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May 2, 2007

Verdict Received in Car/Bus Collision Case

A truck and a bus engaged in a fatal collision on I-94 in late 2005, and a jury on the case has recently decided on a not-guilty verdict for the accused truck driver according to a Star Tribune article. The driver's trailer overturned, and the bus plowed into the trailer, killing students and the driver. People are divided on both sides of the issue, but the jury ruled not-guilty on the over 30 charges placed against the driver. Negligent homicide was the most prominent charge, though there were other misdemeanors and felonies. The jury would not comment on the deliberation process. The bus was carrying Chippewa High School band members. During the trial, prosecutors tried to show that the driver was too tired to perform his job. The community remains divided on the issue, with people supporting the driver and being disappointed in the end verdict.

The main pointo f the article is that a verdict was reached, so that's mentioned in the first graph. The rest of the article after a brief chronology of the incident, which doesn't take place til a little later so there is no clear when element, is primarily giving the opinions of those in the community about the outcome of the case. Lots of direct attribution is used, and it' clear a lot of reporting was done to gauge the overall reaction as split. In particular the article focuses on a band teacher paralysed by the incident, and how he recovers. There is an especially nice human-interest element to the piece, and I mean there was obviously a lot of potential but it's pretty nice how they interview the band instructor after the invident and focus on him and one of his classes.

And another element of the case is brought up in the Pioneer Press' treatment of the story. It presents a similar reconstruction of the events after the first few graphs, giving dates and describing the events, but rather than focusing specifically on the element of the community's reaction, it talks about lawsuits being filed against the courts as a result of the verdict of the jury to acquit the driver. There is then quite a bit of debate as to who is to blame, whether the driver can really be blamed, etc, and there's not as much of a human interest element but it's equally interesting and raises questons about the legal system. The case is difficult because there's really no way to tell what happened or who was responsible, so in this case the jury just had no real way to prove the negligence. There is direct attribution from defense attorneys about the incident.

Both articles are adequate, and complementary because together they give a broader spectrum of information about the story. One has information and viewpoints that the other does not cover, and they appeal to different interests. One article is more concerned with the humanity, while the other focuses on the lgality issues and what could be done in the case. The two papers each picked a different angle for the story, and while the Star Tribune's is obviously the more compelling one ot read, I'd say they're both essential for a total comprehension of the story.

Man Charged in St. Paul Weekend Murder

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported the shooting of a local man by the brother of his fiancé. The 23-year-old man was charged on the shooting today, while the act occurred this past Sunday night. The shooting is alleged to have occurred during an argument between the two men on Sunday night in a parking lot behind an apartment building. The victim's fiancé heard two gunshots, and the victim stumbled in to tell her he was shot before he died. The article says the two men had a history of fueding, one that included previously ramming one anothers' vehicles on a freeway. The accused denied being at the victim's apartment, and apparently returned the gun he used to his girlfriend after committing the act.

This is a solid piece of hard news without a real twist or angle. The thing that distinguishes it from a story that would be reporting any other murder is the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. This relationship is thus establishes in the lead early on, right after the mention of the murder. It also gives the location of the shooting, the Highland Park area of St. Paul. The victim and perpetrator are then identified, and a brief chronology is given including the ties between the two men. The only attribution given is lifted from the police complaint. It specifically mentions what the perpatrator did after committing the crime, whic his engaging in rapport with his spouse. The article is pretty straightforward, and would likely be shorter if not for the small angle related to the two mens' knowledge of one another.

Pioneer Press coverage of the article uses the awkward phrase "sister's boyfriend" instead of fiancé, which sort of screws up the lead in my opinion. The article also seems choopier and really lacks any semblance of narrative flow, and makes it less pleasaing to read.

I prefer the Tribune's article because it flows easier, there's attempts at a sort of chronology midway through, and it contains all the same facts as the Pioneer Press article. You get all the necessary information quickly from either and might not need on past the first graph, but the Pioneer Press piece's first graph also feels awkward and screwed up do to some confusing wordchoice.

April 26, 2007

Saint Paul Passes New Dogs Ordinance to Curb Attacks

An article published in the Star Tribune reported that the St. Paul CIty Council today was expected to pass a dog ordinance intended to curb the abuse of the animals. The ordinance was passed, and though not directly linked to the recent string of dog attacks, will prohibit owners with a history of dangerous dogs from having dog liscenses. The ordinance was sponsored by council president Kathy Landry, who doesn't know if it would have prevented Tuesdays attack of a woman by two pit bulls, but says that it would stop people from owning dogs who have had two dangerous dogs in a five year span.

The lead in the article emphasizes how soon the ordinance is being passed after the recent dog attack, but doesn't really say what the ordinance is going to do. It then gives a more general description of what the ordinance would do, but again lacks details that aren't revealed until near the article in a paraphrased quote by the president of the saint paul city council. In the middle of it we get a description of Tuesday's incident, which the article even admits probably has nothing to do with the ordinance as the ordinance was being worked on awhile before the incident occurred, so I'm not sure why it's included. The article closes with the reason why Landry introduced the ordinance. It's a relatively short piece with no direct quotations used.

Coverage of the new law in the Pioneer Press is done in an article that is even shorter than the Star Tribune piece. However, it is much more detail oriented and actually gives specifics about the effects of the law. It gives a general description of the law in the lead and then gives specifics near the end, with only a sentence devoted to Tuesday's incident and how it did not trigger the law.

The Pioneer Press article is short and contains more information than the article in the Star Tribune. The news works best presented as a short piece like both of them did, but the Pioneer Press article just does a better job and actually gives specifics about the changes and outlines the current situation as far as dog ordinances go.

April 25, 2007

Teen Charged With Murder On Bus

Police have arrested a boy and charged him with the murder of another young man on a bus early Sunday morning, according to an article in the Pioneer Press. The shooting happened at times when the suspect's parents insist he was at home, and he does not match the description of the suspect given in police reports. Police insist thatb ased on photos, they have found the right person. Metro Transit continues to insist that its mass transit services are safe, despite 4 serious incidents since the beginning of March. The victim of the shooting was a father, whose death leaves his partner to care for their 1-year-old son. The killing supposedly occured after the bus had stopped, with the suspect reaching inside the bus doors and firing the gun at the victim.

The piece's lead sets it up as a feature, introducing the differing actions of the two families involved at present. Rather than a hard news lead that would describe the action in an objective way, the article chooses to wait until the third sentence to state the news event, and then quotes relatives of the victim. The suspect's parents are then quoted, giving alibis, and then the police however are quoted insisting that they have the right man. A listing of the recent problems Metro Transit has had is then given, followed by a brief biography of the victim and a short chronology of the incident that resulted in his death.

The Star Tribune's coverage of the story also thrusts the reader right into the action, but in a different way. It describes a seemingly manic scene of 40 people yelling for the suspect's freedom from connection with the shooting. It mentions the event higher up. The reason for the conflict is also given earlier on, that of the two boys being members of rival groups. The article is short, focuses only on the suspect, and doesn't mention Metro Transit at all.

Both articles are fine, and take interesting angles with their instead of just treating the story as a simple hard news piece. However, the Pioneer Press covers all aspects of the story and paints a more vivid picture of all those involved, as well as how the bus company reacts to the issue, which I feel is important. It also contains almost all the details that the Star Tribune's article does, so it just feels like better coverage of the situation.

April 19, 2007

University of Minnesota Evacuated Due to Bomb Hoax

Classes in 8 buildings at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus were evacuated Wednesday afternoon after a threat was found in a bathroom on campus, according to an article published in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune. The threat turned out to be a hoax, and classes will resume today. The threat was a sheet of paper found in a bathroom listing specific buildings, and in light of Monday's tragedy authorities were not taking chances. The school sent out emails to around 80,000 students, and evacuated the 8 buildings. A search by a bomb squad with dogs did not turn up any results.

The article focuses on getting reactions and responses from students at the university. Students on the campus are interviewed and their reactions and thoughts on the incident are given. It's a long article, describing the resulting events caused by the threat and giving faculty action and reaction as well. There's almost a type of narrative, and also space for the article to provide peoples' critiques on the action the university took. It's pretty much divided into two sections, that of the main event summary and that of the reactions. Direct attribution is used for authority figures like the police chief and for students, and the lead focuses on today, saying that "classes resume after a threat shut down the school yesterday," giving the article a sense of immediacy from the beginning even if the event is over and done and ultimately may not have done anything significant.

The Pioneer Press' coverage of the event adds the human element even more specifically even earlier on, mentioning the specific student's name who found the bomb note, and describing in detail the actions he took, and quoting him, the same quote used in the Tribune's article. They also mention the specific buildings earlier on, including the detail that one of the threatened buildings contained the university president's office. Similar to the Star Tribune's article, the latter half seems to be focused largely on student reactions to the threats.

I prefer the Star Tribune's coverage because although it doesn't lisat some important details later on, the idea of focusing for so long on the student who seemingly innocuously found the note and casually reported it seems like a waste when there's actually a lot more that could be reported on. The Star Tribune article is also longer and has a larger reaction section, which isn't entirely necessary but shows that more reporting was done for their piece, I think.

April 18, 2007

Dispute Between Cab Drivers and Airport Employers Grows

In the latest development in a conflict that has been a problem in Minnesota for awhile now has taken place Monday, with the Metropolitan Airports Commission voting unanimously on Monday to order Muslim taxi cab drivers to pick up all passengers, regardless of whether or not they are carrying alcohol. Transmitting alcohol in this way goes against the Koran, but starting May 30th any cab drivers who refuse service will be given suspensions, according to the article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. There were 27 alcohol-related refusals out of an estimated 120,000 cab rides from mid-November to January. The issue is not as bad as it was in the summertime, but many muslim cabbies have expressed intent to continue to refuse if the situation comes up again, regardless of threats of suspension. It is expected that neither side of the dispute will step down, and that it could lead to a national test case on the issue.

The article opens by summarizing the issue as though the reader were not familiar with it, despite it being a presence in the news media off and on over the past few months. It then segues into the results of the recent vote and the results, and then into the reactions of the director of the airport and muslim scholars. Statistics are then given that show the extent that the issue may affect the community. The last part of the article is interesting because it focuses on the issue's potential for a court case, citing a precident involving the amish and road laws, and its potential application in this instance.

The Pioneer Press article about the subject chooses to emphasize the airport's decision upfront in its lead. THis is different from the Star Tribune's coverage, which places that decision in the third graph. Again, the issue of transportation with the Amish case from 1990 is brought up, but some different people are quote and overall the article seems to flow much better, and rather than what feels like a choppy series of statements and figures almost becomes a narrative, closing with an effective quote a local Muslim prayer leader and cab driver supporter, giving the story a human element.

For these reasons I prefer the Pioneer Press article. It establishes the overall issue/conflict, but then goes on to explain the recent decision in the lead and overall as an article just flows a lot better. The note it chooses to end on was also successful, in my opinion.

April 12, 2007

Teens Arrested After Lobbing Molotov Cocktail

Two teenagers, a 19 year old and a 16 year old, were arrested early Wednesday morning for allegedly throwing a molotov cocktail at a squad car, according to an article in the Star Tribune. The bomb landed about 15 feet away from the car, and the incident did not take place on a crowded street. The officers inside the vehicle were unharmed, and the teenagers told authorities that they were not specifically targeting police, but rather aiming at the next oncoming vehicle. The teens were arrested on suspicion of aggrevated assault and have not yet been charged.

The piece is just a short, hard news piece with a news value of proximity, since it probably happened close to some parts of the paper's readership. The lead is actually longer than any other chunk of the story, and describes the event before going on to give the outcome and possible motivations. It's a short piece that might have run in the local news section or something. Interestingly enough, the online version has added a small subheading underneath the headline that basically renders any reading of the rest of the article unnecessary. It repeats itself a lot and probably did not warrant treatment on this level.

An article in the Pioneer Press seems to present more information on the incident, commenting explicitly on the fact that no damage was done, quoting a police spokesman, and giving the name of the teen old enough to have his name released. More detail is also given about the apprehension of the two suspects. There's also some speculation about what might have happened had the bomb connected with the vehicle.

The Pioneer Press article seems to repeat itself less, it gets the point across just as fast, and contains more information. Both are presented in styles that reflect the sensibilities of a hard news story, like what we practiced writing earlier this year. I think the Pioneer Press article does the better job of the two pieces.

April 11, 2007

Baseball Stadium Proposal Advances

On Tuesday a deal was proposed by Hennepin County commissioners that would allow the county to vote for land acquisition to be filled with a ballpark worth over $500 million, according to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. The deal is hinging on the the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railway, whose approval would allow the project to begin. The deal also depends on the Minnesota Twins baseball team putting forth money to help with the construction. The stadium design will be unveiled on Thursday, and everything seems poised to go off fine land deal permitting.

The article is at once speculative yet recounts the history of the project up to this point. It begins by talking about the most recent developments in the stadium project, segueing into a section talking about what has to happen in order for the park to become a reality. Key figures are quted directly, including commissioner Mike Opat and the president of the Twins. The latter half of the article focuses largely on what is left to come with the project, and specifically the land issue, which is a key concern at the moment.

The Star Tribune's coverage of the article contains more information in the lead related to where the funds will be coming from, and also emphasizes the speculative nature of the current state of things with the land-use issue. Different quotes are used, including quotes from different commissioners who oppose the project. Both sides of the polemic on the upcoming stadium are shown, which is important. Other than that the detail is presented in largely the same way, though it's more concentrated at the top and leads into opinions near the bottom.

I prefer the Star Tribune's treatment of the story for giving equal space to both sides of the argument. It also gets teh essential information to the reader faster, and in a way that for me was just as readable. The project will in all likelihood go on as planned, but representation of those opposed to it is a nice inclusion.

April 4, 2007

University of Minnesota Student Dies After Falling From a Parking Ramp

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that a firstyear University of Minnesota student died early on Sunday after falling from the third floor of a parking garage. University of Minnesota police are investigating the incident, and it is believed to be accidental. It is unknown at this point if alcohol was a factor. After the situation is described, quotes from family members regarding the student's interests and life are given.

This is a simple, short obituary style piece that deals with the story in a succinct way. The exact cause of the student's fall is unknown, but the incident is described in the best detail possible after the lead has been established and following a paragraph that has the student's father describing him. After the details of the incident are established, family members are quoted and talk about the students skills and interests, giving the piece a very personal touch. It ends with the funeral information. Direct attribution is used and quotes are given from the boy's family and the police chief at the university.

The Pioneer Press takes what I feel is a more effective approach to the lead, opening with "A University of Minnesota student died" instead of "Police are investigating..", which gets the point across quicker. The incident is also described in more detail, as are the actions taken to try and save the student. The incident is mentioned alongside the death of another student last weekend, who drowned, and a statement from the vice provost of student affairs is given. Quotes from the student who fell's father are again used, though the article goes into less depth about his life than the Star Tribune did.

Of the two articles I prefer the Pioneer Press' coverage. It's a seemingly simple story to cover, but I think their lead choice as well as their mentioning it alongside another student death makes the story more effective and memorable, with the quote from the vice provost of the university used to good effect. The two papers handled it with a surprisng amonut of variation considering the incident.

March 28, 2007

Minnesotans Military Appreciation Fund Doubles Grants

Thanks to recently successful fundraisers, the Minnesotans Military Appreciation Fund has been able to double its "thank you" grants that it gives to military personnel who have served in combat zones since September 2001. An short piece about this development ran in the Pioneer Press today. The grants have been increased to $500 after a February fundraiser that produced $900,000. The organization launched in August 2005, and previously awarded $250 until they upped the reward.

The article is just a short piece focusing on the development and success of the fundraiser, with the lead delivering the news and the rest of the article explaining the functions of the fund and a brief history. Near the bottom of the piece are listed means of contacting the fund for donations or questions, which is useful.

When the Star Tribune covered the story they didn't include the contact information, but they did give more specifics about what the fundraiser was exactly, which was a $1,000 a plate fundraiser featuring a New York Times columnist. The interesting detail the around half of the $900,000 was donated by one couple.

The fund isn't mentioned in the lead in the Strib article, but I feel like it's better to mention it in the lead and then give the specifics in the next graph, and for this reason I prefer the Star Tribune article, along with the fact that it just contains more information.

Reward For Capture of St. Paul Murderers Increased

An article published today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that the reward for the identity of a man who shot and killed three St. Paul residents last week presumably unprovoked has been up to $7,000. The reward money is coming from several sources, including the NAACP, Crime Stoppers, and the Saint Paul Police Federation. The article also gives several smaller details related to the case, including that funeral arrangements have been made, the status of the police investigation which is basically a standstill, and that a trust fund has been established for the surviving children.

The article is a the latest in a series about a murder that happened in Saint Paul last week, and as such the two new pieces of information in the case were included at the top of the story in the lead. From here these two bits are eventually elaborated on, with quotes from investigating police officers, and a recap of the how the shootings happened and what the perceived motives are. The police chief and police spokesman are both quoted and elaborate on the case, and a quote from a relative is used to lead into the specific funeral information, which closes the story. Structuring the story this way it has a nice flow to it that leads from one element to the next.

The developments were also covered by the Pioneer Press and the lead in this article was basically the same, although the content of the articles was different. More detail is given about how the murders were committed, an "offical statement" from the family is frequently quoted from, and the article ends on a note that suggests a more involved or active response. It encourages people with information to call in and tell police, and says that there will be a community meeting regarding the murders.

I prefer the Pionner Press' coverage of the article because there is information in it that isn't in the Star Tribune one, and they manage to remain around the same length anyway and the Pioneer Press' article has all the information of the Star Tribune's. Structurally the Star Tribune might flow a bit better, or it seemed to to me, but I still feel like the Pioneer Press coverage is superior.

March 21, 2007

Director of Walker Art Center Resigns

Kathy Halbreich, director of the Walker Art Center for 16 years, announced Monday that she will be retiring in November of 2007, according to an article printed in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. During her stay at the museum, its collection increased from 6,100 pieces to 10,000, fundraising more than doubled, and the museum saw itself expanded. Her departure comes at a time of many other losses for the metro arts scene, including the losses of directors of the Ordway Center For Performing Arts and the Childrens' Theatre.

The article is interesting because of the variety of topics it covers. It's not a straight profile piece because it also includes information on the current state of the Twin CIties arts scene, and talks about coping with the losses of those in leadership positions. The article opens with the news that Halbreich is leaving, and that's the focal point and it soon points out what the center experienced under her direction, successes, achievements and the like. Halbreich is quoted about her views on her accomplishments, and the article moves on to talking about the recent losses of leaders in different art centers, with a quote from the director of a center that specializes in finding administrators for arts organizations. The article ends with more information about Halbreich, with quotes from her co-workers and comments from her about what her future may hold.

Coverage of the story in the Star Tribune focuses exclusively on profiling Halbreich and the Walker, without mentioning the other losses in the Twin Cities art scene. The article is shorter, but seems to put more a focus on Halbreich's influence and what her colleagues thought of her. Her accomplishments and contributions to the center are highlighted, with much longer quotes from her about her future and her opinion of her accomplishments given. The article ends with quotes from her colleagues, including directors of architecture programs at the University of Minnesota and the executive director of the Association of Art Directors.

The two articles take very different approachs, and I feel like the one in the Pioneer Press is better and more relevant and has a broader scope, and it does just as good a job with the profile aspect as the Star Tribune article. When it comes down to it there's just more information and angles in the Pioneer Press article, and it doesn't limit itself to a just being a profile piece, which is why I prefer it.

Break-In Reported By Minnesota DFL Headquarters

An article published in the Pioneer Press has reported that Minnesota DFL headquarters in Saint Paul was broken into over the weekend. A window was smashed by the perpetrator, and a laptop was stolen from the building. The hammer used to break the window was left behind, and the laptop in question did not contain any sensitive material. The break-in happened around Saturday night and Sunday morning, and has been denounced as more of a crime of opportunity rather than being politically motivated.

The article is basically a short summary of what happened, a short report of the crime. Watergate is mentioned because it was a highly publicized incident of a similar nature that happened awhle ago, and the interim communications director, whose laptop it was, is quoted as saying that the crime is not comparable in any way. The one case of attribution is with Nick Kimball, the interim communications director, and there's not really any room for a chronology of any sort. The event is discussed with the aftermath and effect touched upon, and Kimball debunks the possibility of a theft with a quote where he describes Minnesota politics as being "pretty civil."

The article from the Star Tribune about the event is around the same length, and doesn't really add anything else and omits attribution, even. The lead also doesn't mention that the crime was not politically motivated, like the lead in the Pioneer Press does. It also uses the word "apparently", for whatever reason, and the structure seems to be that of just a basic, delviering the facts story because the issue doesn't have much consequence. It was probably barely worth reporting just because the Minnesota DFL headquarters was the victim.

I think the Pioneer Press covers the story better because of the quotes it uses and the way it sets up the story in the lead, but they're both so short that it's probably not too important.

March 8, 2007

Minneapolis Veterans Home Fined For Poor Treatment

An article in the Star Tribune from this week has reported that the Minneapolis Veterans Home treated its residents poorly and failed to protect them, and will be fined $1,850 every day until the violations are corrected. The Minneapolis Health Department has made this decision after finding new problems along with persisting ones in a followup inspection in February to one that happened in November. The article details some of the bizarre aspects of the report, including careless needle contamination and feeding the residents cold food.

The story was probably printed so that the paper could have a local issue to report on. The fine isn't mentioned until the second graph, and the lead focuses on simply making the issue clear before the article goes into describing the poor treatment specifically with a quote from the head of the board that runs it promising to improve conditions. History of the poor conditions in the home is recounted, with emphasis on the fact that certain problems are persisting despite intervention, and the article ends by giving more examples of poor staff conduct. I feel like the article was structured about as well as it could have been, beginning with the broad problem and eventually narrowing its focus to the specific violations.

The Pioneer Press chooses to emphasize a more sensational aspect of the story, putting the fact that three residents died in January due to medication error or neglect in the lead instead of the middle of the story like in the Star Tribune article. The health commissioner is quoted when detailing the specific problems, and the fact that the fine will persist until corrected and that there are problems that remain is mentioned earlier on. The article also says that the administrator of the veterans home was unavailable for comment.

The Pioneer Press article does a better job of grabbing attnetion, because of the mention of the three deaths in the month of January. There also seems to be generally more information and quotes from important sources, and that the administrator of the home was unavailable for comment seems to send a message as well. The Pioneer Press article has everything that the Star Tribune article has, and more. Structurally, they are similar, but Pioneer Press doesn't revisit the specific problems at the end but instead talks about how the governor intends to fix them, which is effective.

March 7, 2007

Pioneer Press Publisher Moves to Rival Paper

An article run in the Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that the former publisher of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press has switched to being the publisher for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The move comes at the same time ownership of the paper is changing hands from the McClatchy Co. to New York based Avista Capital Partners. The paper's former publisher, Keith J. Moyer, resigned last month and Ritter made the switch after his family's 80 year history with the Pioneer Press. The newspaper industry is faltering and doesn't have te numers it once did, and Ritter hopes to keep the Star Tribune successful.

The lead to the article seems kind of unnecessary in its second half. Rather than simply saying that what happened, it seems like they've tried to include some commentary from Ritter as well and it just makes the lead longer than it needs to be. The story is structured in an effective way, with distinct sections focusing on the decision and purchase, the newspaper industry's state, and Ritter himself's history. Many quotes from the new publisher are employed to give an idea of his personality, and the state of the industry is given a large focus, with statistics illustrating conclusions being drawn there. A piece of the article focuses on the Poneer Press' reaction and uses quotes, and the final section is looking forward to the future of the Star Tribune, with Ritter addressing the potential impact he'll have on the paper.

The same story run in the Pioneer Press focuses more on that paper's reaction to the decision to leave, obviously. The lead lead emphasizes the "tumultuous" nature of the year in twin cities newspapers, primarily treating Ritter's departure as an unfortunate thing. Quotes are given frm experts in the industry about the outcome, and the CEO of the corporation currently buying the Pioneer Press is quoted expressing his intent to keep the paper viable. The article ends with talking about the challenges faced by the papers.

I feel like the Star Tribune article is the better one of the two because it's longer and seems to devote equal space to a larer number of views than the Pioneer Press story. The Pioneer Press story feels pretty one note, and focuses almost exclusively on Ridder leaving that paper, while the Star Tribune looks at it from both sides and looks more at the state of the industry as well, which is important context to show the impact of the decision.

March 1, 2007

Saint Paul Introduces Ban on Nonlethal Firearms

A Star Tribune story published yesterday reports on an approved ban made the the CIty Council in Saint Paul on nonlethal firearms. People will no longer be able to carry the guns in public, and doing so will be a misdemeanor. The ban was proposed as a result of a recent surge in young people carrying the guns, and the decision was passed unanimously. The board also agreed to study the effects of electronic billboards for safety.

The story is short because the main news can be summarized in a lead, without elaborating much on the meeting because there was apparently no dissent and nobody showed up to speak out against the Council's decisions. The only quote comes from an industry official, and it's just a snippit of two words. The most significant event of the meeting is given 3 graphs, and the other two decisions are mentioned at the end. It's a brief report on a meeting with no real worthwhile quotes in it, that does the job of informing about the decisions reached.

The Pioneer Press' story about the ban uses the same type of straightforward headline. A quote from Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is also used, being led into with a statement saying he supprots the ban. Stipulations and specifics are given on what exactly the band covers, but the rest of the meeting is not reported on as it was in the Star Tribune article.

They both do an adequate job of covering the meeting, and the Pioneer Press article has a quote from a key figure in the city, but lacks the information on additional decisions made at the meeting. Between the two of them I guess the Star Tribune did the better job of covering the meeting overall, then, because it talked about everything that was decided.

February 28, 2007

Muslim Cabbies Refuse to Fold to Airport Requests

The Metropolitan Airports Commission is considering a crackdown on taxi drivers who refuse service to those possessing liquor, according to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Taxi drivers may refuse service for a number of reasons, most notably religious as the Muslim religion forbids the carrying of those with alcohol as it involves "cooperating in sin" according to Islam. MAC staffers said tougher penalties are needed to ensure reliable service at airports.

The article has a standard hard news type of lead, presenting the conflict. The sides are then elabored upon, with the article establishing the position of the Airports Commission and then that of the employees. Quotations are given from both sides, as well as statistics showing the extent of the issue. The Muslim belief is then elaborated upon a bit, and the article closes on the note of another issue that the Muslim faith takes a stance on.

The article on the same subject published by the Pioneer Press newspaper leads in with a question that addresses the issue, which seems less effective than simply stating the issue like the Star Tribune coverage did. The arguments are presented at the start as with the Star Tribune piece, and the article then looks ahead to the Republican National Convention in 2008 and suggests that if the experience is bad for people there will be a bad reputation for the city. The article also talks about the the consequences would be for cabbies that refuse service.

Between the two articles they both cover a lot of the same ground but the Star Tribune article isn't as long and I feel like it does a better job concisely outlining the issue whereas the Pioneer Press piece kind of devotes a lot of unnecessary space to it, though the talk of the effect it might have on the city was a good addition.

February 22, 2007

Support Builds For Longer Minnesota School Year

An article printed today in the Pioneer Press has reported that two proposals that would lengthen the school year in Minnesota have been approved by a key legislative committee. The proposals would lengthen the school year by 5 to 8 days, and make it legal to start schools before labor day. The changes are supported by school boards and administrators, but the tourism industry is concerned about the change. The proposal would raise the amount of days children are required to attend school to 180, up from the 171 they currently attend. This would make Minnesota schools even with those in other states.

This article begins by introducing the key issue at stake in the lead, and then going into details about the polemic and the two sides. The ramifications of the bill are then mentioned, and Minnesota is compared to other states. A key part of the article is that this isn't the first attempt at lengthening the school year, but rather a scaled down version of a proposal previously put forward that asked for 200 days total. The article ends by saying that the bill was unlikely to go far in the house, and that the extra school days would end up costing the school district a lot of money. The point and support format is used, for instance the introduction of the previous bill and then another paragraph explaining how the current proposal is different. A frequently used format is also to introduce an idea and then back it up with a quotation, which is the case with the section about school board reactions.

The same story was written about in the Minneapolis Star Tribune emphasizes the same issues: that the bill passed a preliminary hurdle but the costs will more than likely keep it from becoming a reality. The article is shorter, and brings up the fact that it's a toned down version of a previous bill earlier on. Since it's short, there's less room to incorporate a "point/support" format, and the article is mostly a recounting of the issues and concerns at hand. The instance point and support comes at the end when a quote is used to illustrate the Senate Education Budget Division's thoughts on the bill.

I think that the Star Tribune article was more effective because of its slimmer, quicker structure. THis isn't a story that requires as much text as the Pioneer Press gave it, but rather one that can be told just as well in about half the length. There's not all that much to go into other than what the Star Tribune article gave.

February 21, 2007

Mayor Seeks to Complete Ayd Mill Road

An article published in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press has reported that Mayor Chris Coleman has expressed interest in linking Ayd Mill Road to Interstate 94, a debate that has made its presence known in the past. Local residents fear the connection may lead to a north-south freeway, causing the area to become trafficked, polluted, and lose its character. According to the article, the city is seeking $2 million to buy land for the $44 million project. The proposed changes come as a surprise to a lot of people, who feel they would only contribute to pollution and cause problems for the neighborhood and city. Others who run business in the area feel that the connection would improve their patronage.

This article is surpsingly complicated given the subject matter, there's a lot of history here and some pretty deep reporting. The article puts the current evens in the context of a much larger battle that has been waged for years over the area in question. The lead emphasizes this by opening with "reopening an old wound," and there are plenty of examples of the "point and then support" system. For instance, before quoting the city council member Jay Benanav, they describe is reaction, so the point is then supported with the quote. The point about business' patronage being improved is mentioned, and then the businesses are quoted and statistics are given. Points are supported well in the article in a way that flows.

An articles on the same subject from the Star Tribune today must have been published later, because the article actually takes a completely different angle. The headline says that the Ayd Mill Extension is not a priority, according to mayoral aides. The 2 million dollars for land purchasing is among 100 other proposals, a detail which is emphasized in this article but not even touched upon in the Pioneer Press' account. The moyral aides also reveal that more than Ayd Mill, Coleman is concerned with other transportation issues like the Central Corridor light rail project. There is time in the article for a brief chronology and the views of local businesses aspect is touched upon, but not in the level of detail in the Pioneer Press article. Despite being much short and completely different, the article does utilize the point/support system in basically the same way.

Between the two articles, I want to say that I prefer the Pioneer Press article because they did more research and put more effort into getting business' responses and giving the history of the debate, but their entire article is thrown into question by the news that the mayor does not intend to focus as much on Ayd Mill. Regardless of what the current status and situation of the project is, I think the Pioneer Press story was written better and in a way that presents the drab issue in an almost captivating way.

February 15, 2007

Father Charged With Death of Daughter

An article published in the Star Tribune newspaper has reported that a man was charged Wednesday with the unintentional second-degree murder of 15-month-old daughter. After the child was taken to a local hospital, medical examiners determined that she died of internal bleeding from blows to the chest and the abdomen. The child's mother initially told medical examiners that the child had sustained the injuries after falling from a bed, but soon admitted to covering up for the father's attacks. The child had been placed in foster-care several months earlier and was recently returned to the parents.

Again, this is a case of something that could have come across entirely differently had the story not been done as it was. The story begins with a chronology instead of an ordinary lead, specifically a dramatic scene of a mother calling 911 about her child. The article goes on to talk about what happened, describing in detail the child's injuries and really emphasizing the idea that her parents were negligent. The way the article's written, a more personal and dramatic tone, may cause the reader to have more sympathy or emotion for the events than if it were just a normal hard news story.

The issue was reported on in the Pioneer Press and was given a much harder news approach. The lead gives the details of the story, rather than focusing on telling the story in a narrative. It goes down the list of facts simply recounting them all, and the detail is even more graphic than the Star Tribune article. No direct quotes are used, unlike in the Star Tribune story, which quoted the county attorney.

Between the two of them, I think the Star Tribune story works better because it does more with the events than simply running down a list of facts. Establishing a narrative and adding to the drama of the story certainly makes it more readable. If the story had to be reported and published in a paper at all, I guess the Star Tribune's approach is more effective.

February 14, 2007

Public Art is Stolen and Scrapped

Two bronze statues valued at $10,000 dollars each were stolen from Minneapolis' Wirth Park Thursday night, reports a Star Tribune article. The statues were intended to serve as a public display and a monument to Wirth, who helped develop Minneapolis' parks and make them public. The thieves chopped up and attempted to sell the statues on Tuesday, and were apprehended soon after.

The story easily could have been just a simple hard news story, but it's given an introduction and there's a lot of research put into it that turns it into something more. Instead of a hard lead, the writer approached the story with an introduction that was more creative, and still got the point across. After establishing the events that occurred, which is actually only a short part of the article, the reporter goes on to talk about Wirth and the work he did for the park system. The end result is an article that in a way saddens the reader because of the way people are mistreating a public gift. The co-founder of a group called the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society contributes quotes that add to this feeling.

An Associated Press article published in the West Central Tribune reports the same story, and includes almost all of the same information, but presents it in a style that is radically different. It's actually much more typical of a hard news story format, and doesn't ease into the information like the article in the Star Tribune did, and it feels like you're reading off a list of facts, like any inverted pyramid story. The same quotes from the MPLS co-founder are used.

In the case of this story, I prefer the Star Tribune's treatment. It comes off as a bit corny, but I think it does a better job of making the reader think about the issue of distruction of public property, or at least feel some emotion about the action. The Associated Press' barebones treatment of the story really doesn't make me think anything like that, and it comes off as any other crime story.

February 9, 2007

DNA Evidence Solves 18 Year Old Murder Case

A Star Tribune article published yesterday has reported that DNA evidence has allowed authorities to identify the perpetrator of the 1989 stabbing of a St. Paul man. Dale Heinold was stabbed in his apartment in 1989, but recent DNA testing has matched blood found at the scene of the stabbing and identified it as blood belonging to a convicted killer named Larry Brigman. Brigman had already served time for a killing committed in the same year. The connection was made upon a re-examination of the case.

The article is structured in a way that goes beyond the normal inverted pyramid style, both in length and presentation. The story is broken into three parts, with the first part giving a barebones summary of the case, the second part describing Heinold's life and a chronoloy of the killing, and the third part talking about the case being solved through DNA evidence. It's not an incredibly complex story but organizing it this way makes it more interesting to read. The quote used at the end also makes the article memorable. Very few quotes are used, most one from Heinold's family members and one from Brigman himself at the end of the article, giving the story its kicker. The lead is a straightforward telling of the news event.

The story was reported in the Pioneer Press newspaper as well, being a story that concerns the death of a local man. The structure is a bit sloppier, it's far too long for your average inverted pyramid story, and it's not as nicely divided up as the Star Tribune article was. There's no chronology section, and the primary focus is on the DNA testing and how the wife of the man killed was influenced to ask for it by watching TV shows. The lead is similar, but there is more attribution and from different sources, such as the Senior Commander of the Saint Paul police.

I feel like I prefer the Star Tribune's article because it recognized that there was potential for a chronology and took advantage of the opportunity, and I just think the way it was structured lends itself to easier reading. The Pioneer Press article feels more like an assemblage of facts without a real central focus, though it seems to be leaning towards preaching the usefulness of DNA evidence testing more than anything else, something that most people already recognize.

February 8, 2007

City of Saint Paul Seeks Relief on Building Payments

A Star Tribune article published on Wednesday reported that the city of Saint Paul has begun to push for debt relief through a bill introduced by its state senators last Friday, and a bill to be introduced today as well. The request in the bills ask for the state to pay off the nearly $100 million in city debt incurred by the construction of the Xcel Energy Center and the Rivercentre. As of the article's publication, there had been no talk about the bills among the Senate leadership. This request is given added standing because of the upcoming Republican National Convention in the city, and city officials have said that the money would help prepare the RiverCentre before the convention and pay for renovations at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

The article is structured a bit differently than most. It's not quite inverted pyramid because it's not a hard story and it's quite long with useful information present throughout most of it. However, there's no chronology either. The earlier part of the article establishes the news event and the viewpoint of the Finance Committee Chairman who proposed it. The rest of the article tries to analyze where the city may be coming from, and whether or not the payment would be justified. People responsible for the initial construction of the buildings are interviewed, and officials for the city of Saint Paul state their case for the proposal. The article ends with a quote from the Minnesota Wild chief financial officer, who talks about the importance of a city achieving economic impact. The article feels pretty haphazardly structured, I can't really see any pattern or flow to the way it doled out the information.

A similar article about the proposal ran today in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, but included a larger level of detail. Right after mentioning the proposals, the article mentions that it might be a tough sell, and gives a quote from Tim Pawlenty's spokesman saying that the governor is unlikely to support the bills. Cohen, the FInance Committee Chairman who proposed the bills, is again quoted a lot to justify his proposal. The article is clearly an in-depth report about the bill's potential effects and possibility of being accepted, and attribution is always full and includes Representatives for the two buildings involved, state representatives, and Saint Paul City Council members, among other people.

Between the two articles, I feel like the Pioneer Press article did a better job of telling the story. It was published several days later, and had the opportunity to hear comment from a Pawlenty spokesman about the bills, which is a key part of the issue. Not only that, but the article just seemed to be structured and flow much better, despite containing much of the same information. A lot of the Star Tribune article was difficult to read in succession, there were points where it was necessary to stop and process what was just read.

February 1, 2007

Talk Show Host Considers Senate Bid

An article in yesterday's Star Tribune paper has reported that radio talk show host and comedian Al Franken intends on running for Minnesota senate in 2008. He has reportedly told several House members of his intention to run for the position, claiming that it will be a direct challenge to Norm Coleman. Though he has not made an official announcement of his decision at this point, he announced on Monday that he was leaving his radio show on February 14th, a decision that suggests a political carrer may be likely.

The article is relatively straightforward, simply detailing the news which is really only strong speculation at this point. There is some speculation throughout the article as to the potential for success that such a campaign would have, including likely supporters or reactions. Attribution in the article is very weak, with several cases of anonymous attribution because the sources in the House did not want to reveal themselves and potnetially ruin Franken's official announcement. Franken himself wouldn't even be interviewed for the article. While there are people supposedly confirming the legitimacy of the story, they are anonymous and such attribution weakens the article.

An article on the same subject published in the Pioneer Press today opts to paraphrase the quotes from the anonymous sources, rather than using them directly. This makes more sense to me, because a direct quote really has none of its strength without a source to back it up. The rest of the article is essentially the same, with the same quote from Franken's spokesman used in the other article, and a brief biography of the candidate.

However, near the end and also in the middle of the Pioneer Press article there is speculation included from political science authorities at the University of Minnesota regarding the viability of the campaign. This sort of gives the article a point that I don't really think it had without straight quotes from any of the key sources. Because of this, I think the Pioneer Press did a better job on the story out of the two papers although there really wasn't much official word to go on and I'm sure there'll be yet another story on the subject whenever his official announcement comes.

January 31, 2007

Global Warming Given Attention in Minnesota

An article in the Star Tribune newspaper yesterday has reported on a Tuesday meeting at the Minnesota State Capitol atended by legislators and environmental speakers that discussed the adverse effects of global warming. Methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions were a topic of discussion, as well as the consensus that a group of scientists had reached regarding its harmful effects and causes. The event is noteworthy because it marks one of the first times that leadership in the country has recognized the issue as one that effects everyone and convened to discuss it.

The Star Tribune covers the issue well, with a story that covers all the necessary factual information that reaers may not be familiar with, as well as the views of those in opposition of the meeting. The article mentions the proposed solutions, the significance of the meeting, and gives quotes from key figures involved or notable ones who have spoken out on it. Particular focus is placed on Pawlenty's proposed Next Generation Energy Initiative, as something that directly relates to an important figure in Minnesota. Attribution style in the article varies. There are equal amounts of paraphrasing, direct sentence quoting, and fragment quoting. The quotes are from figures ranging from officials for Xcel Energy, to former legislators to the state's governor, and they serve to emphasize the importance the issue has.

An article on the same topic was printed in the St. Paul Pioneer Press a day later, highlighting that climate change is finding a platform for discussion at the capitol when last year there was no desire for lawmakers to acknowledge the issue. This article does not include any information on the opposition to the meeting that did exist, and actually undermined it by including "Almost everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, stood and applauded when he finished." which seems kind of pointless in a story like this. Attribution is similar in this article, but much less lone words are quoted, which is good, and there are a nice amount of full sentence quotes that work in the story.

The two articles both have their strongpoints and are essentially the same if anyone actually read them entirely, but the Star Tribune article cuts right to the point in its opening sentence by saying that global warming is a real threat, and Minnesota lawmakers are acknowledging it. You have to dig pretty deep into the Pioneer Press article to get to a spot that talks about the consequences of the problem, which is not an effective way to have written it, in my opinion.

January 25, 2007

Local Cereal Creator Dies at Age 99

An article published in yesterday's MinneapolisStar Tribune paper has reported that the local man responsible for the creation of Cheerios died on Sunday. Lester Borchardt, age 99, was a General Mills executive and died at his home in Edina.

The article is a fairly straightforward profile piece that the paper likely ran because of the significance that the man's creation has in the lives of many people. It gives a brief rundown of his life and accomplishments, with a lead that tells the reader very concisely the who, what, where, and when of the story. It's probably about as straightforward a lead as could be possible.

An article on the same story ran in the same day's edition of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, but had a pretty different format. There's still the primary objective of informing about the man's life, but the lead is done much differently. The article doesn't even tell you that the man died until about the third paragraph, after establishing his significance. The article also includes a story from the family about how Cheerio's may have saved their daughter's life, something that deviates from the rigid profile that the Star Tribune did.

The Pioneer Press feature is interesting and aims for a more personal touch, but I feel like the Star Tribune's was easier to read and keep interested in because of the way it simply presented the essential facts needed to understand the story. For me, the Pioneer Press' story has this quality to it where it feels like it has an excess of emotion, especially for something that I recall reading on the newspaper's front page.

January 24, 2007

University of Minnesota Seeks to End Wisconsin Reciprocity

A Saint Paul Pioneer Press article published on Friday has revealed that the University of Minnesota is losing millions of dollars annually due to its reciprocity agreement with Wisconsin. Wisconsin-born students attending the university pay over $1000 dollars less in tuition annually, and because of frequent tuition hikes this has begun to lead to a considerable loss of money. The article discusses Minnesota's desire to renegotiate the agreement, and his Wisconsin has thus far shown no interest in doing so.

This article is not set up in the inverted pyramid style we've been discussing, but rather approaches the subject in a less conventional way. The lead is much more informal, being the sentence "Wisconsin college students get a sweet deal in Minnesota: If they go to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, they pay $1,200 a year less in tuition than Minnesotans." The story is probably set up this way due to the potentially uninteresting nature of the news, and by presenting it this way the reporter has made things a bit more interesting.

An article in the same subject published today in the Green Bay Press Gazette features a much more traditional lead, one that immediately makes clear the who, what, where, and when. It adds that both Wisconsin and Minnesota are expected to begin negatiations soon, a detail that the other article did not mention. It holds to the inverted pyramid style, and is much more of a typical news story than the more laid back approach the other article takes.

Between the two of them, the Green Bay Press Gazette's article is more concise and delivers the information more efficiently, but I feel like the Saint Paul Pioneer Press article may have been more interesting to read because it breaks from the formula used so often and does it to decent effect. They're different ways of presenting the exact same material, and it honestly may be better suited to a straight-laced short informative piece, but the Pioneer Press' coverage on it was a bit more interestng structurally.