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Anoka Cross-burning

A black family in Anoka had the image of a cross burned into their lawn Friday, police are investigating it as a hate crime. One member of the family woke up at 6:45 to see the 6-feet-by-10-feet shape burned into the ground. The police were called but their are no leads. Police were later called to the house again when one of the family members was involved in a dispute with a neighbor over the incident.

The PP and the Star and Tribune took some minutely different approaches with the lead.

The PP led with the actual incident and added a conjunction about how police were "treating it as a hate crime." The Star, however, led with information that the police were investigating with no mention of the hate crime, then followed with the incident. It seems to me that the cross burning is most important so should hit your eye first. The hate crime info is also good. Just saying, like the Star does, that they're investigating is boring and flattens out an interesting twist in the case, whether or not it was racially motivated.

The Star Tribune tells the story chronologically which, I think, is appealing. The PP does better though by adding a quote from police that insinuates that it was most likely racially motivated before going into the chronology.The PP scoops the trib again in the next sentence after they've both asserted that the family doesn't have any issues with anyone when the PP looks up a case that occurred two years ago when KKK was spray painted on a house.

Obviously this is a difficult story to cover because you don't want to whip up hysteria (or be accused with it), and sensitivity to the victims is very important but it's got to be balanced with the actual details of the story. Both papers seem to accomplish this, and maybe, are a little too cautious. They both report that police were called to the residence later for the confrontation between the neighbor and one of the victims, neither report more on it. Maybe it was just some unrelated pettiness but by releasing the detail they make you hungry for more information.