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April 29, 2007

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

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 (http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1149693.html). 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 (http://www.twincities.com/searchresults/ci_5761607). 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

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 (http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1151225.html). 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 (http://www.twincities.com/minnesota/ci_5776163?nclick_check=1).
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

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 (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/25/MNGRQPEQFR1.DTL).
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 (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18316810/).
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

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 (http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/24/news/lanka.php).
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 (http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21616013-5005961,00.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

A Georgian high school broke tradition, holding its first racially integrated prom Saturday, according to an AP story (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18268256/).
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 (http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0423/p20s01-ussc.html?page=2). 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

A St. Paul teenager was shot and killed on a Metro Transit bus in downtown St. Paul early Sunday, according to the Associated Press (http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_5727317?nclick_check=1). 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 (http://www.startribune.com/467/story/1136728.html). 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

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 (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/4737682.html).
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 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6581993.stm).
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

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 (http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_5695553). 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 (http://www.startribune.com/467/story/1129296.html). 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

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 (http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2007-04-17T140558Z_01_T369532_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-JAPAN-SHOOTING-COL.XML).
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 (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20070417-0643-japan-mayorshooting.html).
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

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 (http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/16/vtech.shooting/index.html).
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 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041600533.html?hpid=topnews).
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.

A woman who robbed a bank in northeastern Minnesota is on run from the law, according to an AP report (http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1121580.html).
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 (http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_5670687?nclick_check=1).

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

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 (http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/04/15/sadr.maliki/).
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 (http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=17bee177-6545-433e-88e6-1b2b09fb7e63&k=59263&p=1).
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.

April 13, 2007

Oakdale teen arrested after police find dead baby

A 17-year old girl was arrested Wednesday after police found her newborn baby dead in a garbage can outside her Oakdale home, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_5647156?nclick_check=1).
The girl's identity has not been released. The baby was found in the 1700 block of Hinton Trail in Oakdale. Oakdale police searched the house after being notified by the St. Paul police of an anonymous 911 call that had to do with an abandoned baby.
The teen is being held at Washington County jail on suspicion jail. Charges depend on an autoposy.
According to the MInneapolis Star Tribune, the baby appeared to be injured (http://www.startribune.com/467/story/1115553.html). The girl is a student at Tartan High School. No other people are being investigated by police currently.

Both these stories were very brief, but their were a few key differences. The Press article, although its circulation more heavily falls in the Oakdale area, covered the story in much less depth. It was basically a blurb in the Press, while the Tribune fleshed it out into a full story, be it short. I also thought it was interesting that the Press said the girl's identity was not released, which was true, but the Tribune gave much more clues as to who she was, saying where she went to school and talking about her work. The Tribune story also dealt with the discovery of the body in fuller detail. Also, I found it interesting that the Tribune article ended the story talking about recent stories about babies being abandoned and the efforts to stop this thing from happening. Also, I was wondering why the Press referred to the girl as a "woman" when she is only 17.

April 11, 2007

2 students wounded in accidental shooting at Chicago high school

Two students were accidentally shot Tuesday in a Chicago area high school when one student was showing the gun to another student, according to the Chicago Tribune (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0070410school-shooting,1,2189363.story?coll=chi-news-hed).
The shooting occured inside a classroom at Chicago Vocational Career Academy on the city's Southeast Side.
The gun was a 9mm Ruger handgun brought by a 15-year-old boy. The boy was showing the gun to another student in political science class when it went off accidentally.
The bullet went through the thigh of one student and struck the knee of the other, a 14-year-old boy. According to the police, the boy panicked, ran outside and threw the gun into the bushes. When the boy came inside he was apprehended by security and showed them the weapon.
Both boys were taken to hospitals, but they are in stable condition.
The school does have metal detectors, which questions how the boy got the gun into the school. The police said that only some students pass through, as it takes too long to scan all students. However, the Chicago Public School spokesman said all students are scanned.
Charges are expected to be brought against the teen who brought the gun to school, officials said.
According to police, all students must scan ID cards when they enter the school. The boy who brought the gun must've went through an unauthorized entrance because there is no record of him scanning his card.
According to an AP report, this is the second shooting at the school in less than a month (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-04-10-chicago-shooting_N.htm).
In that incident two students were injured when in a school parking lot when someone drove by and opened fire. Those students eventually recovered.

I found it interesting how much more thorough the Tribune story was. The stories contain very similar information, but the Tribune article went to much further lengths to add extra detail and to show-not-tell. I also found it interesting how information was added because the story was local in one case and national in the other. For example, the exact address of the school was given in the Tribune article but not the AP story. The Tribune article also had a better ending, ending with quotes from both parents and students, especially considering the time constraints. However, in terms of story organization the stories were almost identical.

April 9, 2007

Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops attack Mugabe's rule

Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops accused President Robert Mugabe of leading a corrupt and poorly managed government and have also called for political reforms to a revolt, according to a Reuters article (http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKL0916625820070409?pageNumber=1).
A pastoral letter posted Easter weekend in church notice boards by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said extreme economic hardship and political repression have resulted from Mugabe's rule.
Zimbabwe has 1700 percent inflation, unemployment of 80 percent, and increasing shortages of food and fuel. The bishops were also protesting against the March 11th crackdown on anti-Mugabe activists, where protesters are reported to have been beaten and hospitalized.
The bishops warned that reforms were needed to stop a possible violent uprising. Mugabe, 83, will run for president next year. Critics say he has rigged elections before. He's Zimbabwe's only leader since independence from Britain in 1980.
According to an AP report, similar pressure brought against Malawi's former prime minister led to a 1992 referendum that overthrew him (http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2007/04/09/bishops_warn_of_uprising_if_mugabe_remains/). The government has failed to respond to the letter. Mugabe is current out of the country.
The Catholic Church makes up a majority of the Christian population in Zimbabwe and Mugabe himself is a practicing Catholic.

Both these articles were very strong but were missing a few key points. I felt the Reuters article provided better background to the situation. They provided clearer historical context and were more specific about the policies that the Catholics didn't approve of. I also like how the March 11 incident was pushed up in the story. It helped provide necessary context which the rest of the story could develop from. The AP story added this at the end like dressing and it could be easily forgotten. However, the AP article gave the economic data of Zimbabwe much earlier, which is also essential to get to the reader early on so they get a stronger sense of the current political setting. I think both stories used strong leads (they were very similar). They should've focused just on developing context, which they did slightly. Then they should've discussed the grievances of the Bishops. Each article was missing some viewpoints as well. I wanted to know what Western leaders or scholars think about this development. What impact will this have internationally? Also, where is the government's POV? Finally, how have the policies caused the current economic conditions. Both of the articles were too vague in this aspect.

Familiar suspect charged with 2005 slaying

A man who has been arrested 65 times, has been charged for allegations of killing a man in 2005, according to the Star Tribune (http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1106103.html).
Tyvarus Lindsey, only 25-years-old, has been convicted several times, but never on violent offense. Last Monday police said he was charged with second-degree murder of a man in St. Paul, Leon T. Brooks, back in 2005, while he is also a "person-of-interest" in last month's triple homicide on the city's North End.
Last November, Lindsey was released from jail from federal gun charges after a prosecutorial error.
Lindsey was in Ramsey County jail as of Friday, with $500,000 bail set. According to his arrest warrant, Lindsey had 40 encounters with police before turning 18.
His six convictions include three for theft, two on drug charges and one for giving a police officer a false name, according to Bureau of Criminal Apprehension records.
Brooks was shot to death at an afterhours party with Lindsey on April 24, 2005 when he was shot to death. Brooks had two very distinct pieces of jewelry that police say Lindsey was seen wearing in a photo they obtained. Less than two weeks after the incident, Lindsey was shot in the neck. He suffered no severe injuries and police have no leads in that case.
Lindsey comes from a family of people with criminal problems.
According to the Pioneer Press, two of his relatives are locked up for murder and attempted murder (http://www.twincities.com/searchresults/ci_5605117). His younger brother Tydale is suspected in a home-invasion burglarly. Both brothers are in the Rolling '90's Crips gang. Tyvarus's father is also in jail. He has been arrested seven times on burglarly charges.

I think both stories presented very good, well reported information in a very confusing way. The Tribune article was a little clearer, taking most focus on Tyvarus and on the crimes he is suspected of. However, starting with his background, although framing the story nicely, dodges the most important part of the story. I did like how the family information and the police quotes were saved to the end and used to explain some of the earlier parts of the story. The Press article tried to scatter in family history throughout the article and it made it very difficult to follow. Plus, the excess of name's had me confused as to who was charged or jailed for what. I think both of these stories could've benefited from using a chronology to present the facts in a clearer manner.

$100,000 bail set for three University of Minnesota players

A $100,000 bail was set Saturday for the three University of Minnesota football players jailed on suspicion of rape, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_5619088?nclick_check=1).
Hennepin country prosecutors must charge or release them by noon Monday, although they can still be charged at a later date. As of Saturday evening, the players haven't been formerly charged.
The three players were arrested Friday on suspicion of raping an 18-year-old student, who doesn't attend the University of Minnesota. The players, Alex Daniels, 20, Keith Massey, 20, and E.J. Jones, 19, appeared in Hennepin County court Saturday.
University of Minnesota officials tried to not let the news infiltrate their annual spring scrimmage that took place Saturday at the Metrodome. New Gophers football coach Tim Brewster said he would support these men and declined to say who was responsible for suspending the players.
Joy Harris, E.J. Jones's mother, said that this was not like her son and called him "well-rounded" and mature."
According to Harris, all three suspects are roommates. One of Jones's classmates at the university said that the allegations didn't seem like Jones and the news was shocking to him.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the alleged rape happened late Tuesday or early Wednesday at the University Village Apartments on University Avenue (http://www.startribune.com/467/story/1106913.html). The players were booked on third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The woman waited until early Friday to flag down a police officer and report the incident. According to police eight to 20 of cases similar to this occur annually.

These articles took very different approaches to the story. The Press story focused heavily on the Gopher football administration reaction and ended the story with interviews of friends and family members. There was very little information concerning the police or court proceedings. I thought this made the story a little biased because the majority of the quotes were from coaches, friends and family that all agreed that the boys were innocent. The police's case against the players was not discussed. I think the family angle is important, but it should be weighed more evenly against the facts of the case. The Tribune article on the other hand focused largely on the police account, with most of the quotes coming from University Police Chief Hestness. However I didn't like how the impact of this incident of the Gophers football team preceded the facts of the case. It seemed to undermine the allegations and place a higher precedent on sports. One other problem with the article was that it claimed Brewster was responsible for the players' suspensions, while the Press article claimed that Brewster refused to comment on who was responsible.

April 6, 2007

Chechnya swears in a new pro-Russian president

Pro-Russian Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, better known as King Ramzan, was sworn in as the president of Chechnya at a ceremony Wednesday in Eastern Chechnya, according to the Independent (http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2426224.ece).
Kadyrov had been acting as president of the country, but after having reached the age of 30 was able to officially be sworn in. Russian President Vladimir Putin hand picked Kadyrov as his man to fully integrate Chechnya back into the Russian Federation, after two wars and over a decade of violence.
Controversy has surrounded the inauguration because Kadyrov's forces have been accused of several human rights abuses and he is a former rebel himself.
Wednesday's ceremony has been described as ornate and regal. Kadyrov has developed somewhat of a cult of personality.
Activists have claimed that Kadyrov's militia, the Kadyrovtsy, has killed and tortured their way to create stability in Chechnya at the request of the Kremlin. Colleagues of the recently murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya allege Kadyrov was involved in her death, although Kadyrov has denied these allegations.
According to the Guardian, Kadyrov's father, Akhmad Kadyrov, a Chechen and pro-Russian president, was assassinated in the capital, Grozny, in 2004 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/chechnya/Story/0,,2051359,00.html). Kadyrov had assumed the role of president-designate last year after Putin fired the previous president, Alu Alkhanov. Both large Russian funds and Kadyrov's militia have been credited for eliminating insurgent groups from the streets of Grozny.

Each article took very different approaches. The Independent article focused on the ceremony, giving vivid descriptions of the material aspects involved. I think it did this to frame and provide context to the cult of personality surrounding Kadyrov. It saves the controversy for later in the story. His militia wasn't mentioned until the very end. I wish the article would've developed the connection to the Kremlin more. Putin is mentioned in the lead but doesn't really appear in the story very much. I also wanted a little more historical background about Kadyrov as a rebel leader and his work as prime minister. The Guardian article focused much heavily on the controversy, almost to the point I thought it was a little biased. The lead even mentioned the human rights abuses. One thing i didn't like about this story was the allegations against Kadyrov were always very vague; specific cases would've been much more helpful. I did like this story more because it discussed Kadyrov's work as prime minister, mentioned his father, and went a little further into the connections with the Kremlin, although still not enough. Some more historical context of the situation in the Chechnya over the last decade would've been helpful to many readers as well.

April 3, 2007

Supreme Court ruling says EPA can set emissions limits

The Supreme Court decided Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to set greenhouse gas limits, according to the Los Angeles Times (http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070403/NEWS01/704030379).
It also decided that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant subject to regulation under EPA law. The decision was 5-4, and was seen as a rebuke to the Bush administration, who said federal authorities don't have the power to regulate emissions.
This helped knock down a barrier on several states that were trying to set emission standards.
According to the Clean Air Act of 1970, the EPA shall regulate the emission of "any air pollutant" that is likely "to endanger public health or welfare." According to Justice Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion, "welfare" can be seen broadly in terms of negative of effects on climate and weather.
According to the decision, the EPA is not forced to set emissions, but must provide clear evidence that carbon dioxide doesn't cause climate change. Lawsuits can be brought against the EPA if it fails to do so.
Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote the dissenting opinion, said that Congress and the president have the power to resolve this issue, not the Court.
According to the New York Times, a representative of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the main industry trade group, said that he is looking forward to working with Congress and the administration in adressing the issue. The EPA will now be part of this process.

I really liked the L.A. Times article. It was very thorough and provided a lot of context for the decision. It looked at several opinions from lawmakers in different sections of government and also industry leaders. I did think the lead was to much conjecture and had no action in it. The second graph was probably a better lead, getting right into the decision. The lead would be repeated and insinuated throughout the article. I liked that the article provided the background of the Clean Air Act. I also thought it provided a good deal of quotes from people on both sides. I liked how most of the opinions were pushed off until the end though, leaving the beginning of the story for the most factual information. I also liked the fact they described the basis of the court case and the parties involved, something the NY Times dodged. The NY Times article also left out a lot of the dissenting opinion, which I did not think was even-handed.

Corrections

I have gone through the corrections sections of both the Washington Post and the New York Times. The Post structures its corrections by giving links to the revised article, which has a note on top explaining the change they made from the original story. For example, a story about the delay of an armed robbery court case had identified a police officer as a captain when he was actually a corporal. I'm assuming that this information about this corporal came from a second-hand source and the writer did not think to double check the facts. An obituary story, which I've noticed through my searching often has a lot of errors, omitted a family member of the deceased who was included in the revised version. This was probably due to deadline implications. A story about the Coast Guard and retiring officers shareholdings in private firms involved with the Coast Guard said Tom Ridge was declined to comment. In actually Ridge said that when he joined the board of a company later bought by Lockheed Martin, the firm had no plans to sell and expected to grow as a stand-alone company. I'm not sure if this means that Ridge said his comments were off the record after he said this or if this was taken from another interview in another story. Either way it does have a significant impact on how Ridge looks in the story. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/04/25/LI2005042500027.html?nid=roll_corrections).

April 2, 2007

Taliban ally's father says plea deal proof of corruption

The Australian Taliban ally, David Hicks, will return to Australia from Guantanamo Bay as part of the plea bargain, which Hicks's father says points to corruption in the government, according to an AP report (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-04-01-australia-gitmo_N.htm).
David Hicks, a 31-year-old Muslim convert, had been a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay for five years. He was recently sentenced to a 9-month prison sentence in Adelaide, Austrailia after admitting he aided al-Qaeda. His plea bargain also states that he must be not talk to the media for 12 months and that he can't pursue legal action against the United States on allegations of abuse.
Hicks's father, Terry, said the plea bargain shows the weakness of the case against his son, as well as the corruption involved.
Opposition lawmakers have said the bargain was to remove political embarassment for Prime Minister John Howard, who is running for reelection at the end of this year.
The U.S. had originally said that David Hicks deserved a 20-year sentence, which has lead many to believe the Australian government was involved in the plea. Howard had been under increasing pressure from the Australian public who were angry at Hicks's long detention without trial.
The Australian government has denied any involvement in the plea agreement.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Hicks' gag order will expire soon after the elections are over (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/04/01/1175366080767.html).
David Hicks said he plans to finish his schooling after he is released. It has not been decided how he will be supervised upon his release. Under the deal, Hicks has agreed that for seven years he will testify against accused terrorists in Australia and the US, raising speculation that his safety could be at risk.

I really enjoyed both of these stories and I thought each took an interesting angle. The AP story focused on the father's words and criticism of the government. The first half of the story describes the plea bargain in detail and provides quotes from dissenters. The perspective of the government is saved for the end of the story. The Herald article focuses on the goverment's denial of the corruption and conspiracy claims. It quotes several people within the Austrailian government. I thought this article also brought up the aftermath of Hicks's sentence well.

Herb Carneal, longtime Minnesota Twins radio announcer, dies at 83

Herb Carneal, the longtime Minnesota Twins radio announcer, died Sunday morning, according to an AP report. He was 83 (http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_5571569?nclick_check=1).
Carneal died due to congestive heart failure. For 45 years Carneal had been the voice of the Minnesota Twins.
Carneal grew up in Richmond, Va. He got a job in radio right out of high school. After a few years broadcasting for other teams, Carneal moved to Minneapolis in 1962 to announce for the Twins, only one year after the Twins moved to the Twin Cities from Washington.
Carneal was given the Ford C. Frick award in 1996.
He was well known for his extensive knowledge of baseball facts and statistics. In 1998, Carneal stopped traveling with the team. He scaled back his duties again in 2003. Last year he would just do the first few innings of day games at home.
Carneal also dabbled in other sports, but baseball was always his main passion.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Carneal has six months in the hospital this winter with various ailments (http://www.startribune.com/509/story/1093520.html).
He is survived by his daughter, Terri, and grandson, Matthew. Funeral arrangement are pending and will be announced when they become available.

I liked parts of each article but I thought both were missing a few key pieces. First I didn't like how the Pioneer Press ran an AP story. This seems like something that should be written by a local reporter. Also I found it interesting that both stories kept his age out of the lead. The AP story focuses very little on the cause of death before jumping right into what he is known for. I also didn't like how both articles brought up the Frick award, but didn't explain what is was or why it is so prestigious. The AP story did a much better job gathering quotes and placing them throughout the story. The ending was very nice, bringing up quotes from other interviews and closing off well with the Garrison Keillor quote that's both touching and encompassing of the tone of the whole story. Interestingly though, the AP story doesn't mention Carneal's family or the funeral arrangements. The Tribune article uses quotes that come off as bland and forced. It quotes ballplayers who probably didn't have that close of a relationship with Carneal. I thought the other article did a better job of quoting Carneal's colleagues. The Tribune article did do a good job stating Carneal's recent health problems. This article came off as much more formulaic, without the humanity of the AP story.