Newspaper: Star Tribune
Headline: Writing in chalk was her right, protester's lawsuit claims
Reporter Dan Browning gives an overview the legal situation of Melissa Hill, a women recently banned from the federal building in Minneapolis for writing anti-war statements on the sidewalk last June. Browning's angle focuses on the attorney's that will be defending Hill- Dorsey & Whitney. With a little research, I found that stories have already been done on Hill's situation back in June (along with many other story about arrests and protests - Hill has been quite an active citizen). The angle is different, but I'm not sure how interesting it is. The story relies heavily on the information from lawsuit that was made public on Monday (time peg).
First, Browning gives a brief summary of Hill's situation back in June. Browing goes on to say the lawsuit is alleging that the courthouse security personnel and a Minneapolis police officer violated Hill's constitutional rights by detaining her, searching her backpack without permission, and issuing a no-trespassing notice that bans her from public property.
Browning then goes on to name the defendants in the suit and details about how Hill's rights were violated. He also gives background of other charges that Hill has been issued.
The main point of the story was the recent lawsuit by Hill and the major legal representation of Dorsey &Whitney, but Browning goes on for 12 paragraphs! I got bored. My first critisizm is his sources. The lawsuit was about all he had. He couldn't even get Melissa Hill to comment on the story.
Next, because Browning relies heavily on the lawsuit, he tends to use more complicated language like:
"It alleges that Dayton, Swanson, Baez and the city violated Hill's rights under the Fourteen Amendment to due process of law because the trespass laws allow for arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement" - whoa, that's a mouthful.
All in all, I feel this story could have been much shorter. Also, the ending! Browning ended with a quote about how Hill settled with Hennepin County on charges from a Occupy MN protest:
"Hill could not be reached for comment Monday. But she said after settling with the county that she felt vindicated.
'I was arrested on a public sidewalk. This sends a strong message that they can't be misusing their trespass policy to suppress free speech.' "
So, you couldn't get a quote about this story, but used one from another story so that there was a nice quote to finish the story? Huh?
The only way I can really think to improve the story would be to get living quote about the lawsuit, not a quote about a past violations and settlement that relates to the story only because it refers to the "sidewalk". Although, if that was all he had to work with, it could be considered a creative way to get a quote in there if he simply couldn't get the sources together. Also, it just need to be shorter. Although, I'm one to talk because this blog has turned out to be a lot longer that it should. Oh hypocrisy...