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January 27, 2007

Wisconsin Man Returns Home After Frightening Fall

A Wisconsin man who fell from the 17th floor of a Minneapolis hotel and only suffered minor injuries returned home on Saturday, according to local reports. Joshua Hanson, 29, of Blair, Wis., fell from the Hyatt Regency on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis on January 20. Hanson amazingly only suffered a broken leg and collapsed lungs, although such a fall would usually result in worse injuries or death. Hanson will recover at home with his family.

The Pioneer Press covered Hanson, who has become nationally known, in a feature article. The article began by calling Hanson "Hanner", his nickname, and proceeded to give details of a party planned in his honor. The aim here is to give a more personal glimpse into the life of a man who survived a near-death accident.

On the other hand, The Star Tribune put more emphasis on the circumstances of Hanson's injuries. The news here is the remarkable details of the accident, not the personal details of Hanson's life.

Neither approach is wrong. The articles actually complement each other since they provide different angles of the story. Both the incident itself and Hanson's story are equally newsworthy and interesting. It was only a matter of choice for each paper as to which angle to persue.

Are Atomic Centrifuges Being Built in Iran?

Contradictory reports were released Saturday regarding the current development of atomic centrifuges in Iran. The AP has reported that 3,000 centrifuges are being constructed at a uranium enrichement plant in Iran, to the alarm of a U.S. State Department member.

"If Iran takes this step, it is going to confront universal international opposition," said Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns.

However, according to a Rueters report, an Iranian nuclear official has denied any such development. This came in respone to comments from an Iranian parliament member.

So, what story is accurate? Currently, it would be impossible to validate either report. It is possible that Iran is constructing the centrifuges and officials are simply denying it. Or, the claim could be false and Iranian nuclear officials may be defending themselves. In either case, the AP lead that confirms that the centrifuges are being built is risky. If this report turns out to be false, the AP loses credibility since they would have published a false story. By running a story that leaves open both possibilites, Rueters is being much safer and wiser. Waiting for further information to surface is the best choice in covering this story.

Anti-War Protest Staged in D.C.

A crowd estimated in the tens of thousands marched on the National Mall Saturday in protest of the Iraqi war, according to an AP report. The crowd consisted of celebrities, lawmakers, and "ordinary people" from around the country. Among the celebrity protesters was Jane Fonda, who received attention for protesting the Vietnam War in the past. The protest was mostly peaceful, although 300 people attempted to rush the Capitol. Police pushed them back and barricaded entrances.

The L.A. Times previewed the protest in a Friday article. Predictions of a massive D.C. protest were made and a list of those scheduled to appear was printed. However, The L.A. Times also previewed scheduled protests in L.A., San Diego, and San Francisco. The California protests were called "some of the largest expected." No mention of these protests was made by the AP. Obviously, the D.C. protest was the most prominent one, so it deserved more national news attention. The celebrity involvement also increased the news value of the D.C. protest. The California protests were important locally because interested residents may have wanted to know where to particiapte. It was also important for commuters, since protests could block traffic. As a national story, the California protests took a back-seat to the D.C. protest.

The lead of each article focused on the D.C. protest. The Times article simply went on to mention the local protests, while the AP report described the main protest in detail. Both articles worked fine, due to the nature of each. Since The L.A. Times article was a preview, information on local protests is necessary. As a summary, the AP report accurately and completely summarized the prominent protest in D.C.,0,6921544.story?coll=la-home-headlines

January 26, 2007

St.Paul Man Sentenced for August Killing

A St.Paul man who killed a relative of his girlfriend was charged with second-degree murder Friday and will serve one year in jail, according to reports by the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. Feon D. Stone, 20, killed Chris Beck, 29, on August 31 during an altercation at the house of Beck's brother.

The Star Tribune lead makes no mention of the names of either the victim or the criminal. Neither name appears until the second paragraph. Instead, the Star Tribune is putting the focus of the lead squarely on the sentencing and not on the names. This makes sense because the Star Tribune is considered the Minneapolis paper and the event occured in St.Paul. The event is not proximate enough to receive name coverage in their lead.

The Pioneer Press lead works in an opposite way, putting Stone's name first and then describing what he was charged with. Since this is St.Paul's typical local paper, the names are relevant due to proximity. This article mentions Stone's sister and Beck's niece, who is also Stone's girlfriend, by name. Neither are mentioned by name in the other article. The names become more important as proximity increases, since local readers are more likely to know the people then non-local readers.

Both articles contain flaws. In the case of The Star Tribune's, not enough detail is put into the story. The other article is of similar length but contains more factual information. However, the Star Tribune article does mention the judge's name, which is important to the whole story, while the Pioneer Press does not. Overall, my opinion of the two articles is that they both could have used more detail yet they still get the crucial news covered.

January 24, 2007

John Kerry To Sit Out in 2008

Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the losing candidate in the 2004 presidential election, announced today that he would not run for president again in 2008. This story is being reported by various sources.

USA Today is reporting
that the 64-year old Kerry will instead seek another 6-year term in the U.S. Senate and focus on ending the Iraqi conflict.

The Boston Globe is confirming this report locally,
while also examining how this news affects the Massachusetts race for Senate.

The USA Today lead is typical of hard news, since it focuses on today's event while setting up context by mentioning Kerry's 2004 presidential defeat. This lead is intended for a mass audience. The Boston Globe lead leans closer to being a feature, since it describes Kerry as emotional. This article is intended to be somewhat of a biographical feature of someone who local citizens of Boston would be familiar with.

In my opinion, both articles successfully communicate with their intended audiences. USA Today is read by a national audience, so it needs a broad appeal, with more hard news and less commentary. The Boston Globe has a more localized audience and is thus able to have more commentary on a prominent local figure.