April 15, 2007

Crime Reports Assignment

For this assignment I went to the government center in Minneapolis. I was a little unsure at first to go, but I asked a security guard who directed me to the correct location.
The lady at the desk was really nice. She She explained the procedure to us. We could look through the crime reprt books and find the report we wanted and then type in the number on the computer they had available to the public and then print the report off.
I chose to get reports that had to do with uptown since I am reporting on uptown crime. The book of reports was only the current month, but the woman gave us the number for the place that would give us past reports and crime statistics. This info was very helpful as I needed to find crime statistics.
A few of the reports I looked for were off limits to the public due to special circumstances surrounding the crime.
Printing cost 25 cents per page.
The two reportas I printed off were:
1) A DWI where the perpetraitor blocked traffic and was booked on a 4th degree DWI charge, and
2) A girl who reported her wallet stolen.

The wallet report was interesting as it dealt with someone that I knew. The girl was at All-State choir camp with me in high school and we have talked a few times since then. It was interesting to find someone I knew not only int the area I'm researching, but as in a crime report.
The amoutn of crime reports were amazing. The books was very thick for just one month of reports. I noticed a lot of different areas in the book, Uptown was not in it as much as other areas. It led me to a new hypothesis for my story: Whether the increase in crime is actual or sensationalism by reporters via a few more high profile crimes.
Getting the reports was really easy. It took very little time. I feel it is an act that is very doable for the average citizen. Looking through the book took time, but if you knew a date and address it would have been very simple.

Crime report 1 # - CCN: MP-07-092636
Crime Report 2 # - CCN: MP-07-997825

March 25, 2007

Censorship

With the recent legal debate in St. Paul school's by parent's wanting to remove "Huckleberry Finn" from the student's required reading list, I propose an article centering on the debate of censoring literature in schools. Since this would be for a Minnesota audience, and article like this have been written before, I would refine my article to be about cases in Minnesota.


Sources:

Superintendent Debra Bowers - Dealing with recent censorship case.
6425 West 33rd Street
St. Louis Park, MN 55426-3498
952.928.6000

Lisa Westberg Peters - Author who's book was center for a debate on censorship in Monticello.
Lisa Westberg Peters
lisapeters@comcast.net

Joan Berntin - Executive Direction of the National Coalition Against Censorship. A group that deals directly with school literature censorship. It has a branch in Minnesota.
Joan Berntin
National Coalition Against Censorship
275 7th Avenue, #1504
New York, NY 10001
(212) 807 - 6222

Poor Jeb

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/24/us/24florida..html

Summary: The University of Florida voted to deny Jeb Bush an honorary degree. No official reason was given, but hours later he was granted honorary status by the alumni association.

In the article by New York Times writer Abby Goodnough, the reporting seemed to lack depth as she couldn't get many newsworthy quotes, especially one from Jeb Bush or one including a reason from a voting member who voted no. These quotes would've really worked to make the article more substantial.
As it stands now, the article is just a small human interest story about Jeb being the first person to be denied the degree after being nominated by the alumni board.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.nationlede25mar25,0,5303043.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

The article by the Baltimore Sun, is more of a follow up to previous articles about Jeb being denied the degree. Here, we are informed that the alumni association has granted Jeb honorary status in response his being denied the degree. While this article suffers the same problem in terms of lack of newsworthy quotes, it has one good one from an alumni association member who said that to them alumni status was as along the same lines as a degree.
At the same time, this article was also a small fluff piece dealing with the president's brother.

Iran Nuclear Situation

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6492667.stm

Summary: While the UN voted to restrict nuclear weapons, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran would not stop their nuclear program. Mottaki called the UN's actions a violation of the UN charter.

In the article by BBC World, the writer split the article into four sections. The first section told what sparked the problem. The second section wrote about The minister's reaction. The third section was where the the author reported the minister's reasons for being defiant. And the fourth section wrote about how the Iran president was not at the UN Security council meeting where he was supposed to speak to the board about why the restrictions were wrong.
This format made the article a very quick read as every section was short and included the basic information right away. The author also did a good job of not editorializing or taking sides. He presented the problem and stated why Iran was upset.
This article is not only timely but also important for US readers a country that could be seriously impacted by Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-iran25mar25,1,6061803.story?coll=la-news-a_section

In the article by Los Angeles Times writer Maggie Farley, did one thing great right away. While the BBC World writer used the words "nuclear program" Farley stated that what Iran is actually doing is developing nuclear energy. This changes the tone of the story right away. She stated that many are worried that Iran will develop weapons since they are using Uranium, which is a main component of atomic weapons.
This fact that they are developing energy is very important to state especially for you less worldly or knowledgeable readers.
For this fact and the fact that Farley covered the rest of the story as well as the BBC did, I feel Farley's was the better article.

Congdon Family Member Arrested

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/articles/index.cfm?id=38502§ion=homepage&freebie_check&CFID=26514609&CFTOKEN=15227584&jsessionid=883097119c9972225e3d

Summary: Marjorie Congdon Caldwell Hagen, the acquitted murder suspect in the infamous Glensheen Mansion murder case, was arrested Thursday in Arizona on suspicion of theft, fraud, and computer tampering.

In the article by Duluth News Tribune, the author combined their own writing, that of the Associated Press, and that of the Arizona Daily Star. This article was timely because it just happened Thursday. It appears in a Duluth paper because that was the location for the Glensheen murder case. The mansion has since become a sort of landmark in the city.
The author first talks about Congdon and who she is, before going into her long history with the police and arson/fraud in particular. The article, while supposedly being about the arrest, seemed to just mention that fact before focusing on Congdon's criminal history. Since this article was appearing in the paper because of Congdon's Minnesota connection, if the focus wasn't going to be on the crime she was arrested for, it should have had more focus on her ties to Duluth in particular.
The article also had come obvious typos. For example, instead of stating that Congdon "plead" no contest. they wrote that Congdon "pleaded."

http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1077350.html

In the Star Tribune article,. staff reporter Joe Kimball, the author also uses an hourglass structure, giving the most import information first and then giving a brief history of Congdon. While the first article seemed to focused on Congdon's criminal history, this article seemed very brief. Both article felt as though they were only being covered because of the Minnesota connection.
In the end, I'd say both articles accomplished their goal of informing on Congdon's latest run in with the law.

March 21, 2007

Evangelism

As the Evangelist church continues to grow in size and numbers, their branch of beliefs have often been attacked and satired by movies such as "Borat" and "Jesus Camp." As a member of an Evangelist family, I have seen many changes in how the churches have been run. While I know that churches need money to thrive, Evangelist churches have often been knocked for their large churches (Often complete things such as coffee shops, or a place to buy new Christian merchandise.).

Story Idea: I would like to do a piece on Evangelism. As a branch of Christianity that is misunderstood and deemed "crazy," it's members called "oberbearing" and "delusional," I would like to do a non-biased piece (Since I have removed myself from this denomination for personal reasons) on it. I would cover everything from basic beliefs to how it differs from other denominations to why the need for large showy churches and conventions.

A great aspect of this story is that it could lead to a series on misunderstood practices and religions around the world. A series that covers more than one religion and belief would attract a wider audience.

Sources:

1. Leith Anderson - President of the National Association of Evangelicals. He would offer a good opinion/insight on the branch, he also is a pastor in Eden Praire, so there is a good chance I'd get a hold of him .
Leith Anderson
Wooddale Church
6630 Shady Oak Road
Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344
952-944-6300

2. Pastor Chuck Pruett - He is a pastor out of my hometown. In the past six years he has taken a failing church and turned into a thriving one with a large congregation, and activities center for the community, and a brand new sanctuary that is, yes, complete with a coffee shop, auditorium style seating, and a state-of-the-art sound system.
Pastor Chuck Pruett
New Life Christian Center
2061 100th Ave
Princeton, MN 55371
763-633-4858

3. Bishop Richard Pates - Archdiocese of St. Paul / Mpls. This interview would offer an outiside look at Evangelicals, but not from outside the realm of Christianity. I think it would be interesting to hear his views on Evangelism.
Bishop Richard Pates
475 University Avenue West
St. Paul, Minnesota 55103
651-227-877

4. For a further look at views on Evangelism, I would do random interviews of people in the Twin Cities. This will give me a random sampling of people who may or may not be Christian. It will also be very beneficial in seeing how much the average person actually know about this branch.

March 18, 2007

CIA Spy Saga

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/politics/la-na-plame17mar17,1,3164434.story?coll=la-news-politics-national&track=crosspromo

Summary: Valerie Plame, a former CIA spy, testified Staurday about the leaking of her identity. Her appearance in court was the first time anyone had heard her side of the story.

In the article by Greg Miller, a staff writer at the Los Angelos Times, Miller makes mistakjes right form his lead:

"With a phalanx of cameras awaiting her entrance, Valerie Plame stepped out of the spy-world shadows and into the spotlight."

First, his use of the word "phalanx" is not a word many readers will know. Upon research you find it means a tightly packed group of people, but many other words would have worked just as well. Also, Plame has not been in the shadows since her name was leaked in 2003 as the lead would suggest. She has talked to people before and has done a photo spread for the magazine "Vanity Fair." This was just her first time in court, talking about what happened.
Another problem with the story is the ending. Miller focuses on how Plame feels that the Bush administration isn't handling her case right. She calls Bush hypocritical and say that she is Democratic. She also states that her husband was Republican, but now consdiers herself Democratic. The writer also states that many of the governmental officials there were Democratic. The author makes it seem as though since the Republicans are the vil party to blame for what went on while being Democratic is great. The way the author chose to write this last part only goes to show his only Democratic bias.

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/03/17/Worldandnation/Cover_blown__ex_spy_s.shtml

While the World Nation article isn't better written, it does stay away form much of the bias in the first article. This author does a much better job of telling a story about how Plame has started talking for herself and doesn't plan to stop until she sees action taken for what happened to her. The author also includes a nice timeline of her time line of the case.

March 2, 2007

Uptown

What was once considered a relatively safe area of Minnesota, Uptown has recently become a place of caution. in the past year murder rates have risen all over the U.S. including here in Minneapolis. Many of the high profile murders have occurred in Uptown, including those of Courtney Brown and Trevor Marsh.

My story idea is a profile of Uptown and what has happened in recent years in terms of crime and population shift to lead to the increase of crime. The idea for this story was an article in the Rake about the rise of crime around the US. I feel that since Uptown is considered a hip, high culture area, that its recent rise in crime and murders could stand as a warning for other Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods.

Three People I would want to interview are:

1. Amy Klobuchar who served as the attorney for the Uptown murder of Michael Zebhur in 2006. Since she is now a Senator, she would serve as a good resource also for bills or legislation being done on crime.
Amy Klobuchar
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-3244

2. Lee Edwards, Minnesota Homicide Commander. Edwards has worked on many of the cases in Uptown and would offer a first hand account of the situation. He was also ranked top cop in the 4th precinct.
Lee Edwards
1925 Plymouth Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411
612-673-5704

3. Mike Dean, President of the Minneapolis Uptown Association Board of Directors. As an association that works to advance Uptown commercially and residentially while keeping it safe, Dean would be a great source for finding out what effect, if any, the murders have had.
Mike Dean
Uptown Association
1406 West Lake Street,
Suite 202
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 823-4581

16 year old

http://www.startribune.com/467/story/1032066.html

Summary: A 16-year-old St. Paul teen was arrested in connection to the rape of a 57-year-old woman. The boy attacked the woman on Jan. 1, bating her until the woman thought she was going to die. She finally pretended to be unconscious to make him stop. His DNA helped the poilce find him.

The Star Tribune article by Howie Padilla focuses on details of the attack with an emphasis on the fact that the police did catch him. In the end the author states that the police are still looking for the attacker who raped a 13-year-old girl in January. This juxtaposition seems to work to make the community feel that the police are succeeding in finding criminals. They are offering a reward for anyone with information making it seem as though we all must work together to make our streets better. This leaves the reader with a feeling of duty to their community.

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/16819466.htm

IN the Pioneer Press article by Mara Gottfried, the author does two things that the Star Tribune article doens't. One, it states the boy's name a fact that thje Star Tribune writer said was being kept secret. Second, the author claims that the police arrested him in conneciton with both rapes. It states that the boy said he had nothing to do with the girls rape, but stops there. Since it couples this with the fact that his DNA proves he did rape the 57-year-old woman, it leads the reader to believe that he more than likely did rape the other girl. This is risky to do and paints a potentially wrong picture of the events that transpired.

Because of these facts, I felt that the Star Tribune did a better and more tactful reporting job on the events.

Union-i-fied

http://http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/03/02/MNGJTOE1721.DTL

Summary: Organized labor, or the right for workers to form unions, is being addressed by the government. A subjet that had been pushed out under Republican rule is now back in question, with Bush promising a veto if it comes to his desk.

The San Francisco Chronicle offers a two-sided look at how the bill has gotten this far (ie.- the Democratic view on why the bill is necessary) and then explaining why the President is against it (ie.- the Republican view on why the bill is wrong.)
A good aspect of the article is its structure. It has a logical progression from Democrat to Republican to a conclusion. The lead is very pessimistic, focusing on the fact that the bills success is only a temporary victory. The conclusion isn't totally well written because it has figures on union involvment that seem that they are beter suited for somewhere higher up in the article, but the author didn't have a place.

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/labor-wins-victory-house-passes/story.aspx?guid=%7B6B1A79FB-2E2E-4872-B770-A66231BBDEC3%7D&dist=

The article by Market Watch focuses mainly on the Democratic aspect of the bills journey. It does a much better job of incorporating facts into the article instead of as an endnote. It also has a link to look at how the house voted which was a nice touch. The lead comments on how the victoy was rare, mentioning Bush's veto once before proceeding to focus on why the bill was concieved. The article flowd nicely, but felt one sided due to the lack of Republican viewpoints.

Overall the San Francisco Chronicle article was better due to it two-sided presnetation of the facts. If the author could've only incorporated statistics like the Market Watch writer did, it would've been a stronger article.

All Thanks to Al Gore

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/01/AR2007030101484.html

Summary: UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed the UN about the growing problem of global warming. Moon stated that global warming is as big of a problem as war. Moon also called for Bush and other leaders to curb emissions of greenhouse gasss. Moon stressed how important it is for nations to start making changes to help stop this problem.

The article by Washington Post writer Colum Lynch took an interesting approach to the subject, using the angle that Moon considers global warming as big of a concer and threat as war. This is especially hard hitting for us in the U.S. due to how that comment could easily have been aimed at just us. His lead did a good job at setting the tone he wanted for the story:

"U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon argued Thursday that global warming poses as great a threat to the world as modern warfare, and he vowed to make reduction of greenhouse gases one of his tenure's top priorities."

You get all the important information that it's dangerous and that Moon is making it a top priority. The article is very straightforward describing the countries Moon talked to and how he wants to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The author does a good job of writing the fact without editorializing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/6410305.stm

This article by the BBC, In this article the author focuses on how Moon is calling for the U.S. to be a leader in the changes that need to be made to stop global warming. It states facts about how the reason is that the U.S. is the leader in greenhouse gas emissions. The article almost makes it sound as though Moon's speech was aimed just at the U.S.

Due to the unbiased feel of the Washingotn Post's article, I felt it was more effective story.

Tornado

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/03/02/tornado.enterprise/

Summary: A tornado tore through a school in Enterprise, Alabama Thursday. The students had thought they were partaking in another tornado drill. Eight students didn't survive the hit.

The article by CNN.com could be divided into two parts. The first part is a sentimental piece which includes interviews by those involved in the attack. In this part The author captures the sudden change from the students thinking it was just a drill to a disaster through coupliung of the first two paragraphs:

"Students inside Enterprise High School huddled in the halls, joking around and waiting out what they thought was a standard tornado drill.
The school then went black as the lights dimmed and glass from a skylight shattered to the ground."

The author then follows with quotes from a worried mother and students, all done to evoke emotions and sympathy from the reader.
The second part is more of a public service announcement from the school battling people who say that they could've done more. In this part there are quotes from the governor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency chief all stating that the school was in the right in its actions. Even the last line acts as a way to suppress those who have doubts about the school's actions:

"Everything was done that was supposed to be done."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/03/02/MNGJTOE07P1.DTL

In the article by the San Francisco Chronicle, does more to put the tornado into context with the rest of the extreme weather that is occuring. The author starts by talking about the tornado and the school, but then talk about the massives blizzarss in Minnesota, as well as weather in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nebraksa and Missouri.
This story focuses on all the bad consequences that have happened due to the weather not just in Alabama but all over.
A big problem with this story is the lack of structure. There is no coherent movement from state to state in talking about the various weather. The author just moves from one place to the other. This makes the article read less like an article and more like a report on weather damage in the U.S.

While the second story lacked structure. I felt it did a better job in finding ways to relate the topic to a wider audience. the first story turned me off due to the public service ending.

February 28, 2007

The Danger of Winter

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/16784693.htm

Summary: A Chaska resident was found, nearly frozen, Saturday. He dies at the Hennepin County Medical Center later that day. His core body temp was only 77 degrees. A snowplow driver found him lying on the sidewalk.

The Pioneer Press article feels like it is missing some pieces. The parents of the 19-year-old man are made to look incompetent in their clueless-ness of not caring why their son isn't home at 3 p.m. the day after the party he'd attended.
The lead, while giving all the important info, does nothing to draw the reader into reading the rest. They could read the lead and know everything they need to know. The author also awkwardly puts a call for anyone with information to step forward, including the phone number, right in the middle of the article. It would have been much more fitting, and it would've helped the flow of the article to have had the statement at the end.

http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1027583.html

The Star Tribune article, on the other hand, offered a lot of information that the Pioneer Press story left out.
The parents weren't worried because they thought their son was staying at friends. The man was only wearing pants and a shirt when he was found. Also, while you could suspect alcohol was involved while reading the Pioneer Press story, the Star Tribune states that blood-alcohol tests are being done.
Even the Star Tribune's lead:

"Bob Humphrey was disturbed when his 18-year-old son didn't come home Friday night during a winter storm warning, but figured he was staying with friends."

Captures your attention and interests you into reading to find out what happened.
The story structure and level of in depth reporting done on the Star Tribune's article was of much higher quality than
the Pioneer Press' article. While I felt I was being given only some of the facts while reading the Pioneer Press story, I felt confident in the Star Tribune's story.

February 19, 2007

Let's be Frank-en

http://www.startribune.com/587/story/1008331.html

Summary: Al Franken, who has decided to run for U.S. Senate, is meeting criticism over whether he is actually a serious candidate or a comedian. Franken insists he is both.

This article by Star Tribune writer Dane Smith while seeming to be a commercial for Franken also counteracts his attempt to make himself not seem like just a comedian. The author starts out by stating that Franken feels he can be a comedian and a politician, but then uses the rest of the article to quote jokes Franken said in his political appearances.

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/16724652.htm

The Pioneer Press story does much better job presenting Franken as a candidate who is trying to be serious in his campaign. The author presents the story through Franken's trip to the Iron Range to campaign. The writer uses examples of people in the Iron Range who support him. The story ends with how Franken has been preparing for debates on serious topics facing the U.S.

The Pioneer Press' story was much better in presenting Franken as a serious candidate. While this is what it seemed the Star Tribune was attempting to do, the writer was not able to accomplish it

Afghanistan Helicoptor Crash

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/18/news/afghan.php

Summary: 8 U.S. soldiers were killed and 14 more were injured in a helicoptor crash. The Taliban are suspected in the attack as Taliban activity is known in the area where the helicoptor was shot down.

In the International Herald article, written by Abdul Waheed Wafa and Carlotta Gall. It's lead:

"An American twin-rotor Chinook helicopter suffered engine failure and crashed Sunday morning in southeastern Afghanistan, killing 8 soldiers and wounding 14, said a spokesman at Bagram airbase, north of Kabul."

Does an effective job of telling its audeince who, what, when and where in one sentence. The article does a weird thing in that it goes from talking about the incident to talking about other recent helicoptor crahses sxome by terrorist groups and some due to other factors. The authors hide the fact that U.S. and NATO groups raided three Taliban complexes. It seems odd that raids on Taliban complexes should be put after a statement that helicoptors have crashed due to bad weather and techinal problems, a fact that doesn't seem as important.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6372813.stm

Since this event happened to U.S. troups, I decided to look at a foreign media outlet to see how they reported the event. In the article released by the BBC, the event is reported completely differently. They wrote that the crash was accidental, even including the fact that the pilot radioed in to say that they were having troubles. They even state that a NATO official stated that the attack had nothing to do with Taliban. While the author includes a fact that the International Herald writer also did, the fact that a Taliban official took credit for the crash, the BBC writes that this is not true and that other such claims have been declared unfounded.

The subtle facts that the BBC included really made it interesting to see the differences between the two stories. As reporting the facts is important in journalism, this discrepency is odd. It really brings up the idea of which story is telling the whole story and which one isn't. In this case, I think it's the BBC.