April 2010 Archives

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.

Fewer women dying in childbirth, study says

By Sam Preston

The number of women who die each year from childbirth is rapidly decreasing, according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The findings were published in the European medical journal the Lancet, both the Times and the Post said, and showed that the women who die as a result of childbirth has fallen by 40 percent.

In 2008, the number of women who died from pregnancy and childbirth was 526,300, the Times said, a lot more than the 342,900 who died this year.

However, the rate of women dying differs greatly by country, by a factor of about 400, the Post said. While there has been a great reduction in the populous countries of India, China, Brazil and Egypt, countries like Afghanistan are still facing great numbers.

Maternal morality says a lot about a nation, the Post said, gauging things such as a nation's health, wealth and women's status. And while that does vary hugely by nation, this study proves that maternal morality can be solved, the Times said.

Analysis: Culture

By Sam Preston

The story I chose to cover was from the New York Times, called A Delicate Balancing Act for the Black Agenda.

What this story basically went over was how certain members of the black community feel about President Obama's term so far. According to this article, there are many citizens right in Obama's hometown of Chicago who are not happy with what he has done in office so far.

In my personal opinion, this article does not follow any stereotype associated with the black America, because through a series of quotes and other data, they break stereotypes.

In some of the quotes and other things presented in this article, the reporter makes the black public out to be educated, interested in politics, and opinionated.

Now though I do not stand behind or think any stereotypes to necessarily be true, it has been my impression that stereotypes surrounding the black community is that they are uneducated, involved in gangs, like to shoot eachother, etc.

Now, in this article, they are reporting about black citizens of Chicago coming together to listen to a panel discuss their unhappiness with the Obama administration. People shared their thoughts and input as well, which made them out to seem educated on the situation and able to participate in the discussion.

I asked my roommate, Stephanie, who is a student here at the U and black, to read the article. She said that she also did not think there were many of your standard stereotypes about balck people in the story, and then also gave me some of her input on what the story covered.

I'm not sure if what she thinks about Obama is relevant, but what I am trying to get at is that this article moved beyond stereotypes to get into the more substantive story of a people who were once happy to see a man of color get into office now question if Hillary Clinton would have been better.

By Sam Preston

Phil Mickelson won his third Master's title Sunday, according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

He finished with a 16-under-par total, and became the fifth golfer in the history of the Master's to win his third green jacket, the Times said.

His birdie putt on the last hole landed him a three-stroke victory over the second place competitor, Lee Westwood of England, both the Post and the Times said.

Mickelson was joined in the winner's circle by his wife, Amy, and three children, the Post said. His wife has endured a tough battle with breast cancer over the past year, and so emotions were doubly high with the win Sunday evening.

He said his wife has not had a lot of energy to get out and do things recently, and so sharing this win together really meant a lot, the Times said.

Poland mourns Lech Kaczynski, father of a new nationalism

By Sam Preston

Poland's capital was filled with mourning citizens Sunday, the second day in a row following the death of President Lech Kaczynski, according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The president as well as dozens of Poland's top politicians and policy makers were killed Friday in a plane crash, both the Times and the Post said. They were on their way to the Russian village of Katyn, but crashed above the village of Smolensk located in western Russia.

Kaczynski and his delegation were making the trip in order to commemorate a tragedy that took place in Katyn during World War II, when more than 20,000 Polish officers and intellectuals were massacred by Russian forces, the Post said.

Citizens of the country gathered in the streets leading from the airport to the city center, where they watched the body of who many called a 'national hero' being returned to the presidential palace, the Post said.

The crash has left a lot of questions surrounding Polish politics, the Times said, throwing the presidential elections into disarry. An entire delegation of senior government officials died in the crash, but the cause is under investigastion, the Post said.

Hackers attack Eden Prairie High School website

By Sam Preston

The Eden Prairie High School website was shut down Sunday due to hackers, according to both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

The hackers posted a video, a picture of the Turkish flag and a handgun, both the Press and the Tribune said. The hacker's message said "Hacked by Silent Assault," the Press said.

School district administrators diabled the site after learning about the viral attack, but the main school district Web site was not affected, both the Press and the Tribune said.

The hackers did not access school district data and the attack did not affect school district servers or other technology systems, the Tribune said.

The person or organization behind the attacks created a Web page that was posted on top of the high school's Web page, the Tribune said, affecting more than 100 websites around the world.

U grad killed when Osprey crashes in Afghanistan

By Sam Preston

An Air Force pilot from Minnesota as well as three other victims died Friday in a CV-22 Osprey crash, according to the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

Randall 'Randy' Voas, 43, was a Major in the U.S. Air Force who was assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla, both the Press and the Tribune said.

One of the other victims was 45-year-old Senior Master Sgt. James B. Lackey of Green Clove Springs, Fla., and the other two aboard the aircraft have not yet been named, both the Press and the Tribune said.

Voas' father said Voas had been deployed overseas several times before, including twice to Iraq and once to Africa, the Press said. "But you can never be 100 percent ready when you're losing a member of the family," his dad said.

The aircraft went down near Kandahar, and the incident still remains under investigastion, the Press said. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for shooting down the aircraft.

At Least 7 Die in West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion

By Sam Preston

At least seven people are reported dead in a West Virginia coal mine explosion on Monday, according to both the New York Times and the Washingon Post.

The coal mine was owned by the Virginia-based Massey Energy Company and operated by the Performance Coal Company, the Times said. The name of the mine where the incident took place is the Upper Big Branch mine.

Nineteen other workers remain trapped thousands of feet underground, the Post said. The seven that were killed were part of a group of nine workers who were leaving on a vehicle from where the explosion took place, leaving the other two injured.

The cause of the blast remains unknown, both the Times and the Post said, but the operation had a history of safety violations.

The explosion took with it all forms of communication from inside the mine, the Times said, but there were two rescue chambers near the site of the explosion that, if reached by the workers, could keep them alive for four days.

Analysis: Numbers

By Sam Preston

I looked at an article in the New York Times that covered a survey done about what Haitian's thought their most pressing needs were following the destruction of the January 12 earthquake.

I thought the reporter used numbers very well in the story. They did not introduce the numbers until the third paragraph, giving the reader plenty of time to figure out what the story was about before having numbers thrown at them.

In the third paragraph, the reporter uses numbers in such a way as presenting the top 3 needs identified by the survey and using percentages to say how they ranked. This was successful because it was in a very readable format, such as "x percent thought such and such was needed."

The numbers are not overwhelming because beyond the initial introduction, numbers are not introduced again until the reporter references the next top things listed by the people polled. They then finished with a dollar amount of how much Haiti expected its damages to be, so the reporter only used what they need.

They did not need to use math to compress anything down because they were very concise, and did not list all of the results listed by the survey. They knew what they needed to tell their story and stuck to it. They also only used one decimal, saying 5.5 percent of the population felt security was most important to focus on. Overall, it was very easy to follow from a reader's perspective.

By Sam Preston

A Wisconsin man was shot to death Saturday in what Sheriff's believe to be jealousy in a love triangle, according to both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

The victim, 24-year-old Kyle B. Ryba, was killed by the husband of his girlfriend, 18-year-old Stephanie N. Ball, both sources said.

Ball was wounded in her right leg, and the shootings took place in her father's home, the Press said.

The suspect is a 21-year-old Minot, N.D., man, whom Ball had been separated from for two weeks, the Tribune said.

The suspect was making his way back to North Dakota when he surrendered three hours later, both sources said. He was picked up in Cottage Grove, and is now in the Washington County jail pending his sentence.

Faribault woman missing after car goes into Cannon River

By Sam Preston

A search continues Sunday for a Faribault woman who is missing in the Cannon River, according to both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

Brittney Landsverk, 20, went missing on Friday after the car she was riding in crashed into the river, both the Tribune and the Press said.

The driver, Mitchell Bongers, who turned 22 Sunday, was traveling through private property when his car went over the river's bank sideways and entered the water, both sources said.

Brittney had been pulled from the water by another passenger, but it was reported that she slipped back in and was swept away by the current, the Press said.

The driver is in critical condition at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and the two other passengers were not injured, both sources said.

A whole family is lost in Minneapolis fire

By Sam Preston

A family of five perished in a blaze on Lake Street Friday, according to both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

The family was staying in the apartment with a friend, Rick Richtner, who also died in the fire, both the Tribune and the Press said. The apartment building and the pub below were destroyed in the accident, and Richter was a bartender for McMahon's.

The family has been identified as Anne Gervais, 43; her son, Andrew Gervais, 26, and Andrew's three children, Colten Gervais, 2, and 3-year-old twins Austin and Aliciah Gervais-Hjellming, both the Tribune and the Press said. Richter was 25.

The reason for the fire is still being investigated, according to the Tribune and the Times. The family was there because they were in the process of searching for other housing.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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