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December 14, 2008

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.

December 7, 2008

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.

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.

November 23, 2008

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.

November 16, 2008

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.

November 8, 2008

Thousands to Resume Search for Missing Girl

After stopping in September due to high waters in certain areas, the search for missing child Caylee Anthony of Orange County California is back on beginning Saturday. More than 3,000 volunteers are expected to join Texas EquuSearch in this weekend to search for the remains of Caylee, who is believed to be dead after disappearing in mid-June. Caylee's mother, 22-year-old Casey Anthony, is suspected of murdering her young daughter.

Two of the news articles covering this story showed very different takes on the coverage. The article published in the Chicago Tribune but taken from the Orlando Sentinel is based primarily on the actual search event that resumed this weekend. The article describes how volunteers met at a local nightclub, owned by the attorney of Caylee's grandparents, and listened as EquuSearch workers instructed them on how to safely conduct their searches. The story included quotes from EquuSearch founder, Tim Miller, who warned that this was about finding the little girl, not about voicing opinions and attitudes about the case or the family. The article listed address of departure for the search and also noted that the volunteers would be searching for another woman who disappeared in January of 2006. The content of this article reflects that it was written first in a newspaper that is local to the action.

The FOX News coverage focused much more on the findings of the case so far than on the search, even though the search was the headline of the article. The article focuses on the how attorneys wish to stop the release of information in the case, but then details documents that were released on Thursday. The documents quotes Caylee's grandfather saying that he believes Caylee's dead body was transported in the back of his daughter's car. The article also introduces that a friend of Casey Anthony's is filing suit against her for check fraud which is unrelated to the murder case. This story, which is viewed by a national audience, focused less on the search itself than on the drama of the murder case of a child.

A major discrepancy: FOX News said Caylee was 3 years olf, while the Chicago Tribune said she was 2 years old. The confusion may be from the fact that she had her birthday since she's been missing and is presumably dead.

November 2, 2008

FDA Questioned About Safety of Plastics

The Food and Drug Administration's assurance that the chemical bisphenol A that is safe is being questioned by a panel of experts. Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in plastic food storage containers, baby bottles, water bottles and other plastics and is said to mimic estrogen causing premature puberty and increasing the risk of cancer. The expert panel, which was commissioned by the FDA's Science Board to review the findings that BPA poses no immediate risk to consumers, claims that not all of the necessary studies were reviewed before this assurance was reported. According to an FDA spokesperson, the FDA has until February of 2009 to respond to the panel's request that additional studies be done.

The coverages of this story are significantly different. CNN is very specific about who is challenging who. They quote the chairman of the expert panel, the spokesperson of the FDA, the commissioner of the FDA, as well as their website and the report of the panel. The article brings up that point that some groups are thin the FDA should ban the use of this chemical while it's safety is in question like Canada has done, but the FDA claims that Canada is being overly cautious when they have no proof to be so. The article uses the commissioner's quote to show that the FDA is committed to critically analyzing the situation and taking action from there.

The coverage by CBS News takes to a different branch of this story, focusing on how BPA is dangerous in the development of babies. This article borrows from many sources including the Associated Press, a doctor on CBS' The Early Show, a Congresswoman who supports the expert panel report, and a consumer activist. The main focus is on the babies and the FDA's incomplete research of the chemical. WHat I most appreciated about this article, however, was the fact that they referred to the panel of experts as an "independent panel of scientific advisers" and "outside advisers" which was helpful in understanding that they were not part of the FDA, but appointed by the FDA to review the findings. This was a little unclear in the first article.

October 26, 2008

Arkansas Anchorwoman Dies After Beating

Anne Pressly, a 26-year-old Arkansas anchorwoman, died Saturday after being found brutally beaten in her home Monday morning. Pressly's mother, Patti Cannady, found her daughter after Pressly had neglected to answer her regular wake-up call. She was found a half an hour before she was supposed to appear on KATV's "Daybreak" TV program. KATV is an affiliate of ABC broadcast out of Little Rock, Arkansas. The attack is being investigated but has been considered to be random so far.

Pressly suffered injuries to her head, neck and face. She was kept sedated all week and was unable to communicate with police or her family. Pressly died at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center just a day after doctors encouraged that her vital signs were stable while she was in critical condition.

The majority of articles covering this story are from the Associated Press. These reports, such as that from AOL News, disclose all of the above information as well as a statement from her parents that was released after they asked for privacy in their time of grievance. The coverage notes that Pressly received a 7-minute on-air dedication during Saturday's nightly newscast on KATV. Sources for this story include a hospital spokesperson, the doctor treating Pressly, another KATV anchor, police reports and the statement from Pressly's parents.

ABC News covered the main facts of the story and then delved much deeper into motive for the beating. The article included statements from both Pressly's parents and the KATV staff. In addition, KATV's president described the scene when Pressly's mother went to the house. The story cites the Associated Press saying that the stalking due to her high-profile job has not been ruled out. Robbery is also a suspected motive due to the fact that Pressly's purse cannot be found. A former FBI agent says the signs of repeated beating indicates a suspect with an obsession. The story briefly describes two other similar cases when anchorwoman disappeared or were killed due to suspected stalkers.

October 19, 2008

Caskets Washed Away After the Waters of Hurricane Ike

An estimated 200 caskets buried in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Texas were washed out of location by the storms of Hurricane Ike last month. Of the unearthed caskets, about 80% of them had suffered the same fate just three years earlier in Hurricane Rita and had been reburied since then. Volunteer search teams scour marshes and grassy bogs for the coffins. When recovered, the coffins will need to be reburied and the estimated reburial cost is $100,000. There is no suggestion as to who will cover this cost.

The two articles I reviewed of this story were very different in style, but similar in sentiment. The CNN article from the Associated Press begins with a narrative of Joe Johnson, a funeral director in search of a specific pink coffin. The article expands to give the numeral facts of the story and also to introduce a specific woman who is missing nine deceased relatives, three of whom had been washed out by Rita as well. The story discusses the search processes and includes quotes from a coroner, funeral director and a personal testimonial. The story ends with the option of higher-ground burial or deeper burial.

The second article, from a local news source to the affected Louisiana area, KPLC 7 News covers the same family who is missing nine family members, but takes it a step further. The story explains why the loss is especially hard since one of the "cousins" whose casket is lost died in 2005 in an unresolved murder. The family is quoted saying that it is like bringing up the horror of her death all over again. The hard facts of the casket story are presented but they are secondary to the personal narrative of the family.

There is a discrepancy between how many family members are missing between the two articles. The first says nine and the second says "about eight".

October 12, 2008

2,000 Acres Burned Northeast of Los Angeles

A wildfire started in the early hours of Sunday morning 20 miles outside of downtown Los Angeles and was declared 20 percent contained on Sunday night. Over 2,000 acres were charred and over 1,200 people have been evacuated from their homes. Around 1,000 people have been fighting the fire, with helicopters and planes dumping water to help. This fire has come close to Wildlife Waystation, a non-profit animal sanctuary and rehabilitation facility, and the animals are being loaded up in case there is a need to evacuate. Gusts are expected to pick up in the night and still pose a threat for another flame-up.There have been no reports of serious injuries so far.

Both the ABC News and CNN articles are fairly similar since they both draw from the Associated Press. The CNN story was released earlier and had a much smaller number for burned acreage The main difference is that CNN talks about a separate wildfire that burned 300 acres in Napa Valley. This fire started Friday afternoon when a car struck a rock, sending sparks. The fire was contained by Sunday morning and the 100 people that had evacuated were allowed home. One home was burned.

Both articles quoted U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea and Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Ron Haralson. The quote from Florea saying "It burned right down to a couple of neighborhoods" is comfusing to me and would have been excluded if it were my choice. Did it burn down the neighborhoods or just come close to them?

October 5, 2008

O.J. Simpson: Sentenced by Vengeance?

O.J. Simpson was found guilty Friday of 12 charges in a case of armed robbery in a hotel room. The verdict was delivered to Simpson and another defendant,Clarence Stewart, exactly 13 years after Simpson's controversial acquittal of murder charges. Simpson and Stewart face up to life in prison. The story is not the assurance that he is going to prison but the question of whether or not the jury came to this verdict based on their feelings about Simpson from the murder trial 13 years ago.

FOX News covered this story at great length and used it as their top story in national news this week. Their coverage really utilizes quotes to build all angles of the story. Those quoted include: Simpson's lawyer, Simpson's friend, a man who drafted a questionnaire in order to choose to jury, the father of one of the victim's from the murder trial, and O.J. Simpson himself. The report explains the scenario of the hotel crime in great detail. It also profiles the jurors themselves, since there is a lot of controversy around whether there was bias in their decision.

The CNN coverage focuses just on the profiles of the jurors. The story is written in bullet-point format describing the findings of the 116-question questionnaire that they took before the trial and completed with the promise of giving Simpson a fair trial. Some significant finding are as follows: 11 jurors were white and one was Hispanic, all jurors had heard of Simpson and were familiar with his previous trial, and 5 jurors believed the previous verdict was wrong.

September 28, 2008

Medevac Helicopter Crash in Maryland Kills 4

A medical evacuation helicopter transporting 2 car accident victims crashed in a suburban Maryland park early Sunday morning. The pilot, paramedic, emergency medical technician, and one of the injured were killed in the crash. The other car accident victim survived the crash and is in the hospital in critical condition. The evacuation helicopter, which is a service of the Maryland State Police, was originally on a 25-mile trip from the scene of the car accident in Charles County, Maryland to the Price George's Hospital when it decided to land at a closer runway to due bad weather. Radio contact was lost and the wreckage was found 2 hours later.

Both CNN and FOX News covered the story at different depths and lengths. Both sources included quotes from Terrance Sheridan, the superintendent of the Maryland State Police, on the devastation on the families and on the police force.

The Fox News story went much further in depth on the history of medevac helicopters and the free service they provide. It documented all of the previous crashes since the system was developed and crashes in other states as well. This touches on the issue of whether medical transportation by air is really the safest option.

FOX News also included a quote from the aunt of the medical technician,making the coverage a more emotional story.

The biggest discrepancy is the age of the car-accident victim who was killed. CNN reports that she was 17-years-old while FOX News says she was 18.

September 21, 2008

Bull Chase in the Streets of Queens, New York

The New York Police Department was led on a 14-hour chase beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and ending at 10:20 p.m. the same night. They were not chasing a car, however. The police were tracking down a bull that had escaped from an unknown location and was running loose on the streets of Queens. The bull disappeared for most of the day after the first sighting but then reappeared just before 10:00 p.m. when it struck a police car. An officer with prior animal training lassoed the large animal and tranquilized it before giving it over to the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC). The bull died an hour later. There have been no reports of what the cause of death was so far.

Surprisingly, there were a variety of sources that covered this incident to some extent. It is not a typical news story; it doesn't affect many people or involve prominent figures. This story is news simply because it's bizarre.

FOX News used a brief Associated Press report of the incident for their coverage. The story paraphrases quotes from an NYPD spokesperson and the CACC spokesperson, Richard Gentles but includes no direct quotes.

The New York Post coverage of the story included all the details of the chase including the start and end times, the exact locations of the capture and the purpose of the CACC. Also included is a direct quote from Richard Gentles. It's possible that the story was more detailed in the New York Post due to the locality of the story.

September 14, 2008

Friday's Fatal Metrolink Train Collision - Los Angeles

Friday's train crash between a Metrolink passenger train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles has resulted in 25 deaths and 135 injuries, including over 30 that are critical. The incident is the nation's deadliest train wreck in 15 years. The cause of the crash has been identified by Metrolink as Robert Sanchez, the Metrolink train's engineer, going through a red light earlier on the tracks. Both FOX News and the Los Angeles Times, however, cite multiple sources who believe that Metrolink has jumped to conclusions in blaming Sanchez without investigating other possible causes.

The FOX News coverage has good quotes with Metrolink spokespersons, relief workers and those personally affected by the fatalities. The main draw of the article that differs from the LA Times coverage is the rumor that Sanchez had been texting a teenage train enthusiast while operating the train, sending one message just a minute before the crash. None of this has been verified, but FOX includes a quote from the teenager who was supposedly on the other end of the messages. This seems like a more fantastical approach to the facts of the sullen story. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,421801,00.html

The LA Times article also has multiple sources who give good quotes on the incident including Metrolink spokespersons, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, and those personally affected by the fatalities. The focus of the LA Times article is not on the texting aspect like FOX. The LA Times reports that an alarm was sent to a dispatcher to alert the Metrolink conductor of the oncoming train, but it was too late. This fact was not mentioned in the previous article. The LA Times also includes more coverage and quotes on individuals who died, perhaps because it is local to the crash. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-traincrash15-2008sep15,0,4447318.story?page=1