May 4, 2007

Story Reporting Techinques

How I reported this story:
I got the idea for this story from Ash Hane, who I quoted in the article. I met up with her just after she had gone to a clinic to get the vaccine and she was mad that her insurance would not cover it. I found sources first via the Internet, and then I tapped family members for any people I could talk to about the vaccine. I was pleasantly surprised to find Dr. Carlson as a source ad she was excellent to work with. I found her to be very accommodating and willing to talk to me. I used the state bills in the House and the Senate that were directly related to one of the topics, which I was going to write about. I wish that I would have been able to find some more opposing sources for the story that I could have quoted.

Main Challenge:
The problem I found to be most troublesome for this story was the amount of information that was available. There are so many people who believe in the power of the vaccine and it was difficult to find sources that were creditable as well as accessible. I feel like I could have been much more persistent in my news gathering techniques. The paragraphs, which could use more meat, are the ones that would have benefited from more persistence in contacting sources that were opposed to the vaccine. I think that I might have been unbalanced.

Alterative storytelling approaches:
When I posted my story below, I put in hyperlinks to connect the bit of information with the source on the Net. If I could have recorded my interviews, I might have put the recordings online so that my audience could hear them. I would have taken pictures of Ash for the article and maybe at a clinic where the vaccine was being given out. I do not want to make the story completely interactive with video clips but I think that by adding the interview audio clips the audience could get more out of the story. It would begin to look more like the MPR Web site.

Controversial Vaccine

By. Jane Field

With the advent of a new vaccine whose aim is to prevent cancer, controversy has erupted between the family values of “abstinence only,? and the legal and medical benefits of the drug.

In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil, the new vaccine manufactured by Merck & Co. Inc. The vaccine prevents infections from four strains of the human paollomavirus, or HPV.

Carol Carlson, M.D., a pediatrician with Southdale Pediatrics, said she was excited about the new vaccine. “I’m absolutely a believer in any vaccine, especially any that prevent fatal diseases,? she said. “This is the first vaccine dedicated to the prevention of cancer.?

HPV has no cure and can lead to cervical cancer, which kills 3,700 women in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new vaccine does not cure the virus, and health care providers still encourage women to have their routine pelvic exams.

The vaccine is administered in three doses that cost $120 per dose. The CDC recommends that the best time for the vaccine to be taken is when a girl has not yet become sexually active because she had not been introduced to any of the 100 strains of HPV.

The vaccine was tested in more than 11,000 women from age 9 to 26-years-old from 13 countries. “The side effects at this point are minimal,? said Dr. Carlson. “Flu like symptoms, aches, and soreness at the sight of injection are normal with any vaccine.?

The vaccine was apparently so effective that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, an independent group, called for an early end to the clinical trials so that the women who were receiving the placebo injection could receive the real vaccine.

In June of 2006, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved the vaccine and added it to their list of vaccines for children. Dr. Carlson hopes for it to be added to the list of childhood immunizations.

Worries about the vaccine come from family organizations and parents of children who believe that the vaccine will promote sexual activity at an earlier age. “

Family groups such as Focus on the Family, and the Family Research Council (FRC), support the vaccine but want to make sure that parents should make the decision to inoculate their children, not state legislatures.

FRC, a Washington, D.C. based organization devoted to the development of families, supports the idea for the vaccine, but would rather emphasize the “abstinence only? method of prevention. The argument being that given the vaccine, young women might be more inclined to become sexually active at a younger age.
Moira Gaul, a policy analyst for the FRC, wrote a letter to the CDC and the ACIP in which she stated that, “parents have an inherent right to be the primary educator and decision maker regarding their children's health, we would oppose any measures to legally require vaccination or to coerce parents into authorizing it.?

According to the CDC, it is common for insurance companies to hold back on covering the cost of the prescription when a vaccine is so new.

Ash Hane, 23, is a student at the University of Minnesota. When she looked into getting the vaccine, she was angered to find out that her insurance did not cover it. “Insurance companies are hopping on board. With every vaccine there is a lag time,? Dr. Carlson said. It is best to check with your insurance provider before receiving the vaccine.

“Here’s the deal, cancer sucks,? Hane said. “The cost of treating cancer outweighs the cost of covering the vaccine.? She said she cannot understand why the vaccine is not covered.

Dr. Carlson said, “little is known about the long-term effects of the vaccine.? Since the clinical trials were so short, researchers have yet to test the vaccine in women over the age of 26 and it is not know if the vaccine would even be safe for them, or whether the vaccines will last just a few years or for much longer.

Minnesota is among 24 states, to introduce bills into their Legislature that would require girls’ ages nine and up to receive the Gardasil vaccine as part of their childhood immunizations before entering schools.

The Minnesota bill, which is pending, would require 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated before attending school and parents would have the option of refusing the vaccine.

Virginia was the first state to pass the bill into law. Starting in October of 2008, girls entering the sixth grade will have to be vaccinated. However, the bill also allows parents to opt for not having the inoculation.

At least four of the states have dropped the bill, but the other 19 are still considering their bills.

While the long-term effects are still unknown and the debate is far from over. “More and more parents of adolescents are requesting the vaccine,? Dr. Carlson said. The CDC and FDA will continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine after it hits the mainstream vaccine plans. Hane said she wants the vaccine because anything to prevent cancer should be done. Dr. Carlson looks at the vaccine as the “wave of the future.?

April 17, 2007

Virgina Tech

Yesterday, Virgina Tech witnessed the largest mass murder the United States has seen in resent history. The national media went wild with the coverage of the event.

Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old English major from South Korea, has been identified as the suspect who shot and killed 32 people before his life was taken.

The Virgina Tech web site has done a great job posting information for students and for family and others. The site has listed Podcasts of University President Steger speaking as well as the Police Chief, the State Medical Examiner, and State Secretary of Public Safety .

The number of media outlets that had information and eyewitness accounts surprised me. KDWB, a local Twin Cities hip-hop radio station, had students and local college aged people calling in and reporting on what they had heard from family members and friends who were there. My problem with this is that much of what these sources were reporting was hearsay. I think that in the crush to be the first with something new, these outlets are being irresponsible. They are only adding to the confusion and miss information of the public. has, per usual, covered their home page with bits of information from a myriad of sources. These little bits sometimes overlap, becoming redundant.

But one instance that has really surprised me was that the cover of our own Minnesota Daily carried a photo of the University Sailing Team on Lake Minnetonka and a story about the University elections. They buried the story on page 6.

I think this situation is one that disserved a front-page spot not to be hidden behind trivial things such as the sailing team and a possible change to the tenant policy. This issue is real here and now and needs to be talked about in open forums for students, faculty, and the public. We need to ask why this tragedy has happened and what can be taken from it.

It might be too early to talk about such matters and there might be many unanswered questions, however in time we might be able to keep catastrophes such as this from happening.

April 11, 2007

The Ultimate Journalistic Sin

Newsweek reported a story today about Katie Couric and her online video essay "Katie Couric's Notebook." The article talks about how parts of one essay were taken from a Wall Street Journal article, which was not given attribution.

Newsweek reported that much of what Couric stated in the video came from the Wall Street Journal by Jeffrey Zaslow. The article by Zaslow discussed the relationship that children and teen’s have with the library. At least seven different segments of Couric’s video essay were nearly identical to the article.

As it turns out, Katie does not actually write “Katie Couric’s Notebook,? the producer of the piece usually authors the text. CBS fired the producer and was quick to make amends with the Zaslow and The Wall Street Journal.

I think that this is another great learning experience for future and active journalists alike. I find it strange that Katie Couric does not write all the things she reads on the shows. I guess that I must be a little naïve about the state of television media but I thought that as journalists we have the duty and the obligation to make sure that every thing we produce is our own work and if not we ATRIBUTE!!!!

Couric is not being held responsible for the blunder, which I think is irresponsible of the network, she though that she could trust the people who were helping her but I guess that you should always watch your back.

CBS removed the broadcast from their website and I could not find it on any other sites.

As journalists, we have some very basic rules to follow, we should question everything, check our facts and above all else do NOT plagiarize.

April 10, 2007

Therapy Dog's decapitation

The Star Tribune reported recently about the girl whose therapy dog was be headed and left on her door step. The story was reported by the paper a few different times. The second report followed the same day in the news.

I was surprised to find that there was a lot of speculation about the incident from multiple sources. For example, I had heard the suspect was 17 then he was 27.

The fact that these two stories were reported close together it makes a really interesting learning experience to compare the two stories. One could almost follow the reporter and the information that was coming into the news room.

It shows students of journalism a real life example of how the environment works.

Classic cars might bring business to Carver

by Jane Field

The small town of Carver, Minn., located about 45 minuets southwest of
Minneapolis, used to be known chiefly as a drinking spot, a hamlet of 2,500
residents who dew in folks from the surrounding cities to its several bars
along its strip of antique stores and classic boat repair shops.

While those bars and antique shops are still frequented by locals, the growth
of neighboring cities such as Chaska and Chanhassen have made Carver less of
a destination for people.

Now one Carver businesswoman wants to revitalize the town with the help of
classic cars.

Linda Schutz, owner of the Hazelnut House, a quilt and design studio on North
in Carver, has asked the city council to create a Carver Car Cruse as a way
to bring people back to downtown.

Schutz, who addressed the Carver City Council, has been on a few car trips
that consist of classic car owners traveling from town to town to show off
their cars. She suggested that the town designated parking on Broadway for
classic cars only on the second Wednesday of June, July, and August.

“Carver has to be an event town right now because there are not enough
businesses to keep traffic and people coming,? Schutz told the council.

While the police department could post signs, council member Mike Webb
suggested the Schutz speak with the bar owners about the plan.

Carver’s heritage is celebrated every year with the “Steamboat Celebration?
during Labor Day weekend along with other community events. The car cruse
would bring more focus to the town and their history.

March 8, 2007

Here is a story that I found to be quite relevant to our cause here at the J-school. The New York Times published an article dealing with the verdict in the Lewis Libby trial and how it is going to affect journalism as we know it.

“After Mr. Libby’s conviction Tuesday, it is possible to start assessing that damage to the legal protections available to the news organizations, to relationships between journalists and their sources and to the informal but longstanding understanding in Washington, now shattered, that leak investigations should be pressed only so hard.?

The point was made that ten of the witnesses in the trial were journalists. Out of 19, that is a lot.

The article is really interesting and it cites Supreme Court cases to offer information about journalistic rights and the way the business is conducted these days. I found this article to be of some importance especially as emerging journalists.

Library Merger

The Star Tribune reported that the Minneapolis Library Board will merge with the Hennepin County library system.

The vote, which according to the article was both "historic" and "bittersweet." The vote will try to keep Minneapolis's city libraries open. One intresting fact that I found in the article is that library system in Minneapolis is 122-years-old.

Minneapolis closed three libraries last year. The hope here is that those three will be reopened with the help of Hennepin County.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)
is a great resource for previous information relating to the library topic. They have not reported any stories about the resent decision.

March 1, 2007


This article from the Star Tribune caught my attention. I am going to be getting married in August so I have been worrying about the cost of every thing. When I heard this story, I was surprised. The sum of $1 million caught my attention.

The gist of the story is that a bride hired a woman to be her wedding planner with only three months. The wedding was going to take place in Hawaii and it was a big affair. The bride hired the planner at a wage of $90 an hour plus any out-of-pocket expenses.

The wedding went great and everyone was happy. When they returned home to Minnesota, the planner billed the bride for 233 1/3 hours of work and $584.16 in expenses. The bill comes to $21,584.16, the bride sent out a check for the $584.16 and a not that the rest of the money would be on the way.

After the groom saw the tab, he claimed that it was, “too rich? and they would not pay it. The planner is suing for the money.

I think that it is a funny story. I have a problem with the fact that it is not explained in the article where the $1 million comes into play. I know that journalists are not good at math and I am no exception to the rule but by my calculations, the total tab that was given to the newlyweds should have been $21, 584.16. Where is the rest of the money? It does not make sense. One other problem I had with the text of the story is that the author took a lot of space to insert quotes from notes that were part of the lawsuit that really had no place in the story. They could have used one or two but I felt that there were too many here.

In a related story, the Star Tribune also reported that our bride lost her $325,000 wedding ring. She reported it stolen from her home in the Kenwood Neighborhood.

I was not able to find this story anywhere else.

February 20, 2007

Phillip Morris and Minnesota

The Supreme Court has refused to consider a lawsuit by Philip Morris against Minnesota. Phillip Morris is claiming that Minnesota's 75 cent per pack health impact fee in in violation of a contract with the tobacco company.

The Star Tribune
reported the story from the AP.

I think that is is interesting how short this story was. The Strib could have done a lot more with it. The AP reported a story that constituted only four paragraphs. Seeing as the case is about a Minnesota law, the Strib could have and should have built a much beefer article. They could have talked to state Reps. and legislators. It would have made the story much better.

February 13, 2007

Does this Count?

USA Today story...

The Police are reuniting for a world tour in May 2007.

For more information about The Police check out the Vh1 site ....


Monday night, Stephen M. Michuda, 34, took his 14-year-old daughter from her home in Inver Grove heights.

Michuda is a convicted sex offender and is not allowed to have unsupervised contact with his daughter.

Michuda took off in a green 1998 Chevrolet Ventura minivan. Minnesota License plate GUB 014.
Officials are asking anyone who sees the suspect or the vehicle to call 911.

Anyone with information may call 651-437-4211.

The Web's Code Amber posted this entry on their site....

Insult to Injury

The Star Tribune reported Tuesday about a Wisconsin man who shot himself in the foot.

Patrick R. Hupf Jr., 31, of Sheboygan, Wisc. shot himself in the foot with a .22-caliber rifle. Hupf was charged Monday with being a felon in possession of a fire arm.

Hupf faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

I was not able to find any other sites where this story was reported.

Gunman Kills 5 in Utah Mall reported this story about a 18-year-old who killed 5 people in a Utah mall.

Police shot and killed the 18-year-old who entered the mall with a shotgun and many rounds of ammunition. Five people were killed and four were injured during the rampage.

Police have not yet released the name of the gunman.

Whitenesses said that there was only a calm expression on the face of the gunman when he shot a 15-year-old.

ABC News reported the story here...

For local coverage, the Star Tribune reported here...

February 1, 2007

Blow them Away

WCCO full story:

In October of 2006, Kenneth Englund caught someone trying to steal gas out of his neighbor’s truck. Englund grabbed his shotgun and took off after the man. A 70 mile per hour chase ensued and Englund caught up with the thief who was driving with a woman and a 3-year-old child.

Englund has been a board member of the Isanti Township for almost 38 years.

According to a criminal complaint, Englund is looking at charges of second-degree assault.

The man who stole the gas, which amounted to about $5, was charged with misdemeanor theft.

Continue reading "Blow them Away" »