Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

By Sam Preston

I covered a story from www.nicar.org, called 'Resources for covering floods.'


The records and analysis used to produce this story came from all different sources, such as clips from other newspapers as well as several databases and tipsheets. I would say that the computer skills that the reporter who put this story together would need is of course, primarily, how to navigate the internet in such a way to find the websites of other newspapers. Beyond that, they would need to know where to go to access the databases and tipsheets that they used, and they would need to know how to read them beyond that. They would need to know the sources that they would want to address for this story, and how to find information about them on the internet. All in all, a reporter would need much more than basic navigational skills in order to put together such a complex story, because if they could not read the sources that came in front of them, it would be no use.

By Sam Preston

Six Minnesota residents were killed in a head-on crash in Cambridge Sunday, according to both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

Four of the victims were in a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am driven by 16-year-old Sabrina Schumacher, both sources said, who was the lone survivor of the accident. She was airlifted from the scene and is in serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center.

The victims have been identified as Kelsee Blackledge, 15, of Cambridge; Travis Buchan, 17, of Cambridge; Travis Gryczowski, 21, of Cambridge, and Kendryna-Whitefeather, the Tribune said.

The other two fatalities of the accident include the driver of the other car, A 24-year-old Sandstone man, and his male passenger, who has not yet been identified, the Press said.

This accident ends a deadly weekend in Minnesota that has claimed the lives of ten people-- seven of them teens-- all in car accidents, both sources said.

Penguins rally for 4-3 overtime win at Ottawa, claim series

By Sam Preston

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime Saturday to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, according to both the New York Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis scored 9:56 into overtime to upset a crowd at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa during the sixth game of the first round, both sources said.

Pittsburgh won the series 4-2, with two of the regular time goals scored by forward Matt Cooke and another by defenseman Alexei Ponikarovski, both sources said.

With the win, the Penguins are guaranteed at least two more games at their longtime home, Mellon Arena, the Times said. They will be moving into the new Consol Energy Center next season.

It is still unknown who the Penguins will face in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, both sourcs said, as the winner of the series between the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins is yet to be determined.

Minn. authorities ID 3 teens killed in truck wreck

By Sam Preston

Three teenage girls died in a rollover car accident Friday, according to both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

The victims have been identified as 16-year-old driver Shauna Marie Rohoff and 13-year-old Morgan Zeller of Lewiston, as well as 14-year-old Katie Lee Hornberg of Altura, both sources said.

A fourth girl in the vehicle, 12-year-old Cydney Maker, was in critical condition Saturday at a hospital in La Crosse, Wis., both sources said.

The teenagers were on their way to a track meet, the Tribune said, when the pickup driven by Rohoff rolled into a ditch east of Winona County Road 27.

This is the second time in only the past five days that these communities have seen young people killed in a car crash, the Tribune said.

Obama fails to call Armenian massacre a genocide

By Sam Preston

President Obama still avoids using the term genocide to describe the Ottoman mass slaughter of Armenians nearly a century ago, according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The president addressed the situation Saturday, as it marks the 95th anniversary since the near 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, according to the Times.

During the 2008 presidential elections, President Obama had no issues labeling the event as a genocide, the Post said, as he was trying to gain the votes from some of the 1.5 million Armenian-Americans.

In his statement commemorating the victims of the killings, the president wanted to avoid alienating Turkey, a NATO ally, which adamantly rejects the genocide label, the Times said.

However, Mr. Obama did hint to Armenians in his statement that he still felt the same way. "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed," he said, according to both the Times and the Post.

10 Dead After Tornado Hits Mississippi

By Sam Preston

Ten people were pronounced dead following a tornado that ripped throught the Southeast Saturday, according to both the New York Times and USA Today.

Of the ten pronouced dead, five were killed in Choctaw County, one was in Holmes County and four were from Yazoo County, Miss., both the Times and USA Today said, where Governor Haley Barbour told The Associated Press there was "utter obliteration."

Two of the victims were children, though aside from those who perished, thousands of others are affected either by loss of property or injuries, USA Today said.

Many of the injured are being treated at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, the Times said.

In Warren County, Miss. alone, at least 30 homes were rendered uninhabitable by the storms, the Times said, stirring the memory of Hurricane Katrina for many.

By Sam Preston

Toyota faces yet another safety concern this year, recalling more than 600,000 Sienna minivans Friday, according to both the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune.

The company was forced to recall the vehicles because of rusting spare tire holders, both sources said, that could break and create a road hazard.

The recall came at almost the same time as when the House announced that it would hold another hearing in May to review possible electronic problems in runaway Toyotas, the Tribune said.

The latest recall covered the 1998-2010 model year Siennas with two-wheel drive that have been sold or registered in 20 cold-climate states and the District of Columbia, the Press said.

Toyota said that it was unaware of any injuries resulting from the latest recall, but that road salt could cause the carrier cable that holds the spare tire to rust and break, allowing the tire to tumble onto the road, the Press said. The problem could threaten the safety of other drivers.


Klobuchar meets with families adopting from Russia

By Sam Preston

Hopeful Minnesota families wanting to adopt children from Russia may run into some difficulties, according to both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

A woman from Tennessee sent back her recently adopted 7-year-old son from Russia with a note saying her was mentally ill, the Press said, causing Russia to block future U.S. adoptions, both sources said.

This is sad news for couples such as Rick and Barb Durig of Minneapolis, who have plans to fly to Russia next week to meet the three daughters they were planning to adopt, the Tribune said.

But the Durigs are not alone, as the recent suspension by Russia has postponed the asoption process for thousands of couples across the United States, the Tribune said.

But Senator Klobuchar has been has been lobbying the State Department to resolve the issue before adoptions such as the Durigs' get delayed or even canceled, the Tribune said, by pushing the federal government to focus on post-adoption services.

By Sam Preston

Two Columbia Heights residents were found dead near one of the city's busiest intersections, according to both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

It appeared to be a suicide-murder, Columbia Heights Police Chief Scott Nadeau said at the scene Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.

The couple was found in the parking lot of Asia Chow Mein restaurant, which is located at 4905 Central Av. NE, both the Press and the Tribune said.

It took place at about 10 a.m., and nearby police were the first to respond around 10:30 a.m., the Tribune said. Shots were reported by nearby construction workers, but nobody inside of the restaurant heard the shots.

The names of the couple have not yet been confirmed, though suspects are believed to be Jozef Franz Tomasovic, 66, owner of the car found at the scene, and his wife, Natalia Jurjevna Tomasovic, 55, both sources said.

Lexus Stops Selling S.U.V. That Was Called Unsafe

By Sam Preston

Consumer Reports has labeled the Lexus GX 460 as a "safety risk," according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The magazine has labeled the sport utility vehicle as such due to what they call dangerous handling problems, both the Times and the Post said, which they believe could lead to a rollover and possibly "serious injury or death."

Toyota quickly suspended sales of the vehicle following the report Tuesday, both the Times and the Post said.

This is the first time since 2001 that Consumer Reports has issued a similar "don't buy" warning, both the Times and the Post said. They issued it because the vehicle failed the federal government's system for reviewing new models.

Lexus has not yet voluntarily recalled the vehicle, the Times said, but they are willing to provide a loaner for any concerned customers.