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March 31, 2007


The Associated Press story on the Canadian web site reported that U S officials lied to former NFL star Pat Tillman's family and the American public. The revelations have prompted congressional hearings. The story said top U S miltary officials knew the circumstances leading to Tillman's death and sought to warn President Bush and the administration gainst making conclusion that Tillman died as a hero. The story said top military commanders knew It was "highly possible" that the former football star's death was caused by friendly fire.

Tillman's family has (accused) said the military and the Bush administration deliberately misled them and the public. This is only one of many high profile cases in which the Bush administration has had problems with telling the truth. From the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq, leading to uncovering CIA's operative cover, the Atty. Gen. Gonzales' position on the fired eight federal prosecutors to Tillman's death. History will have a whole lot to write about.

The story has one factual error: Gen. John Abizaid (notAbasaid). Other problems: The phrase paid fulsome tribute. The writer should have said Bush praised Tillman for his bravery two days after his death. Another phrase "his comrades-in-arms" should be his fellow soldiers. The use of the word charged implied that the revelation has brouhgt a civil action. Accused or alleged shoud be used instead.

This Monteal web site wrote the as hard news focusing on the new evidence. Great job in choosing the angle. The lead was also great.
Read this story at the url below:


The same story in Boston Globe appeared as news feature, using hourglass style. It was longer than the one by
by the Montreal based CBC web. The Boston Globe attempted to get comments from Tillman's mother and some officials in light of the revelation that Cpl Tillman was killed by friendly fire. Great job for the efforts to hear from Tillman's mother.

Problems with this story. The leads was unusually long. More than 50 words. The central idea was that a top general warned of strong indications that it was friendly fire that killed Tillman and enemy's fire. President Bush might therefore embarrass himself if he said Tillman died in an ambush. This strong piece of information was almost down played in the opening story. The writer should have avoided the phrase "Just seven days after the death of NFL star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman," as part of the lead.

The second paragraph began with "It was not until a month afterward that." Not needed. Go the point and report what the Pentagon did or said. The memo reinforced ( showed), not reinforces. It happened. Example, if the White House said, then the memo reinforced (not White House said the memo reinforces). "Wade into" should be: discuss details of Tillman's death. I think that the first story was better than the Boston Globe's. Read it at:


March 29, 2007

Are Cell phones and ipods discouraging social interactions? #4

The use of ipods and cell phones by university students is creating a new social problem that needs to be addressed. When I considered this idea, I asked at least ten 10 students at random if they own ipod, mp3 or cell phone. All 10 said they own ipod, mp3, cell phone, and laptops.

Apart from constant distraction cell phnoes and ipods cause in classes and libraries, there are other social implications. These gadgets appear to discourage social interactions among students. This story will focus on how ipods, mp3, cell phone text messaging and other computer-related student activies are making social interactions among students to disappear and what can be done to change this trend.

Professor Ellen Berscheid, Department of Psychology
Tel : 612 625 6641

Gary Antilla, sociology junior

Hassan Rage, Global Studies student

March 28, 2007

Arab Leaders Revive Middle East peace process

The story in the New York Times is about Suadi Arabia King Abdullah II's condemnation of United States' presence in Irag. The story quoted the king as saying that the daily violence Irag is the result of the United States' occupation of the country. “In our dear Iraq, the blood is spilling between our brothers in light of an illegitimate foreign occupation,? he said.

In the paragraph that followed the writer shifted from the Irag slant to the quest for Arab Unity. She told readers where the king spoke, and at occasion. During the openning of the two day Arab League Summit where Arab leaders are meeting to consider new proposals aimed at reviving negotiations between the Palestanin Authority and the state of Isreal.

The body gave readers more substantive information with relevant quotes about the Middle East peace process but does very littl to provide information in relation to the lead. This reporter should have stay on the violence in Iraq between the United States military and the insurgents. In a sense, the lead was not supported by the body of the story.

The news value of this story stemmed from the fact that Suadi Arabia is one of United States strong allies on the war on terror. It is a typical hard news story. It answered the elementary questions of what happened, where, when, why it happened and how it happned.

Perhaps focusing on the King's appeal for Arab unity in resolving the Middle east crisis would have improved the story a whole lot. I think quotes and attributions great. Read it at:


This Los Angeles Time version of this story was more focused. The entire story was based on the Middle East leaders to revive the peace negotiation between Isreal and the Palestininan Authority.

The writers used hourglass style in which they talked about the latest standoff between Britain and Iran over the seizure by Iran of 15 British sailors almost a week ago, the Iraq war, the Palestinian-Isrealis conflict.

There many opportuniies for improvement with this story. In the lead was problematic . gather to breathe new life ( met revive Middle east peace process seem better. "unprecedented regional tensions and threats to one of the world's most volatile regions," does not say anything to me. besides, whose opninon is this? A numblems pressing problems (how many were they? 2, 7 or 255? That was berbiage.

In paragraph three, the writers seem to imply that the summit was for a different purspose. I think the whole paragraph personal views rather than what happened or what they as reporters saw or were told. "But the festering conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, viewed by many as the wellspring for the region's rising Islamic radicalism, took center stage at the summit," said who?

On the whole, the story could as fair for people intersted in the Middle East peace process. I certainly will read this story only if I have the time. You can read the full story at the url bellow:


March 25, 2007


This is an Associated Press story. It deals with House Democrats' Friday legislative victory in passing a bill that will end troops presence in Iraq. The writer took a good slant: Democrats are defending their plan to get U.S. Troops out of Iraq by Sept. 2008 saying this was the mandate given to Congress last Novembe. House Democrats on Friday pushed through $124 billion Emergency Spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But said he will veto of the spending bill because it demands combat operations end before September 2008.

New Hampshire Rep. Paul Hodes said " With our vote this week, we're helping our troops, protecting our veterans, and fighting to end the waste, fraud and abuse," delivering the Democrats' weekly radio address. "After four years of a failed policy, Democrats are insisting on a new direction in Iraq and a real plan that holds the Iraqi people accountable for their own country." he said.

This straight hard news that comes with all the convenctional new values. The piece contains links to President Bush's full response to the House vote and the bill. This provide the fairness. Readers can evaluate both sides arguments. The Currency of the issue however has been from from the Demorats weekly radio broadcast. very strategic on the part of the Democrats.

I love the lead. It is brief, simple and clear for millions of readers to understand why Democrats voted for the bill. The quotes supported the lead. The writer made all needed attributions. Very informative story. Read at yahoo news.


The same AP story appeared on abcnews.go.com. There is no difference in its contence and handling of the news values. http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=2979268


Star Tribune reported another death of Minnesota soldier in Iraq. According to the Star Tribune, Sgt. Greg Riewer died when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle. Three members of Riewer were hurt. Their names and conditions of injuries were not released. http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1077920.html

This story is an obituary.The writer could have written a better lead. One without victim's nickname, where he was killed and where his family lives now. These pieces of information could come in the body of the obituary.

There was little use for the time the bomb struck Riewer's car since the writer did not specify whether it was Bagdad time or Minnesota time. Besides, what is the news value? Also, instead of the vague and redondent "previously served", Riewer served in Bosnia in (state the year). "a roadside explosive device" could be reduced to roadside bomb.

The same AP story by WCCO was excellent in clarity, brevity and simplicity. The writer even provided the number ofsoldiers with strong Minnesota ties that have died in Iraq. "Fifty-four people with strong Minnesota ties have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," the writer concluded the report.

Proper attributions and quotes gave this story the attention it deserve. A good example of professionalism.


March 23, 2007

Explosions killed dozens in Mozambique

At leas 72 civilians were killed in Mozambique on Friday by obsolete ordinances at a military arsenal located near Maputo AllAfrica.com has reported. This was the third time explosions at the particular military base have occured each time killing more people. President Armando Guebuza promised on Friday that the military arsenal will be relocated at the cost of U.S $24 million.

Why did they allow this preventable loss to occur? This was complete irresponsibility on the part of the country's leadership. They knew since 1983 that the barrack contains tones of military hardwares that could explore at high temperature. Fifteen people died in two previous explosions between 1983 and early January. President Guebuza himself described the devastation as "serious, sad and worrying." He added "there are many bodies and explosive devices still to be removed".

With more than 370 wounded in hospitals, hundreds of live munitions scattered in residential areas, the country's international airport remained closed.

Although not writing for western media, the story answer the conventional what, when where, why and how news elements. The lead could be better with the verb said (or announced) instead of promised. There was no date mentioned for the promised relocation of military barrack. The reporter should have asked for that information? Besides building credibility, It could bring relief to the affected residents and those living near the area.

Another problem with the story was the fact that all those quoted were from the government. No comment (s) from victims. Atleast a quote from an opposition leader would have given much credibility to the story. This leave a big question: Can I trust the government account? On the plus side, all the quotes and attributions were done professionally. Read it at:


The same story was Associated Press with less official slant. For example, AP said "Several thousand people spent the night on the streets in downtown Maputo, unable to return to their homes in the poor neighbourhood near the ammunitions depot, which was sealed off by police."

AP also gave a good background by telling the readers that Mozambique, an impoverished southern African country still recovering from a long civil war, has been battered by natural disasters this year. Consider this vivid description: At the height of the inferno, some city centre windows were shattered by the intense heat.

Buildings also shook with the impact of the explosions. Cominng from the war-torn Liberia, I can see the frightened population running, some wounded, some dying without much help. This was a combination of panic and chaos.

But this AP story does not mention the promised relocation of the national armoury used to store weapons. To read this story go to : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070323.wmozambique0323/BNStory/International/home

March 21, 2007

GOP National Convenction: Does Minnesota Benefit ?

There are conflicting ideas about the economic benefit to the state of Minnesota abount the scheduled 2008 Republican National Convention. One sould like to know the economic benefit for Minnesota. A Well researched article that on this topic could prove very timely for both ordinary Minnesotans local government policy makers. This is because Ron Carey, Minnesota Republican chair has said the state stand to benefit $145 million from the event. Others have disputed this claim.

Tom Hanson, Commissioner of Finance
651 201 8010 email:tom.j.hanson@state.mn.us

Professor V.V. Chari, Chair of the Paul Frenzel Land Grant, Department of Economic, University of Minnesota
612 626 7151 Email: Chari@res.mpls.frb.fed.us

Mayor Chris Coleman (St. Paul)
651 266 85 10 Email: mayor@ci.stpaul.mn.us


An Associated Press story in the Los Angeles Times reported renewed violence in the Somalia that killed 20 on Wednesday including 7 government soldiers, but Reuters report shows more professionalism and credibility.

Right in the second paragraph the reporter linked the violence to the gruesome scene of 1993 when a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter in Mogadishu crashed during a military mission in the East Africanstate killed 18 American servicemen.

Although this violence is taking place in East Africa, the death of 18 Americans in Mogadishu in 1993 could argubly make proximity the prime news value here.

In fact this angle was further explored by AP when it linked the Islamic union, accused by the U.S. of having links to Al Qaeda. The Islamic union forces were driven out of Mogadishu in Decembe by Ethiopian forces. According to AP the Islamic union fighters have moved underground and are now attempting to launch an insurgency against the government. This information is not attributed to any source.

on the whole the AP writer could do better with attributing information for credibility. For example, "Amid near-daily mortar attacks and shoot-outs on the streets of Mogadishu, residents complain violence is the worst it has been in years, despite the presence of several thousand Ethiopian and African Union troops to assist the weak transitional government." Is the AP implying that residents in Magadishu said the current violence is the worst they have seen in years? I think the reporter is the story.

The quotes by Michael Ranneberger, U.S. ambassador to Kenya who also oversees Somalia do not make sense. First, he condemned the desecration of bodies said to those soldiers from Ethiopia as "horrendous," while he insisted that Somalia is making progress. "We do feel on the balance that the situation in Somalia is moving forward in a generally positive way," said Ranneberger. Both Lon Angeles Times and Reuters used the hourglass style. There are problems with objectivity, accuracy and ethical issues with this LA Times story.

One important note about this story is the date line is NAIROBI. How the reporter get to quote residents in Somalia? Was AP lifting information local news sources? It seem likely to me. Is that professional journalism?


The same story by the Reuters wire service was handled in better. The first thing about Reuters story is that the reporter was in Mogadishu where the fighting happened. Reuters quoted witnesses on the witnesses about the corpses of five soldiers -- either from the Somali government army or their Ethiopian allies -- were desecrated during some of the worst clashes in the lawless capital since the interim government took over in December.

Reuters devoted at least seven paragragps to the desecration of the bodies five soldiers by insurgents. Los Angeles Times said seven dodies. "I have never seen or experienced the kind of fighting that I saw today. People were running in all directions. I saw an old man die in front of me," the reporter quoted Faduma Elmi, 80.
The imageries in this story are more convincing than those in the Los Angeles Times.


March 20, 2007

Would Alberto Gonzales Follow Donald Rumsfeld ?

Congressional pressure on Attorney General to resign for firing eight U S prosecutors for alleged political reasons. On Tuesday Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales lost the power to appoint federal prosecutors.

The Senate has approved a bill to require permanent U.S. attorneys be named by the president. The bill gave the Senate an opportunity to confirm or reject his nominations. The measure was approved by a 94-2 vote.

This story written in the hourglass style, the two reporters did a good job in weaving multiple ideas into a single story. For example, the White House latest offer to the Senate to interview Carl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers although not under oath is a story by itsef. This was complete turn around on the part of the Bush administration.
The key news values of this story are controversy and prominence. The contreversial nature has to do with howand why the attorneys were fired. The prominence has to do with those or the institutions involved: Top aide to President Bush, Atty. Gen. Gonzales, and the Congress.

The administration had previously rejected any attempt to have Carl Rove or any White House officials connected to the case testify under oath. A lso the 3,000 documents between the White House and the State Department relatind to the dismissals now with the Senate is a story all by itself.


Watching what is going on in congress, one wonders if this oversight hearing would have been possible at all if the GOP was in control in both chambers of Congress.

A great example of news feature. It explained the ongoing congressional hearing into the firing of the eight attorneys in a chronological order starting with where the process stands. But it does not address the underlying reason for the dismissals. As a feature this information was essential.
The oversight hearing has had its first casualty: That is taking the power to appoint U.S. attorneys from a presidential appointee - the attorney general. Besides the bill, the House is considering similar measure accrding to the Los Angeles Times. I think that this piece could serve as an example news feature.

The same story on a Canadian web site took an intersting angle that gave readers better understanding of what historically happened to cabinet members in situations like the one Gonzales is in. It cited the case of former defense secretary Danold Rumsfeld. The feature looked at the underlying resason that led to the dismissals of the eight U.S. attorneys. This was not the case with The Los Angeles Times piece.
Rumsfeld officially resigened after the GOP lost control of Congress to the Democrats, but this reporter said Rumsfeld was fired. Was he really?

But I like the two quotes in the story. White House Secretary Tony Snow asked Monday if the attorney general would keep his job through the end of Bush's presidency in 2008, said "Well, we hope so." Great job. "I wouldn't be surprised if, a week from now, he's no longer attorney general," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). These quotes are, as they say, breath of fresh air.

My criticism about this story is that it sounded judgemental. Can the reporter prove that Rumsfeld was fired? Besides, the dynamics in the case of Rumsfeld are not only different but far outweight the case of Gonzales. This is an alleged political scandal. Rumsfeld was the casualty of an unpopular war policy in Irag.
Read it at


March 16, 2007

Relation Between Black Students at the U of M

I think it would be interesting to find out what kind of relationship exists between Africans and their African American counterparts at the University. This investigation will be on the premise that the latter is hostile to the former. The story might give a clue to relation between African immigrants and their African American brothers and sisters at both state and national levels.

Julian Jasper (Ghanaian)

Tel: 763 458 1540

Damon Canady (African American)


Mekdes Mekuria (President, Black Students Union)


March 15, 2007

Iraq: Calling it for what it is at long last

An Associated Press story in the Houston Chronicle reported that for the first time, U S military on Wednesday called the war in Iraq a civil war - at least some of it.

The story was written from a Patagon's 42-page quarterly report. The report covered the months October through Decembe. AP guoted the report: "Some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly descriptive of a civil war." Until now the Bush administration has described the the violence in Iraq as a sectarian violence while death toll for U.S. soldiers, Iraqi military and civilians continue to rise.The White House has in the past rejected criticism the military was now involved in a civil war.

I think that this is the kind of story any reporter would want to break. This explained why there are no comments from any the White House or the Democrats. It would have been good to get quotes from the White House and Democrats on this new assessment of the war. To give it currency, AP accompanied the story with photo showing a wreckage of Wednesday car bomb that killed two and wounded four. read it at www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/politics/4631790.html

The Sydney Morning Herald, in Australia, reported that United States military has admited that Iraq is in a civil war.

The AP reporter that broke this story would no doubt receive worldwide readership even though some media outlets like The Sydney Morning Herald, did not mention AP as the source. Rea this version at: http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/US-admits-Iraq-violence-is-civil-war/2007/03/15/1173722604881.html

March 12, 2007

Liberians in the U S speak about peace in their country #1

After almost three decades of violence that killed a quarter million people, Liberians finally have what every human want – peace albeit for now. On Jan. 16 2006, the continent’s first elected female president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, took the oath to lead a nation ravaged by three decades of violence. For the first time in three decades, the west African nation recently celebrated a year without guns in the hands of child-soldiers.

The Twin Cities have about 30,000 Liberians. What do these Liberians think about the ongoing peace building efforts in their native land?


Pastor Nathaniel B Sikeley
Tel:763 458 5685

Emmanuel Dolo, Ph.D.

Dr Wilhemina Holder
Tel: 651645 5828
email: aafact_inc@msn.com

March 11, 2007

The Cost of Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

A story in the Toronto Daily News for March 11 is a bad example of good journalistic work. The lead, which is the main place where readers need to know what the story is about is confusing.

The writer presented President Bush's $3.2 billion request to Congress to fund the wars in Irag and Afghanistan but suggested or seem to suggest that the $3.2 billion is for the additional 8,200 needed in Afghanistan only.

this story got more confusing in the third paragraph when the writer failed to tell readers whether the 4,400 additionnal troops the president needs for Iraq is different from the 7,000 additional troops mentioned in the same paragraph. Bad news story.

The same story in the Financial Time was an excellent. An example of professional journalistic work. The lead informed readers that the 8,200 additional troops are for Iraq and Afghanistan. Then the lead told readers rightaway that this will cost taxpayers $3.2 billion. Very straightforward.

We found more details in the fourth paragragh when the reporter said that Bush will send a further 4,700 troops to complement the military “surge? in Iraq that began in Feb. The new troops will include 2,400 combat support troops and 2,200 military police to deal with the expected rise in detainees as US and Iraqi forces clamp down on sectarian militias, the Financial Time said.

In the eigth paragraph, the writer provided more important information for readers:The US military death toll for Iraq and Afghanistan has risen to 3,553, while more than 25,000 have suffered non-fatal injuries. Iraq Body Count, a group that monitors Iraqi deaths, conservatively estimates that as many as 64,273 may have died since the 2003 invasion.

My criticism of this piece is that the writer failed to mention what the two wars have cost the taxpayers in contrast to about the human cost both America and Iraq. Read it at:


March 8, 2007

Obama meter, fines, runneth over

When I started this blog I said American politics was my main interest, although I am a journalism student. I have witnessed two presidential elections since my arrival in this country. I would say that American journalists are possibly the best interms of keeping the public informed about what their senators, local or state leaders, representatives, presidents, vice presidents and other public servants do in Washington. I whish it were like that in Africa. I would not be here, because there would be no wars.

In Africa, a journalist who would take time to write about an official who paid or did not pay parking ticket is likely to get himself/herself in a serious trouble. Serious trouble could mean death, disappearance, indefinite time in jail depending on the official involed. In any case, chances of such an event becoming public are rare because in Africa - at West Africa, no one cares about what public officials do or don't do. In fact officials are rarely put under public scrutiny as is the case in the United States.

U S journalists can describe stains their president left on an intern's dress as long as they reported the truth, they have nothing to fear. What a difference.

There is a story on US Sen. Barack Obama in the Chicago Tribune reporting that he had paid $375.00 for parking tickets. Obama received the tickets between Oct. 5, 1988, and Jan. 12, 1990, for violations including parking in a resident-only zone, blocking a bus stop, and failing to put money in meters. He incurred $140 in fines and $260 in late fees in Cambridge in all, but he paid $25 for two of the tickets in February 1990, according to Chicago Tribune

An important angle of this story would be to talking to people in Kenya. Obama's father came from Kenya. Knowing what I know about Africa, Kenyans will not be very happy with this story.

Read it: http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/news_theswamp/2007/03/obamas_meter_an.html

Boston Herald's account was an example of balanced reporting although the reporter's opinions were prominent. There were quotes from both the Democratic and the Republican Parties on the senator's past parking tickets. Boston Herald started with a delayed lead that read: "Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the seemingly unassailable Democratic presidential candidate, has been driving around with a dark secret for nearly two decades."

The lead is justified because this a human interest story. It started with suspense. The paragraph that followed informed readers what the "dark secret" was and why it has been revealed. This story is a very good learning tool for students learning different types of leads in news writing. Then there is this point of unusualness about the story.

Reporter did not follow AP stylebook with news language. Example the usage of "coughed up" instead paid and "racked up" instead of received. These cliches may not be understood by many readers.

Read it: http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=187052

March 7, 2007

Clinton Plans Major Appeal To Women

this story in the The New York Times is an exlellent example ofan advance. The story began by stating the most newsworthy element, Sen. Hillary Clinton's plan to enlist the support of thousands of women to form par of her campaign for the 2008 bid for the presidency.

The writer then informed readers when and where the event will take place. This was followed by another important thing fact. Tthat 54 percent American voters are women.

The quote addded credibilty and importance to the plan event. “When a woman has an important question, like who’s a good doctor, they’re more likely to talk to another woman,? said Ann Lewis, a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton. “If we can get a discussion going among women about the campaign, and Hillary as a candidate, it would be hugely important.?

The same story in Boston Globe, afollow, was reported by AP as hard news after the event. AP repoterted that Sen. Clinton appealed to women to help her win the 2008 presidential, emphasizing the fact reported earlier by The New York Times that majority of American voters are women.

Right in the second paragragh AP quoted Clinton: "Today, women are a majority of the voters, a majority of students in college, and we are a growing presence in the Congress. But there are still far too few women in leadership positions," Clinton told a crowd of roughly 1,300 at a luncheon for EMILY's List, a national political committee that raises money for Democratic women candidates who favor abortion rights.

My problem with the two accounts is that the 54 percent of voters is not news. If that fact should be emphasized, the the reporters should have at least inform readers how this fact had affected past elections. It seems the fact that Sen. Clinton is a women was the justification. Would these reporters emphasize the percentage of American male voters in the interest of fairness in the future? Well, teacher would say but she said it so the reporters were is justified. Agree. But is that news?

I think win the presidency or White House is better than "break the nation's highest glass ceiling." Criticised instead of "chided" and " to take active roles" instead of "should be play active roles" are things that they could have done differently.

March 3, 2007

Urban Housing:The needs of African immigrants in the Twin Cities

There are estimated 60,000 Liberians, Somalis and other Africans in the Twin Cities. Given the cultural and language barriers these immigrants face upon arrival in the US, and the big gap in home ownership between blacks and whites, what are the authorities doing to help these Africans get better housing? This story will look at the specific problems housing problems affecting African immigrants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul areas.

ossible Sources:

Minnesota Housing Finance Agency

Tel: 651.296.7608

Housing and Urban Development

Phone: (612) 370-3000

Clarence Hightower, President and CEO: Minneapolis Urban League

Tel: 612 302 3100