April 17, 2007

Massacre at Virginia Tech

VIRGINA massacre.jpg

Cho Seung-hui was identified as the "lone gunman" suspected of killing 32 people in the nation's deadliest school shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia Monday. It was revealed that two people were shot dead in a dormitory yearly yesterday and hours later 30 were found dead in Norris Hall while 29 others remain injured. Shortly after the shooting, the gunman committed suicide.

In an article printed in the New York Times, Roommates describe gunman as a loner, Marc Santora takes a personal stance on the issue by providing critical commentary from students and professors that knew the gunman. Although it is insightful and newsworthy to provide background on the shooter is is simply a narrative of his reputation on campus and does not fully indulge in the greater details and aftermath of the shooting. It also seems as though a majority of the quotes are unnecessary and say little about the man behind this bloody rampage.

In contrast, in an article on the Virginia Tech Shooter found on offers a more critical analysis of this 23-year-old English major who was seen as a loner and had a reputation for writing graphic and disturbing stories while at the University.

"It was like something out of a nightmare," McFarland wrote in a blog. "The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of. "

This article also touches on the fact that there were previous bomb threats that occured no more than a month ago and that the intricate details of the aftermath that followed yesterday's shooting and the severity of the massacre that the New York Times article doesn't even attempt to touch on. It is striking and absurd to consider that, ""There wasn't a shooting victim that didn't have less than three bullet wounds in them," said Dr. Joseph Cacioppo of Montgomery Regional Hospital. Overall the complexity and newsworthiness of the information provided in the article from is far more informative and insightful than the narrative style of Marc Santora's article which barely touches on the greater issues at hand.

April 8, 2007

Primitive ideas, Cavemen and a Comic at Hart

Johnny Hart, the creater of the award winning comic strip B.C., died today at the age of 76. His wife reported that he had a stroke while at the drawing board. His comics were centered around prehistoric cavemen and his innate desire to incorporate religious themes and evolutionary thought into his work. The AP article that was printed in USA today describes Hart as a well-respected cartoonist. Since he began the comic stip in '58, his work expanded and his popularity awarded him space in more than 1,300 newspapers and an audience that reached nearly 100 million.

In an interview with Johnny Hart a few years back, journalist Robert Doolan questions the cartoonist where the religious themes come from and about his continual questioning of creation and evolution. Although the focus of this article is not on Hart's death it is with timeliness and prominence that I am choosing to feature this alongside the AP article on his death today. Both portray Hart in a positive light and acknowledge his comic stip that had award winning acclaim and popularity in America for nearly 50 years.

March 24, 2007

Rat Poison Found in Pet Food

The poison, aminopterin, was detected in nearly 90 brands of wet food distributed by Menu Foods this past week which resulted in a recall of nearly 60 million cans of food from December to March. The New York State department of Agriculture and markets said, "The substance, a derivative of folic acid, was used in past decades to treat cancer and to induce abortions." Paul K. Henderson, the chief executive of Menu Foods apologized publicly to the owners of those pets that purchased the contaminated food but did not claim that the company was negligent for this rare occurance. Journalist Katie Zezima reported for the New York Times on this issue.

An Associated Press article, Rat Poison Found in Recalled Pet Food, outlines the issues with Menu Foods but does not offer the extensive list of quotes and attribution that the N.Y. Times article did. This synopsis is far shorter and lacks interest. There does not seem to be a clearly identifiable angle or an emphasis on the controversy of the situation where as the N.Y. Times article hints at the fact that this could be a case of sabotage. Zezima, reporting for the N.Y. Times, identifies the underlying conflict between the pet owners and the company Menu Foods while the other article addresses it but does not offer commentary from officials or the consumers.

March 5, 2007

the battle for the first black president

Jeff Zeleny, a writer for the New York Times, submitted an article on the battle that Barack Obama is fighting in order to become the nation's first black president. This upcoming presidential election will pose several new struggles for the nation as both of the primary Democratic opponents are of a race and gender that has never been a part of the U.S. Presidency. This article focuses on the battle between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama as they compete in the upcoming election.

A similar event involving both of these candidates is reviewed in the Pioneer Press by Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press. The article, Clintons, Obama honor activists in Selma, emphasizes how both candidates are focusing on the issues of race and gender in America. However, I think the first article provides beneficial quotes and commentary from well respected officials, this article seems to have more to say and the author deals with the struggles of running in the same political campaign.

February 26, 2007

79th Academy Awards


This is an image of best supporting actress nominee Rinko Kikuchi in best picture nominee "Babel." Several newspapers such as the NY Times and the Star Tribune are offering up to the minute coverage of this awards ceremony tonight. One of the top stories this far is Alan Arkin's win for supporting-actor in "Little Miss Sunshine." The Star Tribune ran an article on Arkin's win and the respect that this smaller film has received.

The New York Times is also offering complete coverage on the oscar nominees, red carpet fashion, and the final question of who will win the oscar for best motion picture of the year.

February 19, 2007

mummified body found in front of blaring t.v.

In an article from the Associated Press printed in the Star Tribune, it was stated that a 70-year-old man's body was found partially mummified and sitting in front of a t.v. that was still on. Vicenzo Ricardo is thought to have died from natural causes and died more than one year ago. When the police found his body, his facial features and parts of his hair were preserved from the dry air in the house. Police authorities only found his body because there was a report of a broken water pipe.

This same event was covered by and lacks clarity and detail and does not offer added commentary like the other article. However, it makes up for these elements by offering footage of the investigative report which can be seen by following the above link. There is no author attributed to this article but varies slightly from the AP article printed in the Star Tribune. Here is an ironic statement taken from the article:

Neighbors said when they had not seen Ricardo, who was diabetic and had been blind for years, they assumed he was in the hospital or a long-term care facility.

February 11, 2007

Tabloid Superstar Dies

The Associated Press released an article on February 9th concerning the death of a reality show subject, playboy centerfold and weightloss spokeswoman.

Anna Nicole Smith, a former tabloid superstar, died thursday after collapsing in her hotel at the age of 39. She was found unresponsive in her sixth-floor room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino when a private nurse called 911. The cause of death is still under investigation said Edwina Johnson, chief investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office. However it is likely that her death was drug related as she struggled throughout her life with alcohol and drugs.

Smith was famous for being famous, a pop-culture punch line because of her up-and-down weight, her Marilyn Monroe looks, her exaggerated curves, her little-girl voice, her ditzy-blonde persona and her over-the-top revealing outfits.

In my opinion, the Associated Press uses vibrant language to describe Anna Nicole Smith and portrays her as she was seen by the press: a sleazy tabloid icon that led a tragically messy life.

full article here

In an article printed in the N.Y. Times by James Barron, greater detail about the autopsy and is overall much more concise and adequately structured. These few differences could however be entirely due to strict deadlines and the pressure to release an article as soon as the news breaks. Also, this more lengthy article that the N.Y. Times published was printed the day after her death while the AP article was printed on the same day she was found unconscious.

February 4, 2007

Raise the Wage

Below is a brief follow-up to the article I read last week on plans to increase minimum wage over two years.

Jim Kuhnhenn, a journalist at the Star Tribune, wrote on the symbolic consequences of this bill and the ways in which it could benefit working class citizens. In addition to raising minimum wage to 7.25 an hour, there will be considerable tax cuts for small businesses and restrictions on on corporate pay. One of the most critical reasons for approving this bill can be summed up in a quote by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

"Passing this wage hike represents a small but necessary step to help lift America's working poor out of the ditches of poverty and onto the road toward economic prosperity."

After reading the article in its entirety, I got the impression that the journalist, along with a majority of Democrats in the Senate, views the tax cuts as an unnecessary addition. Although there is a small excerpt that establishes small businesses as the backbone of our economy, the author leaves the reader with the question of whether or not these business incentives are truly worth while.

Here is the link to the full version of this article:

On Friday, the Pioneer Press printed a similar article that took a far more negative spin on the issue. Marilyn Geewax emphasizes the concern over small business tax cuts and which significantly overshadows the newly approved minimum wage increase. Her approach on this issue contrasts that of Jim Kuhnhenn’s and in my opinion focuses more on the relevance of tax breaks for small businesses and what it means with respect to the increase in minimum wage.

Here is the link to the full article: Senate OKs $7.25-an-hour rate for minimum wage

Continue reading "Raise the Wage" »

January 29, 2007

Minimum Wage Increase Hits Snag

Here is a brief synopsis of an article I read in the Star Tribune on Jan. 25th:

Policymakers argued over the newly proposed bill that would not only raise minimum wage but guarantee tax breaks in order to ensure Republican support. The Senate voted 54-43 in favor of passing the bill that would increase the pay floor without the accompanying tax cut. However, a minimum of 60 votes was required for this version of the bill to pass. Representatives of the Senate ultimately sided with a broader version of the bill that was backed by the Democrats that would raise minimum wage to 7.25 an hour over 26 months and provide $8.3 billion in tax benefits to businesses over 10 years.

In the Pioneer Press, I found a similar article reporting on the issue of increasing minimum wage and the bill's failing efforts. However, the Pioneer Press article lacked depth and clarity and did not directly address the issues at hand. It provided the reader with the idea that the bill wasn’t passed because the Democrats viewed it as a “poison pill? and for the reason that several states already have a wage floor higher than the Federal minimum.

Reporting on this issue has its challenges. For instance, the approach that the Star Tribune took may have offered more depth yet left me feeling disjointed and a bit confused. It sounds as though minimum wage will increase over a period of 26 months by $2.10 but at the same time this article reports on the failures of this newly proposed bill and how the U.S. Senate has not approved it. For those reasons, this article seems as though it was written for a general public with previous knowledge and exposure to the bill and its proposed implications. As for the article posted in the Pioneer Press, it was prompt and achieved its goal in informing the public that the bill wasn't passed. However, it lacked intrigue and didn't indulge the reader in any greater conversation about minimum wage and what the implications of these failing efforts could lead to in the near future.