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April 28, 2007

Vikings Take Peterson With First Round Selection

With the seventh overall selection in the 2007 NFL draft on Saturday the Minnesota Vikings selected University of Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.

The story that ran in the Pioneer Press was written by Jon Krawczynski. The story reported that despite a collar bone that was still on the mend the Minnesota Vikings selected Adrian Peterson to back up starter Chester Taylor. The story reported the reaction of Vikings’ Head Coach Brad Childress.

"We're obviously elated to have this guy," coach Brad Childress said. "He is an explosive football player that can take it to the house every time from any point on the football field. He has that kind of speed and ability."

With talented Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn still remaining at the No. 7 selection some fans expressed sympathies that would have preferred seeing Quinn holding up a Vikings jersey rather than the Cleveland Browns jersey he sported later on in the morning.

The Vikings passed on Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn to select Peterson, apparently comfortable going into next season with second-year QB Tarvaris Jackson and inexperienced veteran Brooks Bollinger competing for the job.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is making the story interesting to people who may have already heard about the pick either on TV or on the radio. I think that the issue is also relating the event to the broader NFL draft issues of day one. I think that this story did a good job making the story interesting and keeping the story brief in order to keep a broader audience interested.

A second version of a very similar story ran in the Star Tribune and was written by Kevin Seifert. This story began by also reporting the depth at the No. 7 position and how the Vikings had a tough decision between Quinn and Peterson. The story also reported a brief reaction by Childress about Peterson.

Ultimately, the Vikings turned down an offer to move into Washington's No. 6 spot and take Landry. They passed on Quinn, who plummeted to the No. 22 overall spot, and celebrated the arrival of Peterson -- arguably the draft's top offensive playmaker whom coach Brad Childress called a "bright-eyed, electric kid."

This story like the first detailed the injury history of Peterson’s collar bone and the issues that the Vikings may have in the future with this injury.

The Vikings set their sights on Peterson after his quiet April 13 visit to Winter Park. They X-rayed and examined his much-discussed right collarbone, which might need additional surgery, and received a glowing endorsement from running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, who once recruited him as a UCLA assistant coach.
Peterson's collarbone, originally broken last October, ballooned into a national story last week when Peterson acknowledged he had re-injured it Jan. 1 during the Fiesta Bowl. Rick Spielman, Vikings vice president of player personnel, said last Wednesday on KFAN-1130 that there was a "rumor" that Peterson needed surgery to correct the injury.

These stories both shared the same goals in writing and I felt like both of them met their goals, however, I felt like the Seifert version was much more detailed and interesting. While the Seifert version got a little long I still found the reporting more profound. The Krawczynski version was fine to read but I felt like Seifert did a better job covering the event and all of the issues surrounding the selection of Peterson.

C.I.A. Involved in Secret Detentions

The C.I.A. revealed Friday that they had been holding Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a known Al Queda terrorist, for several months in a secret prison near Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The story that ran in the New York Times was written by Mark Mazzetti. The story reported that al-Iraqi had begun his work for the Al Queda terrorist organization in the late 1990’s and had worked his way to a position as one of Osama bin Laden’s chief aids. The story gave a direct feeling of scrutiny with regards to the government holding suspects secretly and reported why the government has been able to do so.

Mr. Iraqi’s case suggests that the C.I.A. may have adopted a new model for handling prisoners held secretly — a practice that Mr. Bush said could resume and that Congress permitted when it passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The story reported the broader feeling of scrutiny which has surrounded the C.I.A.’s actions in holding al-Iraqi.

Last fall, Mr. Bush declared the agency’s interrogations “one of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history.? But its secret detention of terrorism suspects has been widely criticized by human rights organizations and foreign governments as a violation of international law that relied on interrogation methods verging on torture.

The story went on to detail the complaints of human rights groups further emphasizing the severity that the C.I.A. may have taken in the interrogation of al-Iraqi.

Human rights advocates expressed anger that the United States continued a program of secret detention, and some wondered why the C.I.A. claimed it needed harsh interrogation methods to extract information from detainees when it appeared that Mr. Iraqi had given up information using Pentagon interrogation practices.

The focus on the human rights aspect of the story illustrates the multifaceted nature of the story. I feel like this nature is what makes this story very challenging. This story is responsible for telling the history of the release of al-Iraqi and also reporting the C.I.A. reaction to the announcement. In addition to these the story also has to report the human rights issues presented by secret imprisonment. I feel like this story tried to keep the story interesting while reporting all of the angles but the story inevitably got a little long and lost my interest because of the length.

A second version of the story ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and was written by Josh Meyer of the Los Angeles Times. This story reported a much different aspect of the story which was al-Iraqi had been captured. The story reported that it was the Pentagon who announced the arrest and that al-Iraqi was headed to Iraq when he was detained. The story did report the C.I.A.’s involvement and role in the detainment.

Officials did not disclose where the CIA had held al-Iraqi since he was captured. It wasn't until last September that President Bush first acknowledged the CIA's use of secret prisons around the world. He said all 14 high-value terrorism suspects that the CIA had been holding had been transferred to military custody at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trials.

This story reported much of the same information regarding how important the information was that al-Iraqi disclosed. The story did report the human rights questions that some had but it was very minimal coverage if that.

Both of these versions were very well written but were very different. I felt like the Mazzetti version bit off a little bit more than it could chew with all of the different aspects portrayed in the story. I felt like there were too many angles present to be interesting. The Meyer version was slightly more focused but even this version bored me. I felt like the paragraphs in both versions were simply too long to be interesting to read. I also found the human rights angle boring because I don’t believe that known terrorists should be treated the same as the everyday American criminal. Overall, I preferred the Meyer version for its focus.

Historic Discovery in Arizona

While digging at the site of a future Wal-Mart store near Mesa, Ariz., on Friday workers uncovered the remains of a camel estimated at 10,000 years old.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by the Associated Press. The story reported that the workers quickly alerted a geologist and he came out to take a closer look at the find.

Arizona State University geology museum curator Brad Archer hurried out to the site Friday when he got the news that the owner of a nursery was carefully excavating bones found at the bottom of a hole being dug for a new ornamental citrus tree.

The story reported that the remains were positively identified as a camel and that the camel type species had been on the Earth more than 8,000 years ago. The story reported the situation surrounding the remains and where they would be taken.

Wal-Mart officials and Greenfield Citrus Nursery owner John Babiarz have already agreed that the bones will go directly on display at ASU.

The story reported the extreme rarity that this type of event is and that the display will likely take several months to be created.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting enough information to make the story interesting without making the story feel long winded. I think that this article did a good job at keeping the story brief and entertaining.

A second version of the story ran in the East Valley Tribune and was written by Christian Richardson. This story focused more on the involvement of John Babiarz and how the bones were discovered.

However on Wednesday, that is exactly what the 59-year-old discovered after a backhoe plunged into earth and dumped dirt and bones onto the ground along Lindsay Road near McKellips Road in Mesa.

This story reported much more detailed information regarding the circumstances that led to the discovery of the bones. This story did a very good job detailing the history of the area where the bones were found.

The bones were preserved four feet down in an area known as the Mesa Terrace where the Salt River was located during the Ice Age, Archer said.

The story reported a very interesting connection between Babiarz and Archer. The connection details the history of both individuals and the historic nature of the discovery.

Babiarz is well versed in finding bones. In Wyoming he discovered Tyrannosaurus Rex bones, and 10 years ago worked with Archer to find a Colombian mammoth in Chandler.

I felt that both versions of the story were acceptable and were able to achieve their intended goals. I felt like the story by Richardson was a bit more personal and had a lot more background information which was interesting to have. I felt like Richardson had a better grasp of the story and that he appeared much more knowledgeable on the subject. The Associated Press version felt too forced like the story was just really pushed out in order to cover the event for the sake of covering the event. Therefore, I preferred the Richardson version much more than the Associated Press version.

April 25, 2007

Teenager Charged In Bus Shooting

A 17-year-old St. Paul boy was charged Wednesday in connection with a shooting that took place Sunday on a Metro Transit bus.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Curt Brown and Howie Padilla. This story reported that there was significant controversy surrounding the charges being filed against the 17-year-old boy, Jerome P. Cross.

With about 40 people yelling outside for his freedom, 17-year-old Jerome P. Cross was charged this morning with two counts of murder in connection with an early Sunday shooting on a city bus in downtown St. Paul.

The story reported that two groups of teenagers were on the bus when a fight broke out between the two groups. The bus stopped to force the teenagers off and that is when things escalated.

Cross then got back on the bus, brandished a gun and fired a single fatal shot which struck Freeman in the chest, according to the petition.

The story reported that the police were performing tests to determine if there is a link between Cross and the shooting.

Cross did, however, give investigators a DNA sample and took a gun residue test. Results from those tests aren't yet available. Police found two handguns near the scene of the shooting.

The story reported that there was video surveillance evidence that places Cross on the bus but that was all that the story reported on that piece of evidence. The story did report that Cross’ family, especially his father, were crying to see the surveillance footage because they believed it would prove Cross’ innocence.

The story made specific note of the situation and emotions that are growing between the victim’s family, the Freeman family, and Cross.

Inside the courtroom this morning, authorities expressed concern about retaliation and threats to Freeman's family and friends. In part for his own safety, Jerome Cross was ordered held until his next court appearance on May 16.

I feel like the biggest issue with a story like this, that is very emotionally charged, is that the writer has to report the facts without seeming biased towards one side of the story or the other. The reporter can not express sympathies for either the victim or the person charged with the murder and this can often times be difficult. I felt like this story could have been more transparent but that it stayed in the area of acceptability.

A second version of the story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Shannon Prather and Mara H. Gottfried. This version had a very similar lead but the second graph or the nut graph was much more descriptive and interesting. This graph contained much more detailed facts.

Jerome Pablo Cross, 17, is charged in Ramsey County juvenile court with second-degree murder for the death of Earl Freeman, 16, on a Route 74 bus in downtown St. Paul. Prosecutors are seeking to have Cross certified as an adult.

The story reported much of the same information as the Star Tribune version because of the nature of the protests that were happening outside the courthouse. This version took much the same angle as the star Tribune version therefore the stories turned out very similar.

By reading the Star Tribune version first I felt like that version was better. I felt that it was more focused and was more concise. I felt that the Pioneer Press version was slightly bottom heavy and that the bottom half of the story just got a bit long winded. Therefore I much preferred the Star Tribune version.

April 24, 2007

Twin-Cities Get New Archbishop

The question of who would be the new archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis got its answer on Tuesday with the appointment of a new archbishop.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Pamela Miller. The story reported that John Nienstedt was named coadjutor archbishop meaning that he will share the duties of archbishop with current archbishop, Harry Flynn until Flynn retires. The story reported that Flynn’s retirement was expected.

Last year, Flynn, who will turn 74 on May 2, asked the Vatican to choose an eventual successor. Bishops generally retire at age 75.

The story reported that Nienstedt wants to continue Flynn’s work with the poor and disenfranchised especially immigrants. The story reported the history of Nienstedt’s work with the clergy.

Nienstedt was named bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm in the summer of 2001. Before that, he served as auxiliary bishop of Detroit. He was ordained a bishop in July 1996 and served as bishop for several Michigan communities.

I felt that the biggest issue with this story is making the story interesting to readers who may not be catholic. I think that this story did a somewhat acceptable job at making me feel like this story was important. It was interesting to see how many registered Catholics there are in Twin-Cities area.

A second story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Nancy Yang. This story reported much of the same information as the Miller version. This version used a different method to explain the situation regarding Flynn’s retirement.

Flynn turned 73 last year. When a bishop nears retirement age, which is 75 under canon law, the Vatican often appoints a coadjutor bishop to work with the present leader before taking over.

This story reported that there were only 750,000 Catholics in the Twin-Cities area whereas the Miller version reported that there were 830,000 Catholics in the area. I thought that this was an interesting contradiction between the two stories and really have no idea why the numbers are so different. The story did report the history of Nienstedt’s actions and activism.

Last December, he was one of seven prominent Minnesota bishops who signed a statement of protest against the federal immigration raids on Swift Co. plants. The statement said the raids divided families, disrupted communities and did nothing to advance needed immigration reform.

After reading both versions I felt that the Miller version was slightly more enjoyable and interesting but overall both versions were pretty boring. I found these stories rather boring because I am not strongly tied to the Catholic Church. I understand why it was written because there are between 750,000 and 830,000 Catholics in the Twin-Cities area and they would read a story like this. Overall, I didn’t think that either of them were that good but they did have newsworthy value in their impact on readership.

April 22, 2007

Wild GM Still Firing Shots

The season may have ended on Thursday for the Minnesota Wild but the shots are still flying Saturday particularly between Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough and Ducks’ General Manager Brian Burke.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Michael Russo. The story reported that the animosity between the teams and especially the general managers began with a questionable punch from Anaheim’s Brad May that left Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson with a concussion. The story reported that May tried to smooth the situation over but was rebuffed by Johnsson.

The story reported the history of violence that has followed Burke around throughout his career and that Risebrough was not happy with the situation.

Risebrough, who said, "May's probably made a lot of those calls," insinuated that actions like May's follow Burke around, a subtle reminder that Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore's neck when Burke managed the Canucks.

The story reported that Johnsson said that the attack was unprovoked and that he would have been much more willing to accept the circumstances of the fight if it had been provoked.

"I'm disappointed ... that stuff like that can happen," said Johnsson, who thought his cheekbone was broken. "I feel that's not the right way to do it. If he wants to fight, at least tell me that he's going to do something so I can protect myself."

I felt like the biggest issue with this story was being able to relate it back to hockey in general. This story shouldn’t have been about a fight between teams that escalated in the playoffs. I felt that it should have related to the more general history of hockey violence and physicality in the last couple of years. After all Todd Bertuzzi nearly killed another player when he violently attacked the player from behind, breaking his neck in the process of the unwarranted attack. That is what I thought could have been played up a little bit more.

A second version of a similar story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Brian Murphy. This story reported much of the same information that led to the verbal altercations between the two teams. However, this version did a much better job of relating the recent events to the past series that Burke and Risebrough have been involved in back in 2003. This version also reported the reaction of Johnsson after the event.

Recalling the scrum that developed at the end of Game 4, Johnsson did not realize it was May confronting him nor was he prepared for what happened.

Both of these versions were very well written and did a very good job keeping the reader’s interest. For the most part these stories were very similar but I felt that the Murphy version was more detailed and therefore more interesting to a sports fan like myself. Overall though, both stories were very acceptable and I felt like the length of both stories illustrated the importance of the issue and event for the readers.

Orphanage Fire Kills Five

A fire in a Bosnian orphanage killed five babies and injuring 18 others as the fire tore through the building early Sunday morning.

The story that ran in the New York Times was written by the Associated Press. The story reported that the Bosnian orphanage was nearly totally destroyed by a fast moving fire that claimed five lives.

The blaze broke out on the third floor of the Ljubica Ivezic orphanage in downtown Sarajevo around 6 a.m. and rapidly spread to three rooms where the babies were sleeping, according to the Sarajevo fire brigade.

The story reported that many of the victims were young babies and that one nurse received burns to her hands and face while attempting to rescue the children. The story reported that the extent of the fire was not as critical as had been thought and that some of the building remained intact.

The orphanage was evacuated and its officials declined to comment. Some children were to return later to wings of the large building that were not affected by the fire, Champara said.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting enough information to make the story newsworthy internationally and getting enough voice to get American readers to read the story. I felt like this story wasn’t a really good example of a good international story because it was too bland.

A second and much briefer version ran in the San Francisco Chronicle also written by the Associated Press. This story was much more condensed and told very much the same story as the previous version. It said that 23 babies were injured and one nurse was also injured. This story did, however, report more information about how the firefighters responded to the blaze.

Firefighters said the flames raced through the building so quickly that even though they extinguished the blaze in around 10 minutes they were not fast enough to save all of the children.

Both of these stories were pretty brief but did have very relevant information. In some cases I would have preferred a longer story but these were acceptable for the type of event that this story was. I think that the first version from the New York Times was slightly more interesting to read and I preferred this version.

Blue Angel Crash Kills Pilot

A Navy Blue Angle jet crashed in to a residential neighborhood killing the pilot Saturday during an air show in S.C.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Bruce Smith of the Associated Press. The story reported that crash that killed the pilot of the jet also injured eight other people in the area of the crash. The story reported that the name of the pilot would not be released until his family had been notified of his death but the story did give information regarding the pilot’s history.

A Navy statement said the pilot had been on the team for two years — and it was his first as a demonstration pilot.

The story reported the history and training of the Blue Angels flight group.

The Blue Angels fly F/A-18 Hornets at high speeds in close formations, and their pilots are considered the Navy's elite. They don't wear the traditional G-suits that most jet pilots use to avoid blacking out during maneuvers. The suits inflate around the lower body to keep blood in the brain, but which could cause a pilot to bump the control stick — a potentially deadly move when flying inches from other planes.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting the information out about the crash without the pilot’s name. I think that this story could have been much more informative and interesting if Smith was able to report the information about the pilot’s life and career.

A second version of the story ran in the Boston Herald and was written by the Associated Press. This story reported much of the same information and even used many of the same sources. Despite the oddity that surrounds using the same quotes and sources in a story I felt like this story was actually mostly successful in getting information across to the reader. This story reported that the formation that resulted in the crash was extremely difficult and was the final trick of the air show.

The crash took place in the final minutes of the air show, said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Walley, a Blue Angel pilot. The pilots were doing a maneuver which involved all six planes joining from behind the crowd to form a Delta triangle, said Lt. Cmdr. Garrett D. Kasper, spokesman for the Blue Angels. One plane did not rejoin the formation.

This story, however, contradicted the previous version because it said that the pilot’s name was not released for a different reason.

The pilot’s name would not be released until Sunday afternoon, keeping with a policy of waiting 24 hours after the death, Kansteiner said. A Navy statement said the pilot had been on the team for two years - and it was his first as a demonstration pilot.

I felt that both versions were very appropriate with regards to length and did a good job working around not having the pilot’s name. I felt like I learned something event without the name and that was really nice to know. I felt that the similarities were a little odd but overall were acceptable. I would have preferred some more diversity in the coverage but it seems like this is just the nature of the journalistic beast.

Bullet Leads to School Lockdown

Students and faculty at an Eagan middle school received a scare Friday when a bullet found in one of the school’s hallway prompted a lock down of the school and a police search.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Curt Brown. This story reported that the bullet found in Metcalf Junior High School prompted a complete lockdown and a thorough police investigation of the building. The story reported that the incident carried some significant weight and importance based on the day on which it occurred.

On the eighth anniversary of the Columbine school shooting and four days after the massacre at Virginia Tech, an unspent cartridge found on the floor of the Eagan school's second-floor hall was enough to prompt a two-hour lockdown.

The story reported that the students were kept in the school while the lockdown was in place.

The roughly 750 students in grades seven through nine were locked in their classrooms with teachers and no one was allowed to move around the building as police searched every locker, nook and cranny.

The story reported that things got back to normal at the school around noon and that classes finished like normal.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is making the story interesting without looking like you’re trying to stir up a story or trying to get the readers concerned about something that they may not need to be worried about. I felt like the Brown version did a good job of finding a balance in this respect.

A second story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Frederick Melo. This story was much briefer and reported a lot of the same information. This story however did report where the bullet was found, a second-floor hallway of the Metcalf Junior High School. As stated previously much of the information remained the same but this story also mentioned the history associated with April 20th.

April 20 marks the eighth anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colo., in which student gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others.

I felt like, for the most part, these stories both accomplished their goals and did a good job of relaying the information about the incident. I felt that the Brown version was slightly more informative and interesting in addition to being more appropriate with regards to length. I felt like the Brown version was slightly more extensive with regards to the amount of reporting that was done. Therefore, I preferred reading the Brown version more than the Melo version.

Teen Killed On Metro Transit Ride

A 16-year-old St. Paul boy was shot and killed on a Metro Transit bus early Sunday morning after an altercation with other passengers.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written as a staff report. The report claimed that the boy was involved in an altercation with another group of young people at about 12:20 a.m. today. According to the report the boy was shot in the chest.

A young man then reached through a rear access in the bus and fired a pistol, hitting the victim in the chest and killing him, police said.

The report did give information about the description of the suspect.

The suspect is described as an African American male, 16 to 18 years old, 5-feet-6 to 5-feet-8 inches tall, with a slender build. He was wearing a white tee shirt and dark baggy pants, police said.

The report gave information about how to contact police who are in the middle of an on-going investigation.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is finding enough information to make the story relevant without sounding too boring and sounding like you're just repeating the police report. I think that this version had some difficulty with this issue because there just wasn't much information available at the time of the article.

A second story ran in the Pioneer Press by The Associated Press. This story lacked any really relevant information. The time of the shooting was not given. The only information about the shooting was that it happened through the rear access door of the bus and that it happened at the corner of Fifth and Sibley streets.

I was extremely disappointed with the Pioneer Press for letting a foreign news service get the jump on a story that should have been theirs. There is no way that the Pioneer Press should have run such a vague and useless article from the Associated Press. Anyone could have written that story. It looked as if the only thing that the writer did was to read the police report. The Star Tribune article looked as if someone might have actually thought about. For the most part I felt that the Star Tribune article was better and that despite the fact that it lacked many key pieces of information, which may have not been released yet, was rather informative. I appreciated that the Star Tribune didn’t outsource their coverage of the story to the Associated Press.

April 10, 2007

DNA Points to Smith's Baby's Father

DNA evidence proved Tuesday that Larry Birkhead is the father of the late Anna Nicole Smith’s baby daughter.

The story reported in the Star Tribune was written by Jessica Robertson of the Associated Press. The story reported that Larry Birkhead was essentially the biological father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. The story reported that Birkhead and Howard K. Stern were in the midst of a challenging legal battle because despite the fact that Birkhead is the biological father, Stern’s name is on the birth certificate. The story reported that despite this new knowledge in the case there are still challenges for the custody of the child.

Stern, who was Smith's lawyer and later became her companion, said he wouldn't fight for custody, but a lawyer for Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, indicated she might. The judge scheduled another hearing for Friday in the pink colonial courthouse to discuss who will raise the girl, who could inherit hundreds of millions of dollars.

The story did report that it looked as though things were going nicely and that both sides, Stern and Birkhead, were working for the good of Dannielynn.

"I'm obviously very disappointed, but my feelings for Dannielynn have not changed," he said, adding of Birkhead: "I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure he gets sole custody."

I feel like the biggest issue with this story was getting at what was going to happen and why so many people are interested in this dead celebrities baby. It would be much simpler to have a court decide who is best for the child and yet all of these legal proceedings are preventing that from happening. Overall, I think the big issue is getting the average reader to care about what is happening to this situation regarding the ending of Anna Nicole Smith’s life.

A second story ran in the New York Times was written by Maria Newman. This story reported much of the same information in a similar manner. This story even reported many of the same quotes within the story. The story reported, as in the first article, that Stern was going to cooperate with the court in the interest of Dannielynn.

Mr. Stern, who was also at the hearing, emerged from the courthouse and said he would not fight the decision declaring Mr. Birkhead the father. “My feelings for Dannielynn have not changed,? Mr. Stern said. “I am not going to fight Larry Birkhead for custody. I’m going to do whatever I can do to make sure he gets sole custody.?

It seemed that both of these stories used much of the same information and in some cases used even the same exact quotes. The fact that they used the same exact quotes seemed very odd and was a little off putting. Aside from these oddities, I really preferred the Newman version because it was shorter and more concise. I felt like this story is just getting really ridiculous and therefore doesn’t really deserve any additional space than that of the Newman version. I think that this issue should just die and that the media should just quit covering the events surrounding Smith’s final affairs.

Serbian Police Sentenced in Association With Massacre

A judge in Serbia sentenced four former paramilitary policemen to sentences of ranging from five to 20 years in connection with the murder of six Muslim men outside the city of Srebrenica.

The story that ran in the New York Times was written by Nicholas Wood. The story reported that a Serbian judge sentenced the four policemen to various sentences depending on their involvement in the murders. The story reported that the victims families were not very happy with the sentences.

The refusal of the trial judge to acknowledge that the six victims came from Srebrenica, the length of the jails sentences given, and the release of a fifth man dashed the expectations of the victims’ families, as well as those of human rights observers who were present throughout the proceedings.

The story reported the atrocities that the victims were subjected to. The detail was very good as the chronology was very extensive regarding the actions preceding the murders.

The groups’ captives are shown in a twelve minute section of tape. Six in all are told to jump down from the back of a truck with their hands cuffed behind their backs.
They are then ordered to lie face down in a ditch, while members of the Scorpions, dressed in black and camouflage fatigues, and some wearing red berets, shout obscenities at them.

I felt like the biggest issue with this story is being able to interpret the meaning and all of the issues with a foreign countries legal system. It appeared also very difficult to gain access to a number of sources. It appeared that much of the quotes seem to be taken from court records and not from actual interviews.

A second story about the sentencing ran in the San Diego Union Tribune and was written by Misha Savic of the Associated Press. This story had a very interesting and more detailed lead that was particularly aggressive.

Four members of a notorious Serb paramilitary unit who were videotaped gunning down Bosnians near Srebrenica were convicted of war crimes on Tuesday, two years after the footage forced Serbia to admit its role in the 1995 slaughter of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

I felt like this story was a bit more concise in getting at the point directly in the lead. I felt like the lead told me more directly what the story was going to detail. This version of the story did an excellent job at getting at good sources for the story and getting deeper than the court transcripts.

“The only appropriate punishment for such a crime is the longest one,? said Serbia's pro-Western president, Boris Tadic. “Until we explain to the people what really happened, we will not be able to close that chapter.?

This story even went outside of Serbia to find sources that were close to the story and would make good sources.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a former U.N. envoy to the Balkans, welcomed the verdict, saying “it shows that the countries in the formerly war ravaged region are now themselves starting to feel a responsibility for the crimes that were committed – often in their names – in the repeated wars of the 1990s.?

This story also reported the disappointed reaction of the families of the victims.

“They killed children and one of them was released and another one sentenced to five years,? said Safeta Muhic, sister of one of the victims. “I am not satisfied and I never will be.?

This version was much more detailed and appeared much closer to the story which made it much more interesting to read. I felt like the Savic version was better prepared and did a better job at getting to good sources and getting at other sources in general. I felt like reading this version made the Wood version seem confusing and weak. The Wood version seemed complicated and hard to read whereas the Savic version was simplified very well which made it easy and enjoyable to read because the reader could comprehend all of the information in the story. For the ease of reading and the information provided I found the Savic version to be a better article.

Accidental School Shooting Wounds Two

Two students were wounded at a Chicago area school when a gun that was secretly brought into the school, accidentally discharged.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Karen Hawkins of the Associated Press. The story reported that the shooting took place at the Chicago Vocational Career Academy. The story reported that the student who brought the gun to school was not screened by the metal detectors present at the school.

While the school has metal detectors, students are chosen at random to go through them because it would take too long to scan each teen, Lopez said. The teen who brought the gun did not go through the device.

The story reported that the student was passing the gun to a friend when the gun accidentally discharged injuring both students in the leg.

The boys were sitting in the back of a science classroom at the Chicago Vocational Career Academy on the city's South Side around 2:15 p.m. when the gun discharged. One was struck in the thigh and the other near the knee, said Robert Lopez, an assistant deputy police superintendent.

The story also reported that the students attempted to get rid of the gun, however, the gun was recovered and both students were rushed to the hospital. Both students will face charges.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting close enough to the story to accurately reflect the importance of this event. A lot of people need to be interviewed for this story in order to capture the breadth of this event's importance.

A second version of the story ran in the Chicago Tribune and was written by Mary Owen and Jason Meisner. This story began with much of the same information but then proceeded into a more detailed account of the events surrounding the shooting. This story reported a different medical status than in the Hawkins version.

The story also reported a more detailed account of how the student might have gotten the gun past the metal detectors.

School officials are trying to determine how the boy got the gun into the school. The large campus, which has about 2,300 students, has metal detectors at the front entrance. Students also must swipe an identification card before entering any of the school's three authorized entrances, Durbak said.
Students are chosen at random to go through the school's metal detectors because it would take too long to scan each teen, Lopez said. The teen who brought the gun to school Tuesday did not go through the metal detector.

This version was the only version that gave a possible explanation for how the student could have entered the building with the gun without being stopped.

Durbak said the gun could have been brought in through an unauthorized entrance because the three authorized entrances have no record of the student using his identification card.

The Chicago Tribune version was far more comprehensive than the Hawkins version. Throughout the entire piece I felt that I was consistently more informed with the information provided by the Chicago Tribune version. The Hawkins version was acceptable but it was very evident that the Chicago Tribune version was closer to the story and was able to report more in depth information. I found the Chicago Tribune version much more enjoyable to read as well. All in all, the Chicago Tribune version simply blew the Hawkins version out of the water. The Chicago Tribune was simply better than the Hawkins version in all aspects of the article.

Capella University Official Under Investigation

The financial aid director of Minneapolis-based Capella University, an on-line university, came under investigation on Tuesday after the New York Office of the Attorney General discovered an apparent conflict of interest with his position as a college loan official.

The story reported in the Star Tribune was written by Norman Draper. The story reported that the director of financial aid, Timothy C. Lehmann, at Capella University was involved in a possible conflict of interest involving his work at Cappella and for the college loan agency Student Loan Xpress, Inc. The story reported that Lehmann was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation of his actions.

According to a letter sent to Capella by the New York Office of the Attorney General, financial aid director Timothy C. Lehmann is being investigated for doing consulting work for a student lending agency, Student Loan Xpress, Inc. at the same time he was working for Capella.

The story reported that this issue is extremely important when considering the sky-rocketing prices of tuition across the country and the rising number of students across the country going into debt. The story also reported the extent of Lehmann’s involvement with Student Loan Xpress.

According to the letter from the New York Attorney General's office and Capella officials, Lehmann also works on the advisory board of Student Loan Xpress. That, Capella officials say, is an unpaid position.

I think that the biggest issue with this story is getting quotes and making the news seem interesting. In some cases the Capella University officals would not like to comment on an issue such as this. In another case the writer has to get the reader to read the story despite the fact that no court documents have been filed.

A second story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Paul Tosto. This story relied on much of the same information as the Draper version. The story reported a much more national view of the event and decided not to spend much time addressing the issue of Lehmann’s involvement.

Nationally, the student loan industry has criticized New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's investigation into lending companies for smearing all schools and lenders because of the problems of a few "bad apples."
On Monday, the company that owns Student Loan Xpress, announced that three top Student Loan Xpress executives had been placed on administrative leave in response to Cuomo's investigation.

Both of these stories were interesting, in a way. They both seemed a little odd but were informative enough to make me feel like I learned something from the article. I thought that the way that Tosto addressed the national concern for the financial difficulty students face was interesting but out of place. The story was supposed to be about what happened at Capella and by focusing so broadly on the national aspect I felt like the story seemed very weird. The Draper version was interesting but really lacked major substance. It felt like Draper was trying to get the story out so quickly that he neglected to do any additional reporting. In consideration of these feelings about these articles I would have to say that I preferred reading the Draper version even though it was a little weird.

Twins Reach Deal For Stadium Land

The Minnesota Twins and Hennepin County reached a settlement with, Land Partners II, Tuesday ending the holdout that has been preventing the team from breaking ground on their new stadium.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Mike Kaszuba. The story reported that the two sides, the Twins and Hennepin County and Land Partners II, reached the agreement to sell the land to the Twins for an undisclosed amount of money. The story reported that the sum was not disclosed but that the Twins had capped the amount of money that they were willing to spend on the land.

Team and county officials, however, declined today to release details of the Twins financial contributions, but a lead negotiator for the county said the amount had been capped by the team. “That’s not something we’re going to talk about,? said Commissioner Mike Opat.

The story went on to report that there are still some legal proceedings that need to happen before ground can be broken for the new stadium. The story reported that the presentation of the stadium’s design would happen Thursday after being delayed since February.

Twins and county officials, meanwhile, said a public unveiling of the stadium’s design, which had been postponed since February, would occur Thursday at the Hennepin County Government Center.

I feel like the biggest issue in this story is getting meaningful quotes to make the story interesting to the average reader. In some cases the average reader might not be interested in the dealings of the Twins so the reporter really needs to get the reader a lot of access into the issue in order to keep them interested.

A second story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Emily Gurnon. This story reported much of the same information as the Kaszuba story only that this story was able to give figures for how much Hennepin County would be paying for the land.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners voted today to put up more than $13 million to gain control of land needed for the stadium.

The story said that pretty much this action cleared the biggest logjam opposing the stadium’s development. In essence this story reported the same information only in a different style and manner.

Both of these versions looked very similar, so similar that they both look like they could have been written from a press release. It did look as though the Gurnon version might have done some additional outside reporting but the Kaszuba version looked less like a press release. I felt that both stories were informative and interesting enough, but that the Kaszuba version was slightly easier to read. The Kaszuba version also seemed slightly longer which made it look more appropriate as far as length was concerned. Overall, I like the Kaszuba version better but thought that both version managed to be informative despite looking like press releases.

April 7, 2007

15-Year-Old Girl Held Hostage for Meth, Sex

A 15-year-old runaway girl escaped the house in rural Wisconsin where she was being held captive and forced to have sex for methamphetamines.

The story in the Star Tribune was written by Tom Ford. The story reported that a 15-year-old girl was held at the house of Daniel Owens near the town of Osceola, Wisconsin. The story reported that the girl had been held there for three weeks and that Owens had received payment of methamphetamines from Kevin Madsen in exchange for Madsen having sex with the girl. The girl’s name was not released and Madsen and Owens are both in custody awaiting trial on several charges and $50,000 bail. The story reported some of the terrible atrocities that the victim went through during her three week ordeal.

The girl also told investigators that Owens got angry with her and hurt her several times between March 7 and 28: He threw an ashtray at her, cutting her leg severely, and he burned her once with a meth pipe on her calf and once with a small butane torch on a thigh, the warrant requests said.

The story reported that the girl knew Owens through a relative and that she had runaway once before and ended up at Owens’ house.

In that earlier case, Owens first lied about her whereabouts but soon after contacted authorities to let them know the girl was there, Smith said. There have been no reports that any abuse occurred then, he said.

The story reported that the police had visited Owens’ home looking for the girl twice before.

Polk County deputies twice went to Owens' house looking for the runaway girl, and both times the girl was told to hide under a piece of plywood in Owens' bathtub, authorities said.
The second time, Owens and Madsen put something heavy atop the plywood, and the girl couldn't escape, said Lt. Steve Smith. She was not let out of the tub for about 16 hours, perhaps as long as a day, he said.

I think that the biggest issue with this story was the limited nature of the sources. Ford most likely did not have access to the victim or the two men responsible for the terrible acts, therefore Ford would have had to rely on the police and the charges and reports filed with the police for information.

A second version of the story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Kevin Harter. This story shared much of the same information with the Ford version. The lead of this story, however, was very different and had a little bit of an odd feeling to it.

Two western Wisconsin men have been accused of trading on the innocence of a 15-year-old girl, held captive in a dilapidated home, so one could get high on methamphetamine.

I didn’t feel like the lead was as straightforward as it could have been and that made things a bit more difficult to read. The story reported much of the same information as the Ford version but did spend much more time detailing the reaction of the residents of Nye, Wisconsin where the events occurred. The story was very unfocused and really avoided the real story which was the poor girl’s ordeal. I think that this unfocused nature may be because the writer couldn’t get access to a wide variety of sources, like the victim, her family, or the perpetrators.

Both of these stories were fine to read but the Harter version was simply too unfocused to be really enjoyable and informative. It was like reading a bad short story in that you read it hoping that it ends well and then in the end you just end up disappointed. There wasn’t anything to be disappointed about in the Ford version because he really stayed focused on the ordeal of the poor girl, which was the newsworthy element of the story. Therefore, the Ford version was much more appropriate in focus and was much more informative.

FBI Invesigating Agent's Death

The fatal gun shot that killed an FBI agent Thursday, while attempting to apprehend three bank robbery suspects, may have been the result of “friendly fire.?

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Rebecca Santana. The story reported that Agent Barry Lee Bush died Thursday while trying to apprehend suspects in a ring of bank robberies in New Jersey. Of all the information reported about Agent Bush’s death I thought the lead was one of the most interesting.

If an FBI agent fatally shot while investigating a string of bank robberies died by another agent's bullet, it would mark just the second time in the agency's nearly century long history that one agent killed another, the FBI said.

I felt that this type of lead was misplaced in a story that should have been about why this agent died. The story wasn’t that the FBI has been very good about keeping their agents safe from “friendly fire? but that an agent was shot and killed, then you should talk about how the death occurred. I felt that the death should have been the most important piece of information in the lead and with the lead the way it ran I felt the main point of the lead was that the FBI is really good at keeping agents safe.

The story reported that the FBI is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death and is still trying to determine why the shot was fired. The story said that the FBI was unwilling to release information about how the agent died, where he was shot, if he was wearing body armor and other key chronological information.

I think that the biggest issue with this story, for the writer, was dealing with the FBI which tends to be a very secretive organization that doesn’t divulge information very freely. I felt like the writer did what she could to get information from the FBI and did an excellent job using sources close to the FBI that were much more willing to talk about the death and the FBI’s history.

A second story ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and was written by David Porter of the Associated Press. This story also used a very interesting and slightly confusing tactic to open the story in the lead and the second graph.

The bank robbery investigation had gained intensity because of the increasingly brazen and violent nature of the crimes, with shots fired inside at least three of the institutions.
But when three of the suspects were confronted by FBI agents, authorities say the armed men didn't fire a shot. Instead, the FBI says it appears that one of their own, a veteran of major investigations, was killed when a fellow agent's weapon accidentally discharged.

This story took a very different angle on the story and spent much of the story telling about the history of the bank robberies in New Jersey. I was interesting to note that both of these stories used the same Los Angeles based security consultant as a source. This story’s focus on the bank robberies led to the reporting of the arrested suspects’ names.

On Thursday, FBI agents confronted three men outside a PNC Bank in Readington Township. Wilfredo Berrios, 28, and Michael Cruz, 21, were arrested and agents confiscated two assault rifles and a handgun. A third man, Francisco Herrera-Genao, 22, fled on foot and was captured Friday morning after spending the night in nearby woods.

This story buried the information about Agent Bush until the very end of the story. This placement of the information about Agent Bush made his death seem like an afterthought. Almost like, “oh well, an agent died, but they arrested people.? I personally feel like this story was totally in appropriate with regards to what part of the story were newsworthy.

Due to the fact that I found the Porter version to be focused on the wrong aspect of the story, I would have to say that the Santana version was more enjoyable to read and much more appropriate. I didn’t like either of these stories particularly well but the Santana version was the only version to focus on the right part of the story, Agent Bush’s death. Overall, I thought that both of these stories had things that they should have improved, but that is usually true of every story.

The most common corrections to newspaper printings by the New York Times were minor factual errors that in some cases were not even the fault of the paper. In some cases, like the school case of Greeenwich, Conn., were erroneous because the source that was quoted was wrong and there was no real fault of the writer who in most cases should be able to assume that a source close to a story should be able to speak about the story with an educated and proper gauge of the story itself. Other errors were merely misquotations about the nature of events in the past and about dates that were properly 1868 and not 1968. This error could have simply been a number that was struck on a keyboard that was not intended but that nobody question because it looked like it belonged in the story. Most errors appeared to be minor and the volume of errors was not an amazingly high number which is very professional for an organization such as the Times.

Greek Cruise Ship Sinks, Two Passengers Missing

A Greek cruise ship that struck a volcanic reef and began to take on water sunk Friday leaving two passengers unaccounted for as Greek officials searched for the passengers.

The story reported in the Star Tribune was written by Derek Gatopoulos. This story reported that the ship, the Sea Diamond, sunk of Friday leaving a Frenchman and his daughter unaccounted for and that Greek officials were searching for the pair of passengers. The story reported the different countries represented on the ships manifest.

Passengers on the cruise were mostly American, and also included groups from Canada and Spain.

The story reported that the rescue efforts took over three hours and that all but the two missing passengers made it off the boat safely. The story also reported that for the most part the crew and passengers were able to escape the sinking ship without major chaos.

I think the biggest issue with this story was the ability of the writer to get access to the passengers who escaped the ship. In some cases it appeared that the writer got some quotes second hand and that he was unable to be there in person. It was really amazing that he was able to get quotes from the woman whose husband and daughter were still missing. I expected that the Greek tourism officials would have taken her and her son away and would have not let them speak to reporters so soon after the event.

A second story ran in the Washington Post and was written by Karolos Grohmann of Reuters. This story reported much of the same information detailing the two missing French passengers and the reaction of all the passengers onboard. This story, however, gave a much more detailed account of the different nationalities onboard.

Louis Cruise Lines said there were 730 Americans, 112 Spaniards, 100 French and many other foreign nationals on board, including Britons, Germans and Australians, plus the crew.

This story reported that foul play was suspected and that there were prosecutors getting involved with the case even on Friday. This story also gave a very detailed account of how many passengers and crew were rescued safely.

The company in a statement late on Friday revised the total figure of passenger and crew to 1,156 and 391 respectively.

Both of these stories were well written and interesting to read. I really appreciated the attention to detail that the Grohmann version displayed. It was nice to have numbers and figures to go along with the story. I felt like the Gatopoulos version of the story was much more properly centered on the two missing passengers. I felt like the missing passengers was more of an issue than the ship running aground and how someone needed to be held responsible for sinking the ship. Yes, I agree that the sinking was the direct cause of the story but the effect of the sinking was that two passengers probably died. Death is always the big issue in a story. If some action or some person’s action directly leads to someone’s death, I think that is the most newsworthy part of the story.

Gopher Football Players Arrested; Suspected of Rape

Three University of Minnesota football players were arrested Friday in association with an assault case that University Police officials become aware of on Friday morning.

The story ran in the Star Tribune and was written by Chip Scoggins and Tom Ford. This story reported that the students arrest comes just prior to the Gopher Football spring game.

The Gophers football spring game scheduled for today has been marred by news late Friday night that three players were taken into custody by university police investigating a complaint of criminal sexual conduct.

The story reported that the three student-athletes involved were E.J. Jones, Keith Massey, and Alex Daniels. The story said that both head Coach Tim Brewster and athletic director Joel Maturi were disappointed with the situation and were suspending the players pending the results of the investigation. The story also detailed the circumstances that brought about the investigations.

The nature of the incident and where it happened were unclear late Friday. An 18-year-old woman came to the university police headquarters early Friday morning to report she had been assaulted, said university spokesman Dan Wolter.
According to a police report, the woman reported the incident happened between late Tuesday night and about 9 a.m. Wednesday. She was taken to a hospital for examination, and she was provided services from victim advocates, the report said. It was unknown whether she is a university student.

I feel like the biggest issue with this story is getting as much information as possible when the police and the university are not willing or not able to divulge much about the case. I think that the writers had to work hard to get the information that they did because as the story reported Tim Brewster was not returning calls to his cell phone and I can’t imagine that AD Joel Maturi was all too cooperative either.

A second story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Tad Vezner, Marcus R. Fuller, and Charley Walters. This story reported much of the same information as the Scoggins and Ford version. However, this version was much less forgiving about the actions of the athletes in the lead.

Three University of Minnesota football players were arrested Friday on suspicion of raping an 18-year-old woman, University of Minnesota police said.

Much of the quotes used in this story were the same as the Scoggins and Ford version.

Both of these stories were informative and interesting. I felt like the similarities that both of these stories shared made them difficult to differentiate. Both of these stories were forced to rely on the same quotes which contributed to s sense of sameness. I felt like the Scoggins and Ford version was slightly better written and was just a little more easy to read. Now, both of these stories were successful in achieving what they intended to achieve. Both were nice to read but I thought that the Scoggins and Ford version was slightly better.

April 3, 2007

Eagan Marine Killed In Iraq

An Eagan Marine died Monday in Fallujah, Iraq after taking small arms fire in the back from insurgents while on patrol.

The story that was reported by the Star Tribune was written by Tim Harlow. This story reported that Lance Cpl. Daniel Olsen, 20, died in Fallujah on Monday just days after speaking with his family. The story reported that Olsen talked with his mother just days before his death and requested a care package of Goldfish crackers and Cap’n Crunch cereal. The story reported all of the relevant information about Olsen’s unit and his service.

Olsen, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines Fox Company, was the 57th with strong Minnesota ties to die in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As noted above the story did also report the relevant information about how many soldiers with Minnesota ties have died in the fighting. The story gave considerable consideration to the state of mind of mind of Olsen’s family.

“It’s very sad for us,? said Daniel Olsen’s father, Wayne. “But we are a strong faith community, and we believe that Daniel is in a much better place.?

The story gave what information it could about the circumstances surrounding Olsen’s death but not much was known.

In the coming days, Wayne Olsen said he hopes the family will learn more about his son’s death. Wayne said Daniel was wearing full armor at the time he was shot. Wayne said he read the medical report, but it provided few details.

The story continued with reports of Olsen’s life at home in the U.S. The story reported some of Olsen’s interests like music and drumline and joking around with his sisters.

I think that the biggest challenge with this story was getting at enough information from the family while respecting their wishes for privacy as I’m sure that they are still grieving. I think that Harlow had to balance the need to get a story with showing the family proper respect for their loss. Harlow also had to determine the focus of the story; was the story about Olsen’s life and accomplishments or was it about his death and the circumstances about it. I think that Harlow did a nice job creating a balance between these two ideas.

A second version of the story of Olsen’s death ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by the Associated Press. This story reported much of the same information and in most cases reported significantly less information than the Harlow version. The main difference in this version was that the Associated Press reported that Olsen was the 49th member of the military from Minnesota to die in the fighting, whereas the Harlow version reported that Olsen was the 57th soldier to die who had strong Minnesota ties. I suppose that this difference could be attributed to the different ways that the news outlets went about finding their numbers. They both referenced their numbers in different ways and that was interesting. The AP version of the story reported much of the story’s information as quoted from other news sources like WCCO-TV.

These stories varied very much in style of reporting and delivery. The AP version was very heartless and distant from the action. It was also very short in length and this made the story seem very inappropriate when considered against the Harlow version. The Harlow version appeared much better prepared and more personable. This version looked like Harlow made a good effort to get to know the family and to get the whole story which made this version much more appealing. It was also much more appropriate as far as length and covered all aspects of the story. Therefore, the Harlow version was really the only version to like because the AP version was simply too short and impersonal.