The House of Joe: Where Truth Can Be More Real Than Fiction

May 3, 2007

Chavez announces plan to drop out of IMF and World Bank

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez announced Monday his intention to remove Venezuela from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, lending organizations that have had a controversial role in the developing world, according to the Belfast Telegraph ( Venezuela, due to its large oil wealth, has been able to pay off its debt with both organizations under Chavez (even before schedule), making the declaration largely symbolic.
Chavez has denounced the IMF and World Bank for being run by US and Western interests and corportations, leading to unfair privitization, and establishing greater poverty in Latin America. Chavez has also tried to provide money for countries trying to develop in the region. He has often talked about starting a "Bank of the South." Chavez has also spent millions in government funds to reduce poverty and raise welfare in Venezuela, in a transition to a socialist economy.
Some analysts have claimed Chavez is upset about the IMF's support of a rebel group that led a coup against Chavez in 2002, which left him temporarily out of office.
A day earlier Chavez met with leaders from Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti where he claimed that the IMF and World Bank "sooner or later, those institutions will fall due to their own weight."
According to an AP story, the IMF had already closed its offices in Venezuela late last year ( Chavez often criticized previous administrations for signing IMF deals that lead to inflation. For example, a 1989 deal hiked gas prices, transport fares, and prices, and led to riots that killed over 300 people.
Other Latin American countries like Nicaragua and Equador have also expressed interest in leaving the IMF.

I think these stories were a little unbalanced in their reporting. In neither case did I read any viewpoint of IMF, World Bank, or US officials. Also, I think the articles simply assumed that pulling out those groups would lead to prosperity and didn't mention any negative side effects that could result. For example, another story I read talked about a clause in Venezuela's IMF contract that would default its loan repayment if they left the organization. This fact wasn't mentioned in either of these stories. I thought the AP story did a good job discussing the effects of the IMF in previous presidencies. I simply thought there were too many quotes from Chavez in each story. I think he is the newsmakers, as both leads will show, but there has to be other voices in the background both for support and opposition. I also thought the "Bank of the South" idea was really interesting and should've been expanded in each article.

May 2, 2007

Police shoot suspects in two unrelated cases

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

Two armed men attempting to rob a bar on the North Side of Minneapolis were shot by a police officer who was at the bar Monday afternoon, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune ( The two men emerged from the bathroom of the bar, Legends Bar & Grill at 825 E. Hennepin Av., wearing ski masks and holding guns at about 3:30 p.m. By chance Sgt. Bill Blake, who was on duty and in civilian clothes was sitting at the bar with his cousin. Bill Blake pulled out his gun and yelled "police" before firing at the assailants. One of the men's gun was shot out of his hand. The other man was shot. The suspects fired no shots and escaped out the door. Blake tried to run after the suspects, but lost them after making sure everyone in the bar was ok.
One suspect turned himself in after suffering injuries. The other is still at large.
In an unrelated incident Monday, MInneapolis police officer Tony Adams was working in the North Side when someone aimed a sawed off shotgun at his vehicle around noon.
Adams heard the suspects shoot off several gunshots when he saw them come around a corner. One aimed a shotgun at him. Adams fired several shots at them. A car chase ensued with the suspects shooting at Adam's car, and Adams shooting out the suspect's rear windshield. An unidentified woman was driving the two shooters.
After the suspect's car stopped, one suspect pointed his gun and fled. The other and the driver remained in the car. Adams also discovered weapons and a baby in the car. Adams arrested the two suspects in the car and the suspect who fled was caught later.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the suspect's identities in the cases have not been released ( Blake is apparently a regular customer at Legend's. Police have seized two bicycles and a shotgun wrapped in a blanket in the bar shooting incident. Both officers Blake and Adams have been placed on paid leave as a result of the shootings.

I think the Tribune did a great job telling the stories, although I question the placement of them together. I think that there is a common theme, and it is very uncommon for two incidents like this to occur in one day. However, I think that readers might get the stories confused and some of the facts seem to blend together. However, I also don't like how the Press emphasized the bar story, and summarized the car chase shooting in one graph. I think the reporting here was thorough based on the deadlines. I would've liked the baby angle to be more fully developed by the Tribune in updated pressings. I also think the context of recent shootings in the middle of the story awkwardly separates the nut graph from the chronology and would've been better utilized as a closer. I liked how the Press got quotes from someone who works at the bar for added insight, something the Tribune lacked. Finally, I was confused why the Press article didn't mention the names of the police officers involved while the Tribune did. Is this to protect the cop?

May 1, 2007

Accused escort service operator apologies for outing State Dept. official

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

A woman accused of running a Washington-based escort service apologized Monday for outing a top State Department official as a customer, who had to resign from his post, according to the Canadian Press ( Randall Tobias, head of the U.S. administration's foreign aid programs, abruptly resigned Friday after ABC News revealed he used Deborah Jeane Palfrey's service, Pamela Martin & Associates. Tobias clamied that nothing illegal transpired and he only received massages.
Palfrey turned over the phone numbers of people she has done business with to ABC News before a judge's order refused her from doing so. Palfrey said she felt bad for Tobias, but said she plans to subpoena him and others in the list who will prove her business was legal.
Harlan Ullman, a military strategist who authored the combat strategy known as "shock and awe," was also listed by Palfrey as a client.
Sibley, one of Palfrey's lawyers, said he didn't know whether 20/20 will release other names. ABC executive vice-president said that they are seeking a legitimate news story and they will publish what they deem newsworthy.
According to the Washington Post, Palfrey was allowed to appoint a new lawyer, but not allowed a high-price New York attorney that she wanted ( She was also denied access to stocks that were seized by the federal government.
Originally Palfrey had intended to sell her list of telephone numbers to fund her case, but instead handed some of them to ABC without compensation. She said the revealed list will create a group of defense witnesses for herself.
The government charges Palfrey offered $300-an-hour prostitutes in the Washington area, operating by phone and e-mail from her home in California. Previously she served 18 months in the early 1990s for operating a prostitution ring.

I really liked both of these stories, especially the Washington Post story. I thought it was interesting how the Post lead used a "who" lead, while the AP focused on the "what." I like the "what" more because I don't think Palfrey is identifiable enough. The AP report focuses much more heavily on the Tobias aspect of the story, pushing his perspective to the front. The Post on the other hand spends a lot of time talking about Palfrey's case and her problems with lawyers and fundraising. The AP story did a good job balancing quotes from Palfrey and others, although I don't think the prosecutorial perspective comes out well enough. I like how the exact charges and evidence is listed at the end of the Post story. I also think including the fact that she was jailed before is really important, and the Post handles it well, pushing it to the bottom as to not make it seem incriminating. I think the level of reporting by the Post was superb. If one thing was wrong with it, it included too many quotes from Palfrey which swayed the story in her favor. This helped the reader understand her perspective and the depth and context of her case, but it is also slightly biased.

April 29, 2007

St. Paul Mayor's car hit by alleged drunken driver

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's vehicle was hit by an alleged drunk driver Thursday night, although he was uninjured by the accident, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune ( The alleged drunk driver, Abbie Raymond, 22, of St. Paul was jailed on a charge of driving under the influence. Her registered blood alcohol level was .26, more than three times the local limit.
Coleman was leaving a forum at a church when he stopped at a red light at the intersection of Victoria and Summit. He was struck by Raymond at around 8:40 p.m., according to police.
Police said Raymond could'nt have been traveling more than 12 miles per hour when she struck Coleman's vehicle.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Coleman was with his police escort in his black Crown Victoria while struck by Raymond's Honda sedan ( Raymond was travelling with another person who also appeared to under the influence.
Police said there was only minor to the vehicles.
This is the second time Coleman was involved in a car accident since he was elected.

The Tribune story took a very straightforward, news approach. It is a trimmed-down story with the essential information. It starts with a "who" lead, which makes sense in this case because the mayor is who makes this a story. The story gives the reader very little information about the drunk driver or the accident. It mostly explains the incident in plain language and closes off by saying everyone is okay. In contrast, the Press story could seem superfluous. It includes much more detailed information about the accident, adds more quotes from police, and provides a story of another time Mayor Coleman was hit while driving. I liked the Press's attention to detail. One thing I don't understand is why Raymond is referred to as an alleged drunk driver. It said she was charged with drunk driving and registered a .26 blood alcohol level. I'm not sure why alleged is included.

Plane crash injures three from Hibbing

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

Three members of a Hibbing family were injured Saturday after their plane crashed while attempting to land at Amery airport, according to the Associated Press ( Nobody involved in the crash suffered serious injuries.
The three involved, Lawrence Stoffel, 64, his wife, Rowena Stoffel, 28, and their 6-year-old child, were taken to a nearby hospital, but none had suffered serious injuries.
Lawrence Stossel was trying to land the plane, a single-engine Cessna, when the plane came down into some trees near the runway.
Firefighters put down foam to stop leaking fuel from igniting.
According to the Pioneer Press, the crash occurred at about 4:30 Saturday (
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the causes of the crash.

Both these stories were very short and contained the same information. I think some more vigorous reporting could've been done. Neither story bothered to get a quote from police, or firefighters, or FAA officials. There was minimal description of the crash. The story served its purpose by providing the basic who, what, where, when but did much little. The only thing different between these articles I found interesting was that the Pioneer Press waited much later in the article to say that the family's injuries were minor. It makes me think they were trying to draw the reader in, making the reader wonder whether they are ok or not.

April 26, 2007

Scientists discover Earth-like planet that may contain water

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

A rocky planet, similar to Earth's size, has been discovered located in the Milky Way not to far from Earth, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (
Scientists say the planet lies within its star's habitable zone, where life and oceans could possibly exist. So far, this planet is the smallest "exoplanet" (planet outside our solar system) of nearly 200 discovered by scientists in the last few decades.
The discovery has sparked excitement among scientists internationally.
The planet's sun is a red dwarf, a common variety of star that is much smaller and less hot than our sun. The sun is in the constellation Libra, and lies on 20.5 light years away, a very short distance in astronomical terms.
Because the sun is so cool, the planet is much closer to it than Earth, and orbits its sun every 13 days. The average temperature on the planet ranges from 34 to 104 degrees. The planet is an estimated 5 times the size of Earth.
Some scientists were skeptical. The planet could be gaseous, icy, or rock-like. It will take around two decades of tests to determine if there is water on it.
According to an AP report, most of the speculation about water and life on this planet is not confirmed and based on no hard evidence (
The planet was discovered by a group of European scientists, led by a Swiss man. The discovery was made from an observatory in Chile.

I really liked the Chronicle story because it focused specifically on the discovery and provided a lot of solid, interesting factual information about the planet. This was one instance where I was reading and I didn't want to know to much context about how it was found or by whom. I thought the Chronicle took the right focus. The AP story focused too much on the scientists, which detracted from what was really newsworthy in the story. Both stories did a good job dumbing down the scientific language in concise, understandable terms. The comparisons to Earth also helped illuminate the importance of the discovery. If there was one key problem, it's that dissenting opinions from scientists who don't think this planet could support life were put aside or marginalized.

April 24, 2007

Tamil rebels launch 2nd airstrike in Sri Lanka

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

Rebels planes operated by the Tamil Tigers bombed government military positions in Northern Sri Lanka Tuesday, in the second ever airstrike used by the rebel group, according to the Associated Press (
The military said six soldiers were wounded but troops fire caused the plane to retreat before reaching a key base. Tamil Tigers said that their two planes struck both air and storage facilitites. The military said that the rebels only had one plane, and that it was turned around before reaching the base, only bombing a bunker that injured six soldiers. This occured at a base by the Palay peninsula, a base captured by the government in 1995 that is strategically located to rebel strongholds.
This was the second ever air bombing done by the Tigers, the first which took place last month.
Norway's ambassador, who has been working as a mediator between the sides, was asked to leave ethnic Tamil area, leaving some to speculate that an attack might occur.
Norway had helped establish a cease-fire in 2002, but recent months of renewed fighting have taken almost 4,000 lives.
According to the Austrailian Herald Sun, more than 60,000 people have died as a result of the civil unrest (,21985,21616013-5005961,00.html). However, according to this story, both Tamil and government sources said that six soldiers were killed, not wounded.
The Tamil Tigers are believed to be the only rebel group in the world to possess both naval and air capabilities.

I found it surprising that the AP story said that the soldiers were wounded, while the Sun claimed they had died. I don't think it is a matter of when the stories were published. However, since both govt. and rebel forces matched with each other in each story, it makes me wonder where the descrepancy.
I thought the AP story was severely lacking in background. First of all, how big is the Tamil rebel force? How long has this conflict taken place? How did they get planes? What social implications on civilians does this conflict have? The Sun story does a little bit better job answering some of these questions, but to a limited extent. I also didn't like how the Sun story started with four straight quotes from a Tamil Tiger. I thought the part about cricket was funny, but should have been moved to the back. I preferred how the AP balanced the two different perspectives of what happened back-and-forth. The Sun story seemed a little slanted.

Georgian school holds its first integrated prom

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

A Georgian high school broke tradition, holding its first racially integrated prom Saturday, according to an AP story (
Students at Turner County High School in Ashburn, Ga., had traditionally held separate, unofficial proms, one raised by white students for themselves and one raised by blacks for themselves.
However, at the start of this year, four senior class officers decided they wanted one unified prom. School prinicpal Chad Stone helped the students fund the party with $5,000 in discretionary funds.
Turner County is small, with only 4,000 people and mainly focused on the peanut industry. The high school is one thing that gives the area a sense of community. The school had also recently named a single homecoming queen, removing an old tradition of having a black and white queen.
Despite efforts at unification, many upper-class white students did not buy tickets to the prom and some white students held a small party a week before prom.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Mandy Albertson and James Hall, a white female and black male who have been longtime friends, had been planning this prom since middle school ( James Hall, the senior class president, came to Stone with the idea. Hall said that in previous years the administration had said the students didn't support a unified prom and they even rejected a referendum on the idea a few years ago.
Another woman, Tameka Jones, a black women who graduated from Turner HS in 1995 said the event is only a short-step to help race relations. There is railroad track in towns separating white and black neighborhoods, often referred to as "the line."
Principal Stone said that one, integrated prom will now be the tradition, as long as he is principal.

I really liked both these stories. The AP story takes a more hard news approach, with limited quotes and an emphasis on the hard facts. The story balances the perspective of the school administration with that of the students. There is also some good description of the events. I thought the history of the situation was left a little vague. On the other hand, the Monitor piece was very detailed, taking more of a "feature" approach. The lead is a catchy, although slightly cliched, statement about the connectivity of the student body. The Monitor piece utilized lots of quotes and surprisingly long ones. To balance this, there was a lot of detailed description of the ceremony and the people in the story. Each person interviewed jumps off the page. The story does a great job expressing humanity. The story also establishes a sense of history better than the AP story, although I still think more information should've been brought in. I also think both stories missed the perspective of the parents. But I thought overall the reporting was thorough.

April 22, 2007

Teen fatally shot on Metro Transit bus in downtown St. Paul

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

A St. Paul teenager was shot and killed on a Metro Transit bus in downtown St. Paul early Sunday, according to the Associated Press ( The shooting followed a dispute between two groups of young people on the bus.
After one group got off, a young man shot through the rear access door and hit a 16-year-old in the chest. The victim's name has not been released.
According to a security recording, the suspect is in his late teens, and was wearing a white T-shirt and dark, baggy pants. He is currently at large.
The shooting happened at Fifth and Sibley Street. St. Paul and Metro Transit officers were investigating.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the shooting happened on Route 74 ( Police are not sure whether the violence is gang-related nor do they know the details of the dispute. This incident is the third serious violent attack on a Metro Transit bus since early March. Metro Transit Police Chief Dave Indrehus said Metro Transit hasn't seen this kind of violence in years and that it reflects the life on the streets. He also said they are increasing security by adding more police and improving security camera systems.

The biggest difference between these articles I want to discuss is the mention of race. In the description of the suspect, the Tribune says the suspect is black, while the AP story omits this. I do not like when race is brought into a story when it is not needed, and I think the media unevenly focuses on predominantly black, inner-city violence. That being said, I think the race of the suspect is very important here because the suspect is at large and police need all the information they can get. I also liked how the Tribune put the story in the wider context of recent violence on Metro Transit buses. The Tribune story was also more detailed, giving the Bus Route number and also giving a better description of the events, although stopping short of a chronology. The quotes from Indrehus were also very interesting and provided an interesting viewpoint on street violence and bus security.

Opposition wants Nigerian vote annulled

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

The top opposition leader in Nigeria's presidential election wants Saturday's vote to be annulled, after he claimed that the ruling party corrupted and skewed the election, according to an Associated Press article (
Vice President Atiku Abubaka, who recently had a falling out with President Obasanjo, said it was the worst election Nigeria had ever seen. He called for the results to be rejected and for a new vote to be held.
The national Electoral Comission Chairman Maurice Iwu said the was free and fair and defended it's legitmacy.
However, The Transition Monitoring Group, an independent election monitoring group and the largest in Nigeria, called for the election to be annulled, saying voting hadn't even taken place in many of the Nigeria's 36 states.
Local reporters witnessed that many polls ran out of ballots, didn't ever recieve ballots. There were also reports of intimidation at polling places by thugs with guns. Many of the places that experienced these problems were in oppostion strongholds.
The other opposition leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, said that no election had taken place.
Election officials said the hoped to announce the results Monday.
According to a BBC story, Obasanjo is stepping down from the presidency and his ruling party, the People's Democratic Party, had chosen Umaru Yar'Adua to replace him (
There was also an attempt to blow up the election headquarters. Policemen were killed in one state while escorting election officials. Some armed men stole election ballot boxes in another state.
The new government willl take power on May 29th, and if elections aren't regulated, some believe that upset opposition parties could incite violence and create a power struggle.

I found it interesting that each of these articles focused on different aspects of the election fraud. The AP story downplayed the violence, instead focusing on the ballots showing up late at polling places or certain names not being on the ballot. The BBC story played up the violence, giving several examples of officials and civilians being killed in armed struggles. I think the BBC story did a slightly better job getting a complete view of the election problems. The descriptions of violence give the reader a more visceral idea of how corrupt the elections were. One problem I had with both stories is that they neglected to develop some political and historical context. For example, why is Obasanjo stepping down? What are his policies? Why did Abubakar fall out with the ruling party? Is violence common in Nigerian elections? The narrow focus of each story, which want just to look at the specific problems of this election, doesn't help the reader see the systemic influence of corruption on the society and on the fabric of democracy.

April 19, 2007

No bomb found in University of Minnesota buildings after threat warrants evacuation

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

No bomb was discovered after a note found in a University of Minnesota building warned of bombs going off in several buildings on campus, triggering an evacuation of several buildings, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press ( The note was found in the men's bathroom of Smith Hall, home of the University's chemistry department. Kohltoff, Smith, Frasier, Johnston and Morrill halls as well as the Walter Library and the Science Classroom Building were all evacuated initially. Appleby Hall was evacuated later.
Due to the Monday's incident at Virginia Tech, where a gunman shot and killed 32 people, authorities were not willing to take any chances. There are no suspects and the FBI was notified.
Classes were cancelled for the rest of the night for those buildings, while campus activity continued in all other buildings.
The note threatened five buildings on campus. University officials said they were anticipating copycat attempts and hoaxes of Monday's tragedy.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, authorities described the evacuation efforts as calm and orderly ( Students were said to be more in a state of confusion than panic.
The threat also disrupted a meeting of U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. She and others were evacuated from a meeting room in McNamara Alumni Center. Secret Service agents were sent in and found no bomb. The rest of the building was not evacuated.

I thought it was interesting that the Press story waited until the fourth graph to reveal that no bombs were found, while the Tribune put that in the lead. Both stories had very similar structures. Focusing on the specifics of the threat and the evacuation efforts taken by police. These parts were well sourced, using good quotes from Hestness and other university officials. The Press article ended by focusing more on the student reaction to the threat, with several quotes from different students evacuated because of the bombs. I liked the human aspect but I thought it was given a little too much weight in the story. On the other side, the Tribune story didn't get any student reaction, which I felt made the story slightly incomplete. It focused much more heavily on the efforts of the U of M to notify students of the threat. I like the inclusion of the Transport Secretary story. That was interesting to read and closed off the story in an interesting way.

April 17, 2007

Mayor of Nagasaki, Japan shot

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

The major of the Japanese city of Nagasaki was shot on Tuesday, while police have arrested one supsect in the case, according to a Reuters report (
Mayor Itcho Ito, 61, was shot near a train station at 8:00 p.m. He was taken to a hospital after suffering two shots to the back. Ito is running for re-election in Sunday's election.
Nagasaki police arrested one suspect, Tetsuya Shiroo, 59, a member of a gang affiliated with Yamaguchi Gumi crime syndicate. He was arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of the mayor.
The motive is unclear, but Shiroo is said to have been critical of Ito and his bidding for public works projects.
According to an AP report, Ito did not appear responsive to efforts of resuscitation at the scene of the crime (
He is currently in critical condition. In 1990, former Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima was shot and seriously wounded by "rightists" critical of Motoshima's efforts to place blame on World War II war crimes of Emperor Hirohito.
Ito is backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Gun violence in Japan is mostly conducted by organized crime, known as yakuza. Japan has very strict laws banning handguns.

I found it interesting that Reuters named the suspect while the AP story had not released his name. Otherwise both stories had the same information about the suspect, including his intention and organized crime affiliation. I also thought it was strange that both stories mentioned that Nagasaki was destroyed by an atomic bomb in WWII. This doesn't seem necessary. I think most readers have a general idea where Nagasaki is, and it's not a claim to fame that really adds to the context of the story at all. What I would have liked in both stories was a little more information about Japanese crime syndicates and how they operate. The AP story did a slightly better job describing Ito's background and the recent scandals he has been wrapped up in. They also gave a party affiliation that was important.

Gunman kills 32 in deadliest shooting in U.S. history

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

An unidentified gunman shot and killed 32 people in a classroom building at Virginia Tech Monday, in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States, according to CNN (
Two shootings occured on campus, one around 7:15 in the morning at a dormitory on campus where two people were killed, and one about two hours later at a classroom building where at least 30 people were killed, including the gunman who appears to have taken his own life. Police are still investigating whether the incidents are related. About 30 more students were wounded in the classroom shooting at Norris Hall.
Witnesses in the building described the shooter as a young man, dressed like a boyscout, with a black ammunition vest, and of Asian descent.
The shooter apparently attacked more than one classroom. A .22 caliber handgun and a 9mm handgun were recovered at the scene.
Students in the classroom building pretended to be dead to hide from the shooter. The shooter just opened the door and fired into the rooms, being very quiet and calm. Some students tried to hide behind locked doors. Others even jumped out of windows.
By the time police arrived on the scene, after breaking through doors that were chained, the shooting had stopped.
The dormitory shooting, at West Ambler Johnston Hall, left Courtney Dalton dead, according to a friend of hers.
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said that the first shooting was viewed as an isolated incident and it was decided not to shut down the whole school.
According to the Washington Post, the incidents were related (
The shooter shot a young woman and a resident advisor at the dormitory, killing them both. A professor was among the dead in the classroom shooting, although he has not been identified.
Some investigators have began to think that the dorm incident was a domestic dispute, but that has not been determined, nor has the girl who was killed been identified as the shooter's intended target.
President Bush offered his condolscenes to all the victims and their families. Governor Tim Kaine declared a state of emergency and is on his way back from Tokyo. He is expected to attend a vigil that will be held Tuesday.

I found it interesting how different these stories were. First of all, the CNN story still claimed the incidents may not have been related while the Washington seems to indicate they are. This is a huge detail and I was very suprised to find different accounts. Also, I question CNN's release of one of the victim's names. The girl's family may not have been notified and their source was not police, but a friend. I think they should've waited out of sensitivity until the police officially released the name. I was also surprised to find out that the fact that this is the deadliest shooting in U.S. history was not mentioned in CNN's lead. It was bold move, but I thought it was original, as every other lead I read including that information. I found it interesting that the CNN story begins with witness accounts of the killings, sometimes in vivid detail, which does work to draw in the viewer. However, I did like the Washington Post's story more because it felt more thorough. It summarized the first story in about half a page, and then broke the story up into a few different chronologies, then closing with several eyewitness accounts. The attention to detail was very impressive. I do think both stories slightly neglect the police's role in investigating the incident and the appropriateness of their response. I think that the police were probably hesitant to speak, so the media went to interview students. This is dangerous territory, because a journalist could get lost in contrasting perspectives and personal accounts, while missing the big picture. However, both stories were incredibly affective at detailing the horror and terror taking place in the shooting.

April 16, 2007

Woman robs bank in Virginia, Minn.

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

A woman who robbed a bank in northeastern Minnesota is on run from the law, according to an AP report (
Authorities were still looking for the woman who robbed a Wells Fargo Bank in Virginia, Minn., who escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.
Police said the woman was wearing a purple jacket with a white cloth over her head. She passed a note to the teller, demanded money, and fled with money. No weapon is reported to have been seen.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, both St. Louis County Police and the FBI are currently searching for the woman (

Both of these stories are nearly identical. I think both missed a lot of essential details that could've made this an interesting story. How come there are no quotes from any bank tellers, the bank manager, local police officials, or any witnesses. It feels like both were written directly from a police report, with no effort to dig deeper to develop detail. I think maybe the story was written on too short a deadline. Perhaps a second or third edtion of the story will prove more interesting. Perhaps the police were unwilling to divulge too much information.

Al-Sadr's ministers to leave Iraqi government

Current Mood: Hopeful
Current Music: Bright Eyes

Shiite cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr will announce Monday the removal of six of his ministers from their positions in the Iraqi government to pressure the government to make the U.S. leave from Iraq, according to a CNN report (
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has opposed setting a timetable. The boycott of the government will remove the ministers in the ministries of Health, Agriculture, Province Affairs, Transportation, Tourism and Civil Society Organizations. Sadr's members in the Iraqi parliament will not be affected by the boycott.
Al-Sadr is very popular in the Shiite portions of Iraq. He opposed the U.S.-led occupation and his militia, the Mehdi army, has fought coalition troops.
Sadr's forces attempted a boycott last November, which was ended after a deal was struck this January after talks with both Maliki and the White House.
Al-Sadr's faction was also instrumental in getting Maliki elected last year. His groups holds much sway in the government.
According to a Reuters article, the movement is unlikely to overthrow the government, but it will create tensions in a government that is struggling to heal secretarian divisions (
The Mehdi army has been low-profile in the last few months under the orders of al-Sadr.
Tens of thousands of people protested the U.S. occupation last week in Najaf under al-Sadr's wishes. Al-Sadr claims to be in Iraq but Pentagon officials have claimed that he is currently in Iran.

The CNN article seems to focus mostly on the present, while the Reuters article focuses a lot on the context and the recent past events. For example, the Reuters article mentions al-Sadr's recent activities, his whereabouts and goes further into demonstrating his political clout. The CNN article feels by-the-numbers, a typical Iraq story that focuses too narrowly and doesn't really let the reader see the bigger picture. The Reuters article also gives a better idea of what the political consequences of this will be, with quotes from policymakers spread throughout. CNN buries all the quotes at the end of the story, which don't really serve to reinforce any of the statements earlier in the article. One thing that did bother me about the Reuters article was that it refered to al-Sadr as "fiery" in the lead. I think this could be construed as editorializing. Plus, fiery seems to me to almost have a connotation of "satanic" or "overly agressive." I think more obejctive adjectives would have been better.