Main | October 2007 »

September 30, 2007

National story blog 9/30 Latest round of Iraq controversy

Once again, CNN and the Associated Press are on the case. This time, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad isn't too happy on a Senate resolution that would divide Iraq into federal regions. Iraqi leaders say the move is a violation of the country's sovereignty.

After the first paragraph, CNN opts to build a little suspense by waiting to reveal supplementary information about the Senate's vote. Paragraphs two and three are used to quote a statement written by the embassy expressing their distaste. The embassy isn't alone on that position, as Senators Joe Biden and Sam Brownback, two presidential hopefuls, are interviewed to bring the story a little closer to home. Their runs for president may have also come into play as their names have more prominence than candidates who aren't seeking presidential candidacy.

The Associated Press takes the story in another direction. The Senate resolution is talked about in the second paragraph, but not revisited until the second half of the story. Instead, they provide the latest update on attacks against insurgents and Al-Qaeda militants. The end of the story gives an update on a U.S. Army sniper accused in the deaths of two unarmed Iraqi civilians.

The article is a squeeze play not often seen.

International Story Blog 9/30 U.N. envoy meets Myanmar

A United Nations news release said that U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari was unable to meet with top military junta leaders in Myanmar, who have come under fire for violent crackdowns on anti-government protesters, particularly when Buddhist monks joined the cause. Gambari was able to meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.

Although multiple sources have reported on this story, some of them have taken contributions from the Associated Press, an interesting move considering the investigative nature and worldwide impact of the protests.

Speaking of the Associated Press, this is a pretty clear example of the inverted pyramid format. Much detail is given on Ibrahim's visit, followed by Myanmar's biggest world influences, including Russia and China. At the very end of the article, Pope Benedict XVI is given some space to express his concern, with the AP citing that 1% of Myanmar's population is Catholic. The lead is direct, but much longer than a typical lead for a news story.

CNN does come up with a few things of their own though. Through an interview with a witness who requested anonymity, any tell-tale sign of military violence on the streets was swept clean before Ibrahim arrived. To add to the chaotic situation, CNN informs its readers that it cannot independently verify some of the facts given to them due to media and oppositional reports.

September 29, 2007

Local Story 2 9/28 Man arrested on charge of filing false police report

47-year-old De'Andre June of Anoka may have learned an important lesson when carrying out plans that break the law.
Keep it dark.
June was arrested for filing a false police report after police found out he was the one who burned a cross in his own yard earlier in the week. June got out of Anoka County Jail two days before the burning. Inmates who saw the story on television recognized June and said he made comments that he was going to do this to get sympathy and money from neighbors.
June has also been charged with obstructing the legal process and disorderly conduct after an altercation when police came to make an arrest on a felony warrant from Hennepin County in connection with a financial fraud case.

On to the coverage.

KSTP posted a wire story from the Associated Press. It's a quickie story describing the original event that made the news, wasting no time to report on the details that followed. It ends with a quote from the captain of the Anoka Police Department to verify that the cross burning was indeed a hoax and that inmates tipped authorities.

WCCO, serving an audience they know lives closer to the incident, talks to members of the Anoka community to get their reaction and response to the cross burning. That digging beyond the surface revealed that Nate Powell, pastor at Anoka Covenant Church who counseled and believed June, had planned a service with local churches to show their unification against racism Friday. That service is now canceled, but WCCO stuck with that angle and reported that Powell might organize other prayer service with churches to talk about race in the face of an event that was intended to divide the community.
James Schugel, who was assigned to the story, gives the audience a follow-up most Twin Cities people would want to hear and found something to show how a negative story can be used to push forward positive ideas.

September 25, 2007

Local Story 1 9/25 Xcel customers BEWARE

Police have issued a warning to metro area residents for a potential impostor. Late Sunday night, someone got inside a fenced parking lot in Minneapolis and stole several items from Xcel Energy trucks, including an identification card and jackets with the Xcel logo. Although police say it is likely a typical break-in, they are taking precautions as this crime could lead to another.

KSTP looks like they got word about this recently, as their web producer posted what would constitute as a level one story. In this case, it was a statement released from Xcel Energy giving information on how to properly identify employees. It certainly is necessary given the risk of a security breach. They do post a link to Xcel's website for further information, however, there is no detail listing why these precautions are in place.

WCCO, in the battle for Twin Cities viewers, decided not to let the source do all the talking and dig up some information on their own. They provide exactly what items were stolen, whose ID card was taken and report that police in St. Anthony have informed the Department of Homeland Security. They end the article with the statement that KSTP posted.

There could be a debate on whether this is a level one or two story. Lisa Kiava of WCCO does talk with someone from the St. Anthony Police Department. On the other hand, all she uncovers is the items that were stolen, not learning anything that police or Xcel didn't want watchdogs to get a hold of. If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to make a choice, I'd say WCCO's article is a more-informative level one story.

September 23, 2007

International Blog 9/23 Italians missing in Afghanistan

Two members of the Italian military have been reported missing and believed to have been abducted after crossing a checkpoint in the Haret province of Afghanistan, according to the Italian Defense Ministry.

The Associated Press uses this piece of breaking news as an introduction to ongoing problems with kidnapping in Afghanistan. Not much is said about the two missing soldiers, an indication of the distance from the United States to where the story takes place. They also use the soldiers as a transition to the overall violence plaguing Afghanistan, describing a major battle that took place where the two soldies were last seen, in the Shindand district.

BBC News published a shorter story on the subject, but had the same amount of detail on the kidnapped soldiers as the Associated Press. They also focus on the insurgency issues in the Shindand district, although it was mostly attribution to an Italian Embassy official. Following the inverted pyramid format, the article ends with a short sentence on Italy's military presence in Afghanistan.

National story 9/23 Ahmadinejad visits New York

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appearing on the CBS television show "60 Minutes", continued to assert that Iran is not using its civil nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons before traveling to New York, an allegation the United States has made. Ahmadinejad will speak at New York's Columbia University, a move which has drawn some protest stemming from his denial of the Holocaust and accusations from the United States that Iran is harboring terrorists. He will also speak at the United Nations General Assembly.

Reuters spent most of the article reflecting on answers to questions posed by "60 Minutes". Although they don't gather interviews from other personnel in Iran or the U.S. regarding the nuclear controversy, Reuters does get a lot of details on Iran's accusations from its president. They also provide the context for Ahmadinejad's visit: the U.N. Security Council has met to discuss plans to halt Iran's uranium enrichment program.

The Associated Press begins their version of the story in the same fashion, recapping his "60 Minutes" interview and retelling his rejected request to lay a wreath at Ground Zero in New York. What separates this story is the extended coverage regarding the controversy of Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University, stating that he has been rejected from speaking before citing security reasons. They go as far to include Iran's point of view, saying that some Iranians are also critical of his trip.

A good example of the international prominence Iran currently holds.

Local story 2 9/23 Torii Hunter's farewell?

After getting knocked out of playoff contention earlier this month, Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins may have played at the Metrodome for the last time in a Twins uniform. A free agent after this season, his asking price may be too high for the Twins to afford. That didn't stop fans from giving him a hero's ovation on Sunday's 7-1 win against the Chicago White Sox.

KARE-11 ran a wire from the Associated Press, covering the story in their typical format when reporting on sporting events: mixing in a little bit of story with stats. After interviewing Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and White Sox player Darin Erstad on their thoughts of Hunter, the focus switched to the starting pitchers of Sunday's game, acknowledging that both teams were out of the playoff race and looking to set themselves for the 2008 season.

The Star Tribune could afford to exploit the story's prominence. LaVelle E. Neal spends most of the time reporting about Torii Hunter's day leading up to the game. Neal allows Hunter to add his side of the story, reminding everyone that Hunter hasn't officially left the Twins yet as many fans feel that he will. As such, there is some information detailing what options the Twins have if they decide to keep Hunter on their team to balance the story.

Local Blog 9/23 Girl shot in north Minneapolis

A 12-year-old girl is listed in critical condition after being shot in the head around midnight Saturday morning on the corner of 18th and Oliver in north Minneapolis. Police have said the bullet wasn't meant for her. The Southside Community Festival in Richard Greene Park in Minneapolis dedicated to the girl while calling on neighborhoods to take a stand against violence.

KARE 11 goes with a delayed to lead to set up the contrast of a tranquil Saturday afternoon where children were playing in the same neighborhood where the shooting happened. They get first-hand accounts from police who were on the scene and neighbors who witnessed the incident.

Minnesota Public Radio goes with a direct lead and take the community impact angle a little farther by interviewing the organizers of the Southside Community Festival. MPR ends the story with supplemental information on the lead.

September 16, 2007

International Blog 9/17 Thai plane crash

Dominating the international headlines today is a plane crash in the island of Phuket in Thailand, killing 87 of 130 people on board. Dozens of European tourists were on a One-Two-GO carrier as the aircraft attempted to land against heavy rains and strong crosswinds, then caught fire after its crash landing. Phuket was one of several regions hit by the Asian tsunami in December 2004

As this is a breaking news story, CNN covers the crash using a direct lead followed by information from multiple sources. The story is heavily supplemented by witness accounts, including one who landed in the same airport five minutes before the crash and from survivors who described the chaotic situation inside the plane. The story ends with a couple tidbits of information regarding the airport where the crash happened.

The Associated Press also has a hard news approach with a direct lead. Their report does contain some statistics of past airplane crashes in Thailans, listing the Phuket accident as the deadliest in that country since 1998. The AP ends their story with a segment on how Asia's booming airline industry has often been overshadowed by a series of wrecks in recent years.

September 13, 2007

Local story 2 9/13 Terry Ryan resigns

Word spread quickly as Terry Ryan, general manager of the Minnesota Twins, resigned from his position earlier today after 13 years on the job. In that tenure, Ryan received much praise from fans for reformatting the Twins from cellar dwellers to playoff contenders on a limited payroll. The Twins won their last four division titles under Ryan. Assistant general manager Bill Smith will assume Ryan's duties on October 1st.

And now for something completely different! After several blogs summarizing articles from similar media, the focus will shift to two different outlets of communication.

As details were announced just today, the Star Tribune dives right in with a direct lead reporting what happened and who will be affected. The next paragraph describes when the change will take place and the third explains one of the reasons why Ryan decided to resign. After answering those questions, the middle of the story puts a spotlight on Smith, who didn't received much press coverage during his three years as Ryan's assistant. Other personnel changes are quickly briefed before going back to Ryan as the story finished on the resumé he built as GM for the Twins.

WCCO also believed the questions of who and what were most important as their lead is very similar to the Star Tribune, sans the note of his 13-year tenure.
That's where the similarities end. WCCO looks at the current situation for the Twins, who are two games under .500 and out of the playoff hunt. Rather than answer possible speculations of Ryan leaving because of the Twins woes immediately, WCCO looks at his past and present, ending the mini-drama a few paragraphs later. The story ends with the current issues facing the Twins followed by Ryan's past credentials.

In a medium where images and brevity are heavily emphasized, it was interesting to see WCCO broadcast an in-depth report, giving information not provided by the Star Tribune and vice-versa.

September 12, 2007

National story 9/12 Kevin Everett

The biggest headline that recapped week one of the NFL regular season was a spinal cord injury sustained by Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett during a game against the Denver Broncos. Initial prognosis from surgeons at Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital in Buffalo said he would never be able to walk again. That has changed as Everett showed signs of improvement in the last two days, doctors are now "cautiously optimistic" that Everett may be able to walk.

Naturally, this has generated a lot of press coverage. The Associated Press has been following the story since the initial tackle that caused the injury. After providing updates on Everett's condition, the AP expanded the human interest level to the story with an interview of Everett's mother, who described her reaction when she first saw her son injured on the field followed by her emotional roller-coaster when she was informed on his condition. Towards the end of the article, details of the on-field action leading to Everett's injury are reported, tailoring to readers who may not have followed the story when it first happened.

Newsweek takes another route in this story, spending less time on Everett's condition and reaction as the injury occurred three days ago. Instead, they examine how his prognosis changed from grim to optimistic within a day. What follows is an in-depth story of what doctors did to treat Everett, revealing techniques that have had little experimentation outside of labs. Doctors injected an IV with cool saline solution to lower Everett's body temperature, a procedure where the full term effects are still not officially known. Additional medical procedures on Everett are then listed.

September 11, 2007

Local Story 1 9/11 Memorial

As another anniversary of 9/11 comes and goes, KARE-11 and KSTP channel 5 take the opportunity to show how much this historical event means to some people with a story of a man who handed out American flags to motorists during morning rush hour on the anniversary of 9/11.

Billy Bishop of Brooklyn Park has done this every year, passing flags to drivers who stop at the intersection of Zane Avenue and Brooklyn Boulevard as a way to remember what happened on the fateful day of September 11th, 2001. According to KSTP, Bishop believes the flags are another way for people to communicate their feelings of 9/11 as many may not have the words to express their emotions. Bishop's gesture of courtesy did not go unnoticed. Drivers who missed him at the light came back to pick up a flag.

Dana Thiede of KARE-11 used Bishop's story in a different context. Bishop tells Thiede that he believes people are forgetting about 9/11 after six years and use that as a transition to an interview with a University of Minnesota social science professor who believes that many citizens haven't forgotten because of unresolved issues, such as the ongoing Iraq war. Dr. Pauline Boss states that people must be allowed to grieve, but must also be encouraged to reflect on the positives of a post 9/11 world, saying that moving on doesn't mean forgetting 9/11.



September 9, 2007

International Blog 9/10

On the international front, CNN and the Associated Press ran extended articles on former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as he is set to return from seven years of political exile for tax evasion and treason to reclaim his old job after growing tensions with the current prime minister.

The majority of CNN's article reports on Sharif's departure for Pakistan and the anticipation for natives, including the arrest of 2,800 protesters. The rest of the article profiles Sharif explaining the reasons for his exile and the events that caused the exile to be lifted while fueling his desire to return.

The Associated Press covers the story from different perspectives. It starts in the same fashion as CNN describing Sharif's preparation, but finds relevancy with the United States by informing that Pervez Musharraf received monetary funding to combat Al-Qaeda. The AP goes further with information that another Pakistani exile, Benazir Bhutto, is also planning to return.

Interestingly, neither organization lists any attributes or sources regarding Sharif's conviction of tax evasion and treason.


Associated Press

Local Story 2, 9/10 Vikings coverage

The season opener for the Minnesota Vikings had drama before the kickoff, with the possibility of a blackout until the last minute, stemming from many questions in what the Vikings were capable of. While that side of the story was covered by the Star Tribune, Dave Campbell of the Associated Press didn't touch light on that at all.

Instead, Campbell began with the topic many fans of the Atlanta Falcons, who faced the Vikings, were talking about: The loss of star quarterback Michael Vick who has been indefinitely suspended for his role in a dog fighting ring. Campbell used elements of narration as he was describing the game, transitioning the actions from players with his own comments of no more than a sentence.

Kevin Siefert of the Star Tribune covered the game with a focus on Minnesota as the Star Tribune caters primarily to the Twin Cities, where there are far more Vikings fans than Falcons fans. Siefert does recap the statistics of the Vikings 24-3 victory over Atlanta, but integrates them with the more personal angle regarding the preseason comments and questions posed by Vikings head coach Brad Childress before the game.

Star Tribune

Associated Press

National story 9/10 - Tropical storm Gabrielle

Storms that develop in the Atlantic Ocean usually will make the news, since those storms can make landfall in the United States. Tropical storm Gabrielle is no exception, as told by CNN and the Associated Press. Both look at the same angles, but cover them in very different ways.

CNN's report starts with a dry lead, providing an update on where the storm made landfall and what areas were under tropical storm warnings. It then answers the question of what qualifies for a tropical storm warning. After a few paragraphs reporting the statistics, the focus then shifts to human interest regarding surfers on the coast of North Carolina, one of the affected areas.

Mike Baker of the Associated Press also answers the what, where, and when question of Gabrielle, but not before he begins the article with a North Carolina resident who scoffs at the storm's intensity while fishing. In addition to Gabrielle's stats, Baker finds another side to the story with the current drought in North Carolina and the disappointment that Gabrielle didn't bring much rain inland. Note: The Associated Press article ran on the Star Tribune.


Associated Press

News blog 9/10, local story 1

This was covered by both KARE-11 and WCCO television during the weekend.

The story covers an event honoring a woman who was killed on the I-35W bridge collapse, an event that still holds relevant to the Twin Cities audience. The story is complimented by the event's proximity and overall human interest in the victims who were killed.

KARE-11 spent most of the time following up on the victim, Christina Sacorafas, and details her impact to friends and the community. They break up her personal story showing a festival dedicated to her memory at a church where Sacorafas started a dance program for a clear example of her community contributions.

Although WCCO had a similar approach to reporting the story, they balance two angles. In addition to the stories of Sacorafas, they also focus on the parish's response to her death and the adjustments they are making in the aftermath.