Coal Ship Stuck on Great Barrier Reef

The Australian released a story of a coal ship "Shen Neng" that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, Saturday. Apparently, the Chinese ship was 15K off course from the established shipping lanes into the marine reserve when it crashed onto the reef, stranding 65,000 tonnes of coal and 950 tonnes of fuel oil. There are questions as to why the ship had strayed so far into an area forbidden to commercial shipping. The Australian government is considering fining the company for negligence. Tugboats have been positioned to keep the ship firmly on the reef as there is a risk that the ship may break up, and spill the oil onto the reef.
This article has a great deal of conflict, emotion and impact, a large ship which may spill large amounts of oil and coal onto the largest living wonder in the world is definitely a good choice. The article is easy to read, and gives a number of quotations from the ship's owner, local government, and marine experts. Yet it seems that a great deal of the information comes from other news sources, particularly television news sources. This seems to suggest that the writer simply watched the news, and wasn't on-site doing the investigating.

UK's Liberal Democrats Savor New Status

In the Wall Street Journal an article points out the potential for a close election in the UK, which makes a third party first in significance. Because the two main parties in Britain, the Tories and Labor, are possibly at a tie for seats in Parliament, which means that the minor parties will be courted by both major parties in the hopes that coalition can form a new government. Labor under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown has controlled the British Parliament since 1997, but now could be on the verge of a major upset by the Tories provided that they can garner the support of the LibDems. The LibDems have been strong opponents of Labor's involvement in foreign wars, but the Tories may have some trouble stomaching the LibDems' desire to increase taxes on bank profits.
The article has a good lead, which highlights the crucial role which this small party, Liberal Democrats, will play in the potentially dramatic election this week. It demonstrates good quality of immediacy, by pointing out how a "minority government" could be the result of this election. It also deals with conflict, showing the various positions of the current government, and juxtaposes them with the positions of the LibDems and the Conservative/Tories. The article is a bit difficult to follow for a person who is unfamiliar with the British Parliamentary system, yet with the use of multiple quotations, facts, figures, and some unique observations, it makes it more interesting and less dry than it could possibly be.

Digital Nation: Making Alone a Little More Bearable

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The Frontline investigative report called Digital Nation gives a multifaceted view of the new digital or "virtual world" made possible by current computer technology. As a journalistic story, this piece gives a broad picture through the sum of its diverse details.
The piece starts out rather appropriately with a video blog just like many similar "vlogs" made by digital denizens of cyberspace. The story then looks at the distractions and multitasking issues of students of MIT through not only the students eyes, but also their instructors. The story is laid out in chapters to present these varied views, first giving one perspective, than interposing another view or perspective. The research is broad, looking at computer game addicts in Korea, short attention-spanned students in college, psychologists, researchers, and computer professionals. The information appears to be well researched, and doesn't lead someone to a simple, "good or bad" conclusion regarding the recent social shifts brought about by computer technology.
Yet, the journalists both seemed to belie a sense of apprehension, revealed quite succinctly at one point when journalist Douglas Rushkoff wonders if the virtual world of second life actually brings alone people together, or was it just "making alone more bearable?" The program also revealed this apprehension through their coverage of many negative aspects of the digital society such as, gaming addicts, shortened attention-spans, loss of well developed ideas, and an inability of people to read books. These phenomena are backed up by fairly conclusive research.
One thing that this piece has made me wonder, is if my own ability to concentrate and accomplish single in-depth classes has suffered over the past few years with my increasing use of the internet not only in my own personal leisure time, but also in my academic work. I notice a marked increase in my own spending of hours checking multiple email accounts, looking at various articles, and realizing that I have yet again spent several hours of my precious life, with nothing to show for it.

America's surprise Olympic Romp

Wall Street Journal, February 21,
Vancouver, British Columbia
America is delivering an Olympics beating that nobody saw coming.

This lead is extremely short and is fairly interesting. But not much infomation about the article is in this lead. The second line improves a little on the question of what this article is about, "The U.S. won as many medals on Wednesday--six--as it won during the entirety of the 1988 Games in Calgary, Alberta." The lead could have been like so, "America won as many medals on Wednesday as it won during the entire 1988 Calgary Games, giving a performance that nobody saw coming."

Violent, Unpredictable, Ski Cross Makes Debut

Wall Street Journal, February 21
WEST VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA-
Canada's Olympic heartbreak continued on Cypress Mountain Sunday when Christopher Delbosco, just seconds away from winning a bronze medal in the men's Ski Cross, lost control and crashed in full view of a flag-waving Canadian crowd watching helplessly as Switzerland's Michael Schmid took gold.

This lead is lively in its use of words to capture the readers attention, "Canada's heartbreak continued...flag-waving Canadian crowd watching helplessly...". The lead sentence is fairly long, and the length may detract from the force of the creative language used in the title.

Pawlenty unveils budget cuts

Gov. Tim Pawlenty mentioned a budget plan which he plans to fully unveil on Monday. To counteract the $1.2 billion deficit of the state of Minnesota, Pawlenty has hinted that the legislature will have to make cuts in state spending except in emergency services, military benifits, and education. Pawlenty stated, "Everything else is going to be on the table for reduction. The Democrat controlled legislature contends that education and healthcare make up the majority of Minnesota's budget, and a tax increase will be needed. Proposals by Republican legislatures to sell or give the Metrodome stadium to the Vikings in the hopes of encouraging the team to stay were rebuffed by Pawlenty citing that the Vikings "don't want the Metrodome."
The immedacy of the budget deficit in Minnesota is a concern in the immediate future of any person in goverment or business. The story has conflict in the differing opinions on what the solution should be for the budget shortfall. The possibility that the Vikings may move from Minnesota after their lease is up would be pertainent to any fan of the team and any taxpayer which may potentially have to pay for a new stadium.

Imprisoned Toyota driver claims faulty auto causes fatal crash

The Pioneer Press reported on Saturday that the driver of a Toyota Camry in a deadly crash blames a faulty brake pedal for the June 2006 accident. St. Paul resident Kua Fong Lee was convicted of vehiclular homicide and careless driving when he failed to stop and caused three-fatality crash in St Paul. Lee has appealed the sentence by stating that he tried to stop, but the brake pedal was ineffective. Due to the recent recall of many newer Toyotas for sudden acceleration problems, city prosecutors say that they are willing to give the Camry an inspection to discover any possible malfunctions. Lee immigrated with his family to the United States after spending 20 years in a Thai refugee camp. If Lee, a model inmate, cannot be aquitted, he will be required to serve the remainder of his eight-year sentence in Lino Lakes.
This story has immediacy due to the recent recall of Toyota vehicles because of pedal malfunctions. This story has emotional value because although the defendant killed three people in a crash, he is also a person who is seen to overcome great personal challenges to live in the United States. Because the accident happened in St. Paul, and involves a member of the southeast Asian immigrant population. This story brings to light the plight of a person who is imprisoned for an incident which may be caused by faulty electronics.

Tensions arise over home-based businesses

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According to a Saturday report of Wall Street Journal, the recent economic depression has caused a rise in home-based businesses. The increase in unemployment has lead to small businesses leaving expensive and highly regulated business districts. This has created conflict between creative entrepeneurs and laws that restrict business operation in residential areas. Legislation has been drafted in Nashville which will reduce zoning restrictions, and the New Jersey State Legislature is considering a bill that will allow home-based businesses to be approved more easily. This has led to conflict in some areas, where the extra traffic from new customers has increased residents complaints of traffic noise. The director of Nashville's planning department stated, "We've got to recognize the changing and evolving economic environment of today without changing the character of the neighborhoods."

By mentioning the ideas and creativity of local businesses at cutting costs in leiu of the economic crisis, this story demonstrates impact on all people in the US who may be affected by unemployement or reduced income. It also presents some conflict between the current restrictions of city zoning laws, and people's need to provide for themselves. The fact that people may be prevented from self employement by laws which force people to keep a business in an expensive office has an emotional pull on a reader's mind. This story is likely to cause some people to reconsider the prevailing attitude towards small business and it's role in a neighborhood.

U of M Athlete a Saints Fan

In the Sunday Pioneer Press, U of M forward Damian Johnson acknowledged his status as a devoted New Orleans Saints fan. Johnson, originally from Thibodaux La, was not able to be at the recent Vikings vs. Saints game, but was elated to watch it on TV. He mentioned giving vocal support to the Saints while watching the game even though being in Minnesota meant this was not well received.

This article focuses well on the conflict and the proximity values because the Saints vs. Vikings game is an event that was important to people in the Twin Cities area, and reporting a story of a Minnesota student cheering for New Orleans touches on possible tension. It is lacking in immediacy, since this game happened several days earlier. This is a relevant article to the Twin Cities and U of M area, but it may have been more effective had it been released last week.