February 2011 Archives

Brooklyn Park Mayor dies of cancer

Brooklyn Park Mayor Steve Lampi died of cancer on Sunday peacefully in his home.

Lampi was a 3rd-term mayor who owned the ice cream company Bridgeman's since 2001, according to FOX 9 News.

Lampi had worked at Bridgeman's since he was 15 years old working as a dishwasher.

Maple Grove Mayor Mark Stephenson told the Star Tribune that much of the improvements Brooklyn Park has gone through were because of Lampi's leadership.

Lampi's City Council colleague Mike Trepanier will serve as acting mayor until the City Council can set up a special mayoral election at it's March 7 meeting.

Analysis: Multimedia of "ABC News" and "Star Tribune"

The multimedia options of ABC News and the Star Tribune websites vary greatly, primarily because they are two very different types of news outlets.

ABC News has a wide range of multimedia options, such as slideshows and video coverage. The news outlet also provides accompanying written news stories that are full news stories.

The reason for the many options for ABC News could be because not only is ABC News a broadcast news outlet, but it is also a national news outlet, which gives ABC News a lot of options that a smaller, print-based news outlet has the capacity for.

The Star Tribune also provides many multimedia options, such as audio, video, photo galleries, and news graphics with accompanying text.

The Star Tribune does have an impressive multimedia selection for being print-based, but the outlet probably decided that taking advantage of internet technology is one of the best ways to keep their audience from moving on to more broadcast-oriented outlets such as ABC News.

One thing that Star Tribune might want to increase is their multimedia options with their written stories online. They could accompany their stories with more video, audio, graphics, and photo galleries instead of strictly a news story.

This is one area where ABC News has the upper hand, because just about every written article on their website has an accompanying video and other multimedia options. This is, of course, because ABC News has much more video coverage because it is a broadcast organization, but the Star Tribune might have to do more to keep up.

Oscar night looks to attract younger viewers

The viewership for the Academy Awards have increased over the past few years, but the Academy is still looking to increase their viewership by attracting a new generation of viewers.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have been trying to increase younger viewership by employing two younger hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco, as well as increasing the number of best picture nominees from five to 10, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The 83rd annual ceremony on Sunday night will probably be boosted by an increase in awards show viewership helped by twitter and iPod applications.

Another help with younger generation viewership is blockbusters like "Inception" and "Toy Story 3" up for best picture, though ABC News, along with most other news outlets, are predicting a win for "The King's Speech."

Other changes for the Oscars may include moving the date of the ceremony and, possibly, internet voting for the Academy members.

Libyan rebels receive more support

Libyan protestors opposing the regime of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi have received help from security forces in Zawiya, Libya, CNN reports.

Zawiya, a town close to the capitol, has seen security forces switch sides in support of the opposition as Gadhafi has shown no sign of backing down.

An estimated 100,000 people have left Libya in wake of Gadhafi's regime that may have possibly killed up to 1,000 people as a result of the protests.

The US has issued a no-fly zone over eastern Libya to prevent airstrikes by the regime, along with Britain and the U.N. Security Council imposing sanctions on Libya over the weekend, according to USA Today.

Gadhafi's son has announced that Gadhafi has denied President Barack Obama's call for Gadhafi to step down, leaving the future of Libya still uncertain.

Wisconsin budget protests go national as Walker refuses to budge

Rallies were held across the country in support of the protests in Wisconsin after a liberal advocacy group called Moveon.org helped organize many rallies on Saturday, according to CNN.

The rallies were held in all 50 capitols at noon with support from Moveon.org and other liberal and labor organizations, with most on the side with the protesters.

Many opposers of the bill say that Gov. Scott Walker is fighting union rights more than he is fighting the current budget crisis, which will face Wisconsin with a budget shortfall of #137 million by June 30 and a $3.6 billion gap by 2013.

With protesters in every state now, as well as tens of thousands of protesters in Wisconsin for the past two weeks, Gov. Scott Walker told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that taking away collective bargaining rights is necessary to solve the budget crisis, in a USA Today story.

Walker also believes that the bill will not take away the strong civil protection that wisconsin state employees receive and that the 14 Democrats will return to Wisconsin soon.

The roof of the should be replaced by Aug. 1. and could cost up to $25 million to repair, said the Pioneer Press.

Construction could begin as soon as March, weather permitting, but the Vikings are still looking to get a new stadium.

Minneapolis has many of the amenities that the team is looking for, but it still lacks the money to support a new stadium.

A new stadium could cost up to $900 million to build as lawmakers are trying to find ways to pay for it, according to the Star Tribune.

Although a new stadium will be costly to the state, some officials say that a new football stadium could be beneficial to the city and the state.

12-year-old boy dies in skiing accident

A 12-year-old Wisconsin Boy died in a skiing accident in Duluth on Friday afternoon.

Trent Stellrecht was skiing down a wooded area of Duluth's Spirit Mountain when he hit a tree, his father told the Star Tribune.

An ambulance was called at 4:15 and he was pronounced dead at St. Mary's Medical Center by 4:50, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Stellrecht was on a ski trip with a church youth group consisting of 12 children.

This marks the first death since 2007 for the Duluth ski hill, when a Richfield man hit a tree. Before that, there hadn't been a death at Spirit Mountain for nearly 17 years.

Knife removed from man's head after 4 years

Surgeons from southern China removed a 4-inch-long blade from a man's head after four years of being lodged there.

Li Fuyan was complaining of of severe headaches, breathing problems, and bad breath without knowing a knife in his head was the cause, ABC News reported.

Fuyan was stabbed by a robber four years earlier, but never realized that the knife broke off, leaving the blade lodged behind the man's throat, narrowly avoiding his carotid artery, the Associated Press said.

Doctors were astounded that the blade narrowly missed every important structure, such as the esophagus and windpipe.

Although the blade was corroded and rusty, the rust should not be a long-term health concern for Fuyan.

Analysis: Spot and Follow for Libya

The Associated Press story on the current turmoil in Libya is an update of an earlier breaking news update.

The original update was very simple, with only a few short graphs summarizing the speech that Gadhafi's son gave in a nationally televised adress that warned of a civil war that might arise in wake of the sid-day protests.

One primary difference between the original update and the follow up is the lead. The original lead stated that protestors have taken over some military bases and tanks. The possibility of a civil war wasn't mentioned until the second graph.

The follow up, however, made Gadhafi's son's mention of civil war the lead for the story, because the writer must have changed her mind on what aspect of the story was most newsworthy. The first and second graphs seemed to have switched in the update.

The follow up also goes into greater detail on Gadhafi's son's speech, which mentions that the death toll has been exaggerated, placing the death toll at 84 instead of 209.

Although the Human Rights Watch placed it at 174 through saturday and hospitals have counted over 200 deaths since the protests began.

Gadhafi's son also mentions that they are willing to negotiate some current restrictions and the possible creation of a constitution.

The follow up clearly has a lot more important information that advances the news in many ways. It shows that Libyan leaders are possibly willing to negotiate.

The follow up is clearly important, because the original update did not give us enough facts. It was written in a brief style to get the news out as quickly as possible while the follow up was written to give the readers the details.

Protests in Libya lead to high death toll

Libyan security forces killed another 25 people during a funeral procession in Benghazi on Sunday, making the death toll reach a total of 209, CNN reported.

The funeral procession was a mourning for those killed on Saturday from the protests.

The killings were the result of the conflict between Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Libyan protesters calling for the end of Gadhafi's over 40 year rule, in a Star Tribune story.

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, Gadhafi's son, gave a speech Sunday night in the wake of the clashes forewarning a civil war, in a Star Tribune update.

Many national governments have voiced their opinions, criticizing Gadhafi's use of violence in response to the peaceful protests.

Updates on Saif al-Islam Gadhafi's speech are expected to continue.

Recent snow storm causes chaos

A total of 12 to 18 inches of snow could hit the metro area by Monday morning, Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas said in his forecast.

Hundreds of flights out of the Twin Cities have been cancelled and many people have stocked up on food and winter supplies for the storm, which could face near-blizzard conditions if the heavy winds reach the predicted 15 to 30 miles per hour.

As of Sunday afternoon, the slick road conditions and low visibility have caused many accidents across southern Minnesota.

The Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation safety officials have urged people to stay inside and off the roads, the Star Tribune reports.

Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol told the Pioneer Press that 54 crashes have been reported on Sunday between just 9 a.m. and noon with 10 injuries and no fatalities.

Tension builds over controversial Wisconsin bill

On the sixth day of protest against his controversial bill, which would take away most of public employees' bargaining rights, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker still won't make a compromise.

The bill was proposed by Walker in an effort to combat the state's $3.6 billion budget deficit.

Nearly 70,000 protestors rallied at the Capitol on Saturday, with most of them opposing the bill that would increase their health care and pension contributions, the Star Tribune reported.

The 14 Democratic senators, who fled the state on Tuesday to delay the vote, remained hiding on Sunday in an effort to get Walker to make a compromise, MSNBC News said.

Many believe that if this bill passes, many Republican governors will follow suit and attack public employees as a way to solve budget issues. At the moment, nobody seems to be backing down.

Analysis: Structure of "Ham Lake couple died as they lived"

The structure of the Star Tribune story of an elderly Ham Lake couple who died in a fire is not written in a classic hard news story because the fact that the couple died in a fire in their home was not mentioned until the third graph. Instead, the lead and the second graph were used to establish the relationship between the Ehrnreiters.

The third graph is being used as the nut graph because the reader needs the crucial information by at least the third graph if the reader is going to continue reading.

The story continues with factual information on the death of the couple for the next few graphs before focusing once more on the couple and how their neighbors and friends felt about them.

The emphasis of the story is clearly more focused on the lives of the Ehrnreiters rather than just the fact that they died in a fire. This is effective because a couple dying in a fire might not quite register as newsworthy in itself, which is why the article is written in a feature style more than strictly hard news.

The story could have simply focused on the hard news aspect of the story, but it seems to be more effective as it stands.

The story is mainly structured around stories about the 93-year-old couple and how they cared for each other to elicit an emotional response from the reader.

The writer sets the tone of the article through the feature structure. This shows that the important information in this story not only the hard news elements, but also the emotional elements.

Dayton vetoes $900 million budget cut bill

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a Republican bill that would result in $900 million in budget cuts to the current $6.2 billion deficit.

Dayton found the bill hasty and unfair because it would increase Minnesota property taxes $428 million over the next two years, the Star Tribune reported.

The bill that was passed by both the House and the Senate would have cut funding to the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges, and Universities and human services, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Republicans saw the veto as the first sign of bipartisan retaliation, sparking tension between the Republicans and DFLers.

Overall, Dayton said he did not agree with the Republicans' "piecemeal approach" to solving Minnesota's budget crisis.

Elderly couple die in Ham Lake house fire

A 93-year-old Ham Lake couple was found dead in their after a house fire on Friday.

Walter and Ellen Ehrnreiter were together for over 70 years after they met while Walter was in the Navy during World War II, the Star Tribune reports.

The fire currently appears to be an accident, with the culprit likely being a wood-burning insert in the fireplace used to heat the house, Lt. Paul Sommer, spokesman for the Anoka County sheriff's office told the Pioneer Press.

Neighbors and friends of the Ehrnreiters shared many fond memories of the longtime couple, such as Walter's knack for fishing and Ellen's highly religious nature.

Many were surprised by their death, but not by the fact that they died together, seeing as they were so dependent on one another through the years.

Obama plans to expand wireless access across the U.S.

President Barack Obama spoke about a large expansion of wireless internet across the U.S. while at Northern Michigan University Thursday.

The plan is to use $18 billion in federal funds to connect 98 percent of the country to the internet wirelessly within five years, the Washington Post said.

Auctioning off space on the radio spectrum to commercial wireless carriers to help create airwave space for wireless users is part of Obama's initiative, which could raise nearly $30 billion in 10 years, in a USA Today story. $10 billion will possibly be used to develop a national broadband network for public safety agencies and $5 billion for the expansion of wireless to rural areas.

Obama compared the importance of wireless expansion to how building railroads and federal highway systems was an innovation important to the success of Americans.

"Polite Robber" also known as "Transaction Bandit"

A Seattle man has gained notoriety for being the "Polite Robber" after robbing a Seattle convenience store Saturday with what the owner thought to be remarkable politeness, USA Today reports.

Gregory P. Hess has been suspected to be the alleged "Polite Robber."

He was a convicted bank robber known to the FBI as the "Transaction Bandit." He received the nickname after he was known for asking bank tellers for small change before telling them to empty their drawers, in a Seattle Times report.

Hess has also apparently used the "Polite Robber" routine before in a string of robberies back in 2003.

Unlike his claims in the video, Hess apparently lived in the basement of a home, did not have kids living with him, and had not paid rent on a regular basis, King County Sheriff's Sergeant John Uruquart said in a KIRO Radio story.

Meeting between North and South Korea ends abruptly

North and South Korean military officials ended their two-day meeting on Wednesday without agreeing to a higher-level discussion.

The meeting allegedly collapsed after North Korea walked out and did not take responsibility for its previous actions, such as sinking one of South Korea's patrol ships last March and attacking one of their islands last November, in a Voice of America News story.

Though North Korean officials blamed South Korea for halting discussion because South Korea focused too much on the attacks, which North Korea refuses to acknowledge, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The U.S. government was watching for the discussion for the possibility of reaching diplomacy with Pyongyang, but it turned out to be a missed opportunity.

Although the U.S. still remains optimistic, citing the notion that North and South Korea will need to have more discussions if they want to have a more open dialogue.

The attribution for the Wall Street Journal article utilizes a wide range of sources.

Quotes were used sparingly when attributing sources, primarily to show point-of-view, such as when a business man calls Wael Ghonim a hero and a leader of a revolution.

Oftentimes though, the article simply paraphrases sources when it is simply information, like what Ghonim has done as an activist. It's important information that must be attributed, but not necessarily quoted.

A wide range of sources were used for this article, such as family members of Ghonim, business associates, organizations, US officials, researchers, and even Ghonim's personal Facebook profile.

Most important information within this article was attributed carefully. It does a good job of telling the reader where the reporters received their information.

The reporters also acknowledge when people declined to comment on the issue, such as when US officials declined to comment in this article or that Egyptian authorities haven't released information on Ghonim.

The article utilizes sources from beginning to end, attributing well over a dozen sources. This is important for this article because there is important information and the reporters needed to do much research and interviewing for the purpose of the article.

A previously missing Google executive for the Middle East, Wael Ghonim, is expected to be released by the Egyptian authorities Monday afternoon, Ghonim's family said Sunday night.

Ghonim's whereabouts have been unknown since Jan. 28, while many suspected he was responsible for helping to organize protests through technology, such as Facebook and YouTube.

Ghonim was believed to be one of the creators of Facebook pages that raised awareness of issues within the Egyptian government in the months before the Jan. 25 protests began, according to the Wall Street Journal.

His role in organizing the protests themselves, which stemmed from YouTube and Facebook pages with members reaching up to 450,000 members, remains unclear, the New York Times said.

Ghonim's family members are not entirely confident about his return, but they remain hopeful.

400 super bowl fans denied seats

400 Super Bowl attendees were not able to attend the game Sunday because temporary seating at Cowboys Stadium was decidedly unsafe.

About 1,250 fans were affected by the unsafe seating, with 850 being relocated within the stadium, in a Star Tribune reported by the Associated Press.

The 400 fans who were not given alternative seating received refunds of triple face value, though most fans were still left angry after the experience.

Fans waited outside the stadium for over an hour after four of the 10 entrances were closed off due to hazardous ice encrusted on the roof of the stadium, ESPN reports.

Brian McCarthy, NFL spokesperson, announced that the 400 displaced fans were given access to the field-level club behind the Pittsburgh Steelers bench to watch the game on monitors. They were also given the option to replace their $800 tickets with $350 standing room only ticket, though the value difference would not be reimbursed.

New SeaWorld killer whale show without trainers in the water

SeaWorld trainers will no longer work in the water with killer whales during shows after the death of an Orlando trainer last year forced organizers to change their approach.

The classic show, now called "One Ocean," will feature the killer whales performing with fountains, underwater imagery, and giant LCD screens, the Los Angeles Times reports.

This reworking has been in the works since Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by a six-ton orca at SeaWorld last February.

New safety measures will be implemented to the facilities as well, Julie Scardina, SeaWorld Parks' curator of animal training, told the Orlando Sentinel.

The new killer whale show will be a part of a $200 million renovation that will add 10 new attractions to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, making for the largest single-year capital investment in the company's history.

Minnesota Senate passes new teaching license bill

The Minnesota Senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow alternative ways to become a teacher, resulting in a 40-23 vote.

The legislation provides a way for younger and mid-career professionals the opportunity to get into teaching faster without the long licensing process.

The bill would give the opportunity for 2-year teaching licenses, but still require a bachelor's degree, exams and a minimum of 200 hours of classroom preparation, the Star Tribune says.

Education Minnesota, a union for the state's teachers, expressed concerns for the bill, claiming that supervision for the inexperienced teachers and a degree in the field they are teaching should also be necessary, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Supporters of the bill still claim the alternative licensing process works, citing the 35 other states that have had success with similar legislature.

Fired Chipotle workers sue for back pay

A group of former Chipotle employees sued the restaurant for not complying to Minnesota law, which requires all back pay to be distributed within 24 hours.

The restaurant received the backlash after firing many of its Minnesota employees who couldn't prove their ability to work in the US.

The Service Union Employees International Union Local 26 claimed that 700 workers were fired, according to the Pioneer Press. A source close to the Chipotle investigation told the Star Tribune the number was closer to 350 fired employees.

Chipotle said in a statement that the employees have been paid everything they were owed including wages, claiming that the lawsuit has no merit.

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