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May 6, 2007

Coon Rapids abductor

Some of the unecessary one-liners made in the Pioneer Press article on the Coon Rapids abductor sounded cliche: "The stranger may have been no stranger at all", and editorialized: "Cops closed in fast."
I did find a way to attribute and describe charges, when reporting on crime cases. This reminds me of some of the labs we had to do and many of us didn't know how to attribute or report charges/arrests. This is how this story handled it:"He is being held in the Anoka County Jail pending a court hearing Monday or Tuesday to determine bail. He has not been charged, although charges could come as early as today from Anoka County prosecutors.
"We're very confident we have the correct guy, and we're confident the charges will hold," said Coon Rapids Police Sgt. Tom Hawley." The author also found and used tax records to show who lived in the house with the accused.
The Star Tribune's lead was much stronger and was attributed:"Once reports came in that a stranger had abducted and assaulted a 12-year-old girl Friday on her way to her school bus stop, just about every Coon Rapids police staffer, along with several Anoka County sheriff's officials and a State Patrol helicopter crew, began trying to track down the suspect, said Sgt. Tom Hawley." Throughout the story they also were more concise and got more to the point with the facts.

France's New President

The New York Times' use of numbers did a good job of showing what a close win France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy made over his competitor Segolene Royal. They also effectively gave background details, like how long the French presidential term is, what his responsibilities are, and when he will take over, without ruining the flow of the story. The author of the piece did a good job of predicting future outcomes of Sarkozy's presidency by talking about all the riots that took place by different groups after he was voted in. It seems France is being divided between the rich and the old, and the poor and the young because of this newly-elected conservative. To make this story more applicable to the U.S, they mentioned how Sarkozy is more pro-American than other French presidents have been.
The Star Tribune had a little blurb about the election and it seemed to favor Sarkozy, saying he was polite and didn't rise to Socialist Segolene Royal's baiting.

FIRE

The Star Tribune's piece on the wildfire in N.E Minnesota that required a mandatory evacuation, had a great lead that included the what, when, and where all included. However, the only quotes in the story were made by a Grand Rapids Interagency Fire Center Spokesman. I would have liked to hear the more human side of the story by the residents who were actually evacuated. The Pioneer Press' lead included attribution, the what, where and why. The Pioneer Press blurb reported a firefighter injury but the Star Tribune claimed that no injuries had been reported--the stories were reported on the same day.

Poisoned Medicine

The New York Times' story "From China to Panama, a trail of poison medicine" was about counterfeiters who profit by substituting a poisonous solvent for a safe, more expensive syrup. The lead was superb: "The kidneys fail first. Then the central nervous system begins to misfire. Paralysis spreads, making breathing difficult, then often impossible without assistance. In the end, most victims die. Many of them are children, poisoned at the hands of their unsuspecting parents." This lead really drew me in and made me want to read more. By running this story the Times exposed a deadly coverup and shipping negligence. They discovered that the manufacturer of certain pharmaceuticals were not even authorized to be doing so. They also outted China's poor safety regulations. The bigger picture of global trade was captured very well in this piece. It had a lot of background info. and was well-researched.

Spelling bee whiz in U.S. motel room, parents in Bihar Village

The New York Times and the Indian Express published articles about a 13-year-old spelling whiz who lives in Utah, and whose parents were sent back to India after being denied political asylum. The Times' lead was a bit misleading though:"Great spellers come in all types, from egotistical showoffs to loners who find sanctuary in the forest of words." The fact that the kid was using his national spelling fame in efforts to draw attention to his parents' case was present in the story, but it wasn't important enough to start out with this in the lead. They went into detail about the legal situation and background of the parents. They also talked about the racial and anti-immigrant descrimination the family faced in the small Utah town. This was a very well-rounded and touching story and hopefully it will help bring the family back together. This is what journalism is all about. It's too bad no other paper decided to take up this or a similar story.

May 4, 2007

Journalism

The mission of journalism is to get the news out to the people. It's goal is to be accurate, fair, and unbiased. I realized how much I dislike news writing. I think people's opinions and views, whether I agree with them or not, is what makes people human, and that's what I want to see in someone's writing. Maybe this is why I'm more drawn to editorials and features than typical news stories. Another thing I don't like is that journalists dumb things down for the masses. I think part of a journalist's job is to raise the bar and expect more from the general public. Translating things into "common man" terms seems condescending. I think if journalism continues to dumb down "for the sake of" its audience, we'll have a country of idiots. I want to also hear the writers voice. I don't just want facts thrown at me. It seems cold and distant. I am educated enough to have my own views about issues and a reporter's two cents will not sway me. I just want to know there's someone behind the scenes of the story I'm reading. Journalism needs to dig deeper--especially local papers. So much of local news is crime and soft news. I look to the media to take me out of the local area. I was drawn to journalism because I thought I would be able to make a change regarding certain issues and have my voice heard. Newswriting stifled my voice. I don't want to be balanced; I want my opinions to be made known. I think a lot of people feel this way and that's why blogs have become so popular and, I believe, will continue to grow.