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April 29, 2007

Material Girls

The New York Times published a disturbing article entitled, "Tweens R Shoppers," which explored the buying power of young girls. The pictures were enough to make me gag: 9-11-yr.-old girls dressed like 20-somethings with pouty lips, clutching Abercrombie bags, admiring jewelry at the Juicy Couture counter. The only brand name I knew at that age was Chuck E. Cheese! The story followed the shopping trip of a fashionista mother, her spoiled daughter and rich friends. They mentioned a completely irrelevant poll about the materialistic tendencies of 18-25 yr. olds and included a quote from some marketing specialist saying how mothers bond with their daughters through shopping and by doing so are helping to mold sophisticated and informed buyers. Are you kidding me?! Whatever happened to mothers teaching their kids values like, oh I don't know, kindness/compassion/it's what's on the inside that counts? Apparently it's more important that young girls be popular and wear the latest brand names. This story's light-hearted tone offended me and they didn't even go into to how inappropriate and sad this phenomenon is. Do these people realize that it's not tween buying power at all but the parents' buying power? This trend is sadly supported by parents who think it's ok to buy their kids' love and marketers who feed off of that. I didn't find another story like this in any other paper--thank god.

Democracy in Nigeria

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times did stories on Nigeria's troubled presidential elections. The Post focused more on the fraud aspect while the Times had much more well-rounded coverage. Not only did they talk about the fraudulent elections, but they talked about democracy in Africa in general. They mentioned the outcomes of polls rating Nigerian's satisfaction with their democracy. They also compared Nigeria to other African countries. The Post said the elections did not meet international standards, but I think it was more important to keep the story relative to Africa. So what if they don't meet Western standards; that's beside the point. The Times successfully examined the underlying problems that are being caused by faulty democracy. They had better use of quotes, polls, and research studies.

April 15, 2007

Suicide Car Bombers

The Observer (U.K) and The N.Y Times did pieces on a suicide car bombing in Baghdad. The Times was much more accurate with numbers in the lead and throughout the story. Also, they included attribution in the lead, unlike the Observer. The Times also made good use of witness testimony. The Observer chose an angle that focused on a U.N perspective, while The Times showed a strong focus on al-Qaeda. The pictures in the Times were also more effective because they showed the wreckage and wounded, crying people. The Observer just showed a car ablaze.

Don Imus' Potty Mouth

Both the Pioneer Press and The Observer (U.K) included pieces on the firing of shock jock Don Imus after his "nappy headed hos" comment. The Observer provided much better context to what happened. They mentioned that Imus was equally offensive/racist/ethnocentric against all groups but by directing that ignorance towards some innocent college girls was the last straw. The Observer's lead, although showing the opinion of the author, was funny and very effective: "Don Imus is so unpleasant that he is one of the few people in New York who is
licensed to carry a handgun for his own protection." Pioneer Press ended their story with a crack from Imus which I didn't find amusing--hasn't he said enough already? The Observer ended with a quote from Rudy Giuliani saying that Imus made a big mistake--much better ending.
The U.S is so big on free speech, but look at what that can lead to. By allowing ignorant shock jocks to stay on the air making their racist comments for the sake of ratings, it is as if we're stuck in the past--people need to educate themselves and stop buying into what some 60-yr.-old bitter white man spews out on the radio.

Agenda for Minneapolis City Council

I went to the Minnesota government website to get the agenda for a City Council meeting on April 17th. It was difficult to find a published full-length agenda packet. I mostly found agendas that were published from past meetings or minutes. Very few elaborated on what would be discussed in the actual meeting. After doing general searches I just went straight to the Minnesota government website and found the Community Development Committee Agenda. This agenda packet was the most organized one that I found. The categories it listed were: Public Hearings, Joint Public Hearing With Mpls. Community Development Agency Operating Committee, Conset Items, Discussion Items, and Recieve and File Items. Under each category was a detailed description of what would be discussed. This meeting will mostly concern neighborhood revitalization and housing initiatives. There were also staff report links which provided further information on the topics.

April 7, 2007

Displacement of a cultural asset

The Strib did a piece similar to our last diversity lab. It talked about how the Somali Cultural Center/Mosque is going to be bulldozed in order to make space for a parking lot. There was good color but wasn't as rich in detail. It did a good job of showing what a loss this will be to the community. A proposed apartment complex is going in the space but the article didn't mention what group of people these apartments will be geared to--Somalis?
The article did go off on a tangent about past land disputes in the same spot. This part didn't fit because the main newsworthy and interesting part about this piece was not the bulldozing of a building but of a cultural asset.