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March 29, 2007

Muslims in Minnesota

Minnesota is home to an estimated 150,000 Muslims. Minnesota elected a Muslim congressman this past year. The number of Muslims filing federal complaints about being targeted at work because of their faith has climbed in the past year. The U.S is engaged in war with a Muslim country. Muslims and the issues concerning them are central to our society and in the media recently but not a lot is mentioned in a local perspective. I would like to see a profile-type story done on the Muslim experience in Minnesota. But it should not only be from the Somali perspective. There are Pakistani, Bosnian, and converted Muslims for example as well who would all have a different story to tell. Since this is a Christian nation, I would like to address the issues of discrimination in workplaces, housing, and lack of accomodation--time to pray five times a day, for example. But I do vaguely remember hearing something about a housing project that had prayer rooms in the layout of the houses...Also something should be mentioned of the difficulty it is in retaining religious values when not in a Muslim society.
Islamic Cultural Community Center (Dr. Farok Assamarai): 612-782-3883
Muslim American Society of Minnesota (Khalid Elmesry): 651-494-7134
Sami Khawaja (president of Muslim Student Association at U of M): khawa0006@umn.edu

Asbestos in the Iron Range

The Strib did a story on asbesto-linked cancer cases in miners in the Iron Range. The same number (35 cases of cancer) was used twice throughout the story which I thought was repetetive and a bad use of numbers. Also, the numbers used did not make the piece seem very newsworthy: " In a study nearly four years ago, state researchers identified 17 diagnosed cases of mesothelioma in a group of 72,000 people who worked in Minnesota's iron mining industry between the 1930s and 1982." To me this is not very much, especially considering that two studies totaling in over $1 million will be federally funded in order to assess the health risks associated with airborne mineral fragments. A different angle should have been taken in order to make the topic more newsworthy.

March 24, 2007

3 Killings in St. Paul

The Star Tribune did a piece on the recent shooting of two adults and one teen in St. Paul. The use of irony in the lead was very attention-grabbing. It mentioned a quote made by the teen who had written a piece for her highschool paper recently saying that "Nobody is safe" in regards to rapists at large in St. Paul. In the next paragraph it said she was shot dead in her home. The use of quotes, however, was weak. The surviving 10-year-old daughter was quoted too many times and I wouldn't think of a child's account as very credible. They also quoted a friend of the family who said that the surviving children "are traumatized." No kidding. A quote by a City Councilmember also did not sound very reassuring: "We’re just scratching our heads about how this could have happened." Two journalists worked on this piece, you would think two heads would be better than one. Apparently not in this case.

Cricket Coach Dead

"When Cricket Turns to Murder in Sunny Jamaica" (NY Times) reported on the death of Pakistan's cricket coach Bob Woolmer. The clip on the website above the story headline was this:"After a stunning World Cup loss, Pakistan’s coach planned to “sleep on it.? By the next morning, he was dead." This hooked me and I started reading, but in the actual story the author used a burried lead which I didn't think worked well for the piece. It took the author three paragraphs before even mentioning that a body was found on the bathroom floor of a hotel room. In the fourth paragraph he finally mentioned who the victim was. I felt that it took too long to get to the point. Then the author speculated on how the murder may have been linked to gambling within the game. It didn't seem there was enough evidence pointing to this analysis and I think the author overstepped his boundaries as a reporter.

March 23, 2007

Latinos in Minnesota

There is a fast-growing Latino population in the Twin Ciites and they are the primary consumers of ethnic media. Latinos are the only minority group that prefer ethnic media to mainstream media for their information about politics. Only about 5% of Latinos read USA Today/NY Times/Washington Post on a regular basis. Minnesota has various Spanish-language papers (La Prensa, Gente de MN, La Voz Latina, Latino Midwest News) and two radio stations on AM (Radio Rey and La Invasora). The Spanish-language media has a quickly maturing paper and television market and it would be interesting to explore this booming industry and do a piece that would take a look at how it is at work locally. Concerns about competition with other media outlets within and outside of the Spanish language, plans for growth, etc.
Possible Interviews:
Rhoda Fukushima, Professor of Journalism at U of M (651-228-5444)
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Founder of Radio Rey (612-729-3776)
Mario Duarte, Publisher of La Prensa (mario@lcnmedia.com)

March 9, 2007

You Tube in the 2008 Presidential Election

Youtube.com has gained plenty of notoriety in the past elections and is bound to have an even bigger impact on the 2008 presidential election. If Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama run for president, many people not ready for that kind of change will be searching for and posting many incriminating videos on youtube. Politics in the internet age should be explored further. It would be interesting to analyze what may happen in the coming year and if any censorship will be imposed on what is realeased to the masses. A paragraph recapping how YouTube affected political candidates like Michelle Bachman and other Minnesota candidates this past year could be included.
Possible Sources:
Students for Barack Obama- (they have a website with youtube videos and also use Facebook to campaign)
Meredith Segal (Executive Director) info@studentsforbarackobama.com
John Rash- U of M professor and Director of Broadcast Relations for Campbell Mithun (rashx001@umn.edu or 612- 625-7316)
I think informal sources should also be used like blogs talking about the future of Youtube

March 6, 2007

Afghan Ambush

The Washington Post did an article on marines opening fire after an ambush which left eight Afghan civilians dead. In the lead it said that "marines traveling in a convoy were hit by a car bomb and responded by firing in a way that some witnesses called reckless." It fails to mention who the witnesses were and it's not a very valid statement because it is more opinion than fact and should not be in the story. There was a picture with the following caption: "A weeping man in eastern Afghanistan shouts anti-American slogans after violence that followed a bomb attack on a U.S. convoy. Protesters blocked a main road." This picture makes the man out to look like the aggressor rather than the victim in the situation--they also did not mention (in the caption) the retalliation the marines took and ended up killing eight civilians.

Stereotypical Story

The Pioneer Press, once again, has published a stereotipical story of people of color as the bad guys. As far as journalistic writing goes the lead was very good: "As migrant laborers flee Colorado because of tough new immigration restrictions, worried farmers are looking to prisoners to fill their places in the fields." But as far as the content and what they were writing about, I was appalled. The only other article in the entire paper concerning Hispanics was the trial of Alfonso Rodriguez. Being considered an illegal alien is dehumanizing. Crossing the border without papers is far less of a crime than what these inmate farmers have done to earn them jail time. People are so worried about immigrants supposedly stealing their jobs but now how do they feel when criminals are doing that? The article should have delved deeper and addressed these issues and other issues.

March 2, 2007

Benefits for Gays

The Star Tribune did a story on a bill that would let cities and counties offer health insurance to their employees' same-sex partners. Another bill would allow for hospital visits and the right to make medical decisions for the other partner. The gay-marriage debate has somewhat quieted down for now but something like this may be working to grant marrital benefits. I think it would be interesting to do a more in-depth story exploring what other states have done regarding similar bills and how they have worked out. Some facts on Minnesota's policies could also be included as well as interviews with students from the gay and lesbian student organization at the U of M. Their testimony is important because, by the time they graduate, more opportunities/rights/benefits will be available to them.
Possible resources:
Aisling Coghlan, Interim Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon (interim@basicrights.org)--Liberal
Jere Keys, Communications Manager of Out and Equal (California) (jkeys@outandequal.org)--Liberal
Joe Glover, Family Policy Network President (D.C) ((202) 470-5095)--Conservative

March 1, 2007

The "N-Word"

The N.Y. Times and Star Tribune put out articles from the same press release on New York's new ban against the use of the "n-word." The Strib's lead did not make sense because they only said that New York declared the word off limits. The Times specified by saying the "New York City Council." The same information was used but I think the stance that each paper takes on the issue is clear with the titles they chose to attach to their stories: "Anti-slur measure passes" (Times) and "N.Y.C takes a soft stand against n-word racial slur" (Strib).