August 12, 2007

Young women break glass ceiling

An analysis of 2005 census data shows that, for the first time, the wage gap no longer holds true for women working full time in a few of the nation's largest cities, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. One of these elite areas is the Twin Cities. In Minneapolis, a woman in her 20's and working full time earns, on average, 19 percent more than her male counterparts. This equates to women making $31,000 on average and men making $26,000. The biggest leap was found in Dallas, where women are making 120 percent more than men. New York City, Boston and Chicago were other urban areas where women have seen a large leap in closing the income gap. For example, in New York City in the 1970's, women earned an average of $7,000 less each year than men did. In 2005, women earned $5,000 more than men. Researchers said that the findings are not all that surprising since women are graduating from high school and college in larger numbers than men. However, researchers caution that women with college degrees still make less than men with college degrees.

Lutherans to keep gay clergy in ministry

The nation's largest Lutheran denomination urged its bishops to refrain from disciplining gay ministers who are in committed relationships at a meeting of the church's leaders Saturday in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported. The resolution, which came from Chicago's bishop, was surprising to some because it came just a day after the same group defeated a measure that would have ended a ban on non-celibate gay clergy. The agreement, which passes 538-431, stems from a case involving an Atlanta pastor who told his bishop that he was in a relationship with another man and was subsequently dismissed from the clergy. Although the new measure would not reinstate him, the pastor said he was happy it passed because it prevented others from going through what he went through.

Two reporters killed in Somalia

Two prominent Somalian radio journalists were killed Saturday in Mogadishu, the Los Angeles Times reported. The attacks were separate but related, according to authorities, and add to doubts about the future of freedom of the press in the turbulant Horn of Africa country. The first attack came in the morning, when popular talk show host Mahad Ahmed Elmi was shot in the head three times while on his way to work by masked gunmen. Later in the day, a roadside bomb disrupted Elmi's funeral procession, killing the channel's co-owner, Ali Iman Sharmarke. The radio channel, which is privately owned, was critical of both the transitional government currently in control of Somalia and the insurgents who have continued to fight in the country's civil war, which started 16 years ago. At least four other journalists have been killed in Somalia this year.

Willmar classroom to use balls instead of chairs

A Willmar, Minn. kindergarten classroom will use stability balls instead of chairs this fall, the Pioneer Press reported. The overhaul in classroom seating options is part of the SMART (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training) Program, which incorporates physical activity into learning and brain development. Sixty-five teachers from Willmar's school district received training this month on implementing the program into their classrooms. Kindergarten teacher Chelsea Brown, who's mother is the trainer for the SMART curriculum, discovered last year that the stability balls helped keep the more active students in their seats and focused on their work.

August 7, 2007

Corrections

I don't have an article to link for this blog but I thought that this correction posted on the Star Tribune's website (http://www.startribune.com/corrections/story/1347638.html) Monday was interesting. The correction states that a graphic that ran in Sunday's paper inaccurately listed two bridges on Highway 52 as being among Minnesota's worst bridges. Both of those bridges have been replaced since the data was collected in 2001. I think that this is a good example of how and why many errors make it into the newspaper. In the wake of a huge news even such as the I35-W bridge collapse, it is easy to cut corners to get the story out quickly. The public's demand for knowledge pushes reporters to work fast and get out all the information they can. Many times, especially in a chaotic situation like the bridge collapse, facts are not double checked. Sometimes, the reporter is not to blame for this because they were given information that was thought to be correct at the time. However, this correction is an example of the more likely scenario, when the reporter is to blame for the situation. Since the data used for the graphic was six years old, it should have been double checked to make sure that the accuracy of the information was still strong.

August 5, 2007

Man killed in fight

A man was killed in an early Sunday morning brawl off Hennepin Avenue, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The homicide was the first in the downtown district since March 2006, when a 31-year-old man was shot outside Block E. The killing was also the third homicide in Minneapolis in a 52-hour period. Previously, there had not been a homicide in Minneapolis in a month. By Sunday evening, police had arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the killing, which authorities said stemmed from an altercation over women. The killing is the 29th homicide in Minneapolis in 2007.

Army offers bonus to ship out fast

Struggling to fill slumping recruitment numbers and pump up its ranks in the Middle East, the Army is trying a new incentive, the Pioneer Press (http://www.twincities.com/national/ci_6552115) reported Saturday. The P.Press, which picked up the story from the Chicago Tribune, reported that the Army is now offering new and returning recruites a 20,000 dollar bonus upon sign up for their "Quick Ship" program. Recruits are guaranteed the bonus if they promise to ship out to basic training in less than a month. Part of the inspiration for the program stems from the Army's difficulties meeting its recruitment goal of 80,000 new recruits by the end of the federal fiscal year in September. Under the "Quick Ship" program, a new recruit can be in a combat situation in as little as three months, depending on how much specialized training is required for the soldier's job.

Mexican mother fights deportation

This story from the Chicago Tribune is about a Mexican woman who is fighting deportation by claiming sanctuary inside a Chicago church. I chose the article because it exhibits an alternative structure for a story. This article is a very long profile piece, which gives the author more room to stray from the traditional inverted pyramid format for a news article. However, the author does a great job of working a strong narrative voice into the piece. The article opens much like a book, setting up a particular scene instead of jumping to the point of the story like the inverted pyramid teaches. The author then goes into telling why this scene is important and why this woman is important enough to have a story about her. The author continues the piece by going into the controversy surrounding her tactics for resisting deportation and further into her personal history. I also like how the reporter chooses to highlight the history of some of the key figures that are helping the woman in the story. Although this is a profile, giving the reporter more liberty and time to break the traditional structure for a news article, I still think it is a good example of techniques to use to liven up a story.

August 4, 2007

Train derails in Congo

A train that derailed in a rural area of Congo has killed at least 68 people, the Washington Post reported Friday. This vast central African country struggled to respond adequately to the disater because of poor road quality, lask of resque equipment and subpar hospitals. Hundreds of people were on top of the train or hanging onto its sides because of the utter lack of mass transit options. A mechanical error is being blamed as the error that caused all eight cars to jump off the track Wednesday. The death toll is likely to rise because many people are still trapped in or under the train and many more have life-threatening injuries. The nearest hospital, which was eight miles away, has only 22 beds.

Roseville official interfered in cop stop

A Roseville, Minn., city official interfered in a traffic stop by an officer in the city, the Roseville city attourney said this week. The Pioneer Press (http://www.twincities.com/north/ci_6538570) reported Friday that Janet Delmore, head of the suburb's Human Rights Commission, is under fire from city police and the city attorney for allegedly ignoring an officer's command for her to step away from a traffic stop. Police officer Brady Martin stopped a car July 25 for illegal window tint. The man, Andres Garza, 18, was involved in an incident five years ago with the same officer when Martin accused Garza of stealing a bike. It turns out that the bike belonged to Garza and Martin came under fire for the incident from Delmore. Delmore and Garza accused the police officer of racial profiling in both cases. Roseville's City Attorney has found probable cause that Delmore disobeyed police orders in the July 25 incident and said that city police could charge her with a misdemenor count of disobeying police orders. Delmore said she will bring the racial profiling allegations up to the city's peace officers board, regardless of charges filed against her.

July 29, 2007

Second worker swept away in storm found

The second and final sewer worker missing after a heavy rainstorm Thursday was found, the Pioneer Press reported Sunday. The body of Joe Harlow, 34, was recovered from the Mississippi River Saturday about 15 yards from where the body of his coworker, Dave Yasis, 23, had been found the previous day. The two were swept away Thursday while working in the sewer system below St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood. Six other workers made it to safety as a strong afternoon storm dumped nearly a half inch of water in the area in less than half an hour. It is still unclear why Harlow and Yasis did not make it out of the sewers in time.

Vice President Cheney ok after surgery

Vice President Dick Cheney was in good condition Saturday after having his defibrillator replaced, the Washington Post reported Sunday. Doctors at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., replaced the device that monitors Cheney's heartbeat. The device, commonly used in the United States, sends an electronic surge through the heart when it detects an irregular heartbeat, setting it normal again. Doctors did not have to replace any of the wiring connected to the device, which is woven through Cheney's heart and therefore would have been a more extensive and serious surgery. Cheney smiled and waved when he left the hospital, about four hours after his arrival. He is expected to resume regular activity and duties immediately.

Iraq wins Asian Cup

The Iraqi national soccer team won their first ever Asian Cup championship Sunday, the New York Times reported. Celebrants poured into the streets around the country and defied authority orders by firing celebratory gun shots. Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the championship match, becoming the ultimate Cinderella story. Saudi Arabia has won the Asian Cup three times, as opposed to the Iraqi team, which had never even made it to the final match before Sunday's victory. At least four people died in the celebrations that broke out around the country after the match ended.

Chinese sculptor causes uproar

The choice of using a Chinese sculptor to create a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., is starting to cause an increasingly loud uproar among American critics, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The Chinese national, Lei Yixin, was chosen over an African-American man, Ed Dwight. Dwight said he was told by the committee in charge of the sculpture that they were going to choose Lei in hopes that China would then contribute millions of dollars to the committee's fundraising efftorts. The statue will stand along Washington, D.C.'s Tidal Basin.

I chose to do this story because it is a good example of the local paper striving to diversify its content. Instead of just leaving diversity for pieces on festivals and ethnic holidays, or (worse) crime reports and immigration laws, the Star Tribune picked up this story from the LA Times that went beyond the news. This story could have stopped after the first section, which explains the current controversy and a little bit about the statue. However, this piece goes further in the next section by focusing in on the sculptor himself. The author tells about Lei's hometown, his upbringing in the communist country and his rebellion against it. The author also chooses to reflect who Lei is today (confident, serene, slightly cocky but understanding, humorous) and his current lifestyle as a "master" artist in China. The third section does a great job of connecting the first two sections in more detail. It is kind of like, this is the news, this is the background, this is how the two fit together. The author does a great job of showing Lei as a human being, with likes and dislikes, fear and confidence, weaknesses and strengths. I think the article goes so far beyond the news and into the person behind it for two reasons. One, the LA Times is in California, one of the most densely Asian-American populated states. They needed to go beyond the news because their audience insists upon it. Closely related is the second reason the author pushed beyond the headline. If the article would have cut off after the first section, it would have seemed anti-Chinese and therefore, not fair. The first section doesn't let Lei speak or the committee who chose him explain their choice, so the first part is slanted towards the critics. By letting Lei show his world and why he thinks he was the right choice, the author achieves diversity, fairness and balance in this piece.

July 28, 2007

Remains of missing Stillwater man found

The remains of Jon Francis, 24, of Stillwater, Minn., were positively identified Tuesday, ending more than a year of searching for the young man who went missing while climbing a mountain in Idaho, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. Francis, who's parents also live in Stillwater, never returned to a church camp where he was a youth leader last summer after going on a hike by himself in the Sawtooth Mountains. A guest log at the top of Grand Mogul mountain showed that Francis had reached the summit. His body was found on the north side of the mountain, which is the most trecherous face to climb. Authorities are still looking for his backpack and camera, at the family's request, because the family wants to see the last pictures their son took before his death.