April 2010 Archives

St. Paul couple shot following home burglary, woman dies

A woman died after the home she shared with her husband was burglarized. According to KSTP News, the 27-year-old husband survived a shot to the leg, while the woman, Heidi Firkus, died on site. After hearing a noise in their home, the 27-year-old man, Nick Firkus, armed himself with a shotgun and went downstairs to investigate. A struggle ensued over the shotgun, and shots were fired leading to the woman being shot. KSTP correlates the story with an an interview with Branden O'Connor who was staying next door when it happened. He gave his side of the story about how he heard a man pleading for help, "as if in pain." This adds more confidence in the story as details are sketchy at this point; police say there are no signs of a forced break-in and no signs of a struggle, which makes the man's account of the story very questionable.
KARE-11 provides the same detail as the KSTP story that there were two 911 calls, the first one to report a possible burglary , and the second one to report that two people had been shot. It also uses an interview with Branden O'Connor. They include him saying that he thinks he heard someone say "'Please stop,'" and "'You shot me,' or 'You shot her.'" KARE-11 uses facebook to provide photos of the couple. The KARE-11 report talks about a church service for the wife and that the pastor said that the husband had worked with high school students. The anchor mentions that the police reports no sign of forced entry, and gives possible explanations and gives what he calls a 'vague' description of the suspect. Following the first report, the man is almost placed in a bad, or question light while there is less of a feel that the man is lying for the KARE-11 report.

Crash near Cambridge kills 6, including 3 teenagers

A deadly head-on crash near Cambridge killed 6 people, including 3 teenagers. It was part of a weekend that involved 10 total driving-related deaths over the weekend, 7 of whom were teenagers.
Kare-11 reported that there were five people in one car and two in the other car. The five-person car was driving by a 16-year-old girl who had just gotten her license that month and should not have been driving with more than one teenager passenger, or after midnight. Kare-11 also reports that the police report noted a smell of alcohol in the Grand-AM the girl was driving. The girl was the only survivor, after being airlifted following the accident. The names of the four victims were given and their ages varied from 15 to 21. The other victims in the other car, an SUV, included the 24-year-old male driver, and his passenger, of which no information has been released about.
While the Kare-11 report was all video (a lot of which was just shots of the street where the accident took place), theStar Tribune report made use of both video and photos with voice-overs from the police and friends of the victims. This is shows how heavily newspapers still rely on text and photographs over video footage. Both reports showed Katie Swenson, a friend of two of the victims, and Col. Mark Dunaski, while Kare-11 also showed various other friends of victims and the Star Tribune also showed the statement from Issanti County Sheriff Russ Monson. This is a story where people would be a more important focus than the incident, so it made sense for both stories to talk to a lot of people. Both also made note of the crash being part of the weekend trend of crashes involving teenage deaths. The Star Tribune video ended with a lingering shot of a crying Katie Swenson being hugged by an older woman (probably her mother) comforting her and telling her "it'll be OK." While this was a nice, emotional shot, it felt a little exploitative.

Controversy arises from Arizona immigration bill signing

ABC World News reported that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently signed a bill that makes illegal immigration a state crime and requires local police to check the status of those believed to be living in Arizona illegally. The report doesn't explicitly explain what the law does until well after the midpoint of the report.
NBC Nightly News also reports on it the new law. Both reports heavily covered the political aspects of the signing of the law, discussing the protests, Obama's condemnation of the signing, and Republicans rushing to the defense of the bill. ABC World News singles out former presidential candidate and Arizona Senator John McCain's support for the law, despite having a history of being in favor of immigration rights.
Both reports also try to bring in a human aspect by showing interviews with Hispanic Arizona residents, all of whom condemn the new law.
Republican supporters, such as Arizona Senator Russell Pearce, was showed being outspoken in favor of the law to protect the U.S. border from "the destruction of the nation." The Republicans main argument was that this was an overdue law to protect America from dangerous drug dealers while opponents who decried the law as nothing more than legal racial profiling. Something Gov. Brewer and Republican supporters shot down as simply untrue. "Racial profiling is illegal in America. It will not be tolerated in America, and it certainly will not be tolerated in Arizona," Governor Brewer said. The protests outside the state capitol as the bill was being signed was giving a bit of coverage.

Iceland's future uncertain following volcanic eruption

Both ABC World News and NBC Nightly News did reports following up the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland.
As with the oil rig explosion reports, as many news stations clamor for follow-up reports on the same breaking news item, many attributes of the stories are similar or nearly identical while reporters and stations try to find a new angle on the same heavily-covered topic.
Both stories cover the volcano following the assumption that the worst is over, as the plume of smoke over the volcano decreases in size and the wind shifts the smoke and ash away from Europe. Both have an extensive amount of the reporter talking in the helicopter with shots of the volcano and immediate area surrounding it as well as time spent on the volcano. Both reporters point out the mix of snow and ash on the ground. The ABC World news reporter described his experience by the eruption by saying that it was "hard to breathe because the air is so windy and cold," and after leaving the volcano says that "my chest actually feels strange, my lungs almost chilled by the freezing air," to add more than merely what is seen on screen. Following that, the reporter shows very strong images of a village covered in ash with very low visibility. He also shows the ground where he had stepped on yesterday, with the muddy substance from the day before hardening and keeping his boot print.
The report from NBC did not have this strong image and instead had input from a vulcanologist and an Icelandic University professor. It would have benefited from footage of villages blanketed in ash to show rather than tell.
In another report from NBC Nightly News, the reporter ventures more into towns to talk with people, such as farmers concerned with their animals' health and schoolchildren having to wear masks, while interesting and showing the people aspect of the story, still isn't nearly as strong as the image of an almost Pompeii-like city. The reporter also includes an interview with the president of Iceland who says he is optimistic that this eruption, though unfortunate, will help draw in tourists to see the country where it all happened. She also includes footage of a normally crystal-clear waterfall having a "dirty brown" water instead and a hotel's empty parking lot, where it would normally expect about 100 tourists.
Overall, the 3 reports have a similar core but try to distinguish themselves by branching out into different areas of implication.

Following the disaster of the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard has suspended the search for the 11 missing oil rig workers, according to NBC Nightly News. Both NBC and ABC World News cover most of the same information. They both set up the story with the suspension of the search to move onto the bulk of the story, which is about the recovery. Both have animations showing how boats put out some sort of flotation device/net to stop the oil spill, then have boats clean up the spill inside those boundaries.
Both also put the story into national and political perspectives, connecting to President Obama's recent announcement to expand off-shore oil drilling. Both story also quickly followed this connection by the response of environmentalists to Obama's announcement, each including an interview with different environmental "experts," a professor at Tulane University and someone from an environmental group. Both also include a statement from U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry, in the same outfit and location which means she most likely gave some sort of press conference that both networks are using footage from.
Differing from NBC, ABC had video footage of the oil spill for a helicopter to show what it looked like, as well as graphics and numbers showing what the size of the oil spill is. However, both mention the weather and how it might drastically affect the size of the oil spill. Both stories have incorporated many angles (political, environmental, weather) on this story.

Nursing homes money schemes leads to patient neglect

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune reports on the investigation that uncovered the money making scheme of Dr. Roland Borrasi, who was a middleman when it came to delivering elderly and mentally disabled patients to nursing homes.
"Basically, I have a commodity; my commodity is nursing home patients," Borrasi said.
The more patients a nursing home has, especially more fragile and high-needs patients, the more money (Medicaid, etc) the nursing home will receive. When nursing homes were running low on patients, they would contact Borrasi, who would contact hospitals and transport the needed patients. Borrasi also owned a "medical group" that hospitals and nursing homes would pay stipends to, which made the whole scheme look legitimate on the outside.
Mercury News reported on a separate scheme involving nursing home abuse. It talks about a California chain of nursing homes saving an increase in state funding for nursing homes while laying off workers to show an increase in profits.
Both reports are very in-depth (and long), showing an accumulation of reporting done over the span of several years. It is a bit difficult to comprehend the information, and rereads were necessary. It is difficult to condense so much research and reporting into an article and still make it understandable, but both could've been better written. Both also make use of examples of neglect the patients suffered, sometimes resulting in death. News is people and these are the victims portrayed, along with those portrayed as the greedy villains.

China targets 10,000 in sterilization campaign

The AFP reported China's attempt to sterilize nearly 10,000 citizens who had broken China's strict rules on the number of children allowed per couple. Authorities in the southern city of Puning have detained nearly 1,300 people. The 1,300 have been held in in government buildings, being given lectures on family planning rules according to the Nanfang Countryside Daily. These 1,300 are part of a larger 9,559 worst offenders (of the family planning policy) the sterilization campaign is targeting.
According to United Press International, the 20-day campaign has threatened to take away the parents of the offenders who refuse to comply with the sterilization surgery.
Both identify Huang Ruifeng, 64, as someone whose father was taken away because of his refusal to get the surgery, though only the UPI uses a direct quote from him, citing his statement to a Chinese paper. This lends more credibility instead of indirectly quoting him/just mentioning his predicament. There is also a lot of unidentified sources in the form of government officials, likely due to the sensitivity of this issue. The UPI gives background on China's stance and policies on the limit of children families can have (1, 2 for rural farmers with a firstborn girl) and that provides more context on this rather high-profile issue.

"Baby's Space" opens as toy store closes

It was hard to find two instances of local papers covering the same street/scene news, but similar stories happened. While a "Baby's Space" opened in Minneapolis, a St. Paul neighborhood toy store called Essence of Nonsense closed. The first story, covered by the Star Tribune discussed the opening of a center for American Indian children up to 5-years-old, a safe haven for babies and toddlers whose parents may not have the most safe or secure homes. I felt the article was a little wishy-washy on the details. What exactly does it mean to "emphasize social and emotional development" and "preparing children in all the ways they need to be successful." Is it a daycare center or can the babies spend nights there? It showcased one of the customers(?, do they pay?) and their child, but maybe another customer would've helped.
The other article, while not raising as many questions as the first, was short and sweet, but me wanting more. It discussed the closing of a toy store after 28 years in business (in three different locations). The only quotes were from the owner, more color could have been added by talking to customers, though this might have been difficult considering the store did not have a going-out-of-business sale. With what the writer had to work with, it was a decent-to-good article.

Palin visits Minneapolis to support Rep. Bachmann

The Pioneer Press, CBS News, and The Minnesota Daily all covered former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's trip to the Minneapolis Convention Center to support Republican Representative Michele Bachmann's bid for re-election. What was most common among the three reports was the quotes they used. When so many political forces align in one spot (Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was also in attendance), it is a bigger draw for the media, and they probably know that, saying things they know will get quoted in the newspaper. Sarah Palin said things such as, "They're becoming addicted to 'opium' -- O-P-M -- other people's money," and "What I like about Michele is she just doesn't tell them no, she tells them H-E-L-L no," in reference to the Democrats calling Republicans the party of 'No.' Bachmann, meanwhile, said "You better believe it, baby. Repeal is going to be what this girl is all about after November," referring to herself. Because The Minnesota Daily is less able to talk to the bigger powers, they include a lot of quotes from the audience. CBS News didn't include any audience quotes while the Pioneer Press included some.

Rallies held nationwide for immigration reform

Thousands gathered nationwide in cities such as Las Vegas and Seattle demanding immigration reform. The rally-goers demanded changes in the immigration process and protection for illegal immigrants. The rallies were often attended by political figures such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev, according to the Associated Press.
That article is a bit confusing to follow, its brief and I had to re-read it to make sure it was only talking about Las Vegas and not two different rallies, though there were simultaneous rallies held nationwide Saturday afternoon. I noticed that article said police estimated about 3,500 people in attendance, while the organizers gave the very-high figure of 10,000, nearly triple the police estimate.
The Seattle Pi covers the rally in Seattle. It includes quotes from those at the rally as well as their stated motivations for being there. It also includes viewpoints from the opposition, who believe that border security is what needs to be focused on.

Links

http://www.mndaily.com/2010/04/08/students-removed-shoes-thursday-spread-awareness

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100411/ap_on_re_us/us_immigration_reform_rallies
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/418273_rally11.html

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/family/90430624.html?page=2&c=y

http://www.twincities.com/ci_14840360?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.com
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20001959-503544.html
http://www.mndaily.com/2010/04/07/palin-conservatives-rally-bachmann-mpls

http://www.mndaily.com/2010/02/22/justice-reformers-gather-capitol

The remake of the 1981 movie "Clash of the Titans" was the number one movie at the box office, earning $61.4 million during the weekend, and an additional $2.7 million counting Thursday screenings, Reuters reports.
According to Entertainment Weekly, that is the new best Easter box office, beating out the 2006 Easter weekend record set by "Scary Movie 4" when it opened with $40.2 million.
The movie managed to beat out competition from "How to Train your Dragon," and "Alice in Wonderland," all of which are fighting for limited 3-D screens.
According to an article in Time, the movie could have grossed $100 million had it wrestled all the 3-D screens the studio had wanted from "Wonderland," and "Dragon." This could have been done if the studio released the movie later in April, as opposed to the weekend immediately following a new 3-D release, the article states.
Box office reports nowadays always seem to add a bit about 3-D. Ever since "Avatar" broke box office records domestically and internationally, studios have been clamoring to release movies in 3-D. This sudden surge in interest in 3-D technology has left theaters clamoring to convert to 3-D. When studios release 3-D movies as close to each other as they did this week, theater owners have to choose between which movie they think will be more profitable.

U.S. delays report on Chinese currency manipulation

The United States has delayed a report on Chinese currency manipulation until after a G-20 summit set in Washington that China has agreed to attend.
The report alleges that China has been purposely undervaluing its currency in order for its goods to be cheaper in America and American goods to be more expensive in China.
According to npr.com, the U.S. trade deficit in China was $226.8 billion last year, the highest imbalance with any country.
According npr.com, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the decision to delay the report a day after the White House signaled an attempt for better relations with China. The article on the site also says that the U.S. hopes that this extension will allow China to let its currency inflate naturally.
CNN.com reports that the report was delayed so that better relations could exist between the U.S. and China, so that China would support tougher sanctions on Iran's nuclear program at the G-20 summit. The site also says that several lawmakers are upset at the delay, wanting the U.S. to publicly admonish the Chinese government's alleged currency manipulation.

Earthquake hits southern California, Mexico

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Sunday afternoon, affecting southern California and northwestern Mexico the most. Arizonan and Nevadan residents also reported feeling the effects of the earthquake.
According to the Associated Press, the earthquake caused a parking structure to collapse near the city hall in Mexacali. Mexicali is a busy, commercial city in Mexico.
One man has died when his home collapsed on him, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This is an especially powerful earthquake, being the strongest one since the 1992 Landers earthquake as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Damage in California has been relatively little, with lights flickering and rare cases of loss of electricity, reports the Associated Press.

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