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