May 7, 2007

After College then what?

I want to write a story about what kids do after college. I want to get at the basic questions, that I'm worried about right now. How long after graduation til you found a job? Where do you live at home/by yourself? Are you married yet? Do you have a mortgage or car payments? Did the degree actually help? Did you take out loans or have it paid for you? How many years did it take you to graduate?

I think this would be an interesting story for the Daily at least because it would be interesting for undergraduates to see what their future might look like.

Sources: all my friends who have graduated.

Bobby Quigley: 612-860-3858
Anna Peterson: 612-414-0340
Ben Koski: 608-385-3926

Metropolitan Council budget

In researching my feature story I came across an interesting fact. It was in this book about smart growth and urban transit. It said that the Met council in the Twin Cities controlled half of the federal transit budget, despite only providing transit options to 5 percent of the population. Granted this was a few years ago so I'm not sure about the number today. I'd like to talk to the Metropolitan Council and find out how they have control over so much money. This is newsworthy because there is a move right now to boost the gas tax to provide more money for construction projects. Do they need to boost the gas tax because the Met Council has control over too much money?

sources: Metropolitan Council - 651-602-1140
Bonnie Kollodge Media Relations Coordinator 651-602-1357

Why isn't Soccer more popular?

I enjoy soccer very much, why not the rest of the country. I live next to one of the largest soccer complexes in the region, the National Sports Center. But the fields are usually empty. Its a sport that many people play in their youth, but then sort of give up on later.

To report this story I would start with the fans, find some people playing soccer and interview them. Then I would go to a Twins game and wait outside and try to interview people after the game. I would ask them if they would consider going to a Soccer game. I would do try to get a perspective from different fans, baseball, hockey, football, basketball and golf, etc. Also I would try to get an international twist as well, perhaps interview some overseas fans or officials on the sport.

Sources: Random Fans
Amos Magee coach of the Minnesota Thunder soccer team - 651-917-8326
Francisco Marcos President of the United Soccer League - 813-963-3909 ext. 225

Open records

Since our talk about open records and the trials of getting them, I've been curious as to why Government agencies are so cautious and guarded about their records. Open records are completely open to the public, hence the name. So why the hassle?

I guess my story idea is to go out and ask the people responsible for providing open records. First I would ask them if they are familiar with the law. Then I would ask them if they have ever unintenationally hassled someone. That line of questioning might not work. Perhaps I would just go in and ask for records and then try to interview the people that gave me a hard time. This type of reporting would require a lot of effort to gain the trust of these people. I mean they are already guarded about giving away public records so getting them to talk to me would take some work.

Sources: Government Agencies across the state.

Guess what Minnesota has a soccer team.

Yes indeed, they are called the Minnesota Thunder. In the first home game the Thunder lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Apparently there was free beer at the event, had I known I would have gone. The Thunder play in the USL division one league.
http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Soccer/2007/05/06/4159432-cp.html

This story is challenging because soccer is not the most popular sport in America. Which is evident because the game was free. The article I read was mostly for the Whitecaps because it is from a Canadian website.

The comparison article was from the Star Tribune and is very short.
http://www.startribune.com/503/story/1166856.html
Although they did get a quote from the head coach. However the recap of the game is very short compared to the first article. The Star Tribune article is boring compared to the first one. It really doesn't do much for the sport to have boring articles written.

I think that I am going to start free lancing stories to local papers about the wonder and beauty of soccer. Yes it will be biased, but biased towards a good cause, promoting soccer news. With David Beckham coming to the United States to play interest in soccer might elevate.

Muslim girls feel unsafe at my old middle school.

Westwood Middle School in Blaine is receiving national attention due to incidents involving bullying of two Muslim girls. The story ran in the Pioneer Press.
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_5813827
Apparently Lori Saroya chairwoman of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations says that the staff at the middle school aren't doing enough. The two girls report that they have been called terrorists and have had milk and food thrown at them.

I think the challenge in this story is dealing with minors which means getting the facts right could be difficult. These incidents are serious, but I remember middle school and most of the kids went out of their way to be especially mean to one another. I think another challenge is following up on this story, the reporter in this case could provoke change and action on the part of the superintendent. He would be more likely to get something done if the press continues to hound him.

My comparison story is from the Star Tribune and kind of sucks.
http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/news.php?article=12701
The reporter chose to quote the superintendent but only put one word in parantheses, "serious" how is that word interesting or colorful enough to deserve quotation. She would have done better to quote his entire statement or simply summarize. Also some of the quotes don't match between the Pioneer Press version and the Star Tribune, this could be that they each contacted their source separately and the source tried to say approximately the same thing.

I think that middle school was probably the worst period of time in my entire life.

How to get 18,000 people naked.

Spencer Tunick is the answer. The artist known for his nude photography visited Mexico City and set a new record for nudes. His previous record was 7,000 in Spain. The USA Today story,
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-05-06-mexico-tunick-photo_N.htm
is kind of sensational, which is hard to avoid because there were 18,000 people posing for a photograph.

The challenge in this story is digging deeper than nudity. There is a story here about progressive art and liberty.

My comparison story gets at this much better,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/06/AR2007050601045.html
From the Washington Post, it reads more like a feature, because the reporter focuses at first on a single person who is kind of shy about getting naked for the picture. He then goes on about the process leading up to the shoot and provides context as to why this event is noteworthy. The shoot took place just outside of a Catholic Cathedral and the shoot was under a time constriction, they had to get done before mass started.

I liked the Washington Post story better because it was a good read. Everything I might want to know was thrown in. The USA Today story reads like a tabloid story, where the only focus is on the nudity, which I admit is hard to avoid when 18,000 people get naked.

Don't spit in Beijing.

China fined about 50 people for spitting in public. With the Olympics coming up soon China is worried that they will be disgraced. There are sweeping measures to improve Chinese citizens etiquette. Apparently one day each month has been designated to teach people how to wait in line. The Olympics for China is a chance to show how far they have come, economically and socially. The story comes from who else but the AP,
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/07/asia/AS-GEN-China-Spitting-Fines.php

The challenge for this story is something I noticed in one of the last graphs. A quote was taken from another source. I remember this being an issue during the Tall Hat Bar story, where some juicy information was given to a Fox news reporter and the temptation was set in front of us to use it. The AP reporter uses the phrase, was quoted as saying by Xinhua, to justify the quote. Obviously getting quotes for a story like this would be hard unless you were there, but still you would have to get a translator or find someone who knew english.

My comparison article,
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-05/07/content_866669.htm
mentions that clearing ones throat in public loudly is another offense China is hoping to crack down upon. I think there might be something lost in the translation here. Although when I was in China some natives told me it was illegal to spit in public, and I often saw people spitting into trash cans.

I think that some of these offenses are a bit ridiculous, but if that is their perogative then fine. I don't know who would be offended by spitting in public or clearing one's throat loudly, maybe someone is?

White House, Ties, and Tails.

President Bush will hold his first ever White Tie affair at the White House to welcome the Queen of England. Apparently they will not talk about policy since that would be "extraordinarily bad form," Reginald Dale, senior fellow in the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said. With a title that long I can't for the life of me figure out what it is that this guy does, but he seems to know what the Queen wants to talk about. This article is from Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=apSdYTzItqxs&refer=home
and talks about proper etiquette when dealing with the Queen. The Queen does not have a voice in setting policy so I guess it would be improper to discuss it with her.

The challenge in this article is that President Bush is going to engage in idle chit chat with the Queen of England. I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. Because it hasn't happened yet, everything up to now is speculation. They might talk about Iraq since the Queen's grandson is due to be shipped to Iraq soon.

The Associated Press covered this story and mainly gave a travel itinerary for the Queen.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/07/AR2007050700086.html
This article sums up the situation best, stating that the President is known for his informality and that he is going to host a white tie affair which is the highest formal reception given to visiting dignitaries.

I wonder if he is going to ask her to pull his finger.

Manchester United secure English Premiership Title.

The team won because second place title contenders Chelsea tied Arsenal 1-1. Which means that Manchester United won. I read this in the New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/07/sports/soccer/07soccer.html?ref=soccer

This story is challenging because according to the article Manchester won without having to kick the ball. Which is kind of a cheeky way of saying that since Chelsea tied Arsenal they are no longer in the running. The article doesn't really explain how Manchester United has already won, it kind of assumes soccer fans would already know. The season isn't even over yet. Sports reporting kind of assumes that its readers have a level of knowledge on the subject. It seems to assume more of its readers than other sections of the newspaper.

This story from Voice of the Common Fan
http://www.4thegame.com/features/feature/203657/votcf_manchester_united_premiership_champions.html
deals more with the Chelsea game and how it was kind of boring.

I think ties are boring, shootouts were invented for a reason. English soccer gives points to teams that tie, so bad teams facing really good teams would rather settle for a tie, than go for the win. This produces boring games.

Journalist dies in Iraq

A roadside bomb killed 8 U.S. troops and one European journalist. This graph comes before this graph, which mentions that 35 people died earlier in the day. It is a hard question to ask. Whether one US. death is more newsworthy than 2 Iraqi deaths. What is the magic number here. How many people have to die to earn top billing over a US death in a news story.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200705/s1915694.htm

The challenge in this story is highlighted in my comparison. The statistics don't match up, this article posted on CNN International,
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/05/06/iraq.main/
states that 9 U.S. troops were killed. This story fails to mention the identity of the journalist, maybe because information hadn't been released yet. This article was published on May 6th, and the first article which appeared on ABC News Online was published the next day.

I think it must be very challenging to get information out of Baghdad.

Failure to communicate says Los Angeles Police Chief.

At a May Day celebration an elite platoon of LAPD advanced upon a crowd of immigrants and journalists. The event was an Immigrant Rights rally. The order for rally attendees to disperse was delivered in english from a helicopter.
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-bratton7may07,1,6184950.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california

My favorite quote from the story comes from a journalist, "It seems to me you don't have to be highly trained for that," commenting on a general question from the media as to why the officers were hitting reporters and camera operators. Journalists are up in arms over this, why were they attacked? I think that is the challenge here, journalists have to make sure they don't get out of line. I think they have every right to be upset, but both stories I looked at dealt with the rally go-ers only lightly. They must be just as upset over the event.

http://cbs2.com/local/local_story_126170230.html
This story also mentions the police chief's apology but gets some of the facts wrong. According to the first story 148 projectiles were fired, apparently the original number of 240 was wrong, the second story fails to mention the correction.

I think there needs to be more analysis of why the police ramped up their crowd dispersing tactics. The first article briefly mentions that some of the rally participants were hurling rocks and bottles at the police, but why? What prompted the police to even be there and disrupt the event?

BWCA is being evacuated

As a wildfire rages near Gunflint Minnesota residents are being asked to evacuate the area. The fire has burned approximately 8,000 acres. This story is from the Associated Press.
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_5835328
Authorities say that only 5% of the fire is contained. High winds have not helped the situation. What is helping to some extent is areas that were pre burned so that fires could not get massive. A windstorm in 1999 has contributed to the fire at this point because downed trees are providing perfect fuel.

This story is challenging because of its scope. How can you communicate to readers whether 8,000 acres of burned land is important. If the fire had occurred in a more populated region one acre would be very important. But since the BWCA is not highly populated it might take a lot of damage before people get excited about it. For local residents and resort owners it is a lot bigger deal. For instance the story mentions that the fire last year in Cavity lake which burned more than 30,000 acres isn't as worse as the current fire because more property and residents are in danger. It is a story of proportional scale.

I compared this story with one written with the Associated Press. It appeared in the Star Tribune. The only real difference is that the story says that 12.5 square miles have burned instead of using the acres measurement.
http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1166668.html

I have a better sense of what a mile is compared to an acre, so using units of measure that readers are familiar with is important. I can't really say the second story is better because it used miles instead. It is kind of a minor issue and it would be very hard to determine which unit of measure the public is more familiar with.

Teacher of the year has cute name.

I mean the teacher of the year for 2007 has a fitting or apt name, it is Smart. Funny ha ha ha.
http://wcco.com/local/local_story_126183104.html
WCCO decided his name was too good to pass up and put it high in the story.

The challenge for this was probably the reporter sitting down and having an epiphany, "OH my god, his name is Smart and he's a teacher, Pulitzer here I come."

The associated press in all their regality decided not to mention the teacher's last name and how achingly cute it fits in with the teacher of the year award.

I think that local television news is mostly tabloid journalism. This story probably ran on the air as one of their before we go segments. Giving viewers something happy to smile about before they go to bed.

Galactic Pizza to the rescue.

The associated press reports on a quirky pizza joint in south Minneapolis.
http://www.twincities.com/business/ci_5813173
For instance the delivery drivers dress as superheroes and drive electric cars. Part of the profits go to help relieve hunger in the area. Organic and locally grown ingredients are used when possible.

This story is a feature story therefore not that challenging. It is just a fun little story. Therefore my posting will be fun and little.

I couldn't compare this with any other story because I guess most reporters thought the Associated Press did a good enough job.

I think that feature story ideas are single servings. It would be a waste of time and money to send another reporter over to do another story. The public would be like yeah so what we already heard this one, we want something new.