March 25, 2007

Congdon Family Member Arrested§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."

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 2, 2007

16 year old

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.

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.

February 28, 2007

The Danger of Winter

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.

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

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.

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

February 12, 2007

Tragic Heroism

Summary: A St. Paul resident died Saturday as he attempted to extinguish a fire. Ronrico Madison had put a pot of oil to boil. He had forgotten about it when he saw the oil was on fire. Dousing it with water, he caused the flames to grow. The fire spread through his house and Ronrico suffered serious burns. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Pioneer Press story did two things wrong. One: The author included useless information such as the fact that the mother had taken a cab home from Wal-Mart when she found the house burning. And Two: They turn an article about a man's death into an article talking about the man's criminal record. Not only was this not relevant to the story, but it is also offensive to the family. The story has an inconsistent flow, changing from reporting on the incident to reporting on grease fires in general to reporting on Ronrico's criminal history to giving helpful tips on stopping fire. It felt like I was reading a news article infused with elementary school fire training. The author also uses an ironic quote that doesn't seem appropriate by ending the family's part with a quote by his sister saying that they "loved him to death."

The Star Tribune article while being much shorter, makes up for the fact by being sensitive to the family and sticking to the incident alone. The author adds a few note son grease fires but only in the context of the Fire chief. The article was short and to the point which is exactly what the story needed to be. The story didn't have enough behind it to make it really compelling to the reader, which is what the Pioneer Press writer attempted to do. The story was quick and factual, allowing the reader to move on to more important stories.

February 2, 2007

After the First Death

Summary: Star Tribune writer Curt Brown reports that due to the recent death of an 8 year-old boy from St. Paul by the flu, doctor offices have been exceedingly busy. The boy, Lucio Satar, had a special Type-A strain of influenza. After being hospitalized on the 26th of January, certain complications arose leading up to his death. According to the article, 36,000 people die from flu related complications each year. 100 of those deaths are children.

Brown did a good job at turning a tragedy into an informational article. While talking about Satar's death, Brown also uses the article to give statistics and facts about the flu. His article almost becomes more than an article, but a public service announcement calming those who have become worried since the boy's death. The article is, in that respect, very timely. It comes right after the boy's death in a time of panic, in an attempt to settle people's fears. Even Brown's lead not only informs but serves a purpose in the large scope of the article:

"Doctors' offices were fielding dozens of calls Thursday from worried parents and patients after the rare influenza-related death of an 8-year-old St. Paul boy."

This lead is great because it not only gives all the important information about the boy's death and cause, but it also brings in the worried public coupled with the idea that the death was rare. Therefore, the worrying is for nothing. On top of the article, the Star Tribune also included a nice sidebar with more information as to where to go for flu shots and tips for the flu season.

In contrast, the Pioneer Press' article attempts to accomplish the same effect, but doesn't quite succeed. The article's writing is not strong enough to settle as worried public. Right off the bat, the lead is not sufficent enough to set the pace for the story:

"An 8-year-old from Ramsey County died of complications related to influenza Wednesday morning, according to the Minnesota Department of Health."

The lead captures one of the most important aspects of the story, the boy's death, but not the second part, the increased public worry about a death from the flu. Also, the author seems to throw his facts around without any real structure. Going from saying that there was an outbreak in a nursing home to saying that the state has listed the flu as widepread. While these items do sort of go together. There is no real transition or logical segue.

Overall, the Star Tribune did a much better job at publishing a coherent piece that works to calm the public. The Pioneer Press on the other hand, while attempting to do the same thing, published a piece that was muddy and unpolished.

January 26, 2007

Breathe Easy

Summary: Star Tribune staff writer Mark Brunswick reports today, Thursday, about a new draft of the statewide smoking ban that's expected to be passed by legislature. The ban, if passed, would be an extension of the Indoor Clean Air Act. While the bill is receiving support from both sides of the house it is still receiving opposition from those in the hospitality industry who claim the bill would drastically impact their revenue. The business owners are upset with the government's imposition in their private place of business. The bill does allow for some exceptions. Native American ceremonies and casinos, hotels and tobacco shops are excluded from the smoking ban. The bill has gained much of its support from new U.S. Surgeon General reports about the effects of secondhand smoke. The ban, if passed, would go into effect August 1. Another ban is being drafted that would prohibit smoking within 50 feet of a public building.

The article was very timely since the bill was recently presented with the next hearing on the bill being February 1st. This topic is especially newsworthy to Minnesotans as it will have a big impact on our lives. It's also important for this article to be written now since the bill is going to be voted on soon so that people are aware of what is going on and can now take the appropriate actions to either support or oppose it. It is a short article that does a good job of giving a general idea about what is going on with the bill. While it has a quote by a Senator who is in support of the bill but nothing by any of the business owners who oppose the bill. That could've added to the article.
In comparison, the Pioneer Press' article was more in bullet point format. It gave a very brief description of what the bill entailed, exceptions to the bill, reasons for supporting, reasons for opposing and section called "what's next." Each section was answered in no more than two or three sentences. The reporting was informative, but seemed shabby next to the Star Tribune article. The only item that the Pioneer Press had which the Star Tribune article didn't was a link to read the actual bill. I thought this was a great item to have attatched to the article since it helped those readers who were curious to go and read the bill for themselves before deciding what side they sided with.

In my opinion, both of the articles seemed to lack substance. They both could've done a better job in capturing the opinions of not only the Senators, but also business owners and the public. This would've really added to the thoroughness of the reporting.