focused on areas where they said turnout was low.

November 18, 2007

Breastfeeding Mom Seperated from Baby in Raid

Immigration officials are creating guidelines for separating at risk children from their parents' after an undocumented immigrant in Ohio was separated from her breastfed baby.

27-year-old Sadya Umanzor, a Honduran immigrant, was arrested two weeks ago when immigration officials came to her house to arrest her brother-in-law, reported the Plain Dealer. A representative from La Leche League of Ohio was unable to get a breast pump to the mother and she experienced pain and swelling as a result. Her 9-month-old baby would not take formula and didn't eat for three days. She was eventually released on humanitarian grounds.

In response Immigration and Customs Enforcement codified guidelines for how to deal with situations like this, reported the New York Times. Officials will have to inquire about children or dependents immigrants being detained have, and will be required to listen to the recommendations of social workers.

The Plain Dealer story was reporting on a local incident, while the New York Times put that incident into a national context, focusing on national guidelines that were created as a result.

Over 2,000 Killed in Bangladesh Cyclone

Cyclone Sidr, which ravaged Bangladesh Thursday, resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 people.

According to Reuters as printed in the New York Times, Bangladesh's disaster ministry registered 2,300 dead. The Red Crescent Society, however, thought the death count could reach up to 10,000, because of the many areas still inaccessible.

The BBC reported that vital food sources were also destroyed. International aid groups are scrambling to send help.

The BBC and Reuters had similar stories that were organized slightly differently. The Reuters story included information about the U.S.'s reaction since it is a national wire service.

UN Climate Change Report

The UN released the fourth and final installment of its climate report, which synthesizes the information from the previous three.

The New York Times said that one of the most important findings is that a temperature increase of one to three degrees would be enough to induce species extinction and a rise in sea levels. The BBC reported that some of the panel's previous predictions have come to pass earlier than expected.

According to the BBC, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of the results and the necessity of proper government reactions. He said there are inexpensive ways to prevent the worst case scenarios from happening

World leaders will meet next week in Bali to discuss a climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the New York Times said.

The two stories carried basically the same information but organized it differently. The BBC started with the reaction of the UN secretary general and then went on to discuss the implications of the findings. The New York Times spent more time analyzing the findings before listing what exactly the findings were.

Black Friday Looms

As Black Friday nears, retailers and consumers are thinking strategically.

According to KSTP, several web sites offer consumers the opportunity to map out their shopping plan by showing web surfers where the deals will be.

The Star Tribune reported that many stores have had discounted prices weeks before Black Friday. Retailers are expecting a slower season as consumers react to the housing crisis and rising cost of gas and other necessities.

The KSTP story was much shorter and more basic, since it is a broadcast news station. It focused on a very simple topic - the fact that consumers can look at deals being promoted online. The Star Tribune story focused on the fact that retailers are reacting to the economy with earlier sales and deeper discounts. The story was longer and more complex - more appropriate for a newspaper.

Karen People Part of Minnesota's Immigrant Population

Between 1,500 and 3,000 Karen refugees from Burma and Thailand are now part of Minnesota's immigrant population, City Pages reported.

According to City Pages the Karen people fled Burma where they were persecuted by the military government. The Burmese government forced them to work, flee their villages and live in fear. Some were raped, shot or killed by the government. Many fled to refugee camps in Thailand, later moving to third countries like the U.S.

Minnesota Karens have found sanctuary in St. Paul's First Baptist Church, where they make up the majority of the congregation, reported the Pioneer Press. According to City Pages, the congregation spends a large part of the sermon singing in Karen. The Pioneer Press reported that the church now offers music lessons and has a number of choirs and bands.

The City Pages article was written magazine-style as was appropriate for the publication. It gave a much more complete picture of the Karen situation. Individual stories were told through the voices of Karen people. The Pioneer Press was more of a short feature story that took the angle of music in a mostly Karen church. It was interesting to see the Pioneer Press story appear days after the City Pages story was front page.