May 7, 2007

82-foot dinosaur found in Australia

Australia Scientists unreveiled bones from two 82-foot behmoths they said were the largest dinosaurs ever found in Australia. Fossilized bones from the two titanosaurs were found in 2005 and 2006 by rancher near the town of Eromanga, 600 miles west fo Brisbane.

USA Today reported by Associated Press used a quote from museum curator Scott Hocknull, "These are the largest bones ever discovered in Australia." He later said that the bones would be the length of two full buses. I like how he used this description because it's hard to visualize what 82-feet tall would be like. The Associated Press also gave the states on where the bones were located, which I don't think was necessary because they used jargon that not the everyday person would use.

Toward the end of the story the Associated Press said that the Titansaurs are among the largest of the prehistoric animals known as sauropods. I don't think this was necessary as well because the whole purpose of the story was to talk about the new found dinosaur, it was distracting. I think the story was pretty short for how much new worthy it was, I was kind of disappointed with the article.

In the Star Tribune article sounded very similar and think this is because there is so little information about the largest dinosaur found in Australia. In the lead and second paragraph it says focused on the location of the dinosaur. It quoted Rancher Mackenzie, "The very first bone we foud was the most exciting because until you actually have it verified by the museum you don't actually know you've got a bone, you think it's a rock." I find this to be an unusal quote to us, but it's kind of funny because it shows the spirit of the diggers--they're enthusiasm.

I think the Star Tribune should have mentioned how the bones were shipped to the museum. They just talked about the location, the museum, and when they found the dinosaur. They never mentioned anything about the transportation, which I think is just as important because the job is just as big--not to mention a huge transportation.

May 6, 2007

Tornado in Kansas

In southwestern Kansas a dozen tornadoes struck down in a town called Greensburg. It left nine people dead and more than 60 others injured. The National Weather Service reported "double digits" of tornados in six counties, and meteorologists described the tornados as strong winds that raced up to 110 miles an hour. Strong winds lifted trucks and raked rooftops, plowing through businesses and houses.

I read two stories. The first story is from the Washington Post and reported by Peter Slevin. The second story is from the New York Times and reported by Reuters.

The Washington Post story emphasized on the damages. Slevin writes, "The tornado knocked out power and communications leaving residents of the town of 1,500 to search in darkness for neighbors and friends. Emergency vehicles lay tangled, and key buildings were badly damaged, including the elementary school, high school, city hall and emergency operations center."

The language that Slevin uses is powerful, yet melodramatic. The words he uses to set-up the scene in my opinion over do it, "knocked out," "badly" and "tangled."

Slevin goes on chronologically about what happened in the town of Greensburg. I think this a great way to interest the reader and put them in the story. If Slevin would have used an hourglass form I think there could be a bigger risk in having an unsympathetic undertone because it would be hard to put the reader into the story.

He also quotes Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a meteorologist, and a city administrator to explain the natural disaster. At the end he reports on what is being done about survivors, "By nightfall Saturday, hundreds of people were settling into Red Cross shelters elsewhere, many taken by waves of school buses." I think this is an awkward way to end a serious story. I personally would have talked about the survivors themselves and how they feel or what their experiences were, not how they shoved into a school bus.

In the middle of the New York Times story in all caps it reads, "HOSPITAL, SCHOOLS DESTROYED" Then the first sentence says, "Greensburg's hospital and schools were destroyed." That is all the information about the Hospital and schools. I find it odd that the Times would make hype something and not mention anything about it.

The first thing that the Times wrote that the Washington Post left out was information on the victims. Reuters wrote, "There's a lot of shock and concern," said a Red Cross volunteer. "There's a lot of concern for family members they can't locate." They also wrote about how Greensburg residents were served sloppy Joes for lunch and handed out stuffed animals to the youngest survivors and oxygen and medication to the oldest.

The second thing that the Times wrote about and the Washington Post left out is the statistics on tornados it says, "Tornadoes kill about 70 people on average in the United States each year. The worst cluster came on April 3 and 4 1974, when 307 people were killed by 148 tornadoes in 13 states. The most violent single tornado appeared on March 18, 1925, killing 689 people as it ran from Missouri across southern Illinois into Indiana.

I like it how the Times talk about the history because it reminds the reader the reality of tornadoes and how other people in different times have been greatly affected. Not only is it a reminder of the past and the reader into reality, but it also ends the story in a nice tone- it's not dramatic, short or dull.

April 8, 2007

The Sopranos are done, my life is over.

David Chase "The Sopranos" creator said that the final nine episodes will be absolutely positvely be the last for the powerful epic, a masterwork for television that belongs in the same select league as "Roots", "Holocaust", "Lonesome Dove" and a few other TV turning points. Chase directing, is still being worked on--no one has blabbed about whether or not Tony will die in the ninth season or final episode.

The audience have invested time and stress, understandably wants to know: Will Tony live or die?

The sopranos is amazing. Not only are major newspapers writing about what could happen in the final season, but praising it as the best television series, which is clever and a brilliant masterpiece of our time. What the hell? Okay, so yeah the Sopranos is well crafted and entertaining. What happened to television series that showed more then just shooting and naked women in every episode.

I do think that the Sopranos do take on controversial topics. They talk about racism, sexism, relationships that deal with cheating. Everyday problems that Americans face. Infinelity, death, children growing, deception. But the most interesting part that I find in the Soporanos is that Tony Soprano himself is an everyday surban father, to a certain degree.
I find it hiliarious everytime he walks to the end of his driveway to pick up his daily newspaper. Scenes of such relate the American people to Tony Soprano, this is clever. I don't want to anaylize the telvevision series, but I need to to make my point. Chase should have made a televsion serious that was not only be clever, but Americans think about their own life and purpose in life. There is so much going on in the world and messages to get across, Chase has the attention of American and he wants to waste 5 min. of air time on naked women and a drive by. Yes entertainment purposes are great, we love seeing Tony Soporano kicking ass when a job needs to be done, but why not bring racism to a great level.

March 26, 2007


Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales fired seven U.S. attorneys. It seems like Gonzales is trying to cover something up, but as far as everyone knows there is no need to cover up.

The Washington Post says, A Justice Department spokeswoman said the latest e-mail did not contradict the attoney general's previous assertions. He's entitled to explain why not, and he'll get that chance, in congressional testimony after his former cheif of staff, Mr. Sampson, testifies Thursday."

The New York Times says," But e-mail messages and other documents released by the Justice Department in recent days suggest that Mr. Gonzales was told of the dismissal plan on at least two occasions, in 2005 when the plan was devised and again in late 2006 shortly before the firings were carried out."

As far as I am concerned, there will be many contradictions like this because there are over 4,000 memo/e-mail that were sent about Gonzales and the U.S. Attorney's. I think that it is important for the public to know what is going on, but I also think that this story is getting out of porpotion. It is almost like the media feeds onto anything that shows deception within the government. Ofcourse we need to make sure deception is revealed. The extent that the media has played in the Gonzales story is unnecessary. How does this story effect the American people so much that reporter need to write about every play by play?

We need to think what is really news and what is just pop news. There is a serious war going on in Iraw and instead of debating who said what, maybe we should write stories that will actually change a readers opinion on what is happening in Iraq. Or something that prove journalists have integrity and are not a bunch heyana's just waiting for any gossip.

March 14, 2007

Betty Hutton's Obit

Betty Hutton was an actress and singer in the 1940s and 1950s. She died on Sunday at 86 years old.

New York Times Richard Severo, wrote the obituary as a story-telling piece, using a lot of adjectives. He describes Betty Hutton's and her work as: upbeat, electric, masked, brassy and energetic. He also used clichés such as, "sound like a fire alarm" and "blond bombshell." I think Severo could have written a better obituary without using clichés and over used adjectives. I believe it sounds insulting and shows laziness in the writer.

He then writes about her career chronologically, but in descending order. To start off about her life, the first paragraph quotes Betty, "I tried to kill myself" after recalling her decline after fading from public. This is rude. A writer should not start off by writing about the horrible events that the person went through, at least not as graphic. He ends the obituary commenting on Betty's love life. The first sentence, "She married four times, to Mr. O'curran; Ted Briskin, a manufacturer; Alan Livingston, a recording company executive; and Pete Candoli, a jazz trumpet player.

He finishes off with a stupid quote that is irrelevant or doesn't sum off her whole life, he writes, "My husbands all fell in love with Betty Hutton," Ms. Hutton once said, "None of them fell in love with me." I think this leaves the reader felling sorry for Betty, like she was lonely. I don't think Severo himself knew if Betty was unhappy in her marriages. He needs to be optimistic and believe that Betty, received the fullest self-satisfaction with every marriage, or else he is leading on the reader. Having the obituary's focus on Betty's "Tragedy Hollywood" life is just trashy.

Washington Post Martin Weil writes with the same enthusiasm as Severo. He uses a lot of adjectives: brassy, bouncy, big-voiced, sparkled, shined, blond leading, zest, and hilarious, abounding energy. Weil focuses on Betty's career throughout the whole obit.

When describing her not-so-glamorous life he says, "She began a slow descent into obscurity. At one point, she was described as reclusive and beset with physical, financial and emotional troubles". When writing on Betty's downfall, this is all Weil writes about. I believe this is a generic and respectful way of describing Betty's troubles.

About Betty four marriages, Weil writes that she had four marriages, and that is all.

March 3, 2007

The South Torn Apart by Twisters

P.S. I don't know "Reuters" affiliation

Reuters New York Times. Summary: Tornadoes across the southern United
States killed at least 20 people when tornadoes tore a hospital, high school
and mobile homes. The tornadoes killed nine people in Georgia, where the
hospital was hit, and 10 people in two southern Alabama towns. The U.S.
Coast Guard said six people were missing Friday after their 23-foot vessel
began taking on water in stormy seas off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Reuters focuses on damage across the nation,it even talks about the
blizzards that happened in the Midwest--North Dakota and Wisconsin. It
mentions the tornado that killed about 20 people in central Florida a month ago as
well. One thing that it talked about was the El Nino Effect. I thought was it was an inapprioate claim, "The height of the tornado season in the United States does not begin until May, but
winter tornadoes are common in years which experience the El Nino
phenomenon." Personally I think this is insensitive to the community.
First, Reuters is making a prediction that with in the coming year there is
a good chance of an El Nino. Secondly, He places the claim at the very end
of the article, almost leaving the reader in question. The reader does not
know how Reuters got its information and I don't think the reader will take
bold statements seriously if there are no credentials.

Jay Reeves. Summary: Enterprise high school was struck by a tornado and
eight students were killed. Faculty and students were warned about severe
weather three hours before the tornado struck. It raised questions on
whether classes should have been canceled earlier.

After the summary, Reeves gives an explanation on behalf of Enterprise High School on how this tragedy happened (not literally, but it sounds like it). He
writes, " But school officials said they had no chance to evacuate earlier
because of the approaching severe weather..." Governor Bob Riley had
something to say, " I don't know of anything they didn't do." This is
Reeve's most blatant statement, "Riley said after stepping out of the
collapsed hallway where the students died,' If I had been there, I hope I
would have done as well as they did.'"

That is just ridiculous. Yes, it is
a horrible event that these kids went through, BUT Reeves cannot "set
up a scene" and then support a quote by a politician. It's being biased.
What about the parents who believe that the school should have done a better
job on evacuating the school? If I were that parent I would be pretty
pissed off. A reporter's job is to tell a story without persuading the
reader, just give the facts. I think Reeves made a poor choice in
choosing that quote. The quote did have newsworthiness, but Reeves
should have expanded on its meaning. I have another comment to add, the word "But" at the beginning of a quote can turn any sentence into a biased predicament, just like the one
Reeves proves in this article.

February 26, 2007

Indian Mascot

The University of Illinois will retire its 81-year-old American Indian mascot , Chief Illiniwek after the last men's home basketball game of the season. The decision ends a two-decade-long struggle between people on both sides of the issue.

The Washington Post reporter David Mercer talked about what happened at Chief Illiniwek's last game. Mercer also interviewed a lot of students and audience members to give their story. The problem that Mercer makes is that he doesn't give interviews with the opposing side of Chief Illiniwek. All the interviewing was done with people who wanted to keep the chief. When I was finished reading the story I felt like it portrayed a very biased attitude--people are being overly sensitive. Mercer also had too many quotes that were irrelevant. For an example, a quote from a student, "If we were down by like 30, people stuck around for the chief...honestly, that's like what you hear in the stands." This quote doesn't enhance the story or give it more meaning to the reader.

The New York Times gave a more of a factual stance on the Chief Illinwek issue. The Associated Press
wrote the story. The reporter placed one quote in the story and I think it was a perfect fit. The reporter wrote, "Personally, as an alumnus and former athlete, I am disappointed. However, as an administrator, I understand the decision that to be made." This quote is from an important person of the university and shows to sides of the issue. This style of writing helps the reporter not force anything on to its readers, instead the reporter insists the reader into making an educated decision.

February 17, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith's Will

Anna Nicole Smith died on Feb. 8 this year. Her will says that her fortune
should inherited to her son Daniel, who died last year. Reporter Matt
Sedensky for The Washington Post wrote that the 19-page will did not say
how much Smith was worth. CNN reporter Susan Caniotti said that her fortune
is perhaps $88 million or more. According to Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom, in
the CNN article, the will's language excludes Anna's 5-month-old daughter
DanielLynn from any inheritance.

The CNN article gives more of a definite conclusion about the whole story.
I find this disturbing because in the Washington Post article Matt Sedensky
doesn't say anything is fact because court settlements are still in
process. The Washington Post also used more quotes from the people involved
such as, Ron Roy an attorney for Smith " The judge wanted it produced, but
we won't depend on it for our case," The CNN article takes a more
analytical/summary approach to the case, "Seidlin ordered Stern to appear at
the hearing Tuesday, and he is expected to testify. His lawyer, Krista
Barth, argued unsuccessfully to have him appear by video phone from the
Bahamas, where he is caring fro DanielLynn." Both of these articles were
consistent in this type of writing. I that the Washington Post
provided a better story for the audience that was more accurate. CNN
reported the story and made it sound like everything is already determined,
all that needs to be done are the signatures.

The headliners for these two articles are completely different. The
Washington Post Headline says," Judge Releases Anna Nicole Smith's Will."
CNN headline says, " Anna Nicole Smith's will leaves everything to dead
son." First, the Washington Post shows a more accurate representation of
what really happened. The judge did in fact release her will. CNN did not
show an accurate representation because the will says, "to all children."
We do not know yet, whether or not 5-month-old DanielLynn will be included
in the will. Secondly, the reporter needs to consider sensitivity. It is
unethical for a newsroom to use the phrase, "dead son" it's not being
sympathetic towards the victim's family.

February 16, 2007

The Breach

The New York Times gives a in-depth background of the notorious Robert
Philip Hanssen, who sold secrets to the Russia for more than two decades.
For more than 25 years he worked at the F.B.I., he covertly thrived in that
culture. He in total gave 6,000 pages of intelligence secrets and received
1.4 million dollars. On the February 2001 morning of his arrest, he attended
Mass at a Roman Catholic church where the services were in Latin and many
in the congregation belonged to Opus Dei. Later that day, he dropped a
garbage bag stuffed with intelligence secrets in a Virginia park. He is
sentenced to life in prison. Reporter Manohla Dargis did an interesting job
incorporating the historical background of Robert Hanssen and the new
Hollywood film the "Breach." I found this to be interesting because most
movie reviews/summaries don't show an in-depth look at the "Big Picture."

I think Dargis did a great job in doing combining the two together to make
it more interesting (Not just another movie review). Dargis also mentioned
Stephen Glass, the movie that was made about him called, "Shattered Glass."
Dargris compares the two films because they were both directed by Billy
Ray. Dargis writes, "“Breach? is about secrets and lies, and smart,
arrogant men waylaid by their own pride and pathologies. “Shattered Glass?
has its moments, if not enough of them; as in “Breach,? Mr. Ray’s
unapologetic seriousness is one of the film’s strongest assets". Dargis
writes a very objective piece on the new Hollywood film and supports
potential excitement by analytical and historical information.

In contrast, Time Magazine reporter Richard Schickel writes the article
with a subjective attitude. The first sentence he writes, "As if we don't
have enough worries about national security, Breach obliges us to think
about the deeply weird (and by most of us half-forgotten) case of Robert
Hanssen". The very first sentence makes the reporter sound as if the whole
world worries about national security, which is not true.

He also says, The movie doesn't say, but one rather thinks that, in his
arrogance, he did not. It doesn't toy with the possibility that he may have
wanted to be caught, either. But it would have been logical. Where's the
fun in running circles around the plodding counterspies for a couple of
decades if the story does not come in the end make the newspapers, thus
making them look like fools." This sort of attitude completely makes the
reporter sound like a professional critic, although they never mention any
sort of claim on the website or at the end of the article.

Of the two articles, The New York Times did a better job in showing an
unbiased review of the film. It was more interesting and it actually made me
want to see the film. In the Time magazine, there was an overall arrogance
in the writing that made me not want to see the film and stop reading the
article. I believe when a you are a critic you're not suppose to be
objective but it's important to give two sides of the story--Schickel did
not show any of these characteristics.

February 3, 2007

The state of Virgina apologizes for slavery

The state of Virgina on Friday expresses regret for Virgina's role in slave trade, a significant act of contribution as a state. The state is considering making the 400th anniversaty of Jamestown as proof in showing remorse for the enslavement of millions of Africans and Caribbean islanders during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The first 20 slaves were brought to Jamestown in 1619 and by 1860 there were 20,000 slaves in four Virgina Counties. Del. Donald McEachin whose grandfather was a slave said "Virgina had nothing to do with the end of slavery. It had everything to do with the beginning of slavery." Del. Frank D. Hargrove Sr. heard about the efforts to solve Virgina's race problem and said blacks, "should get over" slavery. He adds, "Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?" A conference committee of senators and delegates will have to be appointed to develop compromise language for proposing an apology for enslaving Africans into slavery. Washington Post reporter Tim Craig wrote a lot about the history of slavery in Virgina. He also quoted a lot of people, it was so often that it was difficult to keep track with who was who. I think if Craig paraphrased the sources rather than directly quoting the transitions between ideas would be smoother. The comments that Hargrove said are so controversial that I believe deserved more attenention than Craig gave, such as, Hargrove. The story gave good background information and had terrific sources. The problem I found was when sources were quoted they didn't support any signigicant ideas that were being written about or enhance the facts. The story turned boring and didn't have any interesting leads.

January 27, 2007

University of North Carolina's Big Mistake

University of North Carolina sent an e-mail to 2,700 undergraduate applicants congratulating them on their admission to the university by mistake. The message was intended for applicants who had already been admitted but unfortunately was sent to those still waiting for a decision. Once the mistake was noticed, another e-mail was sent apologizing for the inconvenience. Stephen Farmer the director of the undergraduate admissions for the university said, "We continue to express our deep regret for this error". The university is coming up with better ideas on how to prevent a recurrence of the mistake. The reporter who wrote the story from the New York Times was objective in the story. He did a great job of telling what happened, but the article itself was shallow and bland. I wanted to know more facts about the school and their admission process. I wanted to know more on how the admissions department was going to fix the problem. I also want to know if technology has become a bigger problem for universities around the nation-- to the extent of how much technology is being used on such formal business. A reporter from The Washington Post wrote about the same event. I think he did a better job of reporting the story because he gave more details on how the University is handling their mistake. The reporter wrote that it was two employees that sent the e-mail to the undergraduate applicants and that it stated , "Congratulations again on your admission to the University." If I were the applicant I don't think I would be terribly excited because the letter implies that I should have already received a first letter before and the University is just telling me again. When the New York Times reporter wrote the story he implied that the letter was a first time e-mail informing the applicants of his first letter of acceptance. The Washington Post reporter also gave the statistics on how many people apply each year to UNC and the how many freshmen enroll at the school. Having these statistics allow the reader to make his own judgement, which I think is critical for any news story.