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April 29, 2007

"A sooner for the better" by Kevin Seifer, Star Tribune

Anticipation mounted Saturday as the NFL draft picks were announced. For the Vikings, it was Andrian Peterson, a running back, that proved to be their top pick. Many have concerns about Peterson because of many pervious injuries. Peterson has suffered a dislocated shoulder, a high ankle sprain, and the most serious, a broken collarbone. The Vikings' head coach, Brad Childress, is both excited and optimistic of the abilities Peterson will bring to the team. When asked about if Peterson will have any difficulties with offseason workouts, Peterson seemed optimistic. "To my knowledge, he is not going to have any of those issues," said Childress.

The challenge with writing this story is not to offend the Vikings because of a decision. It is important to deliver the news accurately, but the team and coaches are not going to be as willing to give interviews if they open up the paper and read about what horrible decision they are making.

Don Seeholzer reported on the story for the Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press wrote a brief summary in the beginning; highlighting most of the facts the star tribune hit. After that, in three paragraphs, three questions fans might be asking themselves about the Vikings new pick were answered.

April 15, 2007

"April 12: Oakdale newborn's grisly death: Stabbed 135 times" by Jim Adams and Joel Powell, Star Tribune

Nicole M. Beecroft, 17, gave birth early Monday morning to a baby girl in a laundry room, but the baby was never given a chance. Beecroft is being charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the Washington County District Court for stabbing her baby to death 135 times. St. Paul police received an anoymous report on Tuesday from a cashier at the Cub Foods in Sun Ray Plaza saying Nikki Beecroft gave birth to a stillborn baby and threw it in the garbage can. Police found the baby along with bloody towels and a knife in a garbage can near Beecroft's home and she was arrested at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The challenge in this story is being sensitive to the nature of the content. The crime commited was horrific and done by a minor, although, she will be tried as an adult. It is difficult to be sensitive to the family while still reporting the news fully and thruthfully.

Alex Friedrich reported on the story for the Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press' article ran a day later, on Saturday. Most of the facts remained the same, however, Beecroft's bail was set a $1 million dollars.

March 25, 2007

"State Guardsman Killed in Iraq; 3 hurt" by Dan Wascoe, Star Tribune

Minnesota National Guard Sgt. Gret Riewer, 28, was killed in Iraq from a roadside bomb while on patrol on Friday. Riewer lived in Frazee, Minn. and graduated from the local high school in 1997. Shortly after he enlisted in the National Guard and served in Bosnia. He was sent to Iraq last year with his brother, Andrew, who served in the same unit.

The challege in this story is making it stand out. There are so many stories covered in Iraq and with death tolls at their highest, it isn't unusual to read about another death from a roadside bomb. It is important to pay respect to those killed.

Brian Bonner reported on the death for the Pioneer Press. The two stories primarily had the same facts, however, the Pioneer Press had interviews from the mother and father.

"Under a shroud of anxiety, police seek clues in triple killing" by Tom Ford and James Walsh, Star Tribune

Early Friday morning, three St. Paul residents were murdered in their home. Maria McLay, 32, her daughter, Brittany Kekadakis, 15, and Maria's boyfriend, known both as Otahl Saunders and Othal Webb, 31 were shot to death in their home on the 200 block of Burgess Street in St. Paul. Little is known about the motive, but Police Chief John Harrington said he would be surprised if it was not drug related. McLay's two younger children were in the house when the shooting occured, but were not harmed. They are being considered as witnesses.

The challenge in this story is being sensitive to the family. One of the victims killed was a minor and was named. The two younger children of McLay who are now the only witnesses to the shooting remained unnamed.

Mara H. Gottfried reported for the Pioneer Press on the murders where a more detailed account was given. The two younger children involved were identified as a 7-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. The address was given as 292 Burgess St. and a close friend of McLay's believes that they were targeted because they lived in the nicest house on the block, built two years ago. Also the boyfriend was idetified as Otahl "Telly" Osei Saunders and has a criminal record dating back to 1997.

March 18, 2007

"Behind parad cheer, St. Paul Fire Department rift simmers" by Howie Padilla and Myron P. Medcalf, Star Tribune

The tensions between the St. Paul firefighter union leaders and Chief Doug Holton were not apparent at the St. Patrick Day's parade as they all participated. Just hours earlier, Holton was announced as one of the candidates for leading the Milwaukee Fire Department. It's clear that the St. Paul Fire Department is unhappy with Holton's performance; as shown in the "no trust and no confidence" vote of 366-6 taken earlier this month. It has been difficult for both sides to negotiate.

The challenge in this story is presenting both sides evenly. The Star Tribune gave equal length, in terms of word count, to both sides and their arguments.

Mara H. Gottfried wrote on the topic for the Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press focused more on Holton's position as a finalist for the Milwaukee Fire Department and the tension with the St. Paul Fire Department.

"A scary morning in Lake City, then the all-clear to go home" by Jim Adams, Star Tribune

Around 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, more than 100 Lake City, Minn. residents were greeted by police asking them to leave their homes and go to a Red Cross Shelter. A train car leaking anhydrous ammonia, which can be deadly when inhanled, was driving on hwy. 61 when the leak was discovered. Luckily, no one was harmed.

The challenge in this story is finding enough material to fill the story. I found the article to be long and repetitive.

The Pioneer Press ran an article on the same story. This article compiled the facts and was not repetitive. The only different I found between the two articles is that it waswritten in the Pioneer Press that the car was engulfed in flames. They were vague, but did leave the reader thinking the train car was on fire.

March 3, 2007

"Despite protest, play mocking pope opens at U" by Graydon Royce, Star Tribune

The controversial play, "The Pope and the Witch," opened Friday night at Rarig Center after it's Thursday opening was canceled due to the snow. About 70 representatives from the St. John Vianney College Seminary stood outside the center singing hymns and reciting the rosary and Lord's Prayer while 250 marched past them to see the play. Some scences in the play include the fictionary pope injecting himself with heroin and has him advocating the legalization of drugs, yet wanted to take away birth control.

The challenge in this story is being sensitive to all parties involved. It is important to cover both sides, paying close attention to the side who has taken offense to the play.

Paul Tosto wrote about the controversial play for the Pioneer Press. Tosto wrote a more argumentative story highlighting the stronger views of those who oppose the play. Blasphemous, anti-Catholic, sacrilege, and vile are just some of the terms used by those who oppose the play. Tosto also highlights the online squabble over the play that has been taking place in blogs and forums.

"Teen arrested in high-profile rape case" by Howie Padilla, Star Tribune

Joshua L. Smith, 16, has been arrested in Wisconsin on two counts of sexual assualt according to authorities. Smith voluntarily gave a sample of his own DNA to authorites after being accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in his basement in September. The DNA was not only a match in this case, but also in a rape case occuring on Jan. 1 involving a 57-year-old woman on the East Side of St. Paul. In this case, the attacker assaulted the 57-year-old woman and left her unconscious after he raped her. Smith is being held in Racine, Wis. on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct until he is extradited.

The challenge in this story is being sensitive to the victims. Most reporters find it morally and ethically wrong to divulge a victims name in a rape case.

Mara H. Gottfried of the Pioneer Press wrote a similar article about the story. Gottfried's facts matched those of Padilla's, however, Gottfried found a more newsworthy fact to angle her story around. Apparently, the reason why a September rape case is just now pressing charges, is because the backlog at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's St. Paul crime lab prevented authorities from pressing charges earlier. If Smith's DNA had been tested and matched earlier, authories could have pressed charges sooner and therefore prevented the Jan 1. rape.

February 25, 2007

"Alert turns up no brake problems on Twin Cities' school buses" by Paul Levy, Star Tribune

The Minnesota State Patrol issued an alert to school districts Friday asking them to not use any buses that have undergone a specific brake-system change. First Student supplies more than 1,000 buses to Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts. The cause of the inspection comes after a school bus crash in Ham Lake on Dec. 8 that had modifications to the buses brakes.

The challenge in this story is not scaring the parents of students who may be riding one of the buses called for inspection. It is important to report the news in full, however, scaring readers is not one of the reporters duties. There are ways of presenting the information without concerning readers.

Dave Orrick of the Pioneer Press also wrote about the brake problem. Orrick reports that the part under investigation is the Hydro-Max booster, made by Bosch, which makes the brake pedal easier to push. Orrick went into more detail about the Ham Lake crash detailing that 18 McKinely Elementary School students were hospitalized while Tammy Weber, 38, was critically injured and remains in a coma.

"Case closed on cigarette 'impact fee' -- it stays" by Patricia Lopez, Star Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal made by the tobacco industry to take away the 75-cent-per-pack fee on cigarettes. The fee, which the tobacco industry says is unconstitutional because of the agreement signed with Minnesota in 1998 is here to stay. The fee will provide nearly $223 million this year and also leaves Gov. Tim Pawlenty sitting pretty because he now does not have a large hole in his health care budget. Some are just happy about keeping the price high on cigarettes. Aaron Doeppers, director of the Midwest region for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids believes keeping the price high is the only way to reduce smokers in Minnesota.

The challenge for this story would be not to offend either side. The article sounded bias against the tobacco industry, which a reporter must keep in mind not everyone is.

The Pioneer Press wrote an article about the same story. Most of the same issues were covered, however, the Pioneer Press did not go as in depth. Instead, they focused more on the 1998 agreement Minnesota and the tobacoo industry had. In the agreement, the tobacco industry pays Minnesota $2 billion for health care issues caused by tobacco.

February 18, 2007

"Billianaire has healthy goal for his wealth" by Maura Lerner, Star Tribune

T. Denny Sanford donated $400 million to a South Dakota medical organization, Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health, which promtly changed its name to Sanford Health. A native of St. Paul, Sanford offered the University of Minnesota $35 million to build a new football stadium in 2003 and the U of M turned Sanford down after reading the fine print which included he would only pay after the construction was complete and if the stadium was to his liking. Sanford's more recent charitable donation of $400 milllion is considered one of the largest in history.

This story needs to have more than just who Sanford is donating to. There needs to be some substance behind why he is doing this and exactly who he is aiming to donate to.

Cara Hetland reported on the story for Minnesota Public Radio and compiled a much less detailed story. Hetland differed from the Star Tribune in that she said that the $400 million given to the health organization will be given $50 million over the next eight years. Both the articles name some of the many other donations Sanford has given in the past.

"Head-on crashes kill three people on 3 highways" by Bill McAuliffe, Star Tribune

The three head-on crashes happened last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on hwy. 52, I-35W, and hwy. 61. The three head-on collisions are "definitely a little out of the normal, " Kent Barnard, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation said. All three crashes were caused because a car crossed the median. MnDOT said the causes of the crashes were because of inattentive driving, speeding, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To prevent more cross-median crashes, MnDOT has been putting up cable-like barriers to prevent crashes where they have happened frequently.

A challenging part of writing this article was reporting the names and places of each accident correctly. Three different accidents will very specific details to each leaves little room for mistakes.

Dave Orrick of the Pioneer Press, wrote a brief about the crashes. The most obvious difference between the two articles is that the Star Tribune found the story to be worthy of a 7-paragraph story, while the Pioneer Press mearly reported it as a brief. Orrick only reported on the crash that occured on Saturday and that it involved alcohol. Perhaps the Pioneer Press would have created a larger article if they have the information that the Star Tribune had.

February 11, 2007

"Mercury leak closes New Brighton school,"by Tom Ford, Star Tribune

Summary:
Classes were canceled at St. John the Baptist School due to a mercury leak. Mercury was said to have leaked in at least one science room, the hall, and the cafeteria. Students on the buses ready to go home were asked to return to the school and in some cases leave their shoe's and backpack's for mercury testing. Other students were asked to bring their clothes back to the school for testing. Short-term exposure to mercury rarely causes problems, however, if the mercury was a students shoe and was then transfered to their carpet at home, the exposure time is prolonged raising the risk of complications.
Challenge:
The challenge for this story would be not alarming parents. Causing panic among parents of the students at the school would not help, but it was vital to report in the case that someone in the school was not contacted about the spill and could have contaiminated clothes or objects.
Comparison:
Mary Bauer of the Pioneer Press also reported on the story. I found Bauer's story to be much more alarming. She talks about hazardous-waste removal firms cleaning the building, the large number of students required to surrender their shoes and backpacks, and she talks about the danger of airborne mercury, which that Star Tribune article fails to mention.
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/living/education/16647949.htm

"Snowfall, crashes, traffic snarls provoke some snarling at Capital," by Laurie Blake and Mark Brunswick, Star Tribune

Summary:
On the morning of February 7, nearly 300 hundred accidents occured between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Although no one was killed, the abundance of serious injuries had some legislators looking at MnDOT as to why this wasn't under more control.
Challenge:
The challenge in this story was getting a response from MnDOT as to why this occured. The most that was said about MnDOT was that the incidents could have been prevented if MnDOT was not underfunded. MnDOT spokeswoman then refutes the claim and says it was not due to underfunding and does not give another explaination.
Comparison:
John Brewer of the Pioneer Press wrote about the rush-hour disaster also. The main difference between the two stories is that Brewer's says most of the injuries were not serious and his story focused on the lengthy time delays rather than why MnDOT was or was not doing their job.
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/16638500.htm

January 28, 2007

"Ramsey County opens jail to detainees" by Heron Marquez Estrada, Star Tribune

Summary:
The Ramsey County Board decided to hold federal immigrant detainees in the jail. The board was debating over legality and morality issues of holding immigration prisoners from the U.S. Immigrantion and Customs Enforcement agency. Commisioner Jim McDonough concluded that it was their job to uphold the law and take in any prisioners given to them.
Challenge:
The challenge of this story was accurately reporting the legal issues stated.
Comparison:
Tim Nelson of the Pioneer Press reported on the same story. The two stories follow the same line of events faily similarly, however, the Star Tribune reports that the decision to accept immigrant detainees was decided by a vote of 4-3 by the Ramsey County Board while the Pioneer Press stated that there was no real vote concluding the decision.
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/16538182.htm
Lede: The lede in this story is misleading because it makes no reference to immigrant detainees which is the main subject of the story.

"Minneapolis schools face more budget cuts" by Steve Brandt, Star Tribune

Summary:
Minneapolis schools are seeing budget cuts because of a decline in student enrollment. The school district is now contemplating ways to boost education to lure families back to Minneapolis schools. Minneapolis has since fallen to third largest school district in Minneasota behind Anoka-Hennepin and St. Paul.
Challenge:
This story required a lot of statistics. These statistics required a lot of time consuming research to publish accurate reports. Also condensing the facts into a logical order for the reader to follow was a challenge.
Comparison:
Megan Boldt of the Pioneer Press ran a similar story, however, it focused on metro budget cuts instead of just Minneapolis. The article highlights that even though Gov. Tim Pawlenty's generous proposal gives the districts more money than usual, it still will not be enough to prevent the districts from making budget cuts. It then says that Minneapolis will be hit the hardest with losing $16 million.
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/16548151.htm
Lede: I noticed that the lede presented a problem and a solution to the problem.