May 7, 2007

The Future of Journalism

As society continues to advance in its dependency of technology, it only seems logical that more and more professional journalism careers will be based online. For instance, a local Minneapolis magazine known as Pulse is no longer being distributed in a physical format and will only be available online. Does this mean that the credibility of journalistic writing will lose its place in the media and slowly become discredited? Is it possible for such downfalls to occur?

Newswriting for myself has always embodied this ideal of publication in a physical and tangible format that is easily available to the mass public. An open forum such as the Internet which allows for any individual to post material could potentially be dangerous to the future of journalism and news media. Bloggers and individuals that report on the media are gaining substantial attention and criticism from the general public which could potentially leave journalists wondering why so many perceive them to be lacking in credibility and knowledge of prominant political and social issues.

April 25, 2007

Accessing Public Documents

Walking into the University of Minnesota Police Department on campus, I was met by a consultant/secretary behind a glass window and I asked to see the most recent crime-incident reports and was handed a packet of papers that I sifted through. I found several police reports of theft on campus and consumption of alcohol by a minor and even came across the bomb threat that occurred earlier last week on campus in Smith hall.

Before I was handed the police reports I was asked what my intentions were for accessing these documents. I responded on my own accord even though I knew it wasn't necessary. After I paged through weeks worth of police reports in search of suicide attempts or anything related to student suicide rates, I found two incident reports and had the secretary make photocopies for me. However, before he did he asked my name and recorded it in a book. I assume the police department keeps note of anyone who requests to look at public documents for reasons of suspicion since it seems like a fairly uncommon thing to do. I was given the name and number of Deputy Chief Steve Johnson however, who I was told would have documents concerning student suicide rates.

The two crime-incident reports that I photocopied were interesting to read through.
----the identities of the individuals who reported the suspicious note found in a men's restroom were released in the report which was described as a bomb threat on campus April 18th.
----the other was a report of disorderly conduct outside Sgt Preston's Bar after close on April 19th.
the name of the individual that was arrested is released along with his age, birth date, gender, and the crime that he was charged with.

April 22, 2007

Fatal Shooting on Metro Transit Bus

Early Sunday morning, a 16-year-old boy was shot to death on a Metro Transit bus in St. Paul said police spokesman Tom Walsh. Police are still investigating whether the shooting was gang-related and have uncertainties as to the details of the event. Homicide detectives are reviewing security tapes to uncover more about the identity of the suspect.

The Associated Press article which was published in the Pioneer Press is brief yet descriptive and is a template for the article that Anthony Lonetree wrote for the Star Tribune. Both articles face challenges as it is difficult to report on an issue with immediacy and contribute valuable information when little investigation has occured. For instance, the Star Tribune article is clear in identifying on which route the shooting occured and which steets the bus was crossing when this fatal event took place.

The Associated Press attributes a newsworthy/admirable quote to Metro Transit Police Chief Dave Indrehus:

"The death of this young man on board a Metro Transit vehicle is tragic and appalling. Unfortunately, life on the bus reflects life on the streets. Nationally, and even here at home, we've experienced acts of outrageous violence in recent weeks," Indrehus said.

To a certain degree, Anthony Lonetree's article in the Star Tribune offers a slightly more descriptive view of the shooting with greater details which is to be expected if the Associated Press article is what this journalist was working from to create his own story. However, both outline the incident and highlight the death of the 16-year-old as the most prominent and newsworthy event by placing it at the top of the story.

April 1, 2007

Give Your Children to the Government

The Senate approved a $1 Billion tax increase which would ultimately tag Minnesota with the highest state income tax in the nation. This issue has spiraled into a showdown with Gov. Tim Pawlenty who had proposed to keep taxes down. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller argued that,

"Years of budget tightening and earlier tax cuts aimed at the rich have harmed the middle class and brought the state to a crossroads."
This quote was cleverly followed up by Sen. Ray Vandeveer who said,
"Parents, turn your children over to us. You might as well, you're not going to have any money yourself to take care of them."
This article which was printed in the Star Tribune outlines the specifics of the bill and Pawlenty's opposition to it. It is clear in offering specifics when referencing the numbers and financial jargon that could easily loose some readers.

In the article Minnesota's wealthiest may be facing nation's highest tax rate, far less background information and detail is provided. It is written using similar facts and figures and both underline Pawlenty's opposition. However, the article printed in the Pioneer Press written by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger does not offer commentary from Senators or even a reference as to what this money is intended to be used for. It lacks depth but is concise and conveys the basic necessary information.

February 19, 2007

Stories don't jibe in baby's death

In The Pioneer Press article by Mara H. Gottfried, police find conflicting stories over the death of an infant. According to the parents, 15-month-old Destiny fell from a bed. However, an autopsy has revealed that she was struck in the torso and died from internal injuries. Her father is being charged with second-degree unintentional murder.

This same event was covered in the Star Tribune by Paul Gustafson. An entirely new perspective and viewpoint emerges with this article. The 18-year-old parents provide different stories about her death and the newest dealt with the father, Beauford Jackson, running down the stairs with her when she hit her head on the overhang and fell down the steps.

For some reason, the article in the Star Tribune provides a bit more of a raw look at the conflict in stories and avoids confusion by not indulging in the blurry court cases and past stories of their messy lives. I can undoubtedly see why this event was covered by both newspapers for its intriguing element of crime and suspense that essentially makes any story newsworthy.

February 12, 2007

Twins catcher gets $33 Million

In an article from the Star Tribune this Sunday, it was reported that Twins catcher Joe Mauer signed a four-year, 33 Million contract. This alone was the second biggest contract deal in franchise history behind the contract offered to Johan Santana in 2005 which guaranteed him 4 years and $40 Million.

Joe Christensen, a journalist for the Star Tribune, is faced with outlining the history of this young Twin's catcher while also comparing his contract and financial future to that of the other players. This article however does not have an entising lead and does not comment on the new ballpark that is scheduled to open in 2010 when Mauer's contract ends.

This event was also covered on the Official Major League Baseball website and offers commentary from the head coach Terry Ryan while also providing a slightly more interesting lead. The future of this young athlete is promising and the positive spin that this article takes represents that idea.

February 4, 2007

Taxi Driver Killed

A cab driver died after he suffered from multiple gun shot wounds in his car in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis. The driver, 46, was an employee of Green and White Taxi and was found outside Brook Haven apartments at 3911 65th Ave. N. at 3:45 am.

Randy Furst, a writer for the Star Tribune, reported on this event in much greater detail than the AP article that was printed in the Pioneer Press. Furst established his place of employment, the exact location, and offers substantial quotes and attribution. His lead is well-written in that it highlights the primary issue which in this case is one man's death. Reporting on an event that happend only 12-hours ago can have its struggles. This writer did well with the information that was available and approached the event with a more complete story than the article that was published in the Pioneer Press.

Below are both articles in their entirety:

Continue reading "Taxi Driver Killed" »

January 27, 2007

Cigarette Smokin' No More

smoking on stage.jpg

The Minnesota legislature is currently reviewing a bill that would ban smoking in public places throughout the state. This bill would enhance the Clean Air Act of '63 which strives to limit the amount of pollution in the environment. However, Indian reservations and Casinos would be exempt from this new bill while all other restaurants and bars would have to comply.

This news story was covered by the Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press both of which approached the story with contrasting levels of clarity and depth. Mark Brunswick, the author of the story printed in the Star Tribune, outlined the effects of such a bill and the details of the statewide smoking ban that could potentially transform the atmosphere of restaurants and bars within Minnesota.

In a related article that I found while reading Friday's issue of the Wall Street Journal, a study revealed that nearly 40,000 Americans smoke while 400,000 people a year die of a smoking related illness.

Continue reading "Cigarette Smokin' No More" »