April 2011 Archives

Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

I found a story about the White House visitor logs from www.nicar.org--the EXTRA! EXTRA! link.

The reporter used statistical computer skills to do this reporting because they needed to look at the White House visitor records requests and figure out in what way the visitor logs are incomplete or if they look incomplete in any way contrary to what the Obama administration says about them.

These are necessary computer skills for the story because it is a lot of data from a pretty long time period and would be extremely difficult to go through without the help of a computer.

The story also has a live data feed from whitehouse.gov, and that extra feature is another computer skill that the reporters had to have been aware of to produce this story.

Here is the link to the story: White House visitor logs riddled with holes

Pakistan Supreme Court frees 5 accused of gang rape

The Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday freed five men accused of gang-raping Mukhtar Mai, the woman who emerged as a symbol of the opressed Pakistan women, on the orders of a village council, reported the New York Times.

The Supreme Court, led by Justice Shakirullah Jan, came to the judgment on the account of perceived flaws in Mai's account of the rape and other discrepancies in statements, which she said during initial investigations, reported the New York Times.

According to the Los Angeles Times, because of the severe social stigma associated with rape in Pakistan, many victims commit suicide or do not even file complaints about incidents.

Mai has won international recognition for going public with her case, which in turn helped to illuminate the discrepancy in the conservative Muslim nation of how disturbingly low conviction rates are with cases of rape and domestic violence, reported the Los Angeles Times.

University of Minnesota student, Benjamin Van Handel, who had been in a coma since Friday morning from a hit-and-run incident last week, died Thursday afternoon, reported the Minnesota Daily.

According to the Minnesota Daily, Van Handel was one of three students hospitalized, after a car going the wrong way down Fifth Street Southeast hit two groups of pedestrians.

According to a statement from a spokeswoman for Hennepin County Medical Center, Van Handel passed away with his family and friends by his side, reported the Star Tribune.

Van Handel suffered a servere brain injury and broken bones, while the others who were also struck had only minor injuries, reported the Star Tribune.

Teen suicides stir two families to action

Two distraught families gathered Thursday in search of the strength to speak out, after the families' 14-year-old southwestern Minnesota girls jointly committed suicide on Saturday, reported the Star Tribune.

The Marshall-area eighth grader Paige Moravetz and her best friend Haylee Fentress took their lives together, and Tricia Behnke and Joel Deruyck, the mother and stepfather of Paige Moravetz, searched for the signals that they missed along the way, according to the Star Tribune.

According to the Marshall Independent, the superintendent of the Marshall School District, Klint Willert, gave a public statement on Monday, in response to the deaths, and said that it was important that the community be allowed to grieve.

Willert said school administrators and staff have communicated with the girls' families in order to respect their wishes and privacy, reported the Marshall Independent.

The renowned Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei's detainment on April 3 at the Beijing International Airport while passing through immigration to board a Hong Kong flight, still has no clear answers as to the reason why it happened, reported the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Los Angeles Times the artist has no doubtedly ruffled the feathers of the Chinese authorities, but authorities in light of his detainment have failed to notify his family of his wherabouts or disclose the charges against him, even though there is a law that they must do so within 24 hours.

The New York Times reported that throughout his 30-year career, he has become an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, and has sent his most powerful messages through risky rebukes from within the country itself.

Five accused of luring Florida teen to gruesome death

Fifteen-year-old Amber Wright and Seath Jackson, also 15, at the beginning of March were in what looked like a young normal relationship. After breaking up weeks after Jackson posted on Facebook his love for Wright, Wright, along with four other people, has been accused of leading Jackson to a planned gruesome death, reported the Los Angeles Times.

According to Marion County Sheriff's Office detectives, Wright, her 16-year-old brother Kyle Hooper, and three other older friends devised a deadly plan in which Jackson was beaten, shot several times, and then burned to ashes, reported the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Gainesville Sun, there was a series of facebook posts indicating growing tension between Wright and one-time boyfriend Jackson.

One of the suspects, 18-year-old Charlie Kay Ely, told a reporter that the group went after Seath for hitting Amber, but that has still not been confirmed, reported the Gainesville Sun.

Southern Tornado outbreak among largest in U.S. History

A vicious storm system created a reported 241 tornadoes since Thursday, with more than 60 tornadoes touching down in eastern North Carolina, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a minimum of 22 people were killed all across the state of North Carolina late Saturday, with another five people killed in Virginia. In addition there was havoc wrecked earlier from the storms in Arkansas, Alabama, Virginia, and Mississippi, all together leaving another 17 people dead, reported the LA Times.

According to officials, the damage caused by the tornadoes in North Carolina is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars, reported the New York Times.

The New York Times reported that the storm system brought with it flash floods and tornadoes and thunderstorms accompanied by giant balls of hail, which left hundreds injured and many dead throughout the southern states.

Wild drama party gets Hastings musical canceled

HASTINGS, Minn.-- Hastings High school's spring musical has been canceled, after a drama club party got out of control, reported WQOW News.

The school district would not say exactly what happened at the drama club party that took place in late March, but according to the Pioneer Press, there was no alcohol or drugs involved, and there was no bullying or hazing, according to school officials.

According to Superintendent Tim Collins, around three dozen students attended the party on a Saturday night held at a drama club member's house. There was no school staff supervision present at the gathering, reported WQOW News.

The Pioneer Press reported that the party was a celebration after one-act play performances and a welcome for new club members. The Monday following the get-together students approached administrators about the happenings, which apparently had gotten out of control in some way.

St. Paul man killed after breaking up bar fight

A St. Paul man was shot and killed Wednesday morning on the city's North End for breaking up a bar fight between other patrons, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Pioneer Press, four men total were arrested for 26-year-old Trevell Glass's death and a 28-year-old man was also injured in the North end shooting.

Thirty-one-year-old Byron Brantley is accused of shooting Glass, after Glass and a friend stepped in to try and break up a fight between Brantley and other bar patrons at Born's Bar, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, Brantley was charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder on Thursday in Ramsey County District Court.


According to the Star Tribune, A Yale University student about to graduate, was killed inside a university chemistry lab when her hair was pulled into a rotating lathe, a type of lab machine, school officials said Wednesday.

The Star Tribune reported that senior physics and astronomy major Michele Dufault, died Tuesday night while working on her senior thesis. Her body was found by other students in the lab, university President Richard Levin said.

The Connecticut medical examiner's office said that Dufault died from accidental asphyxia by neck compression, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the New York Times, students and Yale staff members were devastated by Dufault's death on Wednesday, and in a letter to students Linda Koch Lorimer, a Yale vice president, called her death a "terrible accident", also stating that couselors would be open for grieving students.

Aftershocks in Japan are leading to "phantom quakes"

With all the aftershocks that have been hitting Japan, Doctors in Tokyo are saying that they have been seeing many people experiencing phantom quakes, where they think that things are shaking but in reality are not, reported the New York Times.

Tokyo and the region northeast of the city, have been getting continuous aftershocks ever since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit over a month ago, that was accompanied by a horrific tsunami. According to the New York Times two earthquakes were felt in Tokyo on Wednesday, three on Tuesday, and a large one on Monday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 36 temporary homes were built in Rikuzentakata Japan on the playground of a junior high, to serve as part of a public-private disaster relief effort for the survivors from the northeastern region communities .

The temporary homes are the first newly constructed units in that region ever since the March 11 disaster, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Analysis: Cultural group story

Voodoo, an anchor, rises again

I found a news story from the New York Times website about voodoo focusing on Haitian-Americans, who have the biggest concentration in New York, and how people respond to the religion v. what the religion does for the followers.

I think that the reporter definitely moves beyond the stereotype of the voodoo religion in the way that he explains how voodoo has empowered many Haitian-Americans, especially after the devastating earthquake that shook Haiti and destroyed a lot of the country.

The description at the beginning of the story about the voodoo wedding, the quotes from Jack Laroche and the voodoo scholar Dowoti Desir, and the previous data about the crime that happened in New York in connection to a voodoo ceremony definitely move the story to something very substantive.

This is an analysis for a public blog, analyzing a story that was written by a male reporter from the New York Times.

Santa Monica synagogue explosion caused by unusual device

According to authorities, the explosion near a synagogue in Santa Monica California on Thursday was most likely deliberately planned out, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Authorities went back on forth on pinpointing the reason for the explosion, mostly because of the confusion around the device that caused the explosion: an explosive device situated under pounds of concrete put into a trash bin, reported the LA Times.

According to the New York Times, officials were looking on Saturday for a man thought to be responsible for the explosion. Rob Hirsch, 60, has been linked by investigators to the homemade explosive device that was found.

Hirsch is known to frequent synagogues and Jewish community centers in the nearby area, seeking charity, reported the New York Times.

According to the Star Tribune, the number of sexually transmitted diseases in Minnesota rose to a record level in 2010, with new syphilis infections almost doubling and chlamydia cases at an all-time high.

According to the Star Tribune, state health officials could not exactly explain the cause for why the number of sexually transmitted disease cases went up so much, an estimated 5 percent since 2009.

According to the Pioneer Press, the report showed an increase in the number of chlamydia cases, which especially alarms health officials because that disease, if not treated, shows little symptoms and can lead to infertility.

Additionally, the report showed that syphilis jumped to a 30-year high of 347 cases, which also leaves health officials worried and uncertain, reported the Pioneer Press.

A St. Paul man charged with stealing more than 20 mounted animal heads, along with tools and equipment from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was sentenced Thursday, reported the Pioneer Press.

Timothy Heidenreich, 39, could potentially serve 21 months in prison if he violates any terms of his five-year probation, which was ordered by County District Judge Rosanne Nathanson, according to the Pioneer Press.

Nathanson also ordered Heidenreich to pay $8,204.74 in restitution to the DNR, which could be split up between the other two defendants involved in the case, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, the St. Paul police connected Heidenreich to the criminal complaints from the DNR's metro storage facility, after he was seen stealing a tomato from the Washington County Courthouse cafeteria.

Japan coast rattled by 7.1 magnitude earthquake

A strong 7.1 magnitude aftershock and as issued tsunami warning rattled Japan Thursday night, almost a month after the horrific earthquake and tsunami that left huge amounts of destruction along the northeastern coast, reported the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Los Angeles Times, officials said that this aftershock was a 7.4 magnitude that hit 25 miles under the water, but after analyzed by a seismologist was downgraded to a 7.1 magnitude by the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or impending damage, and the operator at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant said that there was no indication that the aftershock caused any new problems, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, Japan's nuclear safety agency said that power plants serving the northeastern coast were in order after the backup generators kicked in.

Federal officials outlined preparatory government shutdown plans Wednesday, in the event that last-resort budget cuts are not reached by the midnight deadline on Friday, reported the Los Angeles Times.

A government shut down would lead to freezing the processing of paper income tax returns, suspending pay for the military and furloughing around 800,000 civilian federal employees, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the New York Times, the federal agencies rely on spending authority given out by Congress, which expires for most agencies on Friday.

But, even with the possibility of a shutdown, federal employees will be able to continue work needed to safeguard human life, to protect different federal properties or to at least shut down the government in an orderly fashion, reported the New York Times.

Analysis: number use

Number use story

I found a news story from the Los Angeles Times website that reports on multiple studies in connection to a new heart valve replacement procedure. The reporter used the number of how many Americans develop aortic valve stenosis each year. Then the percentage of how many people are effected over the age of 65, and reported that in a trial of one of the studies, that the median age of the patients was 83.

The numbers are not in anyway overwhelming because the reporter really chose the numbers carefully and used them effectively to tell the story. The reporter did use some math to tell the story and paraphrased some results, for example "Strokes and minor strokes were about twice as common in the minimally invasive group, and vascular complications such as bleeding or need for repair were about three times as common." That is much more concise and reader-friendly compared to if the reporter used every figure for every result.

The sources of the numbers come from multiple studies, all of which were funded by Edwards Lifesciences.

The brutal struggle for control between forces in support of the Ivory Coast's rival presidents took a horrific turn, as the Red Cross reported that a massacre of up to 1,000 civilians took place in a western town, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The killings in Duekoue reportedly happened over the course of three days last week, when forces supporting the presidential candidate, Alassane Ouattara, took control of Duekoue, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon has ordered that Ouattara take action against the followers who were involved in the massacre, a UN spokesperson said Sunday.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported, that Ouattara said he had ordered an investigation and would welcome an international inquiry into the matter.

Lawmakers set to unveil Vikings stadium bill next week

The Vikings stadium bill, which is backed by two leading GOP lawmakers, got a lukewarm response from legislative leaders of both parties on Friday, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, the bill, which is set to be presented next week, and any discussion of public subsidies for a new stadium will have to take a back seat to the continuing debate over the state's budget.

The Republican lawmakers in a letter to the Vikings, said that to other lawmakers the bill is secondary to the state budget debate, but still very relevant with the Vikings' Metrodome lease soon ending and the collapsed roof, reported the Pioneer Press.

According to the bill summary, a new stadium authority would pick a Twin Cities site and own and run the new stadium, reported the Pioneer Press.

City of Mpls. to tend to pothole problem

Almost $1 million was additionally put aside on Friday to speed up pothole repairs, which is very much needed on many Minneapolis streets, according to the Star Tribune.

Workers should be patching the streets up as soon as Tuesday, thanks to the approval of extra money by the City Council, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Minnesota Daily, Mark Bridden, a co-owner of Como Imports, said that they have seen an increase in the number of cars needing service from pothole-related repairs.

Bridden said the worst incident he has seen this year was during the last week of February, when a University of Minnesota student hit a pothole so hard that both tires on the right side of her car blew out, also bending the right-side wheels, reported the Minnesota Daily.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2011 is the previous archive.

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