December 14, 2008

Bloomington Drunk Driver Accused of 3rd Degree Murder

A 66-year-old Burnsville woman was killed Wednesday in front of the Bloomington Sam's Club after she was hit twice by a car driven by a drunk driver. According to charges filed on Friday, the blood-alcohol level of Anthony Phillip LaSalle, 36, was more than five times over the legal driving limit. He was charged with third-degree murder for the death of LuAnn Marie Johnson and three counts of criminal vehicular homicide.

An article on the website of KXMB news station of North Dakota is really just a mess. The title doesn't make sense: "Man with Murder in Death at Bloomington Store". The story is very brief, with facts picked up from the Associated Press. That is fine, but the article kind of drops off out of nowhere, as if the paragraphs are scrambled in the wrong order. The main facts are given in the beginning, which is good, but the last sentence about vodka seems trivial and inconclusive. If anything, the analysis of this article teaches me one thing: even professionals make stupid mistakes. The prime example is forgetting to delete your words when you rephrase a sentence..."Anthony Phillip LaSalle is also charged of Bloomington was charged on Friday with third-degree murder and three counts of criminal vehicular homicide."

The incident was very-well covered by the Star Tribune. Their article described the incident in great detail, giving the audience a clear picture of what happened, maybe even too clear, as I find the words "LaSalle gunned the engine and drove over Johnson, hitting her and dragging her 10 feet as he sped away" to be a little grotesque. The article reported on LaSalle's statement to police and also on his criminal past. Finally, the article gave information on Johnson's funeral arrangements.

Savannah State Shooter Claims Self-Defense

A 19-year-old Savannah State University student said Friday that the shots he fired in his apartment on Nov. 21 were in self-defense. The shooter, Devon McIntosh, told Savannah Morning News in an interview in the jail house that he was confronted and assaulted by 22-year-old Quinton Winfield when McIntosh walked into his own apartment. The confrontation was based on McIntosh standing up for a girl that Winfield had insulted. After being punched several times in the head, McIntosh said he grabbed his handgun from his room, fired a warning shot and fired twice as Winfield continue to come at him. Winfield was taken to the hospital and treated while the campus in Georgia remained locked down until McIntosh was found hiding in the trunk of his car by police. McIntosh tried for a bond, but was denied. He remains jailed in Chatham County on aggravated assault charges.

FOX News covered this story in what I consider a good length and depth. All of the facts above were accounted for and more details were given, such as the fact that students are not allowed to have guns on campus and that the university is Georgia's oldest historically black college. Their coverage included direct quotes from McIntosh, and paraphrased attributions to his attorney, a university spokeswoman and a hospital spokeswoman. This story also includes a paragraph saying that other connections and sources were contacted for the story but that some are not cooperating. I think that's an important part of the article and something that G.R. has encouraged us to include if necessary.

The second article, from WJBF news station in Georgia, is surprisingly very brief. I expected that this article would have been much more in depth because it is a story local to the state but I was wrong. This could be because it's a TV station that only has brief allotted time for stories or it could be because the story has been developing and updated daily or weekly in the state. It includes no quotes, only the newest update and a brief recap of the incident.

Human Bone Fragments Found in Argentine Detention Center

Representatives of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, also known as EAAF, announced Tuesday that their professionals had found about 10,000 human bone fragments buried at the site of an old Argentine detention center. This government detention center was active between 1976 and 1983 when there was a coup and dictatorship in the country and thousands of citizens were abducted and never found again. These people are know in their country as "los desaparecidos," or "the disappeared". The find helps to verify the belief that detention centers were not only places of torture but also of killings as well.

The fragments were found over a period of seven months, and will be analyzed for DNA and possible identification in 2009. The anthropologists warned in their news conference that many of the fragments may not be able to be identified because they were exposed to flame and burns for too long.

Both of the articles that I read were contributed to by the Associated Press but, surprisingly, they read differently. CNN included quotes from the secretary of human rights for Buenos Aires province and the president of the EAAF. Some of the quotes are too long though...they seem repetitive and are confusing to read due to the language barrier and translation.

The article from the New York Times is shorter but written in a much more flowery tone. Not that it was a happy article but it was written with more descriptive, colorful words. It does not include as many quotes (only one from the president of EAAF and one from the legal chairwoman for the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights La Plata. ONe major difference is that the CNN story says 30,000 people went missing in that time while the NYT article acknowledges that number but says that only 13,000 have been recorded.

December 7, 2008

Medecine Lake Skater Dead After Falling Through Ice

A 53-year old man fell through thin ice on Plymouth's Medicine Lake Sunday afternoon and died. Another skater spotted a hat floating and called police just before 2 p.m. Firefighters tried to revive the man when they pulled him from the water at about 3 p.m. but he was unresponsive. The man was then taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale where he died.

The Star Tribune
article gives all of the details above and also includes a quote from Sgt. Chris Mathisen of the Sheriff's Office saying that the man may have thought the ice was thicker than it was due to the snow on top. The article also offers a statement from local fishermen who say that the ice they were on Sunday afternoon was 4 to 6 inches thick.

Reading the Strib article makes the reader believe that the man was dead on the scene since it says he had no pulse and could not be resuscitated. But the WCCO article makes it seem otherwise. It says that he died later at the medical center. This article, although shorter, gives more specific detail on things that the Strib article deemed as uncertainties. The man's specific age was given and he was identified as someone who had recently moved to the area whereas the Strib identified him as a visitor to the town. That information was either given later, or the one of the news sources got the information incorrect.

Montana Judge Rules that Assisted Suicide is Legal

A Montana judge, Dorothy McCarter, made a ruling Friday evening that doctor-assisted suicide is acceptable if the patient is competent and terminally-ill, and wishes to "die with dignity". The case was brought to court by Robert Baxter, 75, a terminally-ill cancer patient who was suing the state for his right to decide when his terminal condition became intolerable. Montana's Attorney General Mike McGrath expects that the state will appeal the ruling, saying that it should be a decision made by the state Legislature and the not the court.

The New York Times coverage of this story is taken from the Associated Press and is very brief. Each paragraph is only 1-2 sentences long. It is made to be read as a quick briefing of an event, giving little detail but accurate overview. It includes quotes from Baxter and McCarter.

The FOX News coverage was also taken from the Associated Press, so it shares similar information with the NYT article, but it is lengthier and more detail-oriented. In addition to McCarter and Baxter, the article includes a quote from McGrath as well as a paraphrased statement from Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Anders saying that the state will not be prepared to make a constitutional rights ruling about doctor-assisted suicide since "competent" and "terminally-ill" have not been explicitly defined yet. The article also includes McCarter's rebuttal to this. She said that both of these conditions can be deemed and verified by the doctor's professional standards. Overall, the article gives more attention to the details of this event that the NYT article does.

Riots in Greece After Teen's Death

The shooting and killing of a 16-year-old boy by two police officers in Central Athens has caused an uproar of riots by young anarchists across the country. The shooting took place Saturday night, in Exarchia, the anarchists' home
base, and spurred on the destruction and burning of stores, vehicles, and homes throughout Saturday night and again on Sunday night. Police are using tear gas to combat the rioters.

Both articles identified that Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos intended to have a thorough investigation of the shooting because a democracy would not stand stand for the taking of someone's life. Both articles also identified that rioters take refuge on university campuses where police are not allowed.

used an Associated Press article for their coverage of this story. The story is moderate in length, but for the length, their is not very much detail. It seems very general. The article makes note of the fact that anarchists and polic often clash and that when riots occur, they usually are aimed at police vehicles and buildings. This is happening currently, but other stores, banks and vehicles have been affected. This story reads very broad and also seems repetitive. Maybe since each paragraph seems vague, it seems like you're reading the same thing over and over.

CNN covers the story in a shorter article but fit more specific, clear details into the story than MSNBC did. The article starts out strong with a quote from a CNN press officer who was in the middle of the action. The article says that tourists in Athens hotels were told not to leave their rooms and that one apartment complex was evacuated due to fire. Whereas MSNBC did not disclose details of the shooting (saying it was unclear what happened), CNN gave details that the teenager and 5 others were throwing stones at a police car and attempted to throw a fuel bomb. Another important point that CNN includes is the sentencing of the officers so far. One has been charged with "manslaughter with intent".

November 30, 2008

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

A temporary Wal-Mart worker was trampled and killed in Valley Stream, NY early Friday morning while he was opening the store doors to a rushing crowd of over 2,000 shoppers. Jdimytai Damour, 34, was crushed as the Black Friday shoppers stampeded over him to get into the store. Police and employees who tried to help Damour were also knocked to the ground by the crowds. A statement released by Wal-Mart says that the store hired extra security people and put up additional security barriers, but the general tone from every other outlet surrounding the event is that the incident should have never happened.

The two articles I found covered the story from two different angles. An ABC News article serves as a recap of the incident and also addresses the actions that police are taking. They are looking through surveillance videos to try and identify the people who trampled Damour, but the likelihood of that happening is slim the police say. This article quotes Wal-Mart shoppers and also identifies other injuries in their store and in other nearby Wal-Marts. Finally, the article lists the hot sale items that were probable causes of the stampeding crowd.

A CNN article covers the story from the angle of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1500. The UFCW is the largest grocery union in New York and it publicly denounced Wal-Mart for their irresponsibility in the fatal incident. The article uses quotes from UFCW president, Bruce Both, and a projects director for the local UFCW, Patrick Purcell, to flesh out the angle. It also includes background information on the UFCW's generally negative feelings about the superstore. Wal-Mart is defenseless in this article, which notes that the store's spokesperson would not give CNN an additional statement outside of the store's released one.

One discrepancy between the two stories is the location of the store. The CNN article says the Wal-Mart is in Long Island, NY and the ABC article says the store is in Valley Stream. As an outsider to the area, I was confused by this.

Minnesota Teen Headed to Inaugural Ball

A teen from Faribault, Matt Shuda,17, has grabbed one of the highly-sought after tickets to the Presidential Inaugural Ball this January. The black-tie event, held in Washington D.C, is centered around the swearing in of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Shuda, a Bethlehem Academy student, got his ticket through the Congressional Youth Leadership Council. Shuda has attended four CYLC conferences already and is attending another in January at the same time as inauguration.

Only 250,000 tickets for the inauguration have been printed, yet the estimated number of people who will travel to Washington D.C. for the event is over 5 million. Only 2,300 tickets are within reach of Minnesotans, either through senators or representatives.

While in the Capitol city, Shuda will also attend speeches by cyclist, Lance Armstrong, and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

The Star Tribune published the article written by the Associated Press. The included all of the facts above and included quotes from Shuda's mother and father.

The article from the Faribault Daily News was taken primarily from the Associated Press with a few tweaks. The story was not, however, attributed to the AP and I wonder if that is a violation of some journalism rule or ethic. One difference was the lede: “Seventeen-year-old Matt Shuda’s going to need a tux.? It was a little tease to keep reading instead of the standard 5W and how lede. It also included Shuda's name which the other lede did not. This is because the AP writes for a national scale while the Faribault News writes for local readers who may know Shuda. The article also quoted Shuda in addition to his parents, which may have been a perk for being a local writer. Other smaller differences were added pieces of information about Shuda that gave the article a more personal feel. For example, after noting that he favored Obama over McCain, the writer included that he could not vote yet.

A difference that catered to all Minnesotans was the information at the bottom of the page about how to get a ticket to the inaugural ball.

November 23, 2008

Shoppers Pay with Cash, Not Credit, this Holiday Season

Consumers, credit card companies and stores alike are all feeling the financial crunch this season, and seeing the buying trend as well: consumers are opting to buy with cash or debit cards as opposed to racking up their credit card bill.

A Reuters article wrote on this trend after the National Retail Federation's 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was taken by nearly 9,000 consumers earlier this month. This article acknowledges the trend that 64.3% of responders say they will use either cash or debit card to buy holiday gifts while only 31.5% will use credit cards. The article attributes this significant difference to the worsening economy and the rising prices of essential purchases like food. There is no room for extra payments and fees. The article suggests that high-end and low-end stores will be advertising bargains to cater to this situation. This article steers a little off topic when it talks about other results from the survey such as what categories of gifts are most popular this year.

An article taken from Yahoo! News also addresses this spending trend but does a better job at explaining the claim. Multiple large stores such as Target, WalMart and JCPenney are cited in the article as saying that this is the first year they've seen credit card usage drop. The article uses a personal narrative throughout the story to help the readers identify with one particular family who is cutting down spending this year. The article also talks about the trend through the eyes of middle-class stores such as JCPenneys that are seeing more purchases being made around the times that paychecks are received indicating that middle-class families are feeling the pinch as well. Finally, this article introduces the idea that this is a new way a spending that will settle in consumers much like it did with those after the Great Depression.

Screen Actors Guild Call for Strike Authorization

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the largest union for working and not working actors, asked its members for the authorization of a strike Saturday morning. The decision came after 2 days of mediated discussion between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The actors were attempting to negotiate their contracts with the producers regarding the use of television shows and movies on "new media", such as phones and the Internet. AMPTP wished to negotiate with actors in the same way that they already had with 6 other actors' unions but SAG refused the offer and terminated the discussions. The authorization of a strike would require 75% approval by responders in the guild and would take about 30 to 40 days to determine the verdict.

CNN covers this story in mediocre depth, explaining all of the details above and also pointing out the fact that if the strike happens, it won't be for awhile. The guild will have to advertise and campaign its efforts to its 120,000 members before asking for votes. CNN also casted doubt on the effort because Hollywood is still suffering from last year's writer's strike.

An article in the Boston Globe (taken from the Associated Press) gives all of the details stated above but explores each party's reasoning in a deeper way. This is helpful for those of us who do not know anything about the movie and television industry and may not be familiar with how actors' contracts should be arranged. The story quotes statements from both the actors' guild and the producers' union in defense of their own cases. The producers say they can't give SAG any more pay than they agreed to with other unions, especially now that the economy has worsened. The actors are concerned that residuals will be exterminated, which brings in a large percent of their salaries. This story gives the readers a greater understanding for why the two parties can't agree.

Denny Hecker Closes Six Auto Dealerships

Denny Hecker, who owned 18 auto dealerships in the Minneapolis area and surrounding suburbs, announced Friday that he is closing 6 dealerships immediately. The closure of these dealerships will result in over 400 lay-offs, which is nearly one-third of Hecker's total employment. In addition to the closures, Heckers announced that he has sold three more dealerships to private investors. Hecker explained the decision to the press, saying that "we found ourselves in the midst of a 'perfect storm' of economic bad news: a financial crisis on Wall Street, chaos in the housing market, consumer confidence at an all-time low and the sight of the Big 3 on their knees in Washington asking for a bailout loan."

The Kare 11 coverage is brief and seems to be written for those who want information quicly without having to read through an entire story to find the facts. Each stanza or paragraph of this article is only one sentence long, one of which is the strong quote from Hecker above. The only additional information in this article is a paraphrased statement from Hecker saying that he and his team will be working hard to create a more convenient consumer experience in the remaining dealerships. Another helpful part of this article is the bullet lists of the specific dealerships that are closed, sold or still in operation.

The Star Tribune article is clearly more representative of newspaper coverage when compared to the TV station's coverage. The article is a full-length story giving all the details stated aboe as well as introducing a new element. The article points out that the same day Hecker closed and sold the dealerships, he was filed suit against by General Motors. GM wants to bar him from selling Hyundai vehicles under the same roof as GM vehicles, as they are competitors. The article states early on that the two situations are not related in any way, however continues to dive into the GM suit for the majority of the article. Towards the end, the coverage reverts back to the closings which makes the flow seem off to me. GM spokepeople, Hecker, and Hecker's spokesperson are all quoted in the article.

November 16, 2008

More Than 1,600 Congo Children Separated from Parents

Fighting in eastern Congo has displaced more than 250,000 people from their homes. Approximately 70,000 of these refugees have gone to a camp in the city Kibati, only a few miles from more potential fighting. There was little fighting this week, allowing aid agencies to focus on the children in the camp, more than 1,600 of whom are separated from their parents. Agencies search for parents to the children and those children who are not claimed have been taken in by other families.

The ABC News coverage of this story, which was taken from the Associated Press, is lengthy and written through the eyes of on-the-scene reporters. The language is descriptive, and facts and quotes from UNICEF workers are merely secondary to the quotes from children and visual descriptions in the article. Children are described as grubby, as drinking muddy water out of streams, and as potential rape prey for drunken soldiers. The article uses these descriptions to pull the heartstrings of the reader and to do harsh reality justice. The article then points out that the agencies have difficulty because children can rarely describe their parents well and their are no official records in the Congo.

An article taken from the Detroit Free Press uses the same Associated Press article but in a much abbreviated version. An narrative opening is used but after that, the article compiles the facts and 5 Ws of the situation. The article does not paint the picture of the refugee camp nearly as well as it does in it's entirety. I attribute the usage of the smaller article to the fact that the Detroit Free Press is not as widely read as ABC News is. The Free Press may have an International section in its paper but will not go in depth on the stories like ABC as a main network does.

Endeavour Space Shuttle Docks Successfully

After a nighttime launch out of Cape Canaveral Friday, the US space shuttle, Endeavour, has successfully docked at the international space station located 220 miles above Earth. Christopher Ferguson, who commanded the flight, made a 360-degree back flip before docking so photographs of the shuttle's surface could be taken from inside the station. The photographs are used to search for any damage to the shuttle. Trouble with an antenna affecting radar earlier in the flight proved no serious problem in the docking process. The primary goal of this mission is to update and expand the living quarters in the station.

The Associated Press article that I originally read was very brief and covered only the facts stated in the above paragraph. The link was just now replaced and is now gone, which proves the point I was going to make about the brevity of the article. I was going to say that I attributed the short length of the article to the fact that this is a developing story that is constantly being updated and republished. (The link above is now the new article, long and more detailed, but I have continued to compare the next article to the shorter AP article).

The CNN article was much lengthier and provided a lot of valuable information to readers that are not familiar with space missions. The article addresses two potential problems that NASA specialists have seen (including the malfunctioning antenna), explains the problems they could pose, and labels them "not of great concern". The article also explains why the photographs of the shuttle are so important since a tear in one wing caused the destruction of the shuttle Columbia in 2003. Finally, the article details the mission more, explaining what will be added and updated. It also says that the crew came with a Thanksgiving feast on board (human interest factor).

Neither article provided any direct quotes greater than a partial quote from launch director Mike Leinbach.

Shakopee Valley Reporter's Husband Charged With Murder

A popular Shakopee Valley News reporter's husband was charged Friday with the second-degree murder of his wife. Charles Maddox Jr., 43, and Ruth Anne Maddox, 45, had been in the middle of divorcing. Charles Maddox Jr. reportedly turned police away multiple times on Tuesday before they brought a search warrant to the couple's Prior Lake home early Wednesday morning. He told the police exactly where Ruth Anne Maddox's body was located and police found her wrapped in a tent in the garage. Charles Maddox Jr. is now being held in the Scott County Jail and is facing up to 40 years in prison.

Suspicions arose among Ruth Anne Maddox's coworkers when they received a text message from her saying she would be late to work and, later, could not get a hold of her. She had previously expressed concerns for her safety in her home. Both articles reported that Ruth Anne Maddox's adult daughter had received text messages from Charles Maddox Jr. saying that he would never let Ruth Anne leave him.

MyFox Twin Cities
article was a brief coverage of the story which included all of the above information but not much else. The only quote in the story is what Charles Maddox told police, presumably from the criminal report. The article introduces the husband with a nickname of Tony and refers to him as that the remainder of the article. The article is separated into three parts under bold sub-headlines which helps with quick reading.

The Star Tribune
article was lengthier than the previous article and included many more details on the marriage and divorce of the couple due to an important source, Ruth Anne's sister, Amy Cobb. Ruth Anne's past and her local legacy are expressed in the article as well. Cobb is quoted along with Charles Maddox Jr.'s attorney. The attorney describes how Ruth Anne Maddox came after his client with a screwdriver and a knife. Overall, this story gives a much fuller view of the situation that unfolded.

November 8, 2008

Votes to be Recounted in Minnesota Senate Race

The race between Minnesota Republican Senatorial candidate Norm Colman and Minnesota Democratic Senatorial candidate Al Franken proved to be a tight one after Tuesday's voting results showed a minuscule separation of votes in favor of Norm Coleman. This small margin of separation falls within the State of Minnesota's mandatory recount law requiring a recount when the margin is less than one-half of 1 percent. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced that each result would be counted by hand starting November 19 and proceeding into December.

Norm Coleman has asked Al Franken to stand aside, assuming the victory as his own, but Franken is in favor of the recount saying "candidates don't get to decide when an election's over -- voters do."

An article from the Washington Post gives all of these details and attributes Ritchie as saying the recount would be finished by Dec. 19. This article does not include quotes from Coleman asking Franken to stand aside. The article makes note of two other Senatorial races that are being recounted: in Georgia and in Alaska.

An article from MyFox Twin Cities portrays Franken as determined with his voting quote mentioned above, but also quotes him saying that if he lost after the recount, "I'll be the first to congratulate Senator Coleman." This article also makes note of the fact that there was record turnout in the state of Minnesota.

A third article took on another aspect of this story. Minnesota Public Radio focused on the cost of the recount for Minnesota. Mark Ritchie announced on Wednesday that the recount would cost at least $90,000.

The major difference in these articles is the fact that the Post article said the vote margin was 239 in favor of Coleman while MyFox said the margin was 236 in favor of Coleman.