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September 30, 2007

Structures

The structure of the Pioneer Press' story "Clearing 35W wreckage was tricky, tiring, unforgettable" was very similar to the method we were taught in class.

The lead summarized the important points of the story. It was followed by some background about the bridge collapse and a quote from someone who helped to clear the wreckage. Then there was a chronological account of how the wreckage was cleared.

I think the organization was effective. It was very straightforward and easy to read.

Last of 35W Bridge Wreckage Removed

Workers removed the last of the steel wreckage from the 35W bridge collapse last week, completing a long and arduous task.

The job was especially difficult because the cause of the collapse is still under investigation. The pieces had to be preserved so they could be studied, reported the Associated Press as posted on the WCCO web site.

According to the Pioneer Press, an estimated 2,000 tons of steel were removed from the water and placed down the river at the Bohemian Flats to await inspection.

The AP story and the Pioneer Press story were very similar. I was a little confused, though by just how similar they were. They used many of the same quotes and some of the wording they used was identical. The Pioneer Press story was more detailed, but I wonder which source originally came up with the content. Maybe I'm confused about how the AP works...

Anoka Man Fakes Hate Crime

An Anoka man was charged Friday with falsely reporting a crime after burning a cross into his own lawn and reporting it to police as a hate crime.

Anoka County Jail inmates saw a news broadcast about the cross burning, and remembered that De'Andre June had talked about carrying out a hoax like this to gain sympathy and bail money, reported the Associated Press as posted on Minnesota Public Radio's web site.

The cross burning roused the support of neighbors and human rights organizations as well as attention from the media, the Pioneer Press reported.

According to the Pioneer Press, June has a history of run-ins with the law related to a wide range of crimes.

The AP story was more or less a brief, while the Pioneer Press article contained a lot of background, a variety of sources, and a more complete account of what happened.

Newt Gingrich Won't Run for President

After many hints to the contrary, Newt Gingrich has decided not to run for president.

The Republican was faced with the decision to either continue as chairman of the political action committee American Solutions or go for the presidency. He could not legally do both. In the end, he chose American Solutions, said the New York Times.

According to the Washington Post, a news conference had been set for Monday to announce Gingrich's formation of an exploratory commitee, and Gingrich has said that he has already been offered millions in would-be campaign contributions.

The Washington Post article was much longer and contained a lot more background information than the New York Times. This is probably because the Post is located in Washington and focuses more on politics.

Ecuador Chooses New Assembly

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is hoping to dissolve Congress by creating a constituent assembly to write a new charter for the country.

Correa says he wants to diminish the influence of traditional parties and cut down on corruption, but opponents say his true goal is to increase his presidential power, said BBC News.

The assembly would have the power to dismiss any elected official, said the Associated Press.

According to the BBC, the voting system has left many Ecuadorians confused or undecided. The ballot lists around 3,200 candidates, including beauty queens, a masked crime fighter called The Punisher, and a monk who urges people to take from the rich and give to the poor.

Correa considers himself a friend of Hugo Chavez. The assembly could be a step towards socialism, said the AP.

The BBC News story was shorter than the AP's. I was a little confused about what the constituent assembly was after reading the BBC's story. It wasn't until I read the more detailed AP story that I really understood how it would work.

UN Envoy Sent to Myanmar

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari was sent to Myanmar Sunday to help resolve a violent crackdown on activists protesting the military junta that runs the country.

Gambari met with detained democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but was not able to speak to Myanmar's top two junta leaders, which had been one of the goals of the visit, the AP News service reported.

According to the AP, there is a wide range of a opinions as to whether the envoy will accomplish anything. One Asian diplomat expressed optimism that this was a step towards a peaceful resolution, while a representative of Suu Kyi's party said that the envoy would be able to do little more than relay messages between the opposing sides.

Myanmar has a history of ignoring outside pressure, but in a rare move China and the Association of South East Asian Nations, both normally allies of Myanmar, have denounced the violence taking place, reported BBC News.

The BBC News story was shorter than the AP's. The AP story had a little more background information. One thing I found interesting was that the BBC called the country Burma, while most American publications I've looked at call it Myanmar. I wonder which is correct. Another interesting detail I found in the AP's story was the pope's take on events. This seemed almost irrelevant to me considering that only 1% of Myanmar's population is Catholic.

September 24, 2007

Attribution

The Pioneer Press's story, "Girl, 12, is hit as shots ring out at North Minneapolis party" included testimony from a number of witnesses. The quotations gave the story life and made it more relatable. A total of six community members were quoted.

Two of the witnesses did not give their names. They were attributed as "one nearby resident who would not give her name" and "another neighbor who would not give her name."

The witness' names and a description of who they were were listed with each attribution.

I liked the way this story used quotes to tell the story. The dominant perspective was that of the community. A lot of stories rely to much on "officials" to supply the information, but this style was more interesting and was still effective.

12-year-old Girl is Shot

A 12-year-old girl was shot in the head late Friday night in North Minneapolis. She remains in critical condition.

The victim was walking home from a birthday party when she was shot. Witnesses reported seeing a group of 17- or 18-year-old boys hiding behind a fence who might have been the shooters, said the Pioneer Press.

City Council Member Don Samuels said that the ages of shooting victims and shooters has gone down in the past few years. Of 2006's 60 homicides, 11 of the victims were under 18, reported the Star Tribune.

This story was covered very differently in each paper. The Pioneer Press article included testimony from a number of witnesses. The story was told through the voices of community members. The Star Tribune framed the story as part of a pattern or societal problem of youth and violence. It contained a lot of statistics and comparisons with past incidents. The only witness quoted was a city council member that drove by around the time of the shooting.

Blackwater USA Under Investigation

The Iraqi and United States governments are setting up a joint inquiry into the shooting deaths of 11 Iraqis at the hands of Blackwater, USA, a private security company.

The Iraqi government decided not to expel Blackwater from the country because of the potential "security vacuum" that could result, said Reuters as reported in the Washington Post.

According to the New York Times, Blackwater USA is also being investigated for up to seven other offenses involving questionable tactics. Little information has been released regarding what actually happened to cause the company to open fire.

The Reuters article was more up to date than the New York Times article. The New York Times article was written without the knowledge that the Iraqi government would not be ousting Blackwater. The New York Times article also contained a lot more background information.

Florida Pushes up Primary

Florida Democratic Party is holding its primary January 29, against the wishes of the Democratic National Convention.

According to the Associated Press as reported in the Washington Post, the Democratic National Committee threatened to strip Florida of its 210 nominating convention delegate if it holds its primary before February 5, the earliest most states are allowed to hold a primary. Democratic candidates have also pledged not to campaign there.

Florida wants to have a more prominent role in choosing the Democratic candidate, and thinks that it is worth the sanctions to go ahead with the January plans, said the New York Times.

Coverage was basically the same in the two papers. Organization varied slightly.

Monks Protest in Myanmar

20,000 protesters marched in Myanmar Sunday in protest of the military junta that controls the government. The march was lead by a group of Buddhist monks and nuns. This is the largest protest in Myanmar since 1988.

A group of 400 broke off at one point to March to the house of Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy leader who has been on house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years, said the Associated Press as printed in the Washington Post.

Unlike the 1988 protest, where 3,000 people were killed, the government has not responded harshly as of yet. According to the New York Times, this is in part because of fear of public retaliation and the fact that monks are leading the protests.

The New York Times article had more quotes and background information than the Associated Press.

September 23, 2007

Hunger Strike

11 University of Minnesota students and two university employees went on a hunger strike in support of AFSCME strikers on September 17.

The hunger strikers plan to sit on the end of the Washington Avenue bridge from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., drinking only juice and water, said the Pioneer Press.

According to the Star Tribune, a university spokesperson called the decision "unfortunate," while strikers had mixed feelings.

The Star Tribune article was longer than the Pioneer Press article and contained a number of quotes. This was probably because the strike occurred in Minneapolis and the Star Tribune is a Minneapolis paper.

September 17, 2007

Leads

"Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries."

This lead summarizes all the important points of the article in a concise but engaging way. It doesn't give a great deal of detail, but provides just enough information to give the reader an idea of what the story is about and to convince the reader to go on.

Who: Chaplains - fairly general since it's the federal government that mandated that this be done, but enough info to let the reader know that it's someone in a position of power that's taking the books away.

What: a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners - like the who, this does not tell the whole story but gives the reader the main idea. The word "systematic" lets you know that there has been some kind of conspiracy to make this happen.

Where: In federal prisons nationwide, in chapel libraries - the word "federal" lets you know that the government is probably behind what's happening. The fact that it's nationwide gives it more importance, since what is happening is not an isolated case.

The why and the when were not included, but were not really necessary. The facts laid out in the lead were interesting and just general enough to make the reader want to know the details.

Prisons Ban Books

All religious books not on a list of approved titles have been banned from prison libraries by the Bureau of Prisons.

According to the New York Times, religious resources have been limited to 150 approved titles for each of 20 major religions. The decision was based on a recommendation by the Justice Department listing steps for prisons to take in order to avoid becoming militant religious groups' training grounds.

Instead of compiling a list of banned titles, a limited list of approved titles was created. Experts say it's unclear why some titles were included and others were not. Thousands of books were removed from the shelves of prisons.

The Washington Post said that this potentially violates the limited rights of prisoners and limits one of prisoners few sources of hope: religion.

The Washington Post article was written by a columnist reacting to the New York Times article. Accordingly, the New York Times piece was more fact based and left opinion out.


September 16, 2007

New Director at Walker

The Walker Art Center has chosen Olga Viso, current head of the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum, as its new director.

The Hirshhorn is similar to the Walker in that both focus on contemporary art and have a sculpture garden. This makes Viso's transition a natural one, said the Pioneer Press.

According to the Star Tribune, Viso has yet to make plans for the expansion of the sculpture garden. She was quoted as saying that one of the biggest challenges will be to make contemporary art more accessible to visitors. She is excited to work at an institution that takes such a multidisciplinary approach to art.

The Pioneer Press's coverage of this story was straightforward and provided a lot of background information about Viso. The Star Tribune ran two articles, one of which was similar to the Pioneer Press's article, and one that included an interview with Viso and provided a more personal view of the new director. This was most likely because of the fact that the Walker is in Minneapolis.

Man Shot at Target Center

A man was shot at the Target center during a mixed martial arts competition on Saturday night.

According the Star Tribune, two men were fighting before one shot the other and both fled.

Audience members scattered at the sound of the gunshot, said the Pioneer Press.

The Star Tribune reported that although no arrests have been made, police have the name of a suspect.

The stories in both papers were quite short. The Pioneer Press focused a bit more on the audience and were able to get a quote from a spectator. The Star Tribune didn't have much to say about the audience but did quote a police spokesperson.

Protest in Washington DC

Thousands of activists marched in Washington DC Sept. 15, most in protest of the Iraq war, some in support of it. The protest ended with the arrests of 189 people.

According to the Washington Post, the protest was peaceful for most of the day, but arrests were made after a number of protesters attempted to climb over a barrier. Some protesters said they wanted to be arrested.

There was some conflict between pro-war and anti-war protesters. Heated comments were traded and police were forced to break up at least one altercation, said the New York Times.

The protesters came from all over the country. The ANSWER Coalition brought together a number of anti-war organizations, while the Gathering of Eagles represented many of the pro-war activists.

The main difference between the New York Times coverage and that of the Washington Post is that the New York Times focused almost exclusively on the conflicts and altercations that occured during the protests, while the Washington Post spent a lot of time describing the different views represented and the other events of the day.

Shinzo Abe Resigns

Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, unexpectedly resigned Sept. 12.

According to the BBC News one of Abe's reasons for departing was that "Japan needed a new leader to 'fight against terrorism.'" Abe had already announced that he would resign if he was not able to convince parliament to extend a military operation in support of the United States in Afghanistan. The timing of his resignation, right before the parliamentary session began, was not expected.

Public opinion of Abe had been low for awhile, as a result of a series of scandals surrounding both Abe and a number of his cabinet officials. According to the New York Times, it was a Abe's failure to disclose a bookkeeping problem with the country's pension system that left the public most unhappy.

The main difference between the BBC's coverage and the New York Times coverage was organization. The New York Times talked about how unexpected the decision was before giving much background on Abe, while the BBC waited until the end to talk about the "surprise timing." I also found it interesting that the BBC mentioned Abe's interest in the "fight against terror" several times, whereas the New York Times never used this wording.