May 7, 2007

14-year-old girls at MOA

In the Star Tribune lead reported by Richard Meryhew," A 14-year-old from Bloomington was in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center on Saturday after being slashed in the stomach by another teenage girl at the Mall of America.

I think the word, "slash" is too graphic. In covering crime the journalist should respect the victim and their family and that is not being too graphic with the crime.

The Pioneer Press lead reported by Tom Webb, "A 14-year-old Bloomington girl was slashed with a razorlike weapon more than five times at Mall of America on Saturday afternoon, after an argument with another 14-year-old girl near the food court."

I think Webb did a better job with lead because they described the weapon and also told one of the most important elements to the story--the assult was by another 14-year-old girl.

The Star Tribune story goes on about when the event happened in the second paragraph. The first quote that Meryhew uses is from Jim Ryan a commander in charge of inverstagations for the Bloomington Police Department. He writes, "It wasn't somebody lying in wait...and it doesn't appear to be any type of robbery...there is reason to believe the suspect and the victim knew each other." This quote does not enhance the story in any way. The quote is from a inverstagor that uses political language so he is not responsible by his own words/opinion. I don't understand why any journalists uses these types of quotes. They're dry, boring and doesn't provide the reader with any real news.

The Pioneer Press reporter Webb emphasized on how these events can happen anywhere. He quoted two people from the MOA staff and both said that the stabbings could happen anywhere. Basically both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press made a huge deal out of the story, but failed to deliver the news worthy part of the story.

If I were the reporter I would have focused on the victims family or the people who witnessed the stabbing. I would not contact the MOA security or manager to get quotes because of course they're going to feed you some proproganda crap. Webb did mention how there were three nurses that helped the victim at the scene. If I were the reporter I would have tried to talk the nurses and get their point of view about the accident.

Webb ended the story by saying that the mall remained very busy that day except for a small area. Then out of nowhere says, "Mall of America gets 40 million vistitors a year." Which this is fine, but the next sentence he writes a quote from the MOA manager that said things happen everywhere...we have a saftey record...BLAH BLAH BLAH. Because Webb wrote they have so many visitors a year and then supports with a biased source it makes Webb sound biased himself--almost protecting the MOA in fear of losing customers.

Coon Rapids abduction

A police report said that a stanger had abducted and assulted a 12-year-old girl on Friday. The girl was on her way to school bus stop. After that several police officers and State Patrol helicopter crew tried to track down the suspect. In about an hour investigators found a 46-year-old man who was arrested early Saturday.

I read two stories. One from the Star Tribune reported by Tom Ford and the other from the Pioneer Press reported by Dave Orrick.

In the Pioneer Press story Orrick first starts off the lead with a cliche, "The stranger may have been no stranger at all." The second paragraph describes the kidnapper without fully disclousing the person. It says, "He lived within blocks of the schoolgirl he is accussed of abducting Friday morning..." Then finally the reader reads the lead, "On Friday, Coon Rapids police say, he drove up to a 12-year-old girl who was walking to her bus stop and asked her for directions. Then he grabbed her, pulled her inside the SUV, threatened her with a knife and drove off.

These very first few paragraphs fail to meet the standards of an effective lead. The first paragraph is a cliche, which is totally inappropriate for this sort of story. A cliche at best would be used for a light-hearted headliner, or in sports. Not a story about a 12-year-old being abducted. The second paragraph once again fails to meet the readers needs. It teases the reader by not naming the suspect and just re-tells the headliner. YES, we know that there was an abduction....TELL US MORE! Then in the third paragraph Orrick describes the kidnapping without identifying the kidnapper. What was he thinking?

Finally at paragraph 5 Orrick finally says, "On Saturday, Christopher John Mitchell, 46, was arrested on probable cause for kidnapping...." Orrick should have not taken so long to identify Mitchell. Once agian this is a serious story that deserved the attention to a standard Interverted Pyramid style.

In the Star Tribune story Ford writes a much better representation of a standard and respectful story. Ford does a better job, but still doesn't introduce the accused to the readers until the third paragraph. The good thing that Star Tribune did was not indentify Mitchell. Ford writes, "The Star Tribune generally does not name suspects until after they were charged." I think is an important standard to have in a news room because the right to privacy is vital, I think until proven guilty.

What would happen if Mitchell was innocent? The Pioneer Press flashed his mug shot all over its web site. Claiming that police has the abductor. If is innocent, his life would never be the same thanks to the Pioneer Press. I think that the Star Tribune took a responsible approach in indentifying the suspect.

Gunflint Trails are Evacuated

A spreading wildfire prompted officials to issue a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday morning to about 100 people in homes, lodges, and resorts along the last 7 miles of the Gunflint Trail. The Gunflit Trail is on the edge of the Boundary Waters in northeastern Minnesota.

I read two stories. The first from the Star Tribune reported by Bob Von Sternberg and the second from the Pioneer Press reported by the Associated Press.

In the Star Tribune story Sternberg in the second paragraph provided the reader with the second most important facts, which was suppose to happen. He stated how much land was affected, how long the fire lasted and he also paraphases a spokesman from the Interagenct Fire Center. The one thing I would have done differently, I would have added the percentage of how much the fire affected the land. This way it's easier for the reader to consume how much was really damaged. When a journalists uses miles, it's hard to imagine visually how much is 12.5 miles.

Sternberg also uses a dramatic quote, "We're a long ways from controlling it, but were hoping we'll be helped with the wind dying down tonight and tomorrow...but it's still a bad fire situation." I think this quote fits perfectly in the third paragraph, because the reader is just learning all the fire stats and wants to know more about the future of the fire? They may ask how long is this fire going to burn? Sternberg answers those sort of questions in the third paragraph.

At the end of the story Sternberg writes about how 150 firefighters were "attacking" the fire, with three planes, two helicopters, 11 engines and fire crews that were from Michigan. I think this information is the least important was placed in its right spot. But the very last sentence says, "No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire."

This is probably one of the more important facts that should have been in the beginning. Not in the lead but at least in the third paragraph. Sternberg writes about how awful this fire is and how big the fire was, but fails to mention whether or not anyone was hurt. The reader is wants to know the stats on the fire and on the people at the beginning.

In the Pioneer Press story it emphasized on the damages and its costs. Versus in the Star Tribune story it talked about what was being done on the fire. The story even talked about properties that were in danger that were up to $33 million dollars. I think this information is irrelevant because it doesn't matter if a property is worth $120 thousand or $120 million, it doesn't mean that the reader should be more sympatheric toward the more expensive home. The way that the Associate Press worded this sentence implied such biasism.

The Pioneer Press ended the story with a history brief. Once again I feel like this is a nice way to end a story because it doesn't discount the horrific event but reminds readers of the reality and that is re-telling stories from the past. It also doesn't put the least important information at the end. Sometimes when we put the least important information at the end it almost mocks the story. When a serious story is brought upon us everything is important, so saving the least important for the end just seems silly when you actually read the story. It's like,"Hey by the way..." and it's hard to pull that off with serious stories.

April 2, 2007

Higher Taxes for Education?

On Saturday, the State Senate passed a bill that would raise income taxes for the States wealthiest people. The proposed increase would raise the income tax from 7.85% to 9.7%. The increase in state income would be nearly $1 billion and has been earmarked for education spending. Pioneer Press reporter Rachel E. Stassen-Berger indicates that Governor Pawlenty will Veto the bill. Other than these few details the article had little to say. I would have liked to see more dialogue concerning such an important topic

The article in the Star Tribune by Patricia Lopez and Norman Draper was much more detailed and contained dialogue from both sides of the debate. The position of the dissenting voters is that raising taxes on the states most successful citizens would encourage the wealthy to leave Minnesota and discourage wealthy people from moving to Minnesota. If the bill is passed Minnesota will have the highest income tax rate in the United States. "The price tag seemed a little steep for my district," said Sen. Sandy Rummel, DFL-White Bear Lake. "I want to be more moderate. I think we might have to increase income taxes, but not that much."

Proponents argue that not only can the wealthy afford to pay higher taxes but that they have received unfair tax breaks in the past. This is what the author wrote, "That would bring the tax burden for the state's wealthiest 93,000 tax filers more into line with middle class earners, Senate DFLers said. A recent state Revenue Department report showed that top earners now pay about 9 percent of their income in taxes while middle-range filers tend to pay closer to 12 percent."
This seems greatly unfair to me. The people who make the most money should also be the people who pay the most money in taxes. If the middle-class parents who must save for years and take out loans to pay for their children's college tuition pay 12% of their income in taxes the wealthy who can easily pay for college tuition out of pocket should pay at least that same percentage.

Gun Robbery

On Friday, a 47-year-old bank robber was found dead after committing sucide. The incident began about 12:40 p.m. a the U.S. Bank at 4105 Lancaster Lane in Plymouth. David D. Dahlen was wearing a black mask and displayed a handgn during the robbery. He then ran on foor and tried to drive away in a nearby van, but the van was not functionable. He then went around a residental neighborhood, where he forced himself into a woman's house. He told her to leave and she did without being hurt. Police found Dahlen at 5:30 p.m. in the woman's bathroom dead.

The startribune wrote an elaborate story on this crime. Reporter Tom Ford even writes about how Dahlen previously had servered time in federal prison after he was conviced for an armed bank robbery in California. He even writes about how authorites did their job. He writes, "Authorities then set up a wide perimeter around the home, forcing many residents to be kept out of the neighborhood for the next several hours, and soma rea school to impose lockdown procedures."

The reader's do not need to know how the police handled the situation. It's almost placing heroism with the police. I don't think it's that important to write about how schools were shut down because it's already part of procedure. The reporter did not need to repeat something that the public could find out on their, own. If necessary the public could access that information, not to mention that writing the whole bite on the school lock down is otally irrelevant to the story.

Amazing, I have never read two articles of the same content that is inaccurate with the verifiable statements. The pioneer press says, "robbery suspect likely shot himself, and "startribune says,"died after shooting himself." Pioneer press says,"six hour polic standoff." Star tribune says, "five-hour standoff" Pioneer press says, "40s," and startribune says, "47" Star tribune says " the incident began around "12:40 p.m." Pioneer press says, "He robbed at gun point about 12:30 p.m." Pioneer press says, "At least one school in the area was locked down." Star Tribune says, "some area schools to impose lockdown procedures." There were even more inaccurate statements.

I find it disturbing that two different newspapers wrote about the same event, yet their stories almost are completly different. When this happens we can recognize the importance of getting the true facts and verify everything. It is not okay to assume. A reporter looks bad when they do not have the right information even worse when they don't take pride in their work.

This also brings up the issue of journalists having too much work load. It makes it impossible for a journalist to be successfully at fullfilling their duties as a reporter when the work load is overwhelming. Maybe this is an inaccurate representation of that issue.

March 3, 2007

Payne Rape Case

A St. Paul teen was arrested in Wisonsin in connectino with a New Year's Day assault that was an ongoing process for police for a long time. Joshua L. Smith who is 16-years-old sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl in his him in September. The investegations have been going for a while and police finally found the person who matches the victim's clothes DNA. Smith was arrested Thursday in Racine Wisc, where he was staying with relatives. Another assualt that Joshua made was with a 13-year-old girl one week later after the first assualt.

Howie Padilla from the Star Tribune said that police have said that two men were responsible for the rapes because the DNA did not match with the 13-year-old girl. I think that Padilla should have emphasized that in his article. The lead suggests that the rappist is found--the rappist from Payne St on St. Paul's East Side. Padilla also interviews Smith's mother and says that the mother has been crying for a whole month. I think that Padilla did a great job of keeping the article in balance. If possible I would have gotton more information on the community at large. Such as, how has the recent rappings influenced people in the community to act? Padilla only touches briefly on that idea. It's not about getting together and discussing the rappings, but how is the community going to take action in the rapping cases?

The P

February 24, 2007

Crookston Parents Arrested

Jennifer mother and William Anderson(stepfather) abandon their 15 and 17-year-old girls. The couple left a note to the girls before they ranaway saying they went to work early. The couple left in September and was found on Febuary 22 in Montanta. Jennifer was working for motel owner/manager Pat Anderson--no relation to the couple, for $6.50 an hour. William had been charged with threatening to kill Jennifer and her daughters.

The Pioneer Press article gave a summary of what happened to the girls and the parents. It was conducted by the Associated Press. The article starts off by saying that this case was unusual because runaways tend to be teenagers but in this case it's the parents. Jennifer Anderson's 21-year-old son, Aaron Merck, took care of the girls for a while. The girls now in foster care. The article also said that the couple was reported to be in Montana or Wyoming.

The Star Tribune give a very thourough description of what happened IN Montana. Most of the story was from the point of view of motel owner Pat Anderson. I think that reporter Chio took a risky chance on only reported one point of view. But I think he also overrode this bisaism by supporting Pat Anderson quotes with police reports. Chio wrote a long artice on this event, most was all Pat Anderson's point-of-view.

One thing that stuck me was that the Pioneer Press posted that the couple was reported in Montana or Wyoming on Febuary 22. The Star Tribune article implies the reporter talked to Pat Anderson in Montana before Febuary 22. This is an example of news papers trying to beat out their competition. In this case, the Star Tribune proved to be the leader. Although if accuracy is not in the story than the Star Tribune cannot be held accountable for complete investigation of the story.

February 19, 2007

Farmington Man Shot

A 22-year-old man was shot four times in his own home Friday morning. When
authorities arrived at his house he was conscious and able to talk. James
A. Jurisch owned the house and has the possibility of losing his lung.
Officers have detained two people for questioning, but have not disclosed
their identities. Neighbors say that the normally quiet cul-de-sac had
visitors stopping by the house for 10 min. at a time. Neighbors also found
beer bottles in their yard and in the street gutter.

Reporter Jim Adams from the Star Tribune gave more details of the accident.
Adam says, " The man, shot twice in a leg and twice in the chest...was
found in the basement of his home." I think that Adams left out the post
important information: the possibility of the shooting being drug-related. I
know that Adams cannot make such a huge claim because police officers don't
know for fact if the shooting was drug-related, but Adams wrote, " The
chief said he didn't know whether the man knew who shot him." This
statement alone makes me the reader think that the reporter is not doing an
suciffient job on getting all parts of the story. Adams could have
researched criminal history and other information about the victim. I
believe that this would make the story more informative and interesting.
The shooting was in small suburb--this is huge! A drug deal that has gone
wrong in a nice small suburb in definitely news worthy and Adams should
have treated the drug deal as super important.

Reporter Federick Melo from the Pioneer Press did a better job on
investigating the accident. Melo wrote, "...visitors stopping by the house
for 10 minutes at a time. Police had been called to the location at least
twice in recent neighbor was so alarmed by the frequent
activity that she occasionally videotaped the comings and goings." This
statement implies that Melo did interviewing with the neighbors and police.
Melo also found out what hospital Jurisch was sent to and how he is doing.
Melo also interviewed the victim's grandpa who released his Jursich's full
name. Adams reported that know names have been released yet, implying that
he his main source in the police department. Melo also did not
beat-around-the-bush about the accident being drug related, he just told the

February 17, 2007

Ski Crash in Lustsen, Minn

Bill Jordan, 61, died skiing at Lusten Mountains ski resort. The Ski
Patrol found him unconscious and not breathing just before 11:30 a.m. and
immediately began CPR. He was pronounced dead at Cook County North Shore
Hospital in Grand Marais. He was the owner and operator of the Lake
Superior Sausage Company in Beaver Bay. The accident remaines under

I read an article from the Startribune and from the Pioneer Press. Both
articles summarized and used the exact information. I think both reporters did an accurate representing the situation. They didn't claim to anything that didn't happen or make extreme statements.

February 3, 2007

Art teacher accused of molesting students

Baofeng Wang a 37-year-old art teacher is accused of molesting two of his students. He was arrested in Hainesville, Ill where is now lives. Wang is on a Ramsey County warrant and denies all accusations. The girls accused Wang of fondeling their breasts, forcing them to touch his ecrect penis and have the girls undress, and showing them pornographic material. The two sources that I got the information from was from the Star Tribune (Paul Gustafson) and the Pioneer Press (Shannon Prather). The Pioneer Press gave a very detailed story about what happened and what will happen. Prather reported a lot on what happened to the two girls during their art lessons with Wang. Prather wrote, "Wang fondled her breasts and showed her pornogrpahic photos...her hands on his erect penis and asking her to remove her clothes...Wang rubbed and touched her breasts...Wang wore short shorts that exposed his penis during lessons...Wand told her that if she didn't report the touching, he would refrainf from telling her parents that she wasn't completing her homework." This sort of detail in the story is important but I believe because Prather used so much of the material it became sensational news. Another problem I see with this story is the headliner: Art teacher accuse of molesting two girls in U of M housing. Later in the story the reader finds out that it's unclear on Wang's relationship to the university. Prather should not have used such a bold statement when she is unclear of what really happened. The headliner almost accuses and holds the university for responsibily of the molestations, this boldness and senstationalism I believe puts Prather at risk for creditablitity. The Star Tribune didn't show as much detail and focused more on the facts. For an example Paul Gustafson wrote, "animated pornography...Wang touched her breasts, had her touch his genitals." Gustafson's story was also a lot shorter proving that senstationalism was not part of the "big picture"

January 26, 2007

3M Chemicals Found in Drinking Water Wells

A chemical called perfluorobutanoic (PFBA) was made by the 3M co. and used
for decades until 2000. PFBA is used to produce stain removers, lubricants,
fire retardants, film, and other products. PFBA was found in water wells
of six cities in Washington and Dakota counties. It appears that PFBA is
not as harmfully toxic than other 3M products, but no long-term research
has been conducted. In the Star Tribune newspaper the story was placed on
the front cover. The writer provided the audience with quotes from local
residents, the Health Department's environmental health division, a 3m
spokeswoman, The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, city administrators and a
public works adviser. I think the reporter did a great job in finding
a wide-range of news sources, which can be difficult when discussing such serious issues. Excluding the effected residents, the
interviewees were objective in their claims. I believe this made it easier
for the the reporter to be objective throughout the story. When director
John Linc Stine said, "Finding this chemical at low levels does not pose an
immediate health risk for residents", he also said little has been done
about long-term effects and how long PFBA has been in the water. The
Pioneer Press explained why PFBA was even tested which the Star Tribune
neglected. The Pioneer Press used an insignificant quote from John Linc, "
This is like a detective novel. We thought we were all done with this, and
were closing up the file." They used another significant quote from Ryan
Schroeder , " We want to pay attention to it, put we don't want to
overreact". The Pioneer Press also didn't say who Ryan Schroeder was, which
is bizarre. Since the Pioneer Press article was shorter in length
than the Star Tribune's article, it had to back a lot of information into a little
space. Still the use of wording was ridiculous. The Pioneer Press used
dramatic words: seeps, smokey, massive, slipperier. The Star Tribune used
more direct and straightforward wording. I believe that in this case the
Star Tribune did a better job reporting the story than the Pioneer Press.
The length of the story could have played a huge part on the content.