March 23, 2007

Man accused of beheading dog made video

so here's another animal cruelty story. Obviously, this Gomez guy thought the way to win back his girlfriend was to cut off her dog's head with a chainsaw. Who can do stuff like this and not pause to think "I'm killing a dog"?
This is a hard-news, brief style. Maybe there'll be more on it later. Even for a brief, given the subject matter, it could have been done with more flair. Adding in the girl's grandmother was good as a source. I'm sure this was written pretty quickly and one of the reporter's main challenges was deciding what absolutely needed to be in there. This is no doubt always a pain, cuz there's those times where you've got a great little bit of writing or a great quote but it just doesn't make the cut. That's what one of my teachers refers to as "drowning your kittens" - it's tough, and you hate it but ultimately you have to do it.

(NOTE) Ah! this is actually a follow-up. apparently before they found out it was this gomez guy, they were offering a 10,000 dollar reward for info about the case. This first article from march 16 has all the better narrative details and hits home the news better.

March 7, 2007

Virtual Anxiety

this story had potential for me, someone here at the U who hates flying and has nightmares every couple months about it.
The reporter wasted too much time in getting to the effectiveness of the treatment through virtual reality (which i think sounds like a crock. how is seeing some obviously computer generated images through some headset gonna make me feel like i'm on a plane?! that's like playing a video game.)
But, obviously, the reporter faced the challenge of newsworthiness here. Her opinion was that what the treatment is was more important to be put at the top. It's not like she failed - i'm most likely part of the minority audience that a writer can't spend his/her time fretting over and trying to appease. But she certainly did face the challenge of story construction and value judgement.

March 1, 2007

Woman pleads guilty in scalding death of 10-year-old

wow. pretty disgusting. this is the first time i've heard of this case, although it happened back in July i guess. Surely one challenge the reporter must have had was not putting his/her judgement or voice in this. it's a quick hard news piece, promising more developments on friday and the weekend papers.
Are reporters allowed in to courtrooms? i can't remember.


February 18, 2007

More than a year after death, man's body found in front of TV

holy crap. Here's a quote from the story: "The partially mummified body of a man dead for more than a year has been found in a chair in front of his television, which was still on."
This is crazy. the reporter here did a good job wasting no time in getting quotes from people who said the same thing the reader was surely thinking: how the hell did this happen? How come no one was alarmed when they hadn't seen the guy?
I guess we'll have to wait for those answers. It said he had a wife already dead, but nothing about children.

Sanford has healthy goal for his wealth

This about the story run about T. Denny Sanford from St. Paul. It's about how this guy says he doesnt want to die broke, so he's been giving huge donations to Medical centers here and in St. Paul.
One challenge the reporter must have had was getting hold of sanford himself. He's quoted in the story, but it's from other interviews and press conference dealys. There's one quote obtained by the reporter from him at the end of the story, and that's from an email. i think the reporter did a good job getting hold of the higher-ups that are involved in the financial deals, but a voice from the "man on the street" type would have been good too. maybe someone who plans on going to the new medical school he's building at the University of South Dakota, or some family that is all thankful for the clinics he plans to open. Yeah; that was not really in there, and it would have rounded it out, i feel. but it's pretty round as it is.

February 9, 2007

British Tycoon offers $25 million prize to fight global warming

i went to the international section and decided i wouldn't do a blog on Iraq. I chose this article. it's fluff, sort of, compared to articles about war.
I suppose it's a good article. one thing the reporter neglected to do was give balance by interviewing people who are incredulous about global warming. The report instead focuses on the new report that came out last week and celebrities like Richard Branson, that charismatic "tycoon" of the headline, and Al Gore. It's not that the anti-global warming people need to be given as much space, just a mention, just to show that the report is objective. The tidbit about how this is similar to the Longitude competition from the late 17th and early 18th centuries was interesting. i never knew that. still, the reporter didnt get all the sides.

February 7, 2007

Debarking issue clouds Little Falls kennel's future

Another animal story. this time, the Morrison County board issued a permit to some (i'm sure he is a) jackass who wanted to have a kennel to hold hundreds of dogs for breeding. The thought of that many dogs being housed in a kennel is disturbing enough, if you've ever watched those Animal Cops shows on the Animal Planet channel. often the dogs are kept in small ass cages and barely have enough room to stand and turn around, and are kept in their own filth. See, i love dogs probably more than i love humans.
But that's not the most fucked-up part of this story. The permit was granted provided the jackass get the dogs "surgically debarked" - what a nice way to soften the meaning. it means slashing the vocal cords on the dogs. what the hell?! Now the Minnesota Court of Appeals has thrown out the guys permit (thank god) and the county board has to re-evaluate the situation or whatever.
The reporter here did a pretty good job of including the details that, while not sensationalizing, will surely outrage readers. This will lead to action, hopefully, and Morrison County had better inspect this guy's kennel. He probably tried to talk to the jackass (McDuffee) but his lawyer presumably talked to him. Maybe quotes from neighbors who live by the kennel would have been good to put in. It would be a bit biased against McDuffee, because i can't imagine they'd have good things to say. The reporter basically paraphrased what they all had to say by writing, "neighbors...had complaints about sick and injured animals and poor living conditions."

February 6, 2007

Astronaut To face attempted murder charge

I just read this story on about some crazy astronaut who flew off the handle. Apparently she had a crush on some other astronaut, and when she found out that guy was seeing some non-astronaut woman, astronaut-girl donned a disguise and tried to pepper spray the woman. The story was good because it was full of crazy details. The reporter gave pretty extensive lists of the weapons and items astronaut girl had with her - buck knife, bb gun, $600, garbage bags, a wig, a trench coat, pepper spray - and also the reporter got gross details about how Nowak, the astronaut girl, drove from Houston to Orlando to confront the woman and wore diapers for the drive so she wouldn't have to stop the drive (gross!). The reporter also did a good job by getting comments from other astronauts and a couple of higher-ups at NASA, which revealed that though she's being charged, her status as an astronaut has not yet changed. However, the man she pined for and the woman she is charged with trying to kill didn't comment by the time the story was printed. All and all though, good content, good coverage. i hadn't heard about this until now and the piece wasn't written like follow-up, it gave me the full story.

January 27, 2007

Live turkeys used in Pennsylvania archery competition

this pisses me off. I'm not a vegetarian, and i'm not some left-wing bleeding heart, but who the hell ties up animals and charges people money to shoot them with arrows. Now, turkeys aren't exactly like puppies, but doesn't picturing this event kind of make you sick? I agree with the inspector who said that it was a gutless act of cruelty and the people there were there to have fun by torturing animals.
Good hard news reporting, and it was good they went to try to get information from the clubowner and the sportsmen's clubs. those would be two different perspectives worth having in the stories, and the fact that they would not or could not comment does more for the emotional impact of the story.

Marine's suicide

so i read the story the strib did titled "This Marine's death came after he served in Iraq," a follow-up to a piece from earlier in the week. To look at the content, i liked it. i thought it was good that they gave it so much space, because it's a pretty troubling story. It was written well; they got views from friends and from VA administrations. it makes the piece more well-rounded.
It's pretty disturbing when the country doctor they interviewed says that they'll be seeing a lot more cases like this as troops continue to come home and go back to civilian life. I can't imagine what that's like, to be in one part of the world where you have to change completely as a person, to become this machine that's always thinking about the next thing ahead to save his own ass and his companion soldiers.

January 22, 2007

And so it begins

Well i've created my blog for 3101, and all i can say is: GO BEARS!
As a Chicago expatriate, I couldn't be happier about the Bears going to the super bowl, or the fact that my parents saved our VHS copy of the '85 Bears' "Superbowl Shuffle," as I'm sure it'll come in handy in a couple weeks.