February 2010 Archives

Multimedia Analysis

This Star Tribune article about a home explosion features a video of firefighting units working on the blaze, as well as an interview with an eyewitness, the fire-chief, and a Center Point spokeswoman. Text in the video is limited to bold descriptive section titles. The page also features a photo slide show, with single-sentence cutlines that describe what is happening in the photo. These complement the news story by providing visual context to the article.

WCCO
follows a similar format, with a photo slideshow using one sentence descriptive cutlines as well as an embed of their TV coverage. However, WCCO's main body text is shorter than the Star Tribune's.

Home Explodes in Edina

No one was hurt when a house exploded at West 50th St. and Arden Ave. Tuesday afternoon, according to WCCO.
The explosion happened when a cable company contractor severed an underground gas line nearby, a spokeswoman for Centerpoint Energy said in this Star Tribune article.
Residents were evacuated one block north and one block south until the leak is located.
Homeowner Jeannette Auguston said the house was empty when it exploded. "We are so glad we weren't home, and so grateful for everyone's support."
According to Hennepin County Records, the house was worth an estimated $538,900.

One Shot, Another Injured in Woodbury Domestic Dispute

A man was shot and a woman injured during an apparent domestic dispute in Woodbury Monday morning, police told the Star Tribune.
The man was taken to Regions hospital for an abdominal gunshot wound. The woman suffered a head injury that did not result from gunfire, and was taken to Woodwinds Hospital.
According to the Pioneer Press, children were removed from the home and taken into police custody.
The Star Tribune reports that a handgun was found at the scene, and that there had been no previous police calls to the residence, located on the 2200 block of Kings Drive.

Obama Announces New Healthcare Plan

President Obama has unveiled a new health care reform proposal, aimed at achieving bipartisan support to revive stalled legislation, according to the BBC.
Obama's plan largely resembles the Senate's version of the health care bill, and contains no new major concessions to Republicans, reports the New York Times. The White House said the plan would cost $950 billion over a decade.
Republicans have attacked the proposal. The house minority leader, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, called it "the same massive government takeover of health care."
This is the first time the president has put forth his own proposal on health care, according to the Times article.

Afghan Civilians Killed in NATO Strike

A NATO helicopter attack killed 30 Afghan civilians, along with 69 Taliban fighters, according to an Afghani government official quoted in Al Jazeera.
The New York Times places the number of civilians killed at 27.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemned the attack. "The repeated killing of civilians by NATO forces is unjustifiable," he said.
General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, apologized for the attack and promised to redouble efforts to avoid civilian casualties.
NATO officials have not revealed the nationality of forces involved, according to the New York Times.

Texas IRS Building Attacked with Plane

A disgruntled computer engineer crashed a small plane onto an IRS building in Austin, Texas Thursday morning, reports the New York Times.
The BBC reports that the man, identified as Joseph Andrew Stack, left behind writings that criticized the government, big business, and particularly the IRS, saying "violence is the only answer." Web postings by Stack indicate he was having problems with the IRS, says the BBC.
Stack is believed to have died in the crash, while one other person is unaccounted for, reports the Times.
The building was engulfed in flames, but only two men were injured, according to the New York Times.
Austin police and Homeland Security Department officials have emphasized that this was an isolated incident and there is no indication of links to terrorism.

Top Taliban Commander Captured

The top Afghan Taliban military commander Mullah Abdual Ghani Baradar has been captured in Pakistan, U.S. officials said in this BBC report.
Baradar reportedly manages all long-term strategic planning for the Afghan Taliban. U.S. officials believe his capture could have a large effect on the Taliban insurgency's operations.
The capture is part of a NATO offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan's south.
The New York Times reports that analysts believe the arrest is a strategic coup for Pakistani intelligence forces, positioning Pakistan for a more involved role in dealing with the Taliban.
The Taliban have denied the arrest.

Pawlenty Hopes to Slash Budget (Again)

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled a budget proposal Monday that would cut aid to cities, counties, and human services to tackle a $1.2 billion state budget deficit, reports the Star Tribune.
The proposal would cut $250 million from aid to local government, $347 million from human services programs, $47 million from higher education, and $181 million from other programs, according to the governor's office.
Pawlenty's proposal also includes a 20 percent tax cut for small business and corporations, costing the state $278 million in tax revenues through 2013.
Pawlenty said these cuts would improve the business and job climate in the state. According to the Pioneer Press, DFL leaders have criticized Pawlenty for a budget they say hurts Minnesota and benefits corporations. They say his cuts will hit public safety programs despite the governor's previous pledges to protect them.

Structure Analysis

In this Star Tribune news story about the State Senate voting to extend the General Assistance Medical Care program, information is organized in a standard inverted pyramid.

The lead summarizes in general the key who, what, and when information. The story becomes progressively more specific as it continues. The second paragraph lists the specific tally of votes. The third paragraph outlines some specifics of the GAMC and it's cost. The fourth and fifth paragraphs are devoted to giving both the Democrat and Republican responses to the vote.

The information has been ordered this way to provide the reader with the most important information first, becoming progressively less important. This story could have been done differently, for example using a martini-glass story structure. However, this is a hard news story and does not lend itself well to any format other than the inverted pyramid.

Blizzard Slams Northeast

Blizzards have strained public services and government operations in Washington D.C. since Monday, reports the BBC.
Winds have been recorded gusting up to 60 mph by the National Weather Service.
Plowing operations have been suspended due to hazardous conditions in the nation's capital.
Government offices remain closed for the third day, and the House of Representatives has canceled all votes this week.
Nearby Baltimore is expected to receive more than 20 inches of snow. According to the New York Times, the average yearly snowfall there is 18 inches of snow a year. The city has banned all public traffic on roadways, the BBC reports.

Ex-Gopher Pleads Guilty

Former Gopher basketball player Royce White has plead guilty to a single count of trespassing, reports the Pioneer Press. The former University of Minnesota freshman had been charged with three counts of trespassing in an investigation into the theft of a laptop from a dorm.
White's lawyer said White must serve 50 hours community service and pay a $100 fine, and that the offense will be expunged if he has no legal troubles for a year.
According to the Star Tribune, White was a sought-after recruit. He was unable to play this season due to suspension after an Oct. 13 incident at Mall of America. He received a stayed sentence and served no time.
White withdrew from the university last week. While Gophers coach Tubby Smith is willing to let White return next year, White has said he would only do so under "perfect circumstances," reports the Star Tribune.

Iran To Create Higher-Grade Nuclear Fuel

Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency Tuesday that it will enrich nuclear fuel to a higher grade, reports Al Jazeera.
According to the BBC, Iran plans to enrich fuel to 20 percent, giving it the capability to produce medical isotopes. Iran currently enriches fuel to four percent, which is suitable for energy generation. A nuclear weapon requires 90% enriched fuel.
According to David Albright of Washington's Institute for Science and International Security, the step to 20% enrichment "would be going most of the rest of the way to weapon-grade uranium."
The United States and France are alarmed by this action and have called for new sanctions on Iran, says Al Jazeera. "The only path that is left to us at this point, it seems to me, is that pressure track but it will require all of the international community to work together," Said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Major Snowstorm Hits Twin Cities

The Twin Cities are expected to receive upwards of 10 inches of snow from a slow-moving storm that will last into Tuesday, says the Star Tribune.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports hazardous road conditions across the state, said the Star Tribune. According to the article, Twin Cities traffic is flowing smoothly in general, except for a rollover on I-94 and a spinout on Highway 169. Both accidents are blocking traffic.
The Pioneer Press reports that MnDOT has closed I-35 in Lakeville after a semi-truck crashed there.
Officials are waiting to declare a snow emergency, hoping to avoid plowing twice, said the Star Tribune.

Attribution Analysis

Only two sources are used in this Star Tribune article about a driver's fiery encounter with a wayward mattress on I-494.

Quotes and paraphrased information from driver Kathy Rich and witness James Wood comprise almost the entire story. All attribution is from people, with no documents or records referenced. Attribution is effective as it is easy to tell where each piece of information originated. The author was able to avoid repetitive attribution, using multiple structures.

The author could have strengthened this story by including police or fire officials as sources to corroborate and confirm the eyewitness/participant information, and to lend credibility and an official voice to the piece.

Two women escaped unharmed when a mattress became stuck under their SUV and caught fire on Interstate 494 in Woodbury, reports the Star Tribune.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, driver Kathleen Rich didn't see the wayward mattress until it was too late to avoid it. She didn't realize the mattress was wedged under the car until other alarmed drivers motioned for her to pull over. After she stopped and exited the SUV, flames shot up from the underside of the car. The car burst into flames moments later.

"When I look at the pictures on the Internet, we are grateful that we are alive. We had just gassed up," Rich said in the Star Tribune article.

Blair Accused of Lying to Cabinet Ministers on Iraq War

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair "misled" his cabinet over the Iraq War, according to an ex-member of his cabinet quoted in this BBC article. Former International Development Secretary Clare Short, who resigned two months after the March 2003 invasion over post-war planning , has charged that Blair misrepresented advice from Attorney General Lord Goldsmith over the legality of the invasion, and leaned on the Attorney General to change his advice.

Clare's testimony stands in contrast to that of Blair, who said he had no regrets about his handling of the war, calling Saddam Hussein "a monster," reports the New York Times.

Mr Blair is unpopular at home, accused with blindly following the U.S.'s lead into an illegal war and with profiting from his stature as a former prime minister, according to the Times.

The inquiry's mission is to examine events between 2001 and 2009, including the decision to go to war, preparation of troops, conduct of the conflict, and planning for the aftermath, according to the BBC.

Obama's 2011 Budget Revealed

President Obama unveiled his $3.8 trillion federal budget for 2011 on Monday, reports the New York Times. The plan includes $100 billion in additional tax cuts and public works funding, and will produce a $1.6 trillion budget deficit. Despite this, Obama said the plan will produce a reduction in the deficit over the next decade. "We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences," he said.

According to the BBC, Obama placed the blame for the deficit on President George W Bush, and on spending necessary to prevent economic collapse this past year. The president said that measures needed to help the economy precluded cutting the deficit immediately.

The BBC reports the president will seek to save $250 billion by freezing spending on a series of domestic programs for three years.

The budget provides $100 billion for programs to lower unemployment, which will be partially offset by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans attacked these tax increases and charged that Obama had failed to control government spending, says the BBC.

President Obama's budget must be approved by Congress before it can take effect.

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