Analysis: Records

Analysis: Records
by Dallas Johnson

This story, from the San Francisco Public Press, about a bridge and the cost behind it is a good example of a reporter using records in a story.

This story is about a bridge being built in the Bay Area that, apparently, is taking much longer than expected to be completed and is costing a lot more than the public was originally told.

One of the documents used in the story was a chart showing the public where the money from their tolls go.  The pie chart shows that 16 percent of the money collected is going to the company building the bridge.

They also have a graph about what the state paid for a bridge in the past, and what they are paying now.

The reporter needs to have some basic computer skills in order to use the set of information acquired from the record.

They needed to be able to compile the information into a graph on a the computer.  The pie chart and the graph allows the reader to understand the situation visually.  Allowing a reader to visualize your information is extremely important because it helps to get your message across.  In this case, the message is about the money being spent on the bridge.

On top of providing the evidence in text form and visual form, the reporter needed to make sure that the information was important, relevant and reputable.

The reputation of the organization providing the document is everything.  In this case, the document comes from the government, which the public tends to trust when dealing with statistics. 

If the information had come from an organization with no or little knowledge of the situation, the public would be suspicious of the information.

Providing information that is relevant and trustworthy in a form that allows the reader to understand the story and the information quickly is one of the most important aspects of reporting today.

'Family Ties' actor facing assault charges

'Family Ties' actor facing assault charges
by Dallas Johnson

Brian Bonsall, former "Family Ties" actor, was charged Friday with second-degree assault in Colorado after he repeatedly hit a friend of his in the head with a broken wooden stool, the Denver Channel reported.

Bosnall, 28, appeared in court Wednesday morning.  Police said he was involved in a fight last Saturday in Boulder, Colo.

Bonsall faces between two and six years in prison if convicted, the Huffington Post reported.

Police arrested Bosnall last week.  He is being held a $7,500 bond.

Bosnall told officers he was drinking that night and did not remember what had happened.  H did, however, tell officers that the man who called police was his "best friend."

Police were called to the scene three times before Bosnall was arrested.

Bosnall was also had a warrant for missing a court date in 2007 for a different case.  That case involved violating bond conditions for a case in which he had been sentenced to two years probation for assaulting his girlfriend.

Bosnall played Andy Keaton, the youngest sibling, on the NBC sitcom, Family Ties.

Hundreds arrested at climate talks

Hundreds arrested at climate talks
by Dallas Johnson

Hundreds of activists were detained Saturday in Copenhagen outside a climate conference among industrial members of the United Nations, MSNBC reported.

Police arrested 968 people who had gathered at the rear of the rally, part of a worldwide "Day of Action."

The protesters were demanding a resolution on climate-change that would reduce gas emissions and aid developing countries hurt by pollution.

Four cars had been set on fire during the evening, police said.  One of the protesters was injured by fireworks, and one police officer reported minor injuries after being hit with a rock thrown by one of the protesters. 

Most of the detained protesters were released.  Five were charged, however, and are scheduled in court on Sunday.

The rally centered around the Bella Center where the summit was taking place, CNN reported.

Police spokesman Rasmus Bernt Skovsgaard said that "there was some cobblestone-throwing and at the same time people were putting on masks. We decided to go for preventive detentions to give the peaceful demonstration the possibility to move on."

Some demonstrators argued police abuse, after police detained 400 protesters by typing their hands behind their backs and forcing them to sit on the street in freezing temperatures.

The countries are expected to reach an agreement by Friday, which is the end of the two-week summit.

Woman, 98, indicted in murder of older roommate

Woman, 98, indicted in murder of older roommate
by Dallas Johnson

A 98-year-old woman was indicted Friday in Massachusetts for strangling her 100-year-old roommate in September, CNN reported.

Laura Lundquist was indicted by a Massachusetts grand jury for strangling Elizabeth Barrow, her nursing home roommate, the New York Daily News reported.

Barrow was found dead on Sept. 24 at Brandon Woods Nursing Home in Dartmouth, Mass. with a plastic shopping bag tied over her head, according to the Bristol County district attorney's office.

An autopsy showed that Barrow had been strangled.

Lundquist and Barrow were arguing over a table a Lundquist had put at the foot of Barrow's bed.  Barrow complained that the table was in the way of her path to the bathroom, authorities said.

A nursing home aide moved in to difuse the situation.  Lundquist punched the aide and said that her roommate "might as well have the whole room," prosecutors said.

In the weeks before her death, Barrow had said that Lundquist was making her life a "living hell," District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter said.

A nursing home spokesman said they offered Barrow a chance to change rooms or roommates twice, but she declined.

Lundquist's attorney has said his client is innocent.  A motion has been granted to allow a state hospital to check Lundquist's competency. 

Police looking for a man suspected of robbing a bank

Police looking for a man suspected of robbing a bank
by Dallas Johnson

Bloomington police and the FBI are searching for a man suspected of robbing a bank in Bloomington Tuesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said.

The man entered the TCF Bank at Cub Foods at 8423 Lyndale Av. S. around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.  He threw a white bag on the counter and demanded the teller fill it with cash, WCCO reported.

He proceeded to pull out a black, semi-automatic handgun and point it at the wall, according to the FBI.

The man left on foot after receiving an unknown amount of money from the teller.

The suspect was described as a 5 foot 6 inch black male, aged 45 to 50.  He was wearing silver rimmed glasses, a black knit hat, a gray fleece jacket, white shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 612-376-3200, the Bloomington Police Department at 52-563-4900, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.  Crime Stoppers is also available online at and via text by texting TIP674 and a message to 274637.

Woman dies after car crashes into creek

Woman dies after car crashes into creek
by Dallas Johnson

A Rogers woman died Wednesday after her car rolled into a creek near Maple Grove Tuesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Carrie A. Lorman, 22, died Wednesday morning after the accident left her car overturned in a creek Tuesday night.

Lorman was on Interstate 94 around 9 p.m. when she braked to avoid a stalled her car.  Her car ended up on an embankment after she swerved to the right, Capt. Matt Langer, of the Minnesota State Patrol, said.

Her car ended up overturned in the creek for 25 minutes, according to WCCO.

Lorman was taken to the hospital where she was in critical condition.  She died Wednesday morning, Langer said.

Snow was falling at the time of the accident, which is under investigation.

The snowstorm moving across the state has caused the Department of Transportation to urge drivers in southern Minnesota to stay off the road.

Restraining order issued to Ravens' Suggs

Restraining order issued to Ravens' Suggs
by Dallas Johnson

A temporary restraining order has been issued by a woman to Baltimore Ravens' linebacker Terrell Suggs, ESPN reported.

The order was filed Friday in the District Court of Maryland, Sports Illustrated reported.  It states that Suggs cannot abuse, contact or enter the home of the woman involved, pending a hearing scheduled for Dec. 11.

Suggs does not have a previous arrest record.

Kevin Byrne, a spokesman for the Ravens said that the team is "aware of the situation."  He added that the team has "discussed the matter with Terrell."

Suggs status on the team has not changed due to the incident.

Suggs injured his knee in a game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 16.  He has been sidelined ever since.  He is doubtful for the Ravens' game Monday night against the Packers in Green Bay.

More than 100 killed in Russian nightclub fire

More than 100 killed in Russian nightclub fire
by Dallas Johnson

Pyrotechnics caused an explosion in Russian nightclub Friday, killing 109 and injuring 133 others, CNN reported.

Most of the victims either died of smoke inhalation or were trampled by panic customers attempting to exit the fire and smoke-filled nightclub, MSNBC reported.

Eighty-eight of the injured were in critical condition Saturday morning, officials said.

Police are questioning the owner and manager of the Lame Horse nightclub in the central Russian city of Perm after reports said the nightclub may have misused the fireworks.

Initial reports are saying the cause of the blast is "unsanctioned use of pyrotechnical devices," the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said.

"The fire spread very quickly," Marina Zabbarova, chief investigator for the local prosecutor's office said.  "Panic arose which led to a mass death of people."

Customers in the nightclub said three fireworks started spewing sparks, which ignited the plastic ceiling.  The fire only took seconds to spread, as did the panic in the crowd.

The owner and manager of the nightclub were arrested in connection with the incident.  Russian officials say it was not a terrorist act, but an unfortunate misuse of fireworks in the nightclub.

The problem was compounded by the fact that the nightclub only had one exit.

President Dmitry Medvedev demanded that those responsible receive the harshest possible punishment.

2 people, 65 horses dead after fire at Ohio fairgrounds

2 people, 65 horses dead after fire dead at Ohio fairgrounds
by Dallas Johnson

Two people were killed Saturday after a fire destroyed a barn at an Ohio harness racing track, CNN reported.

The fire started around 5 a.m. Saturday in a barn on the Lebanon Raceway in southwestern Ohio at the Warren County Fairgrounds near Cincinnati, MSNBC reported.

The victims identities have not been released, Shane Cartmill, a state Fire Marshal spokesman said.  He added that one of the victims had been identified as a male.

The 80 stall barn was housing 65 horses at the time the fire broke out.  All 65 horses in the barn died.

By the time firefighters arrived at the scene the roof had already collapsed, Capt. Krista Wyatt of the Lebanon Fire Department said.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to other barns, CNN reported.

State and local fire officials are investigating the cause of the fire.

Plane with flap problems lands safely

Plane with flap problems lands safely
by Dallas Johnson

A Northwest Airlines jet landed safely at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich. Satruday after flaps on the plane's wings were unresponsive, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The plane, which carried 47 people, landed in Grand Rapids, where it was scheduled to land, early Saturday morning, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The flaps on the plane apparently would not deploy, according to airport spokesman Bruce Schedlbauer.

This incident comes after another incident involving a United Airlines jet Friday.

That plane, carrying 39 passengers, landed safely Friday afternooon in Kent County's Cascade Township after hydraulic problems forced the plane to land before its scheduled destination.

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