February 2011 Archives

Analysis: Multimedia Comparison

Both the New York Times and the Star Tribune have a multimedia page to their site, although their appearance is quite different.
The New York Times has a lot more content to offer, focusing their large photo spread, interactive maps, timelines, and video clips of the different events. Right now on their multimedia site, they have multiple links to different kinds of content tracking the situation with Quaddafi in Libya. You can watch clips of protests, look at pictures of what has been happening, track when its been happening, and look to see exactly where. And that is just for the situation in Libya, as they have many different links for major stories they have been covering, as well as the Lens Blog, which allows you to look at the Times' photos of the day, along with their captions of the news.
The Star Tribune's multimedia page is not nearly as extravagant nor as detailed as the New York Times', but it has many useful video clips as well as photographs. They surround their main video spots with other popular video clips, which you can then sort by category, ranging from MN original, to Entertainment, with the latest clips, and sports.
While the Star Tribune's multimedia site is mostly videos and pictures, the New York Times' site is a lot more diverse with its content, which surrounds itself with news coverage of the event as well. The New York Times' site has the related story positioned nearby the media clip, whereas with the Star Tribune, you would need to do some site searching to turn up related story coverage, which is more rare.
With the Times' wide reach and high level of focus on their media, their detail on their site is to be expected.

Dakota County Employee Accused of Stealing $25,000 or more

A former Dakota County Employee is accused of pocketing bus passes and stealing funds to help social-service clients and using it to pay her own mortgage, authorities say.
Aleathea McWilliams, 52, of Minneapolis was charged Wednesday with the felonies of stealing nearly $3000 in bus passes and $25,000 in cash from the county.
McWilliams had worked for the county since 2002, but resigned in May when confronted with the allegations, according to the complaint. Social services had noticed suspicious payments filed by McWilliams, and when confronted, McWilliams admitted to having created them to pay her mortgage and other bills, according to the Pioneer Press.
During the investigation, social services workers noticed the MetroTransit service bus passes were missing, and handing them out to clients is one of the tasks McWilliams was in charge of, the complaint said. When the authorities searched her home on June 8, they found almost $3000 in bus passes, the Star Tribune reported.
McWilliams has no criminal history, but could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

California's Solar Projects Cause Problems

Large solar energy projects are being sued by Native American Tribes, environmentalists, and businesses for harming the environment in the Southern California desert where they are planned.
The La Cuna de Aztlan tribe is suing because the planned solar energy plants will utterly destroy their sacred lands, which is a vital part to the tribe's creation story, which would forever damaging the tribe's culture, according to the LA Times.
The companies who are building the solar energy plants raced to get environmental sustainability stimulus funding by the Obama administration, and in doing so, raced through the environmental investigations they must do before building, according to the New York Times.
Environmentalists, like the Sierra Group, believe that they failed to consider that the plants will wipe out at least 3 different species in the desert, and are suing the companies as well, according to the New York Times.
The La Cuna de Aztlan tribe has received an injunction for the company to stop building until the matter has been fully investigated, but the situation does not look hopeful for the native people and species of the desert.

Obama Administration Shifts View of Gay Marriage

President Barack Obama has announced he will no longer enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, merely 2 months after repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'.
The Defense of Marriage Act, which allows the federal government to not recognize gay partnerships, has been declared unconstitutional and discriminatory, and the government will no longer enforce it, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced Thursday.
After two years of enforcing the act, Obama's decision to rule the marriage act unconstitutional marks a new change for both the US administration and for Obama's personal views, according to the LA Times.
While the government will not mandate that every state allows gay marriage as only five states and the district of colombia do now, it will now be a federally recognized institution, according to the http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/us/24marriage.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=us.
This is a turning point for Obama's personal views on gay and lesbian equality, and while many criticize the decision, many Americans are supporting the decision to not discriminate to anyone based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Winona State Group safe from New Zealand Earthquake

The Winona State group traveling in New Zealand has reported they are safe from the earthquake that struck one of the largest cities in the nation.
The group had been in Christchurch just three days before the earthquake struck, registering a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The devastating earthquake left 75 dead, according to the Pioneer Press.
Luckily, the group of 30 students and 2 faculty members were 300 miles away, safe in Queensland, Australia when the earthquake hit, according to the Star Tribune.
KAGE-AM reported that the group had gone to Christchurch, New Zealand to study the effects on local tourism from the earthquake that had hit the city last September.

Situation in Libya Worsens

Vowing to kill the protesters one by one, Colonel Quaddafi tightens his rule on Tripoli, while eastern Libya slips out of his control.
Quaddafi addressed his country via television from a barracks in Tripoli, urging supporters to help crush the uprisings, according to the New York Times.
Witnesses in Libya said Monday night that armed militiamen and African mercenaries were shooting people from the backs of their trucks, firing their machine guns at will and without mercy.
As protests worsen in Tripoli and across Libya, the death toll rises significantly, although the count at this point is uncertain, according to Human Rights Watch.
After Quaddafi's speech, thousands of supporters wearing green bandanas and carrying machetes banded together to begin their hunt of the protesters, according to the LA Times.
The New York Times reported many Libyans have been pouring into their neighbors Tunisia and Egypt for help and protection. And across the world, many of Libya's ambassadors have stepped down, refusing to condone Quaddafi's behavior.

Libyan government and people fight it out

Colonal Quaddafi's son announces to Libya that they are not prepared to give up, that they will fight til the end.
Quaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, who gave a brief speech on Libyan television at 1 a.m. Monday morning, was the first real piece of information to come out of Libya since the protests began and the government cut off all internet, all phone service, and denied any foreign reporter coverage, according to the New York Times. Qaddafi's son also emphasized that Libya was not Tunisia or Egypt, and that if they think they can throw off their government, they will just get a civil war from their protesting.
Quaddafi's son gave his speech in response to the growing protests in Benghazi and Tripoli, where snipers have been shooting protesters, according to the LA Times.
Human rights groups now believe Libya's death toll has risen over 200, with many hundreds more wounded.

Analysis: Spot and Follows

Although the two stories cover the same topic, the leads are very much so different in the two. In the LA Times' story from Saturday, the lead is discussing more on the fact that the Libyan strongman Kadafi would not acknowledge the protesters demands, focusing on the fact that Kadafi had likely hired snipers to shoot those at funeral processions and protesters.
In the second lead from the LA Times, they had just had a speech on Libyan television where Kadafi's son had briefly spoken, and he also conveys that Libya will continue to punish it, that they will 'fight to the last bullet.
The main story from the second day summarizes the shootings of the funeral processional protesters, and covers much more of Kadafi's son speech, which is in direct response to the activities in Tripoli, Benghazi, and all over Libya.
Many news organizations are following the same stories here, so while they are all competing with eachother, it does not look like this story is in response to a competitor's story.
The follow up story has developed itself a lot, giving much more concrete information of what is happening in Libya, especially difficult as the country is on lockdown with no phone service, no internet, and no foreign reporters are given any access. The fact that Kadafi's son has publicly acknowledged the situation is a huge step for knowing what exactly is happening in Libya.

Thousands gather to protest budget cuts

70,000 flooded Madison's capital Saturday to protest the government workers' proposed budget cuts.
The newly elected governor of Wisconsin is pushing for a bill that would have workers contribute more to their healthcare, their retirement, and would eliminate their collective bargaining rights, according to the Pioneer Press.
Many of the pro-union workers there were Minnesotans, worried that if Wisconsin can pass this bill, so can Minnesota.
Among those who came to the capital to show their support for the bill were its supporters, countering the protesters chants and signs with their own, in attempts for the protesters to understand that Wisconsin is broke, and they are forcing the state to pay for their bills, according to the Star Tribune.
Since the bill has been proposed, democrats have purportedly left the state, refusing to be a part of such a bill.

Dayton Proposes Higher Taxes for Wealthier Residents

Newly appointed Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has proposed higher taxes for Minnesota's wealthier residents on Tuesday, immediately taking criticism by the wealthy.
Already keeping one of his campaign promises, Dayton outlined the 10.95 percent tax rate for households that earn at least 130,000 dollars annually, according to the Star Tribune.
This increase would affect only 5 percent of Minnesota residents, but would help to raise almost half of the budget Minnesota needs to fill the budget gap, an estimated 6.2 billion dollar deficit in the next two years, according to the New York Times.
Republican legislators are already promising not to approve the budget, pushing for more harmful spending cuts instead. But whether the issue is personal or just business for our republicans has yet to be voted on.

Obama's New Budget Starts Congressional Battle

As Obama outlines his plans for the new year's budget, both democrats and republicans come together to criticize spending.
Obama looks to cut spending in many areas, but wants to continue funding areas of importance, like cancer research, the food and drug administration, our healthcare system, and developing education, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While many are in support of Obama's spending in areas of necessary development, republicans are ready to criticize any and all budget increases, according to the New York TImes.
Republicans continue to look for less spending and more tax breaks in the budget, and Obama, along with many democrats in Congress are ready to fight over necessary spending in our government.

Hundreds March at Iranian Student Funeral

Anti-government and pro-government marched Wednesday at the government-sanctioned funeral for Saane Zhaleh, Tehran Art University student who died Monday in the largest anti-government protest in Iran in over a year.
Both sides are claiming the student for their side, calling him "martyr Basij", as it is unclear whether he was helping the protesters or the government when he was beaten to death by the police, according to the New York Times.
Iran's parliament is demanding stricter punishments for protesters, including pushing for the public hanging of the two leaders of the anti-government protests, Mehdi Karroubi and Hossein Mousavi, although the government has yet to punish them publicly for fear of sparking more protests, like those that led to the toppling of governments in Tunisia and Egypt, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Though 20,000 and 30,000 protesters have taken to the streets across Iran, many Iranians believe the government will not allow the permanent encampment that has worked so well for Tunisia and Egypt.
Trying to keep protests at a minimum, arrests for protesters have gone up, and the Iranian government has not allowed reporter coverage of the protests, revoking working credentials of foreign correspondents who tried to cover protests Monday.

Story Structure Analysis

Structure in a news story is very particular, and important to get right. You want to keep the reader interested but give them enough to continue reading. You don't want to overwhelm and you must keep it clean.
The structure of a news story generally follows the martini glass shape. You've got your lead first and your nut graph following it, filling up the big brim of the glass, most significant detail first. Then you've got you're fact blocks next. If you've done those right, they can be moved up or down the story, and where you put them helps to emphasize the tone or angle of the piece.
This is especially helpful in breaking news, as you will likely need to open up that stack of fact blocks to put more detail and news in, and take the unsure or scanty information out. Keeping it as clean and uncluttered as possible makes this simple for a reporter.
After the long rim of fact blocks you have the stand of the glass, where you've got the end to the story. Don't make it cute or cliche, but feel free to finish with a bang, a quote, or an interesting fact about the story. And when in doubt, just finish the story, you've got all your main details in there anyways!
The Star Tribune does a nice job of keeping such simple structure in their short piece on taxes in Minnesota. They've got the lead, giving you the detail. There's not really a nut graph in something so short as this, you're ready to jump into the fact blocks. Then you've got the fact blocks. Clean and simple sentences, ready to be switched around if needed. No grand finale, just a simple finish with the Star Tribune. A clean example of a clean story.

Minnesota gives 9.3 percent more to taxes

Minnesota withheld and paid more income taxes last month, doing better than state tax collectors expected.
The state collected 137.4 million more than anticipated in January, Minnesota Management and Budget said on Friday. That makes for 9.3 percent more than expected, according to the Star Tribune.
Even with the extra bonus, Minnesota is still facing a 6.2 billion deficit over the coming 2 years, according to the Pioneer Press.
Jim Schowalter, Management and Budget Commissioner said that taxpayers looking to get ahead of April tax bills might be responsible for the January revenue, though these numbers don't include the state spending patterns.
At the end of February, a complete budget forecast will be released.

Minnesota's Advanced Placement Testing on the Rise

Minnesota's amount of seniors who score well on the Advanced Placement tests are rising significantly, but still chasing the national average.
The Minnesota Department of Educated announced that 25.4 percent of Minnesota's high school seniors took at least one Advanced Placement class during the 2009-2010 school year, according to the Pioneer Press. Of those students, 16.4 percent passed, or earned a 3 or better on the test, although the national average is 16.9 percent.
This percentage is up 5 percent over the past five years, one of the highest increases in the nation, according to the Star Tribune.
The increase looks hopeful for Minnesota scores, with 15,354 seniors took an AP class last year.

Legal Woes for Lohan

Former Disney-star Lindsay Lohan is due to be arraigned Wednesday on a felony grand theft, one of many charges to the record of the fallen starlet.
Lohan, on probation from 2007, is alleged with having stolen a 2,500 necklace from an upscale jewelery store in the Venice district of Los Angeles, according to the New York Times.
Only weeks after being released from rehab, Lohan's attorney is denying that Lohan stole the necklace, according to the LA Times.
While the judge will determine whether Lohan has violated the terms of her probation, it would be the fallen starlet's most serious charge to add to her growing record.

Administration Announces Rail Project Pushing

Vice President Joe Biden announced the plans to implement high speed rail lines in America by asking Congress for 53 billion.
Speaking from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, the nation's only rail line that approaches a high speed, Biden gave hope that in 25 years, 80 percent of the country would be connected by a high speed rail line, according to the New York Times.
The vice president's speech was met by concerns on spending, when the government has little to go around. Many expressed concern that their roads and bridges needed the attention and funding more, according to the LA Times.
Though met with difficulty from the Republican majority, many proponents of the project emphasized their appreciation for the investment in our future.

Protests in Egypt Still Peaceful in Third Week

Protests in Egypt continue to grow peacefully in Tahrir Square and Parliament to demand the immediate end of Mubarak and authoritative rule.
Suleiman and Mubarak continue to ignore demands of immediate resignation and orderly transition by both the US government and protesters covering Egypt, according to the LA Times.
Protesters had a lift in moral however, when recently released Waedi Ghonim, joined the crowd to show appreciation. Ghonim, a google executive and organizer of the facebook protests, had been kidnapped and held by the Egyptian government for 12 days, but was finally released and ready to show support of the protests in Tahrir Square and in televised interviews, according to the New York Times.
As workers continue to strike across Egypt and tourism is estimated to be down 70%, it becomes clear that something will need to change.

Attributions in Articles: Egypt's Information Revolution

Attributions are a necessary part to any good news story. Its absolutely vital that you attribute things to everything, correctly.
Attributions are everywhere, but its really easy to find examples, and the New York Times does a great job showing them off.
For example, in their stories involving Egypt, you see a lot of quotes needing to be attributed to the Egyptian government. This is usually done with a driving quote, followed simply with Mr. Blank said, with his title here, and then another exciting quote to follow up.
Though it can be done in many ways, it must always be correct, and the New York Times is littered with good examples with how to do it correctly. Its very common to see them begin with a quote attributed to a person, though paraphrasing what that person has said saves time and ink, and as long as you attribute it correctly, can be a useful tool.
Everything in the story needs a source, unless of course you were there, and with something as revolutionary as what is happening in Egypt, you need to make sure that everything said is clearly explained and has a clear source. Its the straight facts, the hard facts, and nothing but the facts, so the he said, she said, is necessary here, as long as its the whole truth.

SweeTango Apple Ordered to Meditate

A judge on Saturday dismissed most arguments against the University of Minnesota, for creating an illegal monopoly on apple suppliers, ordering both sides into meditation.
Filed by 24 plantiffs last summer, the argument was that the University of Minnesota developed apple, the SweeTango, had been granted an exclusive growers license by Pepin Heights Orchard, according to the Pioneer Press.
With an exclusive law patent held in place, the judge was able to dismiss all but one claim, that the other growers had been denied the opportunity to be considered, but admitted that it was a thin claim, according to the Star Tribune.
Both sides have been given 60 days to meditate the claim, and both are hopeful that it will be settled in due time.

Liriano is still a Twin

Francisco Liriano reached a deal with the Minnesota Twins Saturday for 4.3 million. Liriano, who had been up for arbitration, was able to settle with the Twins, and is off and ready for spring training, according to the Star Tribune.
With Liriano's negotiations out of the way, Delmon Young is the only Minnesota Twin left unsigned, according to the Pioneer Press. Young has asked for a cool 6.25 million, but will be entering his negotiations within the week.
With most of the team locked down, the Minnesota Twins will likely be opening the season with a payroll of around 115 million for its players.

Superbowl upstaged with snowstorms

Texas, home to the 2011 Superbowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been taken over by snow instead of fans.
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled or delayed, leaving many fans stranded in airports, according to the Star Tribune.
But the snow isn't all that is dangerous, 6 have already been hospitalized from falling ice at Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington Texas, according to the New York Times. But none of the injuries were considered life threatening, and the weather won't hold down fans.
Though both teams have been forced to practice indoors this week, the weather won't dampen their spirits. The biggest game of the year will come, whether fans are ready or not.

Groundhog's Day Emerges

Groundhog's in Wisconsin and Pittsburgh have lobbied for spring this February, but this year our rival groundhog's were asked to pick Superbowl favorites, too.
Jimmy, the veteran groundhog of choice for Wisconsin, did not see his shadow this Groundhog's Day, according to the Pioneer Press. Along with Jimmy's decision to start spring early, he also picked the Green Bay Packers to win the Superbowl.
Punxsutawney Phil, in Pennslyvania, however made no such Superbowl call, according to the Star Tribune. Our Pennsylvania groundhog did agree with Jimmy though, that Spring could start early this year.
So whether our groundhogs are football rivals, they appear able to see beyond the sport, and get down to the weather.

Violence Errupts in the Information Revolution

Violence began for the first time in Tahrir Square on Wednesday, as anti-government protesters and pro-government supporters attack each other viciously.
The violence errupted as a cause of the ten minute speech given by Mubarak where he announced he would not run for re-election in September, but would step down, according to the Star Tribune. Protesters infuriated by the lack of immediate response by the president were met by thousands of supporters on the street after the speech.
Fights quickly took over Tahrir Square, with the attackers using fists, stones, horses, camels, and even fire. The military refused to involve themselves in the fights, according to the New York Times, much to the resentment of the people.
With the square in chaos, doctors rushed around the scene, treating who the could, with make-shift clinics in mosques and alleys.
Internet access has been returned to Egypt, along with cell-phone service, although ominous messages are being mass-sent, according to the New York Times. "Youth of Egypt beware of the rumors and listen to the voice of reason," read one message. "Egypt is above all. Preserve it."

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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