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May 6, 2007

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.

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.

April 15, 2007

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.

March 6, 2007

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 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).

February 21, 2007

Mall Shooting

The New York Times article, "After a Rampage, Trying to Grasp What Led a Son to Kill," buried the most important elements that should have been in the lead: the death of the five victims and the death of the shooter. Instead they said that: "the parents of Sulejman Talovic called the police to report him missing." First of all, unless we heard about the shooting last week, we don't know who Talovic is. It's also not timely because he's not missing; he's dead. The article goes on to emphasize Talovic's life in Bosnia but the most relevant issue, that is not reported on, is what was this 18-year-old kid doing with a 12-gauge shotgun.

February 12, 2007

Clinton vs. Obama

The New York Times article, "For Clinton and Obama, Different Tests on Iraq," was very pro-Obama. This is obvious from the wording in the very beginning: "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was challenged on Iraq from corner to corner of New Hampshire this weekend, while Senator Barack Obama drew cheers in Iowa for his opposition to the war." And at the end they end with two quotes, one that compares Clinton to "flip-flopper" John Kerry and another that says "He (Obama) has the right judgement. He made the right call on Iraq." The article focuses on how, in the beginning, Clinton voted for the war in Iraq and how this may affect her campaign. The article says she REFUSES to use certain language and phrases that she should use but is not using. I think this is irrelevant because she, as well as a lot of people in the country, supported the war at first and she does say that she would not vote that way again. The article doesn't mention past decisions Obama has made and now regrets. The article chooses to focus on this point against Clinton but does not talk about other important policies that are being debated.

February 8, 2007

Abortion Restrictions

"Miss. looks to restrict abortions" (Pioneer Press) started out with a boring lead: "The Mississippi Senate passed a bill Wednesday..." They mentioned the 'who' and the 'when' before the 'what' -- which, in this case, is the most important part. Being a more conservative paper, I think it says a lot that they chose to use the following quote by Republican chairman of the Public Health Committee: "What this bill does is regulate these folks that are making money off these young women." By putting this in it's ignoring the real issue: a woman's right to choose. The importance and significance of such a bill being passed really is not about the financial exploitation of women seeking abortion, as this quote suggests.

February 4, 2007

Party Planned For Castro's Death

The USA Today article entitled "Miami planning party for when Castro dies" did not supply enough information and contains a lot of holes. The cost of the party, which musicians would play, and where it would be held were made to be the central elements of the article. The only two interviews included were by the City Commissioner and the leader of the Miami-based Democracy Movement Organization. There was no "man-the-street" testimony and it felt very shallow and devoid of any emotion to omit that, especially when dealing with the death of a human being, even if he was a dictaor. Even Saddam Hussein's death was covered from different view points. What about the people that will mourn Castro's loss? They should have interviewed the older generation that actually remembers living under Castro's rule in Cuba. It would be challenging to cover all the complex background history of Cuban Americans and their feelings on Castro but this article didn't even make an attempt.

Anti-gang Efforts in L.A

I read two articles done dealing with anti-gang efforts in L.A: one was by the N.Y Times entitled "In L.A Anti-gang Efforts Start on the Street" and the other was by the L.A Times entitled "Anti-gang battle needs more than just cops." Both articles addressed the race problems between blacks and Latinos in L.A but the L.A Times did a much better job at getting to the root of the problem. They talked about why people join gangs in the first place and what preventative measures can be taken. I also applaud them for not dehumanizing gang members and for talking about the new projects that are being put in placed to fix the problem. The N.Y Times article focused on the experience of one L.A cop, Officer Dan Robbins, and read more like a profile than a news feature. When talking about gangs, shootings at concerts, hatred of the police, and innocent people getting killed in drive-bys is nothing new. The L.A Times took a much fresher approach and angle on this issue.