Free entertainment for holiday fun

This is a feature story published right before thanksgiving holidays on Star Tribune.


It is a consumer guide feature that provides advises of free interesting holiday activities for people live in the metro area.


The feature properly uses a short-form structure, dividing the optional activities into separate units with subtitles. This is pretty easy to read and satisfies the audiences' short attention spans.


Also, it provides timely and effective information with tight writing for the audience.


While giving useful information in each unit, I do think that it is necessary to add some more details about the activities.


Another thing I think is not good is that the design and layout of the feature is really boring. It would be much better to attach pictures and patterns around each unit to make it more attractive and unique.

Kobe Bryant Doesn't Want Your Love

Bryant, written by Mike Sager for the Esquire.


Based on five days spending with Bryant, Sager conducts a story of him, who Sager described as "the most misunderstood figures in sports today."


Sager clearly organizes the story by different topics. He conveys three main aspects -career, family and public image -- of Bryant in three different scenes.


Another good thing about the profile is writing in the first person. Because it could bring the audiences close to the subject - a celebrity that is far away from our daily life -- and attract people's attention.


I think the first paragraph of the story didn't conduct very well, compiling too many details without showing the name, which just makes it awkward.


But the details work pretty well in the photo-taking story, which Sager brings a great amount of conversation between Bryant and his wife.

Rules to Eat By

Rules to Eat By is a trend feature written by Michael Pollan for the New York Times. The story talks about the food issue that people are misguided by the "dazzling food science" conveyed by marketers, government and experts in the current market.


The feature applies a traditional structure, arranging the author's viewpoint into a logical order.


The article can be divided into two parts. In the first half, Pollan points out that the so-called "food science," even published by the nutritionists, is undependable. And the rest suggests that we'd better rely on the "popular wisdom," which is the way we used before, to choose food and stay healthy.


I think Pollan organizes the story pretty well by using the rhetoric question and second-person writing style.


He raises questions in the beginning of each part and gives the answer in the followings. This approach drives the audiences' interests, makes them feel as if they are pursuing the answer themselves, which is particularly useful when dealing with the issues in people's daily life


One problem in the second half of the feature is that it is too abstract for just saying "we relied on culture" and "ruls of thumb about eating that have been passed down in our families or plucked from the cultural conversation."


I think that it would be more convincing for providing specific examples, just as Pollan conducted in the first half of the story.

The Star Tribune reported Sunday that the state officials claimed that the cost of the Mn/DOT project Northern Lights Express from Minneapolis to Duluth has risen to $990 million, more than double last year's $360 million estimate.


"We've come up with what many might call a worst-case scenario," said Mn/DOT project manager Dave Christianson.


The state government is now competing with 40 states for getting up to 80 percent of the cost cover with federal funds.


The NLX project team will conduct public open house meetings in Hinckley, Cambridge, Coon and Superior. The first meeting will be held at Cambridge's Armed Forces Reserve Community Center at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.


The WDIO reported Nov.13 that consultant for NLX claimed $550 million budget for the project, which is much less than the one claimed by Mn/DOT consultant.


Gary Cerkvenik, a consultant for NLX, was interviewed by the WDIO report.

"They [consultants for Mn/DOT] think we need to double track 150 miles, " Cerkvenik said. "We really only need to double track 100 miles."

4 Wash. police officers killed in "execution"

The MSNBC reported Sunday that four uniformed police officers were shot and killed in a coffee shop in Parkland, Wash., Sunday morning. The Pierce County Sheriff's officials identified the attack as a "targeted ambush."


The sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said the suspect fled the scene on foot and might be hurt by a return shot from one of the victims.


Troyer said the victims were from the Lakewood Police Department. Their names will be released after all their families are notified.

The police are trying to reconstruct the crime by interviewing all the witnesses in the cafe at the time. No one else was hurt.


The gunman was a "scruffy-faced black man in his 20s or 30s, 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 10 and wearing a black jacket over a gray hooded sweatshirt, and blue jeans," according to the MSNBC.


Maurice Clemmons, a man with previous criminal record with police, is identified as "person of interest" by authorities.


The Seattle Times reported Sunday that Clemmons was just released one week ago after several months' jail for "the child-rape charge."


The article pointed out that Clemmons has a long criminal history "includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington."


The MSNBC also noticed that the police haven't found it any connection with the Seattle police shooting on Halloween night. 

Obama plans to "finish the job" in Afghanistan

The New York Times reported Tuesday that President Barack Obama would announce his new strategy of the Afghanistan war Dec. 1, increasing over 30,000 troops to "finish the job" of this eight-year war.


The president said the new strategy would focus on civilian and diplomatic efforts.

"One of the things I'm going to be discussing is the obligations of our international partners," he said.


Bruce Riedel, who conducted Obama's first Afghan-Pakistan policy review in March, said that he is not expected huge change in the new plan.


The article pointed out that the president's new troop decision might increase the controversy about the financial concern of the U.S. government.


"The White House estimating it will cost $1 million per year for each additional soldier sent to Afghanistan," according the Times.


The National Post reported Monday that the government might plan to call for a war tax to support the cost of the president's new troop decision.


Reps. David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said rich Americans should be taxed to pay more for the Afghanistan war.


He told the ABC News reporter that "there ain't going to be no money for nothing if we pour it all into Afghanistan."