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April 21, 2007

McCain's War Joke Enrages Liberals

The Business Journal of Phoenix carried a story about a political ad on the MoveOn.org, a liberal grassroot and anti-war organization. The group has been critical of Iraq war and now has been enraged by Sen. John McCain's joke about bombing Iran to stop that country from producing nuclear weapons. McCain made the joke during a campaign stop-over in South Carolina on Wednesday. He was asked how the U.S. should deal with Iran, its alleged nuclear weapons program, its alleged support for insurgents in Iraq and threats against Israel.

In the second paragraph that writer implied that there were evidence that Iran was supporting the iraqis insurgents. The writer also implied that there were evidence of Iran's eminent threat to Israel. The story also inferred that Iran has admitted to nuclear programs for military purposes. The writer failed to tell readers that Iran has denied supporting the insurgeny in Iraq. the story should have mentioned that iran its nuclear programs were for civilian use only. On this note, the story was not balance.

Other opportunitie: McCain responded that by sayint or simply McCain said ... instead of McCain fired back (we know he is an old soldier but he was not on the battle front. He said would have still served the purpose. Also, being on the extreme left. What does that mean for ordinary readers? Read it at...


The same story in the Washington Washington Post was handled with much professionalism - providing better analysis and more facts about the ad. The AP reporter told readers have much the MoveOn.org would to air the ad, it reported the number of hits the had received and more importantly, a youtube link to the ad was provided at the end of the story. The writer should have used has launched instead of "is launching."


April 15, 2007

Is America brain draining the third world? #8

United States Resettlement Program and the Green Card visa Lottery have helped hundreds of thousands of people from developing countries to settled here permanently. But there is growing debate among leaders of developing countries whether or not these programs are not a brain drain on the developing world especially Africa. This interpretive story will wegh in on the debate by looking at the demographics of resettle immigrants in the United States, where they work, and who benefit. To do this, three experts from three top American research instituions will be interviewed. What can be done to stop this labor migration to the developed world especially the United States? Who really is benefiting - America or the the developing countriest?.

Elizabeth Ferris
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies
Co-Director, The Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
Tel 202 797 6052

William Easterly
Economics, Faculty of Arts & Science
Tel: (212) 992-8684
Fax: (212) 995-4186

Dr. DanielnByman is the Director of Georgetown's Security Studies Program and the Center for Peace and Security Studies as well as an Associate Professor in the School of Foreign Service.
202 687 4095

Getting Your Hands on Public Records

Getting your hand on public record can be both tiring, time consuming and expensive. That was my experience for journalism 3101 assignment for this week.The assignment required a contact with either a police station, local city council, state or federal government or some agency.
I googled "Minneapolis Police." When I called 612 673 2808, I was told to go to 350 South 5th street, Room 31 Criminal History.There, I will read through the daily reports and select the two crime-incident reports I needed. "Yoy pay 25 cents a page," the receptionist said. I hung up and drove there. After circling around for 30 minutes looking for parking place without luck, I found a parking spot near the Library between Hennepin and 3rd Street South. I put $1.50 in the meter and walked over to the 350 South 5th Street address.

In the basement of 350 South 5th Street, I walked in Room 31. I was not happy with what I found and could not found. I need any crime-incident report that dealing with homeless people. From the first few pages I had read, it seemed unlikely there was any such report. I asked if there were cases or incidents of homeless people been arrested for any reason. "I really don't know, " came the answer. But who would know? I asked. Again he told me he was there only to retrieve reports that requested. Things were not going the way I expected and I needed to get back for Lab.
I selected two burglary entries. I walked out holding a three-page report for two crimes not really related to what I wanted. Besides, there was nothing extraordinary about the reports that I carryied. No arrest was made in either case but a car was impounded. I would try the second option.

I checked the Brooklyn Park City Council web page and found the complete aganda packets. Though it was not really What I needed, this information was newsworthy and somehow related to the feature I want to work on. The 79-page document discusses the decline in property values in the Brooklyn Park area. Many property owners in the area are not happy with the 2.2 percent growth for the properties for the 2007 assessment.
The report, compiled by the City Assessor, will be discussed by the Brooklyn Park City Council on April 16, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. I spent $7.90 forfull report.
I do not think the process of retrieving public information will be easily understood by average citizens. I don't think many people care about the either.

Minneapolis Police Department (Criminal History)


Tel: 612 673 2808

Brooklyn Park City Councy (Assessing)

Tel: 763 493 8173


April 10, 2007

Stephanie Dickrell's Musings on Somalia

Stephanie Dickrell's analysis about the news story in Somalia was an excellent piece of work by a student. Her ability to focus on the what is important and therefore news worthy is commendable.

I found her analysis particularly informative when the pointed out what U. S media thinks is news worthy. In this case the arrival of an American official in Somalia. Of course the number of dead in the six days street fighting between the U S-back interim government forces and the Ethiopian troops was presented with less enthusiasm. Excellent job, Stephanie.

But Stephanie did not say whether or not there were opportinities to improve the stories.The phrase "Called off" in the AP's account for example, meant "cancelled."

Als,o an important observation was left out. That is, both versions did not mention the fact that the U. S assisant secretary of state for African affairs Jendayi Frazer had no contact with the islamists. More than 1,000 people have so far been killed in Somalia since fighting began early this month.

I would have emphasized United States possible involvement with possble war crimes given its support for the interim government and the Ethiopian troops with the information from the EU. I think that the warning by the European envoy of possble war crimes been committed in recent fighting was down played by Wsetern media establishments. Did it prompt the U.S. visit?

April 9, 2007

Comments on Melinda's Obeservations

Melinda Feucht's comments on the Eritria government's ban on female circumcision were emotionally charged. She left out important weaknesses about the two versions by AP and Reuters. The AP writer used the the words "abolished" and "describing" in the lead. This is inconsistency. Part of the lead could have read: The government of Eritria has abolished ... which it described...

Melinda Feucht's first sentence for the AP stroy read: "This story writes the sentence I previously stumbled over, in PRESENT tense." This story writes (?). Only Humans write, not abstract things. "previously stumbled over" should be "I read earlier."

Would she have written that that the practice is "inhumane," and yet said it was the culture of the people. journalist must state the facts and leave the rest to the readers. Why did she used the big word Marriageability? Make it simple for the avarage readers. It would interest my classmate to know that the practice of female circumcision originated from the West in the 17th century. It is part of the legacy of colonialism in Africa. Women Studies professors would bear me out or visit http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/

I commend her for catching the difference between 140 and 130 million cited the in the two versions. The trouble is we do not know who was right.

A Big plus for the blog is that it is well organized especially in making the links to stories. I need to learn how she does it.

Bad News for Mortgage Industry

This Reuters's news story is about the continuing profit losses in the subprime mortgage industries. Subprime mortgages are home loans given to customers with bad credit and partialy disclosed income statements. The result is that borrowers are charged with prohibitive interest rates compare with their counterparts who get low interest rate because they have excellent credit credit. These prohibitive interests, in recent months caused many homes to be foreclosed by lenders due to non-payments.

The story was focused on American Home, the latest financial institution to losses. There were opportunities for attribution in the third and fourth paragraph when he said that home loans to borrowers with poor credit histories may be spreading to higher-quality loans; he needed to mention the source when he said that American Home specializes in prime and near-prime loans and makes roughly 2.5 percent of all U.S. mortgages.

The first quote in this suggested that the writer did not talked to the soure. Was this an email interview? clarity was compromised here. There was no quotes from those impacted. It waould have been good to hear from subprime mortgage borrowers. On the plus side, the story was well researched with appropriate links attached for further information for those interested in the current trends in the housing markts. read it at:


The same story in the online Forbes magazine was much harder to understand. Clearly it was directed at a much more sophiscated audience.

The first problem with version is the found in the lead. The word "securitized" could be subtituted for a much simpler word. in the second paragraph another tumbled could simply be replaced for fell. "Analyst polled", "secondary securitization," where some the words and phrases that could make ordinary reader stop.

Like the first version, there was no input from the affected audience or its leadership. In this sense, the principles of fairness and balanced reporting were ignored. Read the Forbes article at:


April 3, 2007

A look at Minnesota's new lawmakers in Congress #7

Last November Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress with four new members from Minnesota, including Keith Allison, the first black and muslim from Minnesota elected to that position. As part of the majority bloc the new members were given key committee assignments. This story will focus on how these congressmen and congresswomen doing in their lesgislative assignments? Are they working for the state (districts) or their parties? What can be learned from their current performances in relation to their reelection bids in the 2008 presidential and congresiional elections/

Ken Rudin, Political Editor
National Public Radio
202 513 2000

Professor Kathryn Pearson, Congressional Politics and Institutions
University of Minnesota
Tel: 612 626 2777

Professor Timothy Johnson, Judicial Politics
University of Minnesota
Tel: 612 625 2907

April 2, 2007

Was justice done?

A man came home late from work, met his wife having sex in the lover's truck in the driveway. Upon seen the her husband appraoch she allegedly cried rape. The husband who carried a gun shot the man. A Texas jury found the woman guilty but not the shooter.

This is Associated Press story in Electric News. The lead is the clearest and simplest I have read yet. It said, "YOU caused your lover's death by yelling rape when your husband caught you." The jury's decision in this case leaves a big question: Was justice served? If law is all about precedent, then this one is questionable to say the least. An interesting piece.

The story fits a perfect example of a human interest story. It can generate interest in any human society. Attributions, quotes, and other AP styles were applied approriately. An excellent journalistic here.


Same story appeared in the Digital Journal. But this reporter compromised the principles of attribution, quotation and fairness. The reporter got involved in story. For example: "Tracy Roberson didn't want her husband to know about this affair, lied to Darrell that she was being raped. The husband got angry with LaSalle fired four shots as he was trying to escape but it was late, one bullet struck LaSalle in the head and died."

Where did this information come from. The Court? Was it Tracy's confession? If the reporter Roberson "got angry" and shot the man, the implication is he knew what he was doing or that he did it on purpose. He was "provoked" was another opinion. Who said he was provoked?

This sound like a drama the reporter enjoyed and was therefore giving his opninion instead of reporting the fact as it was expected of him. Good story but unprofessional work, in my opinion.

The impact of downturn housing market on Minnesota #6

Millions of homeoners across the United States are in deep worries. Adding to these worries, New Century Financial Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the biggest collapse of a mortgage lender in the U.S. housing downturn. The company also fired 3,200 employees.

USA Today said the growing trouble in the subprime mortgage industry poses many uncertainties nationwide, especially for the financial industry. For example, shares of many subprime lenders have plummeted including NovaStar Financial, a leading subprime lender. Its shares have plummeted more than 42% to $10.10 after it announced a fourth-quarter loss of $14.4 million, USA Today has reported.

This news feature will look at the negative impact the housing downturn is likely to have on Minnesota's economy and housing market. The story will look especially at the impact on low income families and what could be done to prevent foreclosures. How is the impact in Minnesota compare with other states?

Dexter Sidney, Field Officer (Minnesota)
U S Department of Housing and Urban Development
Tel: (612) 370-3000

Professor Ed Goetz, Director of the Urban and Regional Planning Program, and Housing Research Fellow at CURA Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Tel: 612-624-5003

Jacqueline King - Assistant Vice President and Community Affairs Officer
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Tel: 612 204 5470

Animal fighting: How widespread a gamling in the state #5

The United States House of Representatives on March 26 passed a bill that will make it felony to use a animal fighting as gambling. The U S Senate is expected to pass the law. In Minnesota, 40 roosters were recently rescued in St. Paul in what appeared to have been a gambling venture. There have been other reports of animal cruelty cases in the Twin Cities. Six men appeared in federal court on March 27 in Ohio after police seized several pit bulls and a quantity of cocaine. This investigative news feature would focus on how widespread animal fighting as a gambling has been in Minnesota. The story will also look at who involved and how prevalent it is in other states.

Ann Chynoweth,
Director, Animal Fighting & Cruelty Campaign
Humane Society of the United States
Tel: 301 258 8276

Dr. Anthony Tobias
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Minnesota
Tel: 612 624 7428 tobias004@umn.edu

Lori Swanson,
Minnesota Attorney General
Tel: 651 296-3353