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February 22, 2009

News Story Leads: First and Second Day News

In a story about a Shakopee police shooting, the leads between a first day story and a follow-up varied greatly. The first-day story had the immediate facts first; a man had died after police shot him in self defense. The follow up story doesn't even mention the man's death until the eighth paragraph. This huge leap is taken because the writer assumes that the readers are familiar with the basic premise of the story and it leisurely fills in specifics that might not have been known in time for the first day story. The second day story advances the news by adding things the first story left out, such as what time the man was shot.

Teen Vanishes on Way to School

A California teenager remains missing a week after she vanished on her way to school.

Last Friday, Amber DuBois, 14, left her house around 7 a.m., headed for school. Somewhere along the way, she disappeared. Her cell-phone was turned on for about 20 seconds but hasn’t been on since, Escondido Police Department spokesman Lt. Bob Benton told CNN.

“She’s a wholesome kid,” DuBois’ mother, Carrie McGonigle, told CNN. “She doesn’t run amok like most teenagers. She did not run away, I guarantee it.”

Police suspect DuBois was abducted.

"We don't know the circumstances of her disappearance or the person she was walking with, but being 14 years old and missing as long as she has without ever having gone missing before is very suspicious," Benton said according to CNN.

A classmate reported seeing DuBois a week ago Sunday, walking with an unknown person about a half a mile from her home.
Both McGonigle and her live-in boyfriend have taken, and passed, polygraph tests and other relatives are now being interviewed as well. The FBI is now assisting the Escondido Police in the ongoing investigation.

McGonigle is still in shock over the whole situation.

"I go to sleep thinking she's going to be walking in my room any minute saying, 'Mom, I'm back.' But now it's just becoming a numb feeling,” she told CNN.

Mine Blast Kills 74 in China

An explosion in a coal mine killed 74 workers in Shanxi province on Sunday. (CNN)

The Xinhua news agency said that 436 miners were working underground when the blast occurred at the Tunlan mine near Taiyuan, the capital of the northern province.

Most survivors were quickly brought to the surface but around 60 miners were trapped underground. Rescuers told Reuters that some of the trapped miners contacted their families via mobile phones.

Xinhua said that 114 miners were sent to the hospital and five are in critical condition.

"The focus of our effort has shifted from searching and rescue to medical treatment," provincial Communist Party committee chief Zhang Baoshun told Xinhua

The explosion happened just a day after senior provincial officials held a meeting about mine safety where they pledged to try and put an end to fatal mining accidents.

Boy Charged with The Murder of His Father's Pregnant Girlfriend

An 11-year-old Pennsylvania boy is charged with killing his father’s pregnant girlfriend authorities said Saturday.

According to the Associated Press, Jordan Brown was charged as an adult Saturday with the death of 26-year-old Kenzie Houk, who was eight months pregnant.

Police say the boy shot Houk in the back of the head as she lay in bed Friday morning, CNN reports. He then put the youth model 20-gauge shotgun back into his room and went to school.

Houk’s body was found by her 4-year-old daughter, who told tree cutters on the property that she thought her mom was dead, Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo told the Associated Press.

When questioned by police, the Brown told them that there was a black truck at the scene that morning, which led investigators to follow a false lead for around five hours, Bongivengo said. Inconsistencies in Brown’s description of the vehicle led police to interview Houk’s daughter, who implicated Brown in the killing.

She didn't actually eyewitness the shooting. She saw him with what she believed to be a shotgun and heard a loud bang," Bongivengo told the Associated Press.

The motive for the killing is unclear, police say. Houk’s father, Jack Houk, could only come up with one reason.

“Maybe he was just jealous of my daughter and the baby and thought he would be overpowered,” Jack Houk said.

Defense attorney Dennis Elisco said he plans to ask for the boy to be released on bail Monday and for the case to be moved into juvenile court. Elisco also wants to see physical evidence that ties Brown to the murder.

“I don’t think he knows what’s going on,” Elisco said, “I walked out of there thinking he was innocent. I believe Jordan did not do this.”

Brown was arraigned and is currently held in the Lawrence County Jail with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Retired St. Paul Officer Injured When Gun Discharges

A retired St. Paul police officer was injured Saturday when a pistol belonging to a Minneapolis police officer accidently discharged at a gun show.

Both men were working security at the Minneapolis Gun Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The Minneapolis police officer’s gun went off when its holster got caught on the chair the man was sitting on. A bullet hit the floor and fragmented pieces struck the retired St. Paul officer in the leg and hand. The officer was treated for a small wound and released Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.

The Minneapolis officer, who has been on the force for over 20 years, was not injured.

The gun’s safety was off, as Minneapolis officers keep it off when a gun is in a holster, and Minneapolis police will do an internal investigation which will include examining the gun and holster. The event is considered an accident and the department is not considering disciplinary action.

Police Sgt. Jessie Garcia told the Pioneer Press it was a very freak accident.

“You could probably sit in the chair 10,000 times and it will never happen again,” he said.

Shakopee Police Kill Suspect During Arrest Attempt

A knife-wielding man was shot and killed by two Shakopee police officers on Saturday.
The Pioneer Press reports that Gordon William Denmark, 36, ignored police orders to drop his weapon and was not affected by a Taser used on him.
Denmark was wanted on second-degree assault, second-degree domestic assault and violation of an order for protection charges after allegedly assaulting his estranged spouse and a neighbor with a knife Friday night.
Police arrived at the house to continue their investigation around 4 p.m. Saturday and found evidence that someone had broken into the home. When they entered the house, officers found Denmark hiding in an attic space in a bedroom.
Denmark emerged with a knife in his hand and police say he ignored repeated orders to put the weapon down. One officer tasered Denmark, which did not affect him, and two officers shot him out of fear for their own lives. Denmark died on the scene.
The Star Tribune reports that the officers involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is currently investigating the incident.

February 15, 2009

The Progression of Information

In this follow-up story, the reporter puts the newest information at the very beginning of the story, then goes on to summarize what events led up to the story. The information is ordered by when it was received as well as by relevance. The reporter puts out the new data and then rehashes what has already been covered, so that readers are able to read this follow-up story without having to go back and read the first coverage of the plane crash. The way the reporter has presented the information is very efficient, because it allows readers to get the new information in the first two paragraphs. It also lets readers new to the story get all caught up in the first three paragraphs. The story could have been covered chronologically but I don't think it would have been as efficient.

Fireball Spotted In the Sky Above Texas

Several people reported seeing a fireball in the sky over Texas Sunday morning, the Associated Press reports.
The Federal Aviation Administration received numerous calls Sunday morning from people reporting sonic booms and what appeared to be a fireball streaking across the morning sky. The calls came from an area that included Dallas and Austin.
The incidents are believed to be space debris re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The debris is the result of a collision between U.S. and Russian satellites that took place on Tuesday above Siberia.
The satellites collided at around 6 miles per second, an impact that could produce between 500 and 600 pieces of space debris, the U.S. Strategic Command told CNN.
The FAA had issued a warning to U.S. pilots Saturday that told them to watch for “falling space debris? CNN announced.
Currently there have been no reports of ground strikes or aircraft interference, the FAA said.

Zimbabwe Official Arrested

A Zimbabwe Cabinet minister has been arrested on charges of terrorism, sabotage, and conspiracy to commit banditry.
Roy Bennett is a white coffee grower who opposed President Robert Mugabe and whose farms were seized during a controversial land reform program. (Reuters)
The Movement for Democratic Change had nominated Bennett to become the deputy minister of agriculture under the new national unity government in collaboration with President Mugabe.
Bennett, who is also the Treasurer General, was taken into custody Friday, the same day that other MDC ministers were taking their swearing-in oaths.
Hundreds of party members and supporters on Friday surrounded the Mutare police station where Bennett is being held, CNN reports.
Bennett had been living in exile in South Africa for two years after fleeing Zimbabwe because police were investigating him in connection with an arms cache discovery.

Minnesota Will Receive Over $2 Billion From Stimulus Package

Minnesota could gain over $3 billion from the national stimulus bill, the Star Tribune reported Thursday. The Pioneer Press reported the figure to be closer to $2 billion.
Officials say that the bill will also create or retain over 66,000 jobs for the state and that the cash will be spread over almost every sector of the state budget, with money going to roads, bridges, schools, health care, local government and more.
Over a third of the budget is going to tax cuts and individuals can expect to see up to $400 per individual or $800 jointly, with more tax credits for school-age and college children.
In addition to tax cuts, Minnesota will receive at least $29 million to use on road and bridge projects, many of which will begin over the summer.
The money will help Minnesota try to trim a budget deficit that is expected to reach $7 billion by March, according to the Pioneer Press.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, thought that although “a lot of the details are not as crisp as we would like,? there seems to be much more flexibility than state officials initially thought.
Kelliher also said that any state that could not find enough projects to spend half the money they receive will have to return it to the government to be redistributed among other states.

Stimulus Bill Passed

President Barack Obama and Congress have finally agreed on the value of the stimulus bill.
According to CNN, congressional negotiators said Wednesday that the two sides had agreed upon $789 billion in emergency tax cuts and spending.
The giant stimulus package is the government's attempt to to reverse a deep recession. The package has about 36% of the money headed towards tax cuts and the remaining going towards increased spending, Reuters reports.
The measure had been stalled because the two houses were unable to agree between an $820 billion House bill and an $838 billion Senate proposal, with the president setting Monday as the deadline to get a bill passed.
The bill had little support from Republicans, and although Democrats control both Congress chambers, it took support from a handful of moderate Republicans to make it through both houses.
In order to ease Republican concerns, negotiators in the House and Senate scaled back earlier package proposals.
“The middle ground we've reached creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and spends less than the original House bill,? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Reuters.
Many members of congress are unhappy with the bill. Not a single Republican voted for the House version of the bill, yet Democrats were able to push it through even though 11 Democrats voted against it.
“You couldn't pick up one Republican in the House, and you lost 11 Democrats. You've lost more Democrats than you've picked up Republicans. That's not bipartisanship.? Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told CNN.

University Receives Record Donation

The University of Minnesota received an unexpected surprise on Tuesday.
The daughter of Dr. Kurt Amplatz, a respected medical inventor, has donated $50 million to fund a new children's hospital, which will be called The University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital to honor the gift, reports The Star Tribune.
Caroline Amplatz, who resides in Golden Valley, gave out the second largest donation in school history.(Associated Press)
Dr. Kurt Amplatz taught at the University of Minnesota from 1957 until his retirement in 1999. He is best known for inventing a small device, known as the Amplatzer Septal Occluder, which is used to repair congenital heart defects in children and adults. He also holds over 30 patents.
University President Robert Bruininks said that Dr. Amplatz was “one of the great pioneers of medical research and of Minnesota's medical device industry.?
The donation will be paid out over a 12-year span and will contribute to a new state-of-the-art facility for children with damaged hearts.

February 8, 2009


In this story about a large chunk of ice that broke off and stranded over one hundred people on Saturday, there are numerous source types used. Interviews are a major part of the report, of course, but the story also cites a National Weather Service report and another newspaper. The sources are spread out over the story, arranged in a way that makes it easy for the reader to gather information without ever being overwhelmed. Most of the information comes from people directly, such as taking quotes from the irate sheriff and the rescued people. This reporter basically attributed every source immediately after he used it so there was no confusion over which information came from what source. It is a very effective method of attribution because it doesn't bog down the story and it properly credits all sources of information.

Texan Man who Died In Prison Exonerated

A Texan man who died in prison was cleared of all charges on Friday.
Timothy Cole was arrested for raping Texas Tech University student Michele Mallin in 1985. Cole died in 1999, at the age of 39, from asthma-related complications,the Associated Press reports.
DNA tests taken in 2008 connects the rape to Jerry Wayne Johnson, who is serving life in prison for other rape convictions.
“I am responsible,? Johnson told CNN, “I say I am truly sorry.?
Mallin had picked Cole's picture from a collection of possible subjects and she later picked him out of a physical lineup.
“I was positive,? she said, “I really thought it was him.?
However, the student had told police that the suspect was a smoker. Cole was an asthmatic.
According to his brother, Corey Session, Cole “was never a smoker? and that “he was the sacrificial lamb. To them, my brother was the Tech rapist, there was no backtracking.? (CNN)
Mallin told the AP that she felt guilty the wrong man had gone to jail, and she told Johnson that she was “going to try to forgive you, but it's going to take a long hard time. No woman deserves it. No person deserves what that man got. He could have been a father.?
Cole could have taken a lighter sentence by admitting guilt but he insisted on his innocence and was sentenced to 25 years in jail.
Corey Session, Cole's mother, says that she has nothing against Mallin.
“We don't blame Michele. She's very gracious.?

Minneapolis Mayor Prepares to Run for Third Term

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced Saturday that he would seek a third term as mayor. (AP)
“I can't wait for the next four years,? he was quoted in the Star Tribune, “I can't wait to see what this city will do in these tough times."
In an earlier interview, Rybak, who is considered a candidate to run for governor in 2010, said that he could not guarantee he'd serve a full term as mayor.
His challenger, Bob Miller, said that he would make that pledge.
Rybak's profile was featured in a recent issue of Governing magazine, which said that Rybak was an example that “it's possible to be a left-leaning mayor in a left-leaning city and still be both a fiscal conservative and a friend to business and development." (Star Tribune)
The mayor's current fundraising pace is only slightly ahead of Miller's and Rybak has loaned his campaign $10,000.

St. Paul Woman Files Lawsuit Based on Voodooism

A St. Paul woman has withdrawn her case alleging another woman was using voodoo against her.
Mary Nabila Muma had filed a federal lawsuit against her ex-husband, Marcellus Muma, in which she accused another woman of using voodoo to steal him away from her.
The Star Tribune reported Sunday that the lawsuit had been dropped due in part because of a trip to a private retreat Nabila Muma took.
Nabila Muma also attributed the withdrawal to an accident she experienced.
“The police officers and all the people who saw the car and the scene of the accident instantly said that was divine intervention,? she told the courts, according to the Star Tribune, “"I feel that God wants me to withdraw the case and hand Marcellus over to him."

St. Paul Man Murdered After Resisting Robbery

A St. Paul man was shot to death Saturday morning after refusing to surrender his wallet.
Suspect Ronald Hill reportedly approached Jeffery L. Logan, 44, and his cousin outside the Attucks-Brooks American Legion Hall at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
After brandishing a gun with a scope at the two men, Hill demanded they empty their wallets. Logan's cousin, identified as E.B., complied but Logan refused. Instead, he struck Hill, pulled his shirt over his head and took off running. (Pioneer Press)
The Star Tribune reports that Hill shot Logan once and after catching up with him, stood over the victim and fired the gun five more times.
Witnesses say that they heard Logan say “No, man, no,? and “Are you seriously going to do this?? to Hill before the suspect fired five more times.
Nathaniel Khaliq, president of the St. Paul NAACP, called the slaying “despicable?, “cowardly? and “an outrage? to the city's neighborhood.
“Mr. Hill certainly had other options than to kill Jeffery in cold blood.? Khaliq said. (Star Tribune)
“This type of murder frightens and upsets people because it has a 'there but for the grace of God go I' feel to it." Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner told the Star Tribune.
After shooting Logan, Hill allegedly fled in a Lincoln Town Car driven by two men who told police they was held at gunpoint and forced to comply.
The car crashed at a roundabout at Laurel Avenue and St. Albans Street. Hill fled and was eventually tracked by a K-9 police unit to a nearby garage where he was apprehended.
The two men who accompanied Hill were released pending further investigation.

Search for Nazi War Criminal May Not Be Finished

One of the world's most wanted Nazi war criminals may still be alive.
Officials at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem reject claims by German television network ZDF and the New York Times that Albert Heim (aka Dr. Death), died in Cairo due to intestinal cancer in 1992.
The Center told Reuters that there was no solid evidence of Heim's death nor any remains to reinforce the statement.
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Reuters that he had “no doubt? Heim had lived in Egypt.
“But the question is whether he died in Egypt? We have serious doubts about that,? Zuroff said.
Heim is considered the most wanted surviving perpetrator of the Nazi Genocide that killed 6 million Jews. He is accused of killing hundreds of inmates at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria by injection of gasoline, petrol or water directly into the heart.
Heim's son, Ruediger Heim, told CNN that his father fled Germany and through France, Spain and Morocco ended up in Egypt.
Reudiger Heim also said that he had visited his father in Cairo several times, including once he had learned of his terminal illness.
However, Joachim Riedel, deputy head of the Ludwigsburg investigation agency, has his doubts regarding Reudiger Heim's testimony.
“I'm not yet convinced about these results,? Riedel told Reuters. “It's possible that someone is trying to give investigators the runaround or throw us off the track.?
People who knew Heim after he converted to Islam in Cairo considered him a nice man who kept to himself.
“He was a man of good deeds,? Abu Ahmed, a hotel worker who knew Heim by his changed name, Tarek Farid Hussein, told Reuters. “He helped needy people.?

February 1, 2009

News Leads

In this story about a sunken treasure discovery, the news elements present are the who, deep sea explorers, and the what, a new treasure discover. Both of these elements are detailed, as the lead says that the explorers are the same ones who found $500 million in sunken treasure two years ago, and that the discovery was a legendary British man-of-war that sank 264 years ago. The generalities are the when, which isn't listed and the where, which is also not mentioned. The lead takes a straight-forward news approach and is only a single sentence.

Phelps Issues Public Apology For Conduct

Michael Phelps issued a public apology Sunday, one day after the British tabloid News of the World published a photograph of Phelps smoking from a marijuana pipe.
“I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,? Phelps, a gold-medal swimmer, said in a statement printed by Reuters.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will not be taking any disciplinary action against Phelps.
“Marijuana, right or wrong, is not prohibited out of competition. Obviously if he showed up at an event and tested positive we would take full action against him.? said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the USADA, in a phone interview with Reuters “Obviously it is very disappointing and a terrible decision by Michael, to a certain extent, he let down the world."
The U.S. Olympic committee expressed similar disappointment, saying in a statement that “Our Olympic champions are role models who are looked up to by people of all ages, especially young athletes who have their own aspirations and dreams,"
Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics, has never failed a doping test.

Koreas Edge Closer to Conflict

North Korea and South Korea are closer than ever to resuming armed confrontation.
Sunday Kim Jong-il's regime tore up the non-aggression pact the two states had signed in 1991, saying “There is neither way to improve (relations) nor hope to bring them on track.? The Telegraph reports.
North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea blamed South Korea for bringing the two countries to the edge of war.
Reuters reports that the communist party newspaper stated that “The policy of confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea) pursued by the (South Korean) group is ... the very source of military conflicts and war between the North and the South,?
The states are still considered at war due to the fact that the conflict in 1950-1953 did not end in a peace treaty but a cease fire.
The two countries have more than a million combined troops near their shared border as well as 28,000 American troops deployed to defend South Korea.
North Korea has threatened to demolish the Southern government, which is led by President Lee Myung-Bak, numerous times over the past few months.
South Korea has mostly ignored these threats, and as Bruce Klingner, an expert on Korean affairs at the Heritage Foundation in Washington said, "North Korea's escalating threats do not indicate major hostilities are imminent, however they could easily presage another round of tactical naval confrontations.?
Kim Jong-il is confident of his people's willingness to go to war, telling Reuters that “the (North) Korean people are ready to flatten even a mountain and empty even a sea at one go when called for by the Party."

Colorado Man Threatens Obama, Mall of America

A Colorado native has been indicted on charges that he threatened to kill President Barack Obama and blow up the Mall of America.
A warrant was issued Tuesday for the arrest of Timothy Ryan Gutierrez, 20, from Cortez, Colorado. According to the Star Tribune, Gutierrez sent an email to the FBI eight days before the presidential inauguration that said, “ I'm going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. PS you have 48 hours to stop it from happening."
Federal court documents say that Gutierrez also emailed a threat against the Mall of America.
In the second email, Gutierrez said, “"I have rigged 40 pounds of C4 ... and my favorite TNT to 7 cars outside the Mall of America."
The Mall of America was allowed to open for business after authorities spent 16 to 18 hours searching the complex and determined the threat wasn't significant.
Gutierrez proceeded to turn himself in Thursday at the Durango office of the FBI in Colorado and is being held without bond, the Associated Press later reported.
Police say he will be charged with one count of transmission of threats and one count of falsely threatening to use explosives.