« March 2007 | Main

April 30, 2007

China Plans "Women's Town"

Chinese tourism authorities are planning a new attraction: a "women's town," the world's first town where women dominate and men obey.

The idea is based off of traditional male and female roles from the Sichuan province and Chongqing, Reuters said.

April 29, 2007

Afghans Protest Civilian Deaths in U.S.-led Raid

As many as six Afghans were killed in a U.S.-led raid on a suspected militant group Sunday, spawning hundreds of angry Afghan protesters.

Four militants were killed in the raid, the United States said, but civilian deaths - including a woman and teenage girl - angered the protesters, the Star Tribune reported.

Fungal Disease Causes Illness in Afton

A rare fungal disease has affected several Afton residents over the past several years.

Though it isn't life-threatening for most people, health experts say that some can develop skin lesions and pulmonary infections, which could lead to death, the Pioneer Press reported.

The fungus can be found in "sandy, acidic soil enriched with decomposing organic debris, such as leaves," such as that found in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Pioneer Press reported.

Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, fatigue and muscle aches, but it may take months for a person to show symptoms once they inhale the fungus.

In Minnesota there have been about 30 reported cases of this fungal disease, called blastomycosis, whereas Wisconsin saw 170 in the last year.

Three Dead in Kansas City Mall Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A gunman shot a police officer, then opened fire in a parking lot and a mall Sunday, authorities said. By the time the violence was over, he and two other people were dead.

A police officer was shot by a gunman who then opened fire in a parking lot and a mall Sunday, killing himself and two others.

Authorities began tracking the gunman after they went to a woman's house, only to find her dead and her car missing.

An officer spotted the car later that day and attempted to pull the gunman over. The gunman shot the officer in the arm, and drove off. The car was later spotted at the mall, where the gunman fatally wounded two people and injured others when he fired more shots inside of the mall.

It is not certain if the gunman was killed by policemen, authorities told the Associated Press.

Light DWI Sentences Receive Complaints

Minnesotans are becoming concerned by the growing number of light sentences given to those guilty of fatal DWIs. Despite the new 0.08 blood-alcohol level and a rule making four DWIs in 10 years a felony, many of those found guilty for DWI are receiving far less than the state suggested four years in prison.

Judges are allowed to assign a lighter sentence if they believe the offender is truly remorseful, the Star Tribune reported.

The anecdote for this story really helped catch the readers interest. WIthout it, I don't think many readers would care, or get past the first paragraph.

April 15, 2007

T-Rex: The Chicken's Long-Lost Relative

Scientists have successfully recovered and identified proteins from the bone of a well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex.'

The process, which was once thought impossible, allows scientists to be able to explore molecular-level relationships of ancient, extinct animals, the New York Times said.

Through analysis of the T-rex proteins, researchers discovered new evidence of a link between birds and dinosaurs. Three out of the seven reconstructed protein sequences were closely related to chickens, the New York Times said.

It reminds me of Jurassic Park!
Anyway, despite the seriousness of all the technical and scientific talk, the writer managed to fit in some humor. "The scientists resisted being drawn into speculation on the likely taste of a T-rex drumstick." I like it!

Darfur Agreement Signed

A joint agreement with the United Nations and the African Union was signed by Sudan Sunday.

The agreement defines roles for Sudan, the UN and the African Union in Darfur, the Associated Press reported.

I had a bad time following this story. Is the new agreement an amendment to the three-part plan that was agreed on in November, or something completely separate?

New Coast Protection Plan for California

Wildlife regulators adopted a new ocean protection plan, the first of its kind, on Friday. The new plan restricts and bans fishing and other activities on more than 200 square miles of water off the central coastline.

29 marine preserves have been designated between Santa Barbara and Half Moon Bay, the Associated Press said.

Some say the regulations have gone too far and are too strict.

They used sub-headings in this piece, which I thought was interesting but not totally necessary.

Survivor of Triple Homicide Caught in Custody Battle

The 10-year-old girl who escaped the house in St. Paul on March 23 where her mother, half-sister, and mother's fiance were killed is now caught in a custody battle between her mother's family and the man listed as her father on her birth certificate.

Daneisha Thomas was placed in protective custody Sunday after Dane L. Thomas, who is listed as her father on her birth certificate, called and complained to St. Paul police that her mother's relatives were taking her out of state, the Star Tribune said.

According to police the girl said that she was scared of Thomas and didn't want to go with him.

Ramsey County District Judge John Finley granted the petition to place Daneisha in the custody of Community Human Services Department. Another court hearing is set for May 3, the Star Tribune said.

Newborn Baby Stabbed 135 Times

A 17-year-old Oakdale girl gave birth to a baby in her bathroom, then proceeded to stab it 135 times and toss it in a dumpster.

Nicole Beecroft, a Tartan High School senior, originally told police that she thought the baby was stillborn, the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune reported.

Later, when police confronted her with the newfound evidence of a knife and stab wounds, Beecroft admitted to panicking and stabbing the baby to death.

According to various testimonies, no one knew Beecroft was even pregnant, the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune said.

The conclusion to the Star Tribune's article struck me as a tad odd. It was a bunch of quotes from Beecroft's neighbor, along with images of the angels in her house. In all honesty, it seemed a bit cheesy and unnecessary.

It seemed that the Pioneer Press integrated the quotes and facts more smoothly into the story. With the Star Tribune, I found County Attorney Douglas Johnson's quote was really abrupt.

April 9, 2007

Corrections from the New York Times

"Because of an editing error, an article in Business Day on Tuesday about the free-trade agreement between South Korea and the United States misstated a middle initial for the director of the Global Business Center at the University of New Haven, who discussed the benefits of the deal to the American economy. She is Usha C. V. Haley, not Usha C. H."

This one is obviously important because you always want to get your sources' names correct. It makes your story as well as you as you as a reporter more reliable.

"A headline in Business Day last Monday with an article about the translation of course materials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology into Chinese misstated the location of the project. It is based in Taiwan, not mainland China."

This, again, is important to correct to make your story more reliable. If a reader tried to verify this information and found out the project was not based in mainland China, they would think you are a sloppy reporter.

"A front-page article on Wednesday about the drought in the West referred incorrectly to the level of Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border. While the lake is at the same level it was in 1973, it is not the lowest it has been since then. It was briefly lower in early 2005."

This kind of correction shows that the reporter can and will verify their facts. It also shows that they've been thorough, and can be relied on to not present false or questionable material in future articles.

April 8, 2007

Northwest Flight Cancelled Due to Profane Pilot

A pilot who was yelling obscenities during his cell phone conversation caused an Northwest Airlines flight to be cancelled.

The pilot of the flight was yelling obscenities into his phone while passengers were boarding the Las Vegas-to-Detroit flight. The pilot was reported to have gone into a lavatory, where he locked the door and continued his conversation, the Star Tribune said.

The Las Vegas police were dispatched Friday to investigate the incident and were told that the pilot cursed one passenger who confronted him, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told the Associated Press.

Full Serbian War Archive Kept from Genocide Court

Spring 2003 marked the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, where hundreds of documents were presented as an inside view of the Serbian government in the Bosnian war of 1992-1995.

Serbia was allowed by the war tribunal to hide parts of their war archive from the public. The country's lawyers declared an issue of national security and censored many sensitive, and possibly incriminating, pages, the New York Times said.

According to those involved in the attempt at secrecy, Serbia wanted to keep all of the military archives from the International Court of Justice, which was where Bosnia sued Serbia for genocide. Now that the court has declared Serbia not guilty, they believe it has achieved this goal.

Wow, a really interesting story that involves many sources. I think that the fact that this event actually took place in 2003 might make it harder for the reporter to make contact with certain sources. Some might be harder to track down, and some might have even disappeared in that amount of time.

$100,000 Bail Set for University Athletes

Bail has been set at $100,000 each for three University of Minnesota football players.

The three athletes, who have been jailed on suspicion of rape, have not yet been formally charged as of Saturday evening, the Pioneer Press said.

Alex Daniels, 20, Keith Massey, 20, and E.J. Jones, 19 have been suspended from the university's football team. The players, who were arrested Friday, are suspected of raping an 18-year-old student who does not attend the university, the campus police told the Pioneer Press.

Southern Minneapolis Couple Experiences Their Own Titanic

A south Minneapolis couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary by evacuating a sinking cruise liner.

Jon and Cindy Hof were planning on sailing to the Greek island of Santorini Thursday when their cruise ship, the Sea Diamond, hit a reef, the Star Tribune said.

15 hours after its 1,200 passengers and 400 crew members evacuated, the Sea Diamond sank. Two passengers -- a father and daughter -- are still missing, the Star Tribune said. The captain, who blamed the accident on strong currents, has been charged with negligence.

I thought the lead in this article -- "Jon Hof seems to be the wisecracker in the family" -- was interesting and a good interest-catcher, but I felt it could relate to the actual topic more.

April 1, 2007

New Law Would Ban Texting While Driving

A new bill being considered in the New Jersey legislature would make it illegal to send text messages while driving an automobile.

The call for a new law regarding this issue is in response to a Nationwide Insurance survey that found one in three people, aged 18 to 34, were texting while driving, Reuters said.

Three other states are considering the same type of bill, which allows offenders to be fined $100 to $250.

South Pacific Terrorized by Earthquake

At least four people are missing after an earthquake caused a tsunami to crash into villages on the Solomon Island's west coast Monday.

The earthquake, measured at a magnitude of 8.1, caused large waves to crash into waterfront buildings. Tsunami warnings were sounded throughout the whole South Pacific, even as far north as Hawaii, the Associated Press reported.

There were a lot of different sources in this story. It was very thorough and in-depth, despite having happened only today.

Alpo Added to Pet Food Recall

The Menu Foods pet food recall has expanded to include Nestle Purina PetCare Company's Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy. The recall includes all sizes and varieties of this brand, however only specific date codes are included, the Associated Press reported.

I think it's interesting how there is no real lead in this article. I think that this still works, though, since the issue being reported on is one that is well-known and ongoing.

High School Students Charged with Arson

No one was injured in the two fires started Friday by two Eveleth-Gilbert High School students.

The fires, which were extinguished before authorities arrived, were said to have been set by two high schoolers, ages 18 and 16, the Associated Press said.

One of the fires was set in a bathroom garbage can, while the other was caused by papers set on fire on the stairwell.

Hwy 36 Fix Expected to Divide St. Paul

In an effort to save money, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has decided on a new approach to highway reconstruction. The new tactic will separate St. Paul even further by shutting down Highway 36.

The department plans to save $2 million by completely shutting down Highway 35 - which around 40,000 people use each day - in May, the Star Tribune reported. City officials are expecting that thousands of residents will begin using local streets to cut across the city.

Besides cutting down the cost, the department has estimated that the reconstruction will take only seven months - less than half of the time reconstruction normally takes.

I think another good way to start this would have been to interview a resident of North St. Paul and use them in an anecdote. It would add more emphasis on the fact that the city will be split in half, and I find it more appealing than a simple "People are wondering how they'll get from one side of town to the other."

The Star Tribune used "Hwy" a lot in this article. I tried looking it up in the AP Stylebook and couldn't find any place where it said that "highway" could be abbreviated. "MnDOT" was also confusing for a non-resident (me!).