December 2012 Archives

Analysis: Data sets

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For this week's analysis, I looked at "13th Grade: How Florida Schools Are Failing to Prepare Graduates for College" from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

The issue explored by this article -- why Florida students are graduating from high school without being able to "read, write, or solve math problems well enough to take some college-level courses" -- is one with a variety of sources, none of which are without their controversies. This means that not only did the authors have to hunt for various types of statistics and information from a multitude of sources, but they also had to work hard to ensure that the facts they were using were all sound and reliable.

The authors had to know what to look for -- which means they had to brainstorm all the different types of sources that could explain this issue, and then hunt for relevant information and data. First of all, the authors use information regarding school records -- that more than half of high school graduates who took the college placement test in the 2010-2011 school year found out they had to take at least on remedial course in college to boost skill, for example. This required taking data from education departments and perhaps other sources across the state, specifically regarding college placement tests and demand for remedial courses. They reference things like the "Florida College System Readiness report"

Then, the authors explored economic data. One of the factors behind the crisis of remedial education at community and state colleges that they chose to discuss was the Great Recession. This means that they had to dissect relevant economic data in order to intelligently discuss the reasoning behind this argument, too.

The authors also assert that there is a disconnect between what students are learning in K-12 schools and what they need in order to be successful in college. For this section, they analyzed things like curriculum and graduation requirements, Florida's history of change and primary education reform, and more.

The authors of this article did not utilize many "online tools" in order to engage the reader. They did not include charts or anything to pictorially display the many statistics they write about in their article; the only images were headshots of the people quoted in the article. The article was accompanied by a radio report from State Impact Florida, though, which was kind of unique to see on a news organization's website. I like this combination of media forms; it was interesting to listen to the clip while reading the article.

The most notable work of the authors of this article seems to be research. They looked at a lot of different data and spoke with different people from a variety of sources. I'm sure they also did more than a little data analysis in computer programs like SPSS, that help statistics become a little bit clearer. Whereas they did not choose to use online tools, I would have appreciated a few graphics that really illustrated the basics of this issue. It was a long article with many blocks of text and a lot of numbers -- I think the statistics would have had more impact on me if I had seen them displayed graphically or visually rather than just read about them through text.

Baby switched at hospital, breastfed by wrong mom

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A newborn will undergo a year of tests for HIV and hepatitis after a Wednesday hospital mix-up resulted in the wrong mother breastfeeding him, news sources report.

Cody, the newborn son of Tammy Van Dyke, was accidentally put in the wrong bassinet in Abbott Northwestern Hospital, as the Pioneer Press reported.

"You put your baby in the nursery, not even 48-hours old, and you think they're safe," Van Dyke told ABC News. "I'm holding it together. I'm just in disbelief, and it was like I was in a dream, a bad dream, and I couldn't get it to stop," Van Dyke said, as ABC news reported.

Van Dyke was given the details of what had happened two hours after the incident occurred. She was just about to leave the hospital with her new baby, the Pioneer Press reported.

Cody had to immediately undergo blood testing for HIV and hepatitis. The tests came back negative, but the hospital told Van Dyke that Cody would need to return for blood testing every three months for the first year of his life, ABC News reported.

Hospital spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell said these tests were just a precaution. She could not say more because of patient confidentiality, ABC News reported.

Van Dyke spoke to the other mother, which she said gave her "peace of mind."
"She was just as distraught as me that this happened to her," Van Dyke said, as the Pioneer Press reported.

A letter of apology from Abbott Northwestern to Van Dyke read as follows: "Please accept this letter with our sincerest apologies for what occurred today at the hospital, that in the nursery your newborn son was placed in the wrong bassinette and then was taken to the wrong mother and breastfed. The hospital agrees to pay for the additional testing that you had done today and will also pay for the tests recommended for your son related to this incident up to one year," ABC News reported.

Mexican-American singer thought to be dead

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The remnants of a small plane thought to have been carrying Mexican-American music star Jenni Rivera was found in northern Mexico on Sunday. There were no survivors, authorities said, as many news sources report.

"There is nothing recognizable, neither material nor human," Mexico's Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said. The remains of the plane "are scattered over an area of 250 to 300 meters," Esparza said. "It is almost unrecognizable," he said, as the Associated Press reported.

Esparza said "everything points toward" that this plane was indeed that which was carrying Rivera and six other people from Monterrey to Toluca, just outside Mexico City, the Associated Press reported.

The singer had just given a concert in Monterrey. She was 43, Billboard reported.

No cause was given for the plane's crash. The area in which it was found, though -- near the town of Iturbide in Mexico's Sierra Madre Oriental -- is known for its rough terrain, Billboard reported.

The Learjet 25, number N345MC, left Monterrey at 3:30 a.m. and was reported missing about 10 minutes later, the Associated Press reported.

Celebrities and media organizations sent condolences to Rivera's family on Sunday even though it has not been confirmed that she was aboard the plane yet. Authorities said there will be an investigation to identify the remains found at the crash site, Billboard reported.

The other passengers on the plane were believed to be her publicist, her lawyer, makeup artist and the flight crew, the Associated Press reported.

T-Mobile to distribute iPhone

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T-Mobile USA, the only major U.S. wireless carrier that doesn't offer the iPhone, will begin distributing it next year, news sources report.

T-Mobile executives have said that not carrying the iPhone has contributed to T-Mobile losing valuable contract customers to its competitors. T-Mobile said the agreement with Apple fills a key competitive gap, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"We have now added the final piece to the jigsaw to boost the competitiveness of T-Mobile USA sustainably," Rene Obermann, chairman of T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom, said, as the Wall Street Journal reported.

Already, 1.7 million iPhones run on the T-Mobile network. The AT&T version of the iPhone can work on T-Mobile because it runs on similar network technology, but because the wireless frequencies are different, using the iPhone on T-Mobile's network tends to be a much slower experience, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The terms of the deal with Apple were not announced. New T-Mobile CEO John Legere said that the launch of the iPhone would occur in "several months," CNN reported.

The terms of T-Mobile's iPhone deal with Apple were not announced. Legere said the agreement will be profitable by 2014 because T-Mobile will not offer subsidies on the phone, CNN reported.

Local reality show competition finalist comes home

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A local finalist on NBC's singing contest "The Voice," returned home to Minnesota Thursday, celebrating with a performance at the Mall of America, news sources report.

Musician Nicholas David Mrozinski, 32, was greeted by an audience of a couple thousand, joined by NBC cameras, the Star Tribune reported.

Originally from Eagan, Mrozinski was named "The Voice of Eagan" by Mayor Mike Maguire at his homecoming performance. Mrozinski is one of the top four contestants in the singing competition and came home to briefly visit his family before immediately returning to Los Angeles for filming, Patch reported.

Mrozinski performed two songs that he has sang on the show, including Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," Patch reported.

KARE-11's Eric Perkins emceed the event and renamed the Mall of America's amusement park "Nicholas-odeon Universe" as the star performed inside, Star Tribune reported.

Mrozinski is a father of two. This is the first time he has been home since the competition began its live rounds in early October, the Star Tribune reported.

"It's like I'm walking in a dream right now," Mrozinski told Perkins on stage, as the Star Tribune reported.

Toddler accidentally shot and killed by brother

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A 2-year-old died Wednesday after his 4-year-old brother accidentally shot him while playing with his father's gun, news sources report.

The brother of Neegnco Xiong, 2, found a loaded handgun in a bedroom and was playing with it when it discharged and struck Neegnco around 12:45 Wednesday afternoon. He died at the scene after paramedic tried to revive him, the Star Tribune reported.

Sgt. William Palmer of the Minneapolis police called the shooting "a horrible accident" and said it served as a reminder to safely and correctly store all firearms, the Pioneer Press reported.

The parents of the children, Kao Xiong and Ma Vang, were at home in the 1900 block of S. 7th St. when the shooting occurred. Another child, a 1-year-old, was also home, while a 5-year-old sibling was at school, the Star Tribune reported.

The parents were taken downtown by police following the shooting and are under investigation. The children have been placed in protective services. The results of the investigation will be presented to the Hennepin County attorney's office for possible charges against the parents, Palmer said, as the Star Tribune reported.

In a news release, Palmer said, "It is a crime in Minnesota to store a loaded firearm in a manner where a child can gain access to it," the Star Tribune reported.

Guns should not be stored loaded, Palmer said. Firearms should be kept unloaded, with ammunition stored separately. Both should be locked up with a key, Palmer said, as the Pioneer Press reported.

Analysis: Naming Suspects

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For this week's news analysis, I am looking at the article "Arrest made in sex assault of woman near St. Kate's campus in Minneapolis" in the Star Tribune. This news report is based off the Minneapolis Police Department's press release entitled "St. Kate's CSCR suspect arrested in St. Paul."

It's interesting to look at the quick turnaround on this news report. The news release was posted on Facebook at 1:01 p.m., and Paul Walsh's Star Tribune article is listed as being updated at 3:47 p.m.

The most notable differences between the news release and the Star Tribune's article is that the Star Tribune did not use any names in the article. It is clearly its newsroom policy to not name suspects until they have been formally charged; the only identifying details about the suspect are that he is male and his age. In fact, the article explicitly states that the man has not been charged; readers can read between the lines and understand that that is the reason that the article does not contain his name.

Other news organizations, however, do not make this same choice. For example, an article entitled "Suspect Arrested in Sexual Assault Near St. Kate's" on the website for KAAL-TV does choose to name the suspect.

The author also chooses not to explicitly name the police officer who interviewed the suspect, whereas this is listed in the news release. Perhaps it is newsroom policy to keep all names out of this type of article - the very first discussion of a suspect - so as to provide readers with the bare-bones details and fill in the rest as more information is learned. Or perhaps the reporter simply did not find it important to discern which specific officer is involved in the case.

I did not actually previously realize that news releases from the police are published publicly for anyone to find (i.e. on the internet). However, while doing this news analysis, I noticed that the Minneapolis Police Department posts these on its Facebook page! This was very surprising to me. I have known for a long time that newsroom policies about "naming names" are always a top consideration for journalists, but such standards seem slightly less vital now that the general public can access these names anyways. I know that matters of public record have always been available to anyone who wants them, but it's a bit different to have to go to City Hall to search through them, as people did before the internet. Now, they show up on people's Facebook news feeds! This is very interesting to me and brings up an important issue for debate.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2012 is the previous archive.

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