December 14, 2008

Divers find body of Edina woman in Mississippi River

The body of a 39 year-old woman from Edina was pulled from the Mississippi River on Wednesday.

Lisa Gustincic was found under the partially frozen river, that was according to Sun Newspapers, " in 8 feet of water about 125 feet from shore near the Camden Bridge in north Minneapolis, near 47th Street."

The Star Tribune reported that "Divers began searching for a possible missing person after a park worker called in to report a black Labrador retriever running near the Camden Bridge around 2 p.m."

The incident was tipped off by person who a black Labrador retriever pacing back forth near the area and trying to get close to the water. Minneapolis Fire and North Memorial were called to the scene. According to the Star Tribune, "When responders arrived, they found a wet cell phone and gloves near the hole."

Lisa Kiava, a public information officer for the sheriff's office told Sun Newspapers, "In some cases people fall through ice trying to retrieve pets. We don't know if that's the circumstances."

According to Sun Newspapers, the dog ran home on its own.

Both stories provided the same information, and had the same source. The Star Tribune also put the story in to context by citing other incidents, similar to this one. The Star Tribune also talked briefly about the technology that was used to search through the river.

December 7, 2008

Pilot flying from St. Paul dies in plane crash

A 47-year-old pilot from Lake George, NY was flying from St. Paul to New York when he died Saturday after his plane crashed in northern Michigan.

According to the Star Tribune, the plane, a Cessna 206 with one engine "circled in the sky about 18 miles southeast of Traverse City, dipped its wing, clipped some trees, then crashed through the roof of a mobile home around 2:15 p.m. CST."

The occupants of the mobile home, were outside shoveling when the plane crashed. They were not hurt in the wreckage.

Sheriff Bill Artress told the Battle Creek Enquirer that "the men had gone outside between five and 10 minutes before the crash, which left a section of the plane’s wing lodged in the side of the mobile home."

The crash is currently being investigated.

The newspaper from Michigan got some good quotes from the occupants of the mobile home, which helped to round the story out.

November 30, 2008

Guilty plea in prostitution charges for New Brighton City Council member

David Phillips, a member of the New Brighton City Council has pleaded guilty in the misdemeanor charge of engaging in prostitution.

Under the Alford Plea, Phillips is not admitting to committing the crime, but acknowledges that a sufficient amount of evidence exists for him to be charged and possibly found guilty.

Phillips went to the Days Inn on University Ave on Feb. 25 to meet with an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute. After handing the officer a 100 dollar bill and subsequently removing his clothing he was arrested.

Along with $828 in fines, Phillips has also been ordered by a judge to complete “john school.? According to the Star Tribune, a “john school? is “a program for people convicted of hiring prostitutes -- remain law-abiding and maintain contact with his probation officer.?

According to the Sun Newspaper for New Brighton, “Larson said Phillips will likely remain on the council? until his term is up on Dec. 31, 2011. “If he had been charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor, [Phillips] would be required to leave the council.?

Upon completing his probation orders, Phillips’ misdemeanor will be erased from his record in one year.

Even though this was a breaking news story on the Sun’s website, and obviously a popular story in the city of
New Brighton, the Star Tribune had a considerable amount of more coverage, including important quotes from another city council member and details of the arrest as well as Phillips’ charges and fines.

November 23, 2008

Fallen officers honored in St. Paul ceremony

The group known as the Minnesota Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors held its annual service in remembrance of area police officers that were killed in the line of duty.

The Blue Light Holiday Ceremony was held Sunday evening on the State Capitol grounds near the Peace Officers Memorial. The Star Tribune reported that appearances will be made by “by family members of fallen Lino Lakes officer Shawn Silvera and fallen Minneapolis Park Police officer Mark Bedard.?

The ceremony will also feature the traditional blue lights as well as musical performances by local artists.

According to, “the color blue is associated with law enforcement,? and the group is requesting that “businesses and the public to display blue lights over the holidays.?

Initially, I was drawn to this story because I have several family members who are on the police force. The
Examiner website provided essential information, yet the Star Tribune’s account provided extra information on what Project Blue Light is about.

November 16, 2008

Lawsuits against the friends of Amanda Jax dropped

The family of Amanda Jax, a 21-year-old who died from alcohol poisoning last year after a night of extreme drinking on her birthday has decided to drop all charges against Jax’s former friends. The lawsuit is now only against the bar where Jax and her friends were drinking on the night of Oct. 29.

Blattner Enterprises, who owns the now defunct Sidelines Bar & Grill in Mankato, is being sued by Jax’s family for over $ 50,000.

According to the Star Tribune, “In its claims against the bar, the suit says bartender Beau Ryan ignored Amanda's obvious state of intoxication.?

The bar owners, Craig and Adam Blattner, have denied these allegations.

Jax had a blood-alcohol content of almost 0.46 percent when she was found dead the next morning in a friend’s apartment. That amount is almost six times the legal limit allowed for driving.

The Free Press in Mankato
reported that according to police reports, “The friends told police they had spent two or three hours drinking at the bar with Jax. They drank pitchers of “Long Island iced teas,? shots of alcohol and beer.?

“Jax seemed nearly unconscious when she was carried out of the bar, brought to the apartment and laid on her side in a bedroom, the friends told police. She was alive when someone checked on her at 2:30 a.m. When someone checked on her again at 7 a.m., she was dead.?

While I am sorry for this family’s loss, I just don’t think that making her friends responsible for Amanda’s actions is right. I do hold the bar accountable, but I’m not sure how realistic it is to sue them, I mean even if the bartenders would have stopped serving her and friends, what if they just went to another bar? It happens all the time.

November 9, 2008

Local Fox News reporter charged with second DWI

KMSP-TV reporter Beth McDonough, 40 was arrested early Saturday and charged with a second-degree DWI, careless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident.

City Pages reported that in a criminal complaint, “McDonough hit another vehicle on Interstate 394 near Highway 169 shortly before 1 a.m. Officers caught up with McDonough and noticed signs of intoxication. An intoxilyzer test recorded McDonough's blood-alcohol concentration at .24.?

The Star Tribune reported that “[McDonough] refused a blood-alcohol test at first but later consented.?
McDonough was still on probation from last December when she received her first DWI charge was stripped of her driver’s license. The Star Tribune reported that “her license was reinstated in June.?

After posting a $ 12,000 bond, McDonough was released Saturday afternoon from Hennepin County Jail. Her first court appearance is Dec. 2.

McDonough has since been suspended from KMSP-TV.

Although City Pages’ account of story did not contain as much information as the Star Tribune’s story, they sure seemed to have a lot of fun with it! I enjoyed reading their version of a lede;

“TV news reporters fall fast too. And they also get a taste of their own medicine as their picture and embarrassing moment is broadcast across the Twin Cities. Lessons to be learned and ratings to gain!?

November 2, 2008

University professor admits to stealing McCain signs

A visiting Professor at St. Olaf College confessed to stealing signs in support of McCain/Palin that were along Hwy. 19 in Northfield.

Philip Busse, who according to the Star Tribune is a “veteran writer, political activist and failed mayoral candidate in Portland, Ore? wrote of his experiences in his Huffington Post blog.

Titled "Confessions of a Lawn Sign Stealer, the Star Tribune quoted Busse as writing that "yanking out the (three) signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.''

Although in an email to the Northfield News Busse acknowledged his wrongdoing, he said that he was surprised at the reaction he’s received from people, citing that many have focused on his actions instead of his after-thought essay.

Busse is quoted as saying in the Pioneer Press, "I'm disappointed that most readers seem to have focused on the thefts, and not on the larger thoughts."

Steve Blodgett, St. Olaf’s director of marketing and communications expressed disapproval Busse’s actions in a quote to the Star Tribune, “"His actions ... are in direct conflict with the college's values and mission, and we do not in any way condone them.''

According to the Pioneer Press, “The Northfield Police Department says stealing political yard signs is treated as a misdemeanor, but complainants rarely decide to pursue charges.? The Star Tribune reported that Busse has offered to pay for the stolen signs.

As always, the Star Tribune’s account contained more information overall the Pioneer Press’s story and they were more objective in their writing in that they (Star Tribune) had more than one source.

I also noticed that the Pioneer Press labeled the Huffington Post as a liberal news site was this even necessary? Even if this is well-known notion, is it ethical for the Pioneer Press to comment?

There was also two discrepancies in the articles, one of which concerned the number of signs Busse actually stole. The Pioneer Press reported that Busse took seven signs and the Star Tribune reported that three signs were taken from Busse.

Also, the Pioneer Press reported that Busse is a visiting professor at St. Olaf's theatre department and the Star Trbune reported that Busse was teaching a class in media studies.

October 26, 2008

Woman killed in St. Paul double shooting

An 18-year-old woman, 24-year-old man, and another man fell victim to a random shooting near Sixth Street East and Forest Street in St. Paul on Saturday.

St. Paul police told the Star Tribune that Jaques Dortch and James Jones Fields were in a car when they were shot at around 9:35 p.m. After the shooting, Fields, the driver of the vehicle, drove to a nearby gas station for help.

Police spokesman told the Pioneer Press that one of the car windows was “shot out pretty good.?

The other man, who was in the backseat of the vehicle is said to be Fields’ brother, according to Alan Lorge an employee at M&H gas station, who recalled his interaction with Fields in the Star Tribune.

Jah'ne Dortch, the younger Dortch’s mother told the Star Tribune that she believes that Fields and the other man were the intended targets.

Jaques Dortch, died at the scene and Fields is expected to fully recover.

The Star Tribune reported that “authorities have not publicly discussed a possible motive or indicated if it was gang-related.?

No arrests have been made as of Sunday evening.

The Star Tribune’s article presented more information overall than the Pioneer Press’ coverage. I noticed that both stories had been updated within an hour of each other, and that the Pioneer Press still lacked important information that the Star Tribune had such as the victim’s names. This puzzled me.

The Pioneer Press’ article was entirely based off of quotes Peter Panos, who is only one source, so I’m not sure that you could even call this a “story.?

October 19, 2008

Norm Coleman suspends all campaign negative ads in Senate Race

In a dramatic turn of events, Sen. Norm Coleman announced last week that he has decided to end all attack ads against opponent Al Franken.

The Washington Post reports Coleman as saying, “At times like this, politics should not add to negativity -- it should lift people up with hope and a confident vision for the future."

Critics have questions Coleman’s tactics, citing the controversy surrounding the purchasing of his suits and the issue of his poll ratings falling.

Coleman reminded people that the only ads he can control are the ones that say “I’m Norm Coleman, and I approve of this message,? but he asked the National Republican organizations to also end their on-air attacks against Franken as well.

MinnPost notes that Coleman “made a similar request during his first Senate campaign in 2002, when Sen. Paul Wellstone died in plane crash just days before the election.?

Coleman also warned that some negative ads may already be in circulation and can’t be stopped.

According to MinnPost, “Coleman said his new ads will talk about his record and what he can do for the state and the country. He says he will deal with attack ads by others only with a response defending his record, not with a counter-punch.?

Franken’s campaign remains skeptical of Coleman’s move.

Andy Barr, Franken’s campaign spokesman called Coleman’s decision “a stunt… [a] cynical ploy designed to change the subject and avoid scrutiny of his own record.?

The campaign of Dean Barkley, Coleman’s other opponent shares similar feelings.

Christopher Truscott, a spokesman for Dean Barkley told MinnPost that Coleman’s plan was an “‘11th hour act’ that ‘seems a little desperate.’"

According to MinnPost, “…many believe Barkley's poll numbers have risen dramatically because of the mutual sniping by [Coleman and Franken].?

I noticed that the Washington Post did not devote much on the issue of how Dean Barkley’s campaign is being affected by the “out of control? mudslinging ads between Coleman and Franken. He is the other nominee whose campaign has gained some [positive] attention in the wake of all the drama, people should be aware of how his campaign is being affected, as it could affect the outcome of the race.

Minnpost on the other hand, did devote a good chunk of its campaign to explaining Dean Barkley’s new position in the race. Also, the use of descriptors in the beginning of the story added color, “So it wasn't a shock when he walked solemnly up to a podium in his cavernous campaign headquarters in St. Paul…?

The article also did a good job in equally presenting Coleman’s, Franken’s, and Barkley’s stands on the story.

October 12, 2008

Chaska boy dies after going for a run

Joshua Damptey, a 10-year-old boy collapsed after going for a run with his school’s running club.

According to the Star Tribune, “[Damptey] collapsed at Oak Point Intermediate School around 2:30 p.m. Friday,? and “died shortly after at a local hospital.?

An email was sent out to families notifying them of the death.

Although he had moved with his mother Sylvia and his brother Victor to Chaska, both boys remained in the Eden Prairie School District. According to the Chaska Herald,? [Joshua] previously attended Eden Lake Elementary School and his brother attended Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion School.

Brian Busch recalled to the Star Tribune the boy’s happy memories. “He would ride his bike around happily,? he said.

The Associated Press reported that a cause of death has not been released.

I was very surprised that the Chaska Herald’s article offered very little information compared to other publications, especially considering that the family is from Chaska.

October 5, 2008

Arrest made in Cedar Riverside Shooting

A 16-year-old boy was arrested on Monday in connection with the murder of 21-year-old Augsburg College student Ahmednur Ali.

A group of witnesses who were crowded near the scene of the shooting helped to identify the juvenile as a suspect in the case.

In a report by the Star Tribune, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia was impressed by the community involvement, "It shows the great strides we've made in the past two weeks between the police and community and the partnership we're building.

As of yet, a motive for the killing has not been made public.

According to the Star Tribune, “Police sources say Ali was involved in a dispute and exchanged words with the juvenile, who then shot Ali.? According to police the argument between the two was brief.

During a meeting last Thursday at the Brian Coyle Community Center, community members gathered “not only to mourn the death of yet another young man, but to vent their anger and discuss strategies for dealing with what many who spoke said is the worst crime they have seen in the neighborhood,? according to a report by local community newspaper, The Bridge.

The Bridge also explained that community involvement in helping to solve the case was a central theme expressed in the meeting.

According to the Star Tribune, the meeting prompted an exchange of ideas on the safety and security in the neighborhood. Some ideas included, “adding cameras around the [community center] and nearby Currie Park, [and] hiring security or a police liaison to work during the evenings and adding two Somali outreach workers.?

Since the motive of the shooting is unknown, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia told the Minnesota Daily that “[Police want the witnesses to remain very anonymous for fear of retaliation, we’re leaving that whole witness thing very vague on purpose.?

The Daily noted that police will not make the suspect’s name public unless he is “charged as an adult.?
The Minnesota Daily’s coverage was considerably less than expected as I expressed on my last blog, one would think that since this story is part of a much larger issue that’s so close to “home,? they would devote more to the piece.

I found it interesting that The Bridge did not provide as many details on the suspect as the other two publications did. This article provides a positive spin on this sad story by explaining the importance of community involvement in helping with the case. The author does a nice job of ending the story on an uplifting note, as does the Star Tribune’s account.

The Star Tribune’s story devoted a lot more coverage and detail than the other two stories overall. This included the suspect’s age, whereas the other stories only mentioned that it was a juvenile suspect. Also, their report revealed that the victim and the alleged suspect had a brief exchange of words before the shooting occurred.

September 28, 2008

Somali college sudent shot and killed In Minneapolis

A freshman at Augsburg College was shot and killed Monday as he walked home from volunteering at a community center located in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

Minneapolis police responded to the call of a reported shooting near the Brian Coyle Community Center where Ali volunteered on a regular basis, shortly after 5 p.m.

The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to a report from the Star Tribune, “Family members who gathered at the site were upset that the victim's body remained outside the center for hours after the shooting as police conducted their investigation.? Because of the “cultural and religious customs? of Somalis, quick burials are preferred whenever possible.

Salma Hussein, a member of the University of Minnesota Student Association told the Minnesota Daily that, “all members of the [Somali Student Association] returned to the scene of the shooting around 8 p.m. Monday and attended an on-scene lecture by a St. Paul Imam—a community Islamic leader—stressing non violence.?

The Star Tribune reports that Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said that detectives are unsure of what led to the shootings and that it was “too early? to know if this shooting was connected to other shootings in the area associated with gang rivalries.

According to the Minnesota Daily, Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center said that “no one would have had a reason to kill Ali.?

Augsburg College as well as community members gathered Tuesday in remembrance of Ali at the Foss Chapel.

As of Sunday no arrests have been made.

While both news accounts reported the same crucial facts to the story, I noticed that the Star Tribune’s story added an important element to its story by including the effect of the shooting on the Cedar-Riverside and Augsburg communities in its story. The Star Tribune also gives the reader information about the Somali population in that area.
With stories like these, an eye witness account adds depth to the story, and the Star Tribune included that; “Two women who identified themselves as Ali's sisters wept and embraced as they stood near the yellow tape police used to secure the area. They would not talk to reporters. Other relatives also declined to be interviewed and asked reporters to respect their privacy.?

I found it interesting that the Daily did not mention the role that gang rivalry among Somalis might have played in this case since the issue is not only something that Minneapolis has been dealing with for almost a year, but it’s on campus. In my opinion, The Daily should have written a follow up story like the Star Tribune.

September 21, 2008

Deaf Studies Minor Available University of Minnesota Duluth Students

Thanks to the dedication and persistence of the UMD student group Access for All, a deaf studies minor has been approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents last spring.

Access for All wanted to increase the amount of American Sign Language classes available to students on campus so they decided to hold an open meeting to voice their concerns. Among those invited were school officials, citizens, students, and lawmakers.

According to the news report by the Duluth News Tribune, members of Access for All said that the long waiting lists for ASL classes were keeping students from signing up.

In the Pioneer Press’ coverage of the story, Paul Deputy, the dean of the College of Education and Human Service Professions was quoted as saying, “The chancellor heard the message and said, 'We're going to fund this.? He also added, "I hold these students up as a model for how the political system can work with dialogue."

The popularity of this minor has already made its impression as the number of students enrolled in ASL classes has increased by 85 students from 2007 to 2008.

Both newspapers devoted an equal amount of the same information to their respective articles, however, the first thing I noticed about the Duluth News Tribune was their lead for the story, For those who think college students sometimes lack initiative, ponder this: “A new deaf studies minor is offered at UMD this fall, and a student group was the driving force behind it.?

I found it to be slightly subjective, but their partiality might be due to the fact that the newspaper is from Duluth.

September 14, 2008

Safety Overrules Beauty for New Minneapolis Bridge

The new Minneapolis Bridge opened last week; reports from the Associated Press and Twin (Pioneer Press) differ in regards to the bridge completion’s much later deadline.

From “Time also was a factor, since the old steel girder span's collapse on Aug. 1, 2007 — killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 — severed a major transportation link through the heart of the Twin Cities.? “This week's opening will come about three weeks ahead of schedule.? said that the bridge was originally due for completion by Dec. 24th of this year.

While some hoped that those involved in reconstructing the bridge would take the opportunity to build a “tourist? friendly bridge, the features of safety and functionality overruled beauty and boldness.

The Associated Press reports, “Government officials opted for practicality over pretension.?The first goal was to have a bridge that was safe and effective," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

This time around, extreme precautions to preserve and protect the structure and security of the bridge were major factors during construction.

The Pioneer Press reports that sensor meters will be used to gauge the “expansion joints and bearings,? two components of a bridge that are used to evaluate its exact condition.

All of the information that the monitors receive is sent directly to MnDOT engineers where they are able to monitor every component of the bridge.

John Chiglo, project manager for MnDOT tells the Pioneer Press, “built-in technology gives MnDOT a look at the bridge it can't get with other bridges.?

With all of the technology that’s going in to this bridge, it’s serving as a learning tool for those involved with bridge construction.

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