May 6, 2007

High Winds Take Out Power Lines

Wind gusts that reached up to 40 miles per hour knocked down trees and power lines across the Twin Cities on Sunday morning, reported the Star Tribune. The downed power lines have left thousands of local residents without power.

Excel Energy reported these numbers at 1 p.m. : 1,700 outages in Savage, 1,800 in St.Louis Park, 900 in South St.Paul, and 800 in Minneapolis. Law enforcement officials have reported no severe of widespread damage, however, according to the Star Tribune.

The winds also caused severe fire weather conditions across west central Wisconsin, reported the Star Tribune. Incoming storms later today should help improve the situation there.

Excel Energy notified me over the phone that they had an unusually large amount of emergency calls this afternoon. The power at my apartment building at 1100 Como Ave. went out at around 11 a.m. I was informed that I will have power by noon on Monday. Until then, my blogging will have to be done at the local coffeeshop with free wireless.

Body Found; Believed to be of Missing Little Falls Man

Police found a body Saturday in Foley, Minn. that is believed to be that of a missing Little Falls man. Lewis Wilczek, 21, went missing on April 29,according to both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press. Wilczek was headed to meet someone in St. Cloud when he disappeared, the local sources reported.

Wilczek's mother, Sharon, said that police notified her that the case had switched from a missing-person search to a homicide case, according to the sources. Police have said that the investigation remains open.

Wilczek's red pickup truck was found Wednesday, reported the sources. A who was driving the truck and claiming to be Wilczek was arrested. The man, who's name has been withheld, was brought to Stearns County jail for allegedly providing false information to police and outstanding warrants. His role in the case has not been determined, according to the police.

April 29, 2007

Highway 36 Closing to Challenge Commuters, Car Show

Highway 36 will be closed between Maplewood and North St.Paul beginning Tuesday. This will be the first time the Minnesota Department of Transportation is completely closing a metro commuting route for a construction project, according to the Star Tribune. The idea behind this is to save time and money on the project.

Expect commuting to be difficult for a while as commuters scramble to find good alternate routes. An estimated 40,000 drivers will have their routes alterted, according to the Star Tribune.

"I'm kinda just waiting to see what happens," said Bruce Mike, a resident of North St.Paul who will be forced to plot out an alternate route.

The highway closure may also impact a long-running classic car show. The History Cruzers, a group of around 800 classic car owners, may have trouble holding their show with the highway closed, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Cruzers normally hold their show every Friday evening, but concerns have arisen about possible congestion on Seventh Avenue in North St.Paul as a result of not being able to use the highway. City officials are concerned that congestion of city streets may prevent emergency vehicles from getting around.

Members of the Cruzers have asked the North Saint Paul City Council to approve the show at their May 15 meeting. They hope traffic studies show that congestion fears are unfounded.

Vikings Load up on Offense at 2007 NFL Draft

The Vikings addressed their biggest need--offense--on Saturday and Sunday at the NFL Draft. Their first selction, the seventh overall, was star running back Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma. They also took three wide receivers, a quarterback, and three defensive players.

Peterson had an amazing freshmen season in 2004, when he finished second in Heisman trophy balloting. Since then, he has been mildly hampered by injuries but still impressed NFL scouts. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman talked to the Pioneer Press about the pick.

"Adrian Peterson was the highest-ranked player (left) on our board. That was our guy."

The main area of concern for the Vikings, though, was the wide reciever position. The team released veterans Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor early this offseason, leaving them with little left at that spot. The three new receivers, Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison, and Chandler Williams, should all get a chance to contribute.

Head Coach Brad Childress appeared pleased by the picks, reported the Star Tribune. Although he rarely gets overly excited, the coach was not able to hide a smile.

"They're good football players," Childress said. "They've got good numbers. They're good people and they have a chance to help us."

April 22, 2007

Vikings Unveil Stadium Idea

The Vikings unveiled plans for a new downtown stadium Sunday that would be opened in 2012. However,unlike another current Metrodome tennant, the Twins, the Vikings idea is still just a dream, since it has yet to be approved by the state. The stadium would cost nearly $1 billion and would be situated where the Metrodome is now.

The Vikings current Metrodome lease expires in 2011, and team officials and city planners told the Pioneer Press that they are worried that the team will move without a new stadium. The proposed stadium would feature a retarctable roof, a climate-controlled interior, and a dramatic view of downtown. The design of the stadium would also incorporate the surrounding area, in an attempt to revitalize east downtown. New housing units would be built and the light rail would become a "Winter Garden", an enclosed transit system filled with new tourist destinations and lined with trees.

While the proposal looks amazing, the $954 million estmated price tag has raised more than a few eyebrows. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf told the Star Tribune that he would be willing to invest "hundreds of millions of dollars" for the stadium. Still, the failed stadium proposal in Blaine was only estmated at $670, so plenty of skepticism exists for the new downtown plan.

Teenager Shot and Killed on Metro Transit Bus

A 16-year-boy was shot and killed on a Route 74 bus early this morning in downtown St.Paul. The boy, whose name has been withheld, was apparently involved in a dispute between two groups of young people, according to the Star Tribune.

The shooting occured at around 12:15 a.m. when the bus came to a stop at 5th and Sibley streets. The Star Tribune reported that a gunman leaned in the back door and fired one shotgun round, hitting the victim in the chest. The suspect was described as a male between the ages of 16-18, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall,and wearing a white T-shirt and dark, baggy pants. He fled the scene immediately. The victim died aboard the bus.

Police spokesmen Tom Walsh said that the investigation is ongoing. They hope to gain information from watching the bus's security tape. Among other things, Walsh said that they'd like to see if the suspect was riding on the bus earlier in the day.

The Pioneer Press reported that no other riders were hurt, although the police and Metro Transit have not said how many passengers were on the bus when the shooting occurred. The St.Paul Police have requested that anyone with helpful information should call them at (651) 291-1111.

April 15, 2007

St.Paul Toddler Found "Alone" in Frogtown

The man who found a toddler wandering around Frogtown on Thursday admitted Saturday that he was creating the story to avoid caring for the child. Chue Xiong, 44, said that he was tired of caring for the 2-year-old boy, who was found on Edmund Avenue and Kent Street.

However, Xiong has since denied knowing the child or his mother, according to the Star Tribune. Xiong said that he simply spotted the shoeless child when he returend home and went outside to help him. The boy's mother is in the Ramsey County jail on theft and forgery charges.

Police spokesman Tom Walsh said that the investigation has just begun and that possible charges could come later this week.

A wandering child in Frogtown was not a safe scenario. Busy University Avenue runs through the neighborhood and few places are welcoming to children,

"There's nothing around here for children," neighborhood resident Richard Hill told the Pioneer Press. "Nothing's open around that time. It's really strange."

Willmar Soldier Dies in Iraq

A Willmar, Minn. soldier died in Iraq Saturday after a roadside bomb exploded. Joshua Scmit, 26, was scheduled to return home later this month after his duty was up. Schmit, a 1999 graduate of Willmar High School, last spoke to his family on Easter Sunday.

"He said he was really glad he was about to come home," Joshua's father, Greg, told the Star Tribune.

Schmit earned the nickname "Oompa" in high school--a reference to Willy Wonka's Oompa-Loopas.

"He was a short, stocky kid, very happy-go-lucky," said Greg Schmit to the Pioneer Press. "He was OK with that. Even his buddies in Germany (where he'd been stationed) called him 'Oompa.' It just stuck."

Schmit is the 58th person with Strong Minnesota ties to die in either Afghanistan or Iraq, according to the Star Tribue.

Schmit had been planning on going to Germany after his service ended, where he had lived with his wife. He was then going to pay Willmar a visit in May, where family and friends were going to throw him a party.

"He was a wonderful person, and he'll be sorely missed," Greg Schmit told the Star Tribune

Schmit is survived by his father, his mother, Kim, and his sister, Jessica.

April 13, 2007

Mom Stabs Newborn 135 Times

An 17-year-old Oakdale girl stabbed her newborn child to death Monday and was charged for the crime on Thursday. Nicole "Nikki" Beecroft, a student at Tartan High School, panicked after giving birth Monday night in her home. She stabbed the child repeatedly, 135 times in all, and threw the body into a trash can outside the home.

As repoorted in the Pioneer Press, Beecroft was charged with first-degree murder and could face life in prison if convicted. Family and friends expressed their grief and disbelief.

"I didn't really believe she would do something like that," said Kyle Merth, a friend of Beecroft's. "You never would have guessed."

Beecroft Attorney Earl Gray, a firend of the family, asked Judge Gregory Galler to release Beecroft to her mother's custody, according to the Star Tribune. He also has requested that a doctor examine Beecroft's mental and physical health.

The Star Tribune also reported that a case like this was extremely rare. According to the most recent homicide statistics,three mothers killed their newborns within six days of birth in 2004. However, many newborn murder cases involve suffocations, drownings, or strangulations.

"The fact that it involved a knife is very strange," said Ross Macmillan,a University of Minnesota criminologist.

Plans for New Ballpark are Unveiled

The Minnesota Twins will escape from the Metrodome and move into a new stadium in 2010--a ballpark that had its designs finalized on Thursday. The yet unnamed stadium will have wide concourses, godd sightlines of the field, and a small, cozy feeling that should resemble Chicago's historic Wrigley Field.

According to the Star Tribune, the park will also feature a limestone finish, a high-definition scoreboard, and a heated field that should prevent snow from accumulating in the early part of the season. HOK Sport, the architectual firm in charge of the project, wants to mimic the intimacy of Wrigley Field while blending in uniquely Minnesotan elements. It will resmeble the Metrodome in it's distances from home plate to the outfield.

"It's a fair ballpark as far as its dimensions," said Earl Santee, a member of the HOK team.

Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire and General Manager Terry Ryan, as well as former players Paul Molitor and Tony Oliva, were on hand during the unveiling, according to the Pioneer Press. Fans were allowed to stop into the Government Center at 300 South Sixth St. in Minneapolis to view the designs.

April 1, 2007

Local Man Robs Bank, Then Kills Himself

A man who robbed a bank in Plymouth Friday fled into a nearby home, where he shot himself in the bathroom. David Dahlen, 47, of Oak Grove, Minn., robbed the US Bank on Lancaster Lane and then forced his way into a home, where a woman was inside. The woman was told to leave and she wasn't hurt. This was all reported by the Star Tribune.

Dahlen then made cell phone calls to relatives, while authorities surrounded the home's perimeter. The relatives told police he had contacted them, but he did not respond when police attempted to call him. Police finally entered the home at around 5:30 p.m., where they found Dahlen dead in an upstairs bathroom, due to an apparent self-inflicted wound to the chest.

Dahlen had previously served time in federal prison for an armed bank robbery in California. However, his wife Cosette told the Pioneer Press that David wasn't a dangerous or bad person.

"He was just a sweetie," she said. "He wouldn't hurt a soul. He just, he just got really stressed out."

Twins Broadcaster Carneal Dies at Age 83

Herb Carneal, who had broadcasted Twins games since 1962, died Sunday due to congestive heart problems, as reported by the Star Tribune. He was 83.

Carneal had been battling health problems throughout the offseason, which included a six-week stay in a hospital. Carneal was already scheduled to miss the start of the season due to his worsening health.

Carneal joined the Twins in their second season and had done play-by-play ever since. He was joined in the booth by another veteran broadcaster, John Gordon. Since 1998, however, Carneal had only called home games, while Gordon had called both home and away. This year, Carneal had been schedule to broadcast 36 of the Twins 81 home games.

"Herb Carneal's voice was the signature element of Twins baseball for multiple generations of fans," Twins president Dave St. Peter said in an AP article. "Clearly, he was one of the most beloved figures in Minnesota sports history."

March 25, 2007

Police Finish Search of St.Paul Murder Site

The St.Paul police finished their search of 292 Burgess Avenue on Sunday, the site of a triple homicide just two days earlier. Maria McClay,32, Othal Saunders, 31, and Brittany Kekedakis,15, were all killed when masked gunmen broke into the home early Friday morning, according to local reports.

Police have collected a "great deal" of forensice evidence, according to the Star Tribune, and have allowed family members to return to the home. The crime lab is currently processing the evidence, which should provide insight. Police are still looking for the suspects and their vehicle, a dark-colored SUV.

Police have said that the killings were probrably not random, according to a Pioneer Press report. Apparently, the suspects demanded cash and drugs once they broke in. Police said that the chance that the family was in the "wrong place at the wrong time" is low at that this likely was a planned attack.

Kekedakis had been attending Como Park Senior High School in St.Paul. This is the second time in the last four years that a Como student has been murdered during a school year. Ben Doran, 15, was killed in March of 2003.

Ben Doran Foundation President Rome Hanson intends on beginning a reward fund on Monday. This will offer incentives to anyone who can supply information on the murders. The Ben Doran Foundation supports arts and sciences in the city schools and helped push for Benny's Law, which enforces stricter punishments on gang-related killings. No connections to gangs have been made in this case.

March 24, 2007

Winona State's Historic Streak Ends

The Winona State Warriors, winners of 57 games in a row, saw their winning streak end Saturday in the NCAA Division II national championship game. Barton College (N.C) defeated the Warriors 77-75 after overcoming a defecit in the final minute.

Winona led 74-67 with 45 seconds remaining and appeared to have the game won, according to the Pioneer Press. However, Barton stormed back on the shoulders of Anthony Atkinson, who scored 10 points in the final 45 seconds.

After cutting the lead to four, 75-71, Atkinson took over. He scored with 19 seconds left to cut the lead in half. He then stole the next inbounds pass and scored agiain to even the score at 75-75. After forcing another turnover with 11 seconds on the clock, Atkinson raced down the court and scored the winning basket with .01 seconds remaining, according to the Star Tribune.

Obviously, this story is meanigless without numbers. Winona State's historic winning streak gives a sense of the magnitude of this game. And the details of the final seconds give an exciting account of what occured. To simply report "Winona State loses" would be a disservice to the excitement of the event.

March 8, 2007

Ridder Crosses the River

Par Ridder, former Pioneer Press publisher and descendent of the St.Paul-synonomous Ridder family, took over as Star Tribune publisher and CEO Monday. The Ridder family has had ties to the Pioneer Press paper for 80 years; Par's grandfather was once the publisher and even Par's great-grandfather had ties to St.Paul and the paper. The job opened up only after J. Keith Moyer resigned as Star Tribune publisher after six years on the job. The Star Tribune also changed ownership; Avista purchased the paper from the McClatchy Co.

The Star Tribune ran a very simple article that reported what types of changes had occured within the organization. Ridder and Avista both expressed optimism for the future of the paper and a commitment to producing more locally relevant stories.

The Pioneer Press had a much differant take on this story. Columnist Joe Soucheray called the Star Tribune the "Enemy Paper" and basically called Ridder's switch treason. He said publishers were interchangeable and that they weren't really news guys. He wished Ridder luck in his new job, but only within reason. Obviously, the loss of Ridder is quite the blow to the Pioneer Press. More importantly then losing a publisher, the Pioneer Press lost a name. Ridder, The Pioneer Press, and St.Paul had become closely linked through the years. Losing Ridder from this equation is a blow to the Pioneer Press' reputation more then anything else.

March 7, 2007

Mankato Parents Charged with Abuse of Formerly Conjoined Twin

A Mankato couple was charged Wednesday for abusing their 4-month-old son, who was born as a conjoined twin. Valerie James, 19, and Robert Heck, 26, were charged with one count each of felony first-degree assault on the infant. Authorities do not know which of the two boys, Jordan or Jacob, was harmed.

The alleged abuse occured in January, when one of the two boys was brought to the Mayo children's hospital due to swelling. The AP reported that doctors there noticed fractures of the boy's legs and ribs. Doctors concluded that excessive force would have been needed to cause such injuries.

The father, Heck, has been charged for child abuse before. A previous girlfriend said that he abused three of her children, including reports of beating a 3-year-old and burning a 3-month old. Heck denied current allegations and declinded to speak further until after he met with his lawyer.

The Star Tribune spoke with Heck's grandfather, Duane Kopp. He said that he didn't believe that either Heck or James was capable of these crimes. He said that there was "no better father" then his grandson. Heck and James also have a 1-year-old daughter together.

Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson called the case "pretty ugly." He said that conjoined twins go through so much in just getting seperated that it's hard to see them go through something like this in addition. A court date for the case has been set for April 12.

March 4, 2007

Pitcher Ponson Gets Visa

Righthanded pitcher Sidney Ponson, a native of Aruba, received a work visa Thursday which will allow him to join the Twins in Spring Training. Ponson frustrated team officials by not getting the visa earlier, but he was able to rush to the Bahamas and obtain a P-1 visa. Ponson will be in competition for a spot in the Twins' rotation, although he could be relegated to the minors or released.

The Star Tribune spoke with Ponson's agent, Barry Praver. He was grateful to a U.S. consulate in the Bahamas, which was able to process the visa much quicker than the Dominican Republic, where Ponson was originally schedule to get his visa. His troubles started when he applied for the wrong type of visa, which was wrongfully recommended for Ponson by an immigration agent.

The Pioneer Press spoke with Terry Ryan, the general manger of the Twins. Ryan had been frustrated by the Ponson holdup, so he was glad to have it resolved.

"They took care of an awkward situation," Ryan said.

Ponson is down to what could be his last chance in pro baseball. The pitcher has had legal problems and weight problems, as well as poor performances on the field. Ponson is grateful the Twins gave him a chance and he wants to prove that they made a good decision.

"(The Twins) give me a feeling they really want me here. So it makes me want to go out there and push a little bit harder than normal," Ponson said.

Is Local Water Safe?

A chemical produced by the 3M company has been found in local water supplies recently and has caused residents to question their water's safety. Perfluorobutanoic acid, or PFBA, was found in small doseages in various metro water supplies. The chemical is considered safe in small doseages, although further research will be done.

The Star Tribune explored the difficult situation that this presents to public officials. If they endorse the water as safe, they may be doing so without sufficient evidence. If the water is declared unsafe, a public health crisis would ensue. Somehow, those in charge need to assure people they are safe while doing research quickly to prove it. Related chemicals have been found in the blood of humans and animals worldwide. However, PFBA itself has undergone relatively little testing and its affects are not well known.

The Pioneer Press focused on the process of studying a new contaminent. They compared PFBA to arsenic, which is lethal in high doseages yet harmless in small doseages. PFBA may fall into this category; a small dose of it could be safe. However, determining what a safe amount is can be difficult. In the wake of this uncertainty, some citizens have switched to bottled water.

When more data comes in, these papers will have to sort through confusing scientific language and report the urgent news. The citizens of this state will have to know if their water is safe or not. The full extent of the research is secondary to this concern. It will be interesting to watch this story as it unfolds.

February 25, 2007

"The Big One" Hits Minnesota

One of the largest snow storms in years hit the Twin Cities and the rest of the Upper Midwest Saturday, causing white-out conditions and numerous accidents. The storm is expected to last throughout the weekend and predictions call for beteween 10 and 15 inches of snow, although extreme predictions are calling for 2 feet. Plows have been able to manage decently so far, but the State Patrol is still urging for people not to travel.

A Star Tribune report cited WCCO meterologist Paul Douglas, who said this storm will likely be the largest storm in Minnesota in the last eight years. He also noted that Minnesota has never seen a foot of snow in one snowfall during February since records were first kept in 1891. The Pioneer Press reported that the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport was closed for some time this afternoon due to slick runways from freezing rain. They advised anyone going to the airport for any reason to call ahead for the latest information.

In a story like this, local newspapers have an obligation to report the information that can most help local citizens. In this case, both The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press relayed important information in a timely manner. Details on how much snow to expect, the duration of the storm, and public safety concerns are all of great interest. Both of these papers delivered in these areas.

February 24, 2007

Missing Minnesota Man Found

A Brainerd-area man who had been missing for a week was found Friday. Ryan Hamre, 24, went for a walk in the woods a week ago and apparently became lost . He was found in the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota by relatives. Authorities had been performing a massive search before he was found.

According to a Star Tribune report, Hamre was apparently found as he walked from the bush onto a road, the Tomahawk Trail. Hamre built at least one fire while he was missing in order to stay warm. He was checked out at a Ely hospital and reported to be in good condition.

The Pioneer Press reported the finding differntly. Apparently, Hamre was found in a fish house in the woods. He was found there with his truck in working condition.

Obviously, as more details come out, a better picture of this story will emerege. When this occurs, one of these two papers will look bad for reporting inaccurate information.

February 18, 2007

Historic Snow Shortage Hurts Businesses

Minnesota hasn't had this little amount of snow this late into the season since 1960. This is also the longest into the season without a snow emergency since 1990. An average Minnesota winter has 38 inches of snow, yet this season has had only 12 inches. All of this data was reported in a brief article by the Pioneer Press.

A Star Tribune report took the story a step further. They discussed how the lack of snow was having an adverse affect on many local businesses. A salesman at a snow sports store called this "probrably the worst (winter) ever" and that potential customers were simply going elsewhere this season. Also of note was the cancellation of The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, which was called off for the first time in 25 years due to lack of snow.

The Pioneer Press brief is useful as a quick summary of an important story. However, much more is needed to make this a complete story. The Star Tribune article provides this; the human element that relates the raw data to real people.

February 15, 2007

Franken to Run Against Coleman

Al Franken, a comedian famous for his Saturday Night Live appearances, will oppose Norm Coleman for Senate in 2008. Franken, who grew up in St.Louis Park, will run for what he has called "Wellstone's seat" (MN Daily, Feb.15). Franken will drop out if he is not endorsed by the DFL.

A Star Tribune report focused on Franken's goal of establishing universal healthcare. This, Franken said, is a must since many other Western countries already have it. He said he believed that it would not cost any more than the current healthcare system. The Pioneer Press reported that Franken is promising, despite his comedic background, to take the race very seriously. The Star Tribune mentioned that Minnesotans may be wary of a celebrity politician after having mixed results with Jesse Ventura as Governor from 1999-2003. Each article mentioned Franken's Minnesota roots, which are of obvious importance to local readers. Focus was also put on the race between Coleman and Wellstone and what may occur as the election nears.

For local coverage, each paper did a good job of covering issues that are important to Minnesotans. Obviously, much of a Senatorial race involves national perspectives, like universal healthcare. That said, each article was able to highlight issues such as Franken's background and the competing campaigns which are locally relevent.

February 11, 2007

St.Paul Man Dies in Fire

A 29-year-old St.Paul man died Saturday when his kitchen went up in flames. The fire was ignited by cooking oil that the victim was using.

Ronrico Madison of 232 Goodrich Ave. was cooking by himself Saturday evening. His pan of oil caught fire and Madison likely doused it with water, which would have fueled the flame and led to his death. Madison's mother was on her way home when she noticed the flames and called 911 around 9 p.m. The fire was put out quickly, but not quickly enough to rescue Madison.

Both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press covered the story and both approached it in similar fashion. A hard news lead is followed by a detailed explanation of how the fire started, who discovered it, and how it was handled. Structurally, both stories are typical hard news reports. The only differance is that the Star Tribune did not release the victim's name. Either they hadn't received it yet or they could be trying to be considerate of the sensitive nature of this story. The name does make the Press article more factually complete, though both articles do a good job of covering the details of the event.

Mauer a Done Deal

The Minnesota Twins and Joe Mauer have come to terms on a 4-year deal that will keep the St.Paul native on his hometown team through the 2010 season. The Star Tribune is reporting that the deal is worth $33 million, plus incentives for awards such as Most Valuable Player.

After giving details on the deal, the Tribune gets a quote form Terry Ryan, the Twins' General Manager who completed the deal. Ryan said he is excited to have a young star like Mauer signed for the future. He also touches on the fact that Minnesotans will be proud to have one of their own starring for thier local team for years to come.

The article concluded with facts about Mauer's exceptional 2006 season, in which he won the batting title. Comparisons to other Twins stars who have been negotiating deals recently were also made. The article also mentioned that pitchers and catchers, like Mauer, will report to Spring Training by next Sunday.

The Pioneer Press is way behind the Tribune in their coverage of the Mauer deal. The most recent article from the Press mentioned that a Mauer deal was near, but not completed. Compared to the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press looks like an inferior news source due to their slower reporting time. The Tribune did a nice job of detailing the signing while the Press still hasn't announced the deal. This is slow, poor journalism on the part of the Pioneer Press.

February 4, 2007

Two Shot and Killed in Waseca

A man and his son were shot dead in their Waseca farmhouse on Saturday. Tracy Kruger, 40, and his 13-year-old son Alec were both killed while wife and mother Hilary Kruger, 41, is in critical condition. Michael Zabawa, 24, was arrested Sunday and is the main suspect in the killings.

The Star Tribune announced that Zabawa was arrested and that he had given statements that he was at the scene of the crime when the murders occured. However, the Pioneer Press did not mention Zabawa's name and only said that a man had been detained. Chief Deputy Brad Milbrath is the source of information in both articles.

Why has the Tribune been able to get more information on the story? Each newspaper went to an official source, yet only the Tribune got the exact details. It looks like flawed reporting for the Pioneer Press, or just less efficent news breaking. In either case, the Pioneer Press should have been able to get the same details from the deputy that the Star Tribune did. Their article lacks the completeness of the Star Tribune report.

February 2, 2007

St.Paul Soldier Dies in Iraq

Michael Charles Mettile, 44, of West St.Paul died Thursday in Iraq. Millitary officials said that the death did not occur during battle. The believed cause of death is either a heart attack or an aneursym. Mettile leaves behind four children and his wife Pam.

The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press both have reported on this story and both placed it near the top of their main web pages. This is a large story locally. Both papers got material from millitary officials. Maj. Gen Larry Shellito of the Minnesota National Guard was quoted in both articles for calling Mettile a "role model."

The only notable difference in sources was the inclusion of quoted materials from Mettile's oldest child, Elizabeth, in the Star Tribune article. The Pioneer Press said that family members declined to comment. For whatever reason, the family was willing to talk with one paper but not the other.

The inclusion of material from a family member made the Tribune article stronger. While both papers utilized their sources well, the Star Tribune got a source that the Pioneer Press did not. The comments from a family member gave the story a more personal touch that the Pioneer Press article lacked.

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.

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.