September 2009 Archives

Attribution: St. Paul College is Locked Down

The reporters utilized several sources for this story, all of them from people. Four students, St. Paul College spokesman, Jim Stumne and police spokesman, Sergeant Paul Schnell were interviewed.

The article began and ended with Stumne's and Schnell's statements as a way to tell the basic, "hard news" parts of the story. They were both reliable sources with the right credentials, and reinforced the credibility of the story. These sources also kept the reader focused on the most important aspects of the story. The students' testimonies were included as a way to describe the emotions and thoughts that they experienced during the lockdown. Readers got a different, more personal perspective of what happened.

Afterwards, however, the writers attributed Stumne and Schnell to close out the story and to bring readers back to the main points of the article. This set up of attribution was very effective, because it allowed readers to get the facts as well as the more personal perspectives of the people impacted by the lockdown.


Census Worker Found Hanged in Kentucky

A census worker was found hanged from a tree in Kentucky with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

Bill Sparkman, 51, a teacher and part-time census field worker, was found Sept. 12 in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay County. Police said he died of asphyxiation, the Star Tribune reported.

The police and the FBI are investigating if Sparkman was a victim of antigovernment sentiment.

Other officials wonder if Sparkman stumbled across a marijuana plot, which residents often laced with booby traps to avoid being discovered.

The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in Clay County until the investigation is complete.

AIDS Vaccine Shows Potential

new vaccine showed the first signs of preventing the spread of HIV, scientists said Thursday.

The vaccine, RV 144, was declared a success after it reduced the chance of infection by 31% in a Thailand trial involving more than 16,000 adults.

Though 31% was considered small, it was the first time a vaccine had shown potential in preventing HIV, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Scientists are now studying why the vaccine worked when previous ones failed, and are trying to understand whether it can be effective beyond 31%.

RV 144 was designed for the strain in Southeast Asia, and would need to be modified for strains in Africa and the United States.


Twitter to Raise $100 million from Investors

Twitter was set to raise close to $100 million from many new investors on Thursday, which would value the company at about $1 billion.

New investor groups included T. Rowe Price, a mutual fund company, and Insight Venture Partners, a venture capital firm, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Such investments did not come as a surprise to many, since Twitter's popularity had been on the rise since its creation almost four years ago.

It impacted Facebook, however, Twitter's main competition.

Though the company does not generate real revenue, Twitter's value and popularity are expected to increase, the New York Times reported.

St. Paul College in Lockdown after Gunman Sighting

St. Paul College was locked down late Wednesday morning after a gunman was reported to be seen on campus, the Pioneer Press reported.

Police locked down the campus for about four hours as SWAT teams searched every room. Day classes were canceled, but the school reopened at 4 p.m.

A female student saw the gunman on an elevator speaking into a hands-free cell phone device, where he pulled out a handgun from an elevator light fixture.

Police were later notified of a possible suspect, an upset student who had left home Wednesday, but he was released after being interviewed.

No gun or suspect was found on the school's property, but police were still investigating, the Pioneer Press reported.

Trike Stolen from Disabled Man

A developmentally disabled man's adult-sized tricycle was stolen from his backyard early Monday, the Star Tribune reported.

The owner of the trike, Ruag Mackay, 47, of St. Paul, was known in his neighborhood for his good deeds. He often cleared snow from street corners in the winter, or raked and mowed vacant lots without being asked.

Neighbors were distraught by the theft and decided to help the police search for the trike.

The trike was described to be a red TriStar Adult trike with a white basket and a bell.

St. Paul police are looking for the trike near East Jessamine Avenue and Sylvan Street, but have no leads, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Lead: Charges Against Gen. Vang Pao Dropped

The lead was not written in the usual straight-forward hard news fashion. Rather, it was more descriptive and emotional. The journalists who wrote this story did not want the reader to have a clear-cut summary of what happened, because the lead did not tell you the what, the when, the how, nor the why. It provided a physical description of General Vang Pao, details which were not usually found in hard news leads

This was a unique style, yet an effective one that kept readers reading. The audience could not skim quickly over the first paragraph for a summary of the article's contents, because the writers intentionally omitted the information that readers sought. This drew them in and forced them to keep reading past the first few sentences. By describing the general's physical features and his reaction to his newly declared freedom, the journalists made Vang Pao human. He was not just a news story anymore. The descriptions triggered feelings of empathy as well as curiosity. Readers could better relate to Vang Pao, and therefore they cared more about what happened.

Charges Against Hmong Leader are Dropped

U.S. federal government dropped all charges against Gen. Vang Pao, a Hmong military leader accused of conspiring to overthrow the Communist Lao government.

A federal grand jury in Sacramento, Calif. presented a new indictment against 12 men on conspiracy and weapons charges, in which Vang Pao was not included.

According to the Star Tribune, there was insufficient evidence to hold Vang Pao accountable.

The general was charged in 2007 for allegedly planning to buy illegal weapons and for outlining plans for a coup in Vientiane, Laos.

The federal government's decision satisfied Vang Pao's family and his admirers, for they believed that justice had been served.

Man Charged in Attacking his Girlfriend

A man from St. Paul was charged with second-degree attempted murder Friday after he allegedly bound his girlfriend's wrists and ankles with duct tape and tried to strangle her.

According to the Pioneer Press, police were called to the victim's home where they discovered the man choking the woman. Officers had to kick him off of her to stop the assault.

The Ramsey County District Court charged the man, Diallo Desean Coleman, with attempted second-degree murder, false imprisonment and domestic assaults by strangulation. 

After interviewing witnesses, police were given two different versions of what caused the attack. The Star Tribune reported that authorities stopped the assault after receiving a call from a witness outside the Coleman residence.

Coleman appeared in court on Friday afternoon, reported the Pioneer Press.

Del Potro Defeats Federer at US Open

Roger Federer's winning streak ended when he was defeated Monday night at the
United States Open
by Martin del Potro, the New York Times reported.

Though Federer dominated the first two sets, del Potro emerged as the victor, making
him the first Argentine man to win the U.S. Open since 1977.

Federer was frustrated with the electronic line calling system. He debated with the
umpire after one of del Potro's line challenges, and he was fined for using an expletive.

Though defeated, Federer congratulated del Potro. According to the New York Times,
this was del Potro's first Grand Slam singles title.  

Gray Wolves Again Endangered

Gray wolves in the Upper Midwest returned to the endangered species list after the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service published a rule Wednesday, settling an agreement made with
environmental groups.

The agency released approximately 4,000 wolves from the list, the Pioneer Press

Animal rights activists said that the ruling was illegal, because it did not provide public
notice, and it put wolves at risk of being hunted and trapped.

According to the Star Tribune, the new ruling forbids Minnesota landowners from killing
wolves that prey on their livestock or pets.
Wolves are again protected, but officials expect them to be off of the list eventually.

Suicide Bombs Hit African Union Base in Somalia

African Union headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia was the target of two suicide car
on Thursday, killing and wounding troops.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Al Shabab, a terrorist group, was responsible for
the attack. According to the New York Times, the bombings were in retaliation of a U.S.
airstrike that killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a wanted terrorist.

AU officials believed that the Somali government may have been infiltrated by Al
Shabab for the attack to happen.

Somalia's new government, though viewed as the best hope for peace, has been a
target for insurgents ever since its former government was overthrown in 1991.
Government officials realize the challenges in restoring stability, but say that it is worth
it, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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