1. Using the STRIB or PIONEER PRESS,
choose a story from the front page of today's newspaper (print edition) (tell
me the paper and date you
used). Then, using the Fisher Grid from the reading in chapter 4,
identify the dimensions of the story and which elements will work best
for online presentation of the story. Don't create a table to complete
this exercise. Finally, close your eyes. What did you see? Smell? Hear? Why did they do this story?
The Star Tribune had an story (March 12) about the federal court strike-down of a new bridge near Stillwater.
Top 4-5 points of the story:
1. Plans to build a new bridge over the St. Croix near Stillwater was blocked by a federal judge Thursday because it allegedly violated the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. (Txt)
2. It is unclear what will happen next in the court process, however, it is suspected that the National Park Service may appeal the ruling. (Txt)
3. The bridge that currently stands is heavily used, causing car back-ups--sometimes for miles--in the community of Stillwater during rush hour. This has prompted environmental concerns over pollution caused by idling cars. (Vid or Pix)
4. Washington County, the Sierra Club and other groups and interests have been fighting over the replacement of the old Stillwater lift bridge for 40 years. (Gfx--perhaps a timeline)
5. At $668 million, the new bridge would have gone from Oak Park Heights, south of Stillwater, to Wisconsin highways near the Stillwater lift bridge. (Gfx--map)
Key interview sources:
-Gary Kriesel, a Washington County commissioner (Vid)
-Jim Rickard, Sierra Club Spokesman (Txt)
-Todd Clarkowski, MnDOT engineer (Vid)
Key data points:
-As many as 16,000 cars cross the Stillwater lift bridge daily.
-Construction on the proposed bridge was scheduled for 2013.
-The bridge construction could have employed 2,800 people.
-From a proposed cost of $668 million, the cost of the bridge increases by $2 million each month construction is delayed past 2013, according to MnDOT.
I went to high school in Stillwater, so it's easy for me to put myself into this story. It brings to sight, sound, smell and mind the river town on a summer night--which means high tourism, malts on main street, chatter and a LONG line of cars with angry drivers waiting to cross the bridge to Wisconsin. The story focuses more on the data than on a characterization of Stillwater. For that reason, I think the piece would benefit from a 75-second video sketch that characterizes Stillwater and assesses sides of the bridge issue.
As for the Star Tribune's reasoning behind the story, the line-ups are a fact of life in Stillwater. They have a huge impact on daily life in the community and I don't think a lot of people--myself included--go beyond the visible problem to understand the tug-of-war between the federal courts, the environmentalists and the county. It's been going on for so long that everyone seems to ignore it, but there's still a lot at stake. There are opposing sides to the issue, and each creates its own set of problems: If the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act's blocks the construction of the bridge, it exacerbates Stillwater's problem with long lines of idling cars--environmental and economic concerns that potentially hurt tourism. The outcome of the bridge story has an impact on the Star Tribune's primary audience as well because the St. Croix feeds into the Mississippi. St. Croix river towns' stewardship of the river therefore has a larger environmental and community impact. That's why it's an important story.