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.


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.

April 15, 2007

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.

March 29, 2007

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.

February 24, 2007

Students and Pot

"6 Chaska students face pot charges" (Strib) started out mentioning the junior high students and their charges and talked about how drug sales and use in this age group has declined over the past decade. Then it talked about possible consequences for the students. It mentioned some impersonal stats but it did not go into what the school is doing to raise awareness or drug programs they have at the junior high level. Then at the end the author mentioned a Washington state couple who was arrested for marijuana possession. This had no other connection to the story except that it involved weed charges. It was an awkward way to end the piece.

February 18, 2007

Children Being Tried as Adults

I didn't care for the lead in the Star Tribune' s article, "Adult prosecution at age 13?" : "Lynn Johnson says a 13-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to killing her 2-year-old daughter, Emily, at a home day care last summer never showed any remorse for his crime. And because Minnesota law doesn't allow a juvenile younger than 14 to stand trial as an adult, she believes he got away with murder." First of all, nobody knows Lynn and Emily Johnson so I don't think it's important to mention their names in the lead. Plus, the emphasis in the article is on this 13-year-old kid. Another aspect that's missing from the piece is any testimony from the parents of the kids who are tried as adults. I do think they did a good job of explaining the complexities of the laws that are in place to deal with crimes of under-age children.

February 8, 2007

Guns for Self Defense

The Star Tribune's article, "When intruder enters, what is your best move?" was about the Minnesota law allowing residents to use deadly force if confronted with the threat of death. This was the lead, which I thought was terrible: "Joanie Beise has lived in a house with guns for the nearly 34 years she's been married, but only recently has she considered arming herself." First of all, 34-year-old Joanie Beise is neither a celebrity nor central to this story. They should have started the story with a paragraph that came later about an intruder that shot a man and his son to death in Waseca. The article mentions that, "when and how residents should use that force is not always clear cut" but it doesn't attempt to clarify that for the reader. It gives one example of a person who shot an intruder and it was ruled self-defense but I think it was the journalist's job to do more research and try to break down what the law really says for the reader.

February 4, 2007

Single Women

The Star Tribune did an article based on census and other reports showing that there is a trend in women preferring to stay single. I applaud the author of the article, "For single women, Right Now trumps Mr. Right," for addressing the fact that interpretation of census numbers may be a bit slanted (51% of women are living without spouses but they started the counting at age 15--while most girls are still living at home.) But the article didn't go into much depth as to why women aren't settling. There was a lot mentioned about unmarried womens' influence on real estate but I think it would be more appropriate to look at their educational, religious, financial backgrounds. It just briefly mentioned the numbers of specific racial groups of married women but didn't dig deeper and analyze the differences in these numbers and why these differences may exist between the races.

Outdoor Smoking Ban

Both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press used an Associated Press article to do stories on the trends in Minnesota cities to prohibit smoking in certain outdoor areas. They both used the inverted pyramid style but the Strib had a better hook for their lead: "A bucket of cigarette butts collected by Girl Scouts helped convince the Ham Lake City Council that smoking and city parks don't go together." The Pioneer Press started its article with: "As Minnesota lawmakers..." Boring. They both used the same quotes but I liked how the Strib went back and forth between quotes and stats, unlike the Pioneer Press that just clumped all the quotes together at the end. The Strib also provided more context and included a survey conducted by the U of M that found that 70 percent of 1,500 respondents supported tobacco-free policies for outdoor park and recreation areas.