« November 2007 | Main

December 9, 2007

Naked men buy candy in Arizona

On CNN, there was a story about two naked men who went into a convenience store, shortly after 3 a.m., to buy candy, soda and dough nuts in Phoenix.

The reporters interviewed the cashier who was working at the time. She let them come into the store, unaware of their lack of clothing.

She said she did not want to call the police because they were being polite and not hurting anything, but that if this becomes a habit, then she will.

The names of the men were not mentioned, but their faces were shown on the surveillance footage from the store, which aired on television December 5.

Though this is not the hardest news in the world, it has entertainment value and tells the story of regular, working-class people. This is not the most important kind of story to society, but it still serves an important niche in journalism.

News companies should, however, be weary about airing too many "fluff" stories like this one
to maintain credibility and integrity.

Canada farmer found guilty for murder

A Canadian pig farmer was found guilty of second-degree murder of six women, and is awaiting a possible trial for the deaths of 20 others, according to BBC news and CBC news.

The remains of the six women were found on Robert Pickton's property by police in 2002.

The verdict came after a week of deliberation, and 10 months of testimony, including almost 130 witnesses, thousands of pieces of forensic evidence and video of Pickton telling police that he had hoped to kill 50 women.

Murder conviction in Canada requires a life-sentence, so Pickton will serve at least 6, depending on if he goes to trial for the 20 other murders of which he is suspected.

Most of the women that Pickton is accused of killing were prostitutes and drug addicts from Vancouver.

He was charged with first-degree murder, but the jury did not have enough evidence to prove that these murders were pre-planned, and found him guilty of second-degree murder.

I thought both of these stories were structured well, and very easy to read and understand.

Hastings cop may lose job

A story in the Pioneer Press does a really good job of investigative reporting to get information about a Hastings police officer, whose future is yet to be determined by an arbitrator within 30 days of last Friday.

Rene Doffing was suspended with pay on March 27 for an incident undisclosed to reporters that happened on March 26. He stopped receiving pay in May.

The reporter was able to find out that the incident involved a Wisconsin man who was hospitalized for minor injuries. The city of Hastings has been paying the man's medical bills.

The reporter also did a good job interviewing Doffing's co-workers to get character information and learn about the officer's past.

The part about Doffing threatening to kill a 16-year-old following a dispute over a tennis ball hitting his car, after mentioning the officer's height and weight, created a very vivid image that helped tell the story of Doffing's anger.

Gradution rates increase at the U of M

The Star Tribune features a story about the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and its reputation based on graduation statistics.

The story starts with an anecdotal lead about a student who graduated in 3 and a half years. I thought it did a good job introducing the story by applying a general trend to a specific student.

The story continues by saying that graduation rates after four and six years, though increasing heavily, are still the lowest of the 10 other schools in which Minnesota compares itself.

I felt the article did a good job of balancing quotes and statistics to tell a story, and showed the issue from many perspectives.

I was, however, confused by the last quote of the story from Robert Bruininks: "When you think of being able to get into the labor force a year earlier and you think about that in terms of lifetime earning, it can mean as much as $1 million over the course of your lifetime."

I do not understand on what he is basing this vague statistic, and I do not understand why the reporter chose to end on this confusing quote.