April 6, 2007

Story Idea

There is a growing debate on whether or not open enrollment should be allowed in high school today for the purposes of extra curricular activities. While many students open enroll for academic opportunities, many abuse the system so they can take part in a schools athletic programs. There is a proposed change to the open enrollment system that would not let not allow an athlete to participate in a schools varsity programs for one year after enrollment. This would cut down on athletes switching schools solely for the athletic benefits. However, not everyone is in support of this change. Many argue that some students transfer schools for athletic reasons simply because they are from a small town and they would not otherwise have the opportunity to play that particular sport. This is a heated debate and would be a great story idea to look at both sides of the argument.

Possible Interviews:

Apple Valley High School Athletic Director Scott Larson : 952-431-8218

Kevin Merkle - Associate Director of MSHSL 763-560-2262 ex 484

John Millea Star Tribune Prep Sports writer: (612) 673-4000

March 25, 2007

Misteps found in Pat Tillman Case

A probe found missteps found in the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman and there should be people held accountable for his death. Pat Tillman was a former NFL linebacker who turned down a multi-million dollar contract extension to enter the Army.

This article was covered in the Star Tribune. The article was very well written with a very concise lead. The article covers all of the necessary ground. There is no kind of quotes in the article at all. Quotations would definitely add to the article. Also, a little background information about Tillman would be helpful as well.

This news event was also covered in the San Francisco Chronicle. This story also has a very strong lead, much like the Tribune article. The lead entices the reader to read on. Furthermore, the Chronicle's article is much more thorough. They go much more indepth and this makes for a much better article. They also used quotations to their advantage to add to their credibility.

I think both articles could have benefited on more backgorund information on Pat Tillman. Overall I think the Chronicle article was much more solid. The extra length and in depth reporting made it much more informative than that of the Tribune article.

State Guardsman killed in Iraq

A state guardsmen died in Iraq and three others were hurt. An explosive device hit the vehicle in which he was traveling in.

This article is written by Star Tribune columnist and is located on the website. The articles lead is a little long and contains unnecessary information. What the guardsmen's nickname was is not information that is suited for a lead. The article gives a recent record of his last few years. The article ends with the announcement that funeral arrangements are pending.

This story was also written about in the Winona Daily News. The lead is much more concise and does not contain extra information that could be included later in the article. The article does a better job of quoting sources. The previous article did not contain any quotations.

Overall, both articles do a good job of handling the delicate situation. Structurally I preferred the Winona article as it had more quotes and a better lead.

Japan Earthquake

There was an earthquake in Tokyo that left 150 injured with at least one dead. The quake was a 6.9 on the Richter Scale. It occurred early Sunday morning.

I first read this story covered by the AP in the Star Tribune. The article has a very concise lead that is very to the point. They do a good job of not putting in unnecessary details that are not relevant to the lead. They save those for the later paragraphs. This story is written in pyramid style format. The story also does an excellent job quoting the proper officials to give the story enhanced credibility.

The story was also covered on additional sites. One place I read the story had different details surrounding the event. They had the injured total at 170, rather than 150 that was reported in the first AP story. Furthermore, in this story the lead is too jumbled with information that could very well be saved for later in the story.

Overall both stories did a good job of getting the proper information of this tragedy in a proper manner. They both used quotes from the essential people the story.

Torandoes in New Mexico

Over a dozen tornadoes were spotted in New Mexico and the border of Texas. Property and homes were destroyed and at least 16 people were injured.

I first read this story in the Star Tribune website. It was written by the associated press. The lead of the story is rather lengthy and contains some details that may not be necessary for the lead. The story is written in pyramid style and covers all the essential details to the story. The story also does a good job quoting the proper people. This adds a strong element to the story.

This story was also covered in the Arizona Daily Star. This newspaper is close to the area where the tornadoes took place. The story is written in similar format as the first one. The lead however is more concise and clear. It does not use the same amount of numbers that jumbled the first storys lead. It also does a similar job using different types of quotes to enhance the story.

It can often be difficult writing about a tragedy such as this. I think both outlets did a great job handling it. Both were very good articles that other than the lead in the first one were very structurally sound and enjoyable to read.

Gophers hire Tubby Smith

The Minnesota Gopher Men's basketball team finally hired a coach. After four months with Jim Molinari as the interim head coach, it was announced Thursday that Tubby Smith was hired. Tubby Smith has spent the last ten years as head coach at Kentucky. He had great success there winning a national title as well as making it to 10 straight NCAA tournaments. The Gophers have only been in the NCAA tournament once in the past five years.

The Star Tribune handled this news story with a lengthy article which is appropriate for news as significant as this. The headline reads "Gophers hire instant credibility with Tubby Smith." I think this headline is too opinionated as there are lots of people who would not think that hiring Smith leads to any kind of credibility. overall the article is detailed and covers the many different facets into this hire.

The AP also covered this story. I read it on the South Carolina online newspaper The State. This article came out the day after the official announcement was made. As would be expected, the article from out of state is not nearly in depth as the local one. They however handle it with more objectiveness than the Tribune did. The article covers the basics and gets the details across in proper pyramid style.

This is a good example of how a new story can be handled very differently. The Minnesota sports media did what they usually do in print, not show very much objectiveness. The AP handled it more like a news story and only gave the details without showing the very obvious bias.

March 22, 2007

Story Idea #3

On November 30th Gopher Men's Basketball Coach Dan Monson resigned/(was fired) from his job. It has been over 100 days and AD Joel Maturi has not hired a replacement yet. Possible names have ranged from the obvious local favorites, Flip Saunders, to the absurd, Bobby Knight. With the recent news that University of Michigan fired their head coach and are also seeking a replacement, time is of the essence for the Gophers and Maturi. This story has local prominence because the Gophers mens basketball team is one with a prideful tradition. Furthermore, anytime there is vacancy in one of the large men's sports on campus it is of great public interest, especially when the process has taken this long.

Possible Interviews:
Joel Maturi: U of M Athletic Director 612-624-2100
Dan Barreiro KFAN Radio Host and former Star Tribune Columnist 612-417-3000
Darren Wolfson Producer, Gopher Insider 612-417-3243

Story Idea #2

The start of the Major League Baseball season is rapidly approaching. The Minnesota Twins are coming off a very huge season that saw them capture the Central Division Championship. 2005 also saw much individual success as starting pitcher Johan Santana wont he AL Cy Young Award, first basemen Justin Morneau won the AL MVP award and catcher Joe Mauer became the first catcher in AL history to win a batting title. The Twins are facing great expectations this year to repeat last years success. A season preview of the team would be a great story for the Minnesota public because interest in the team has not been this high in well over a decade. The Twins are on pace to break their attendance record set in 1992 before the season has even started. Furthermore many Minnesota sports analysts believe that the Twins have surpassed the Vikings as the states most popular team.

Possible Interviews:
La Velle E. Neal III-Star Tribune Twins beat writer 612-673-4447
Kelly Theiser MLB.Com reporter Kelly.Theiser@Twinsbaseball.com
Minnesota Twins Media Relations: 612-375-7471
Thomas Mason 17 year season ticket holder 612-963-9388

March 2, 2007

Story Idea #1

As the snow continues throughout the state many citizens are having their cars towed. Many people are not aware or do not fully understand snow emergency laws. A story explaining these laws and regulations would be a benefit to drivers state-wide.

(612) 673-5777 - Minneapolis Impound

(612) 827-3838 - Goodyear of South Minneapolis: Parent's Automotive & Tire
(612) 431-8974 - Jerry Brown former MPLS policemen

March 1, 2007

BlackHawk Helicopter

A US Blackhawk Helicopter made a 'hard landing' in Iraq today injuring the two person crew that was aboard. The helicopter is used mainly for surveillance purposes. The extent of the injuries is unknown at this time.

This story was covered by the AP on the Star Tribune website. This story much like all the others on the internet had the term "hard landing" in the lead and in quotation marks. The lead also explains that there was injuries sustained to the two person crew. In the second paragraph they explain the cause of the crash. The story uses two direct quotations, one from a statement and another from someone associated with the incident.

The AP article that appeared in the Washington Post contains a different type of lead than the previous article. While they do contain the "hard landing" aspect they do not mention that there were injuries involved. They wait until the second paragraph to do so. Furthermore, this article is a great deal shorter than the article that appeared in the Tribune and does not contain nearly as many details.

Overall I felt the article from the Star Tribune was much stronger. I felt that the injuries to our citizens overseas is important enough to be carried in the lead. Also the length of the article being much longer allowed there to be much more detailed version of the events that took place.

Scalding death

A Blaine woman pleaded guilty for her role in the scalding death of a 10 year old child that occurred this summer.

I found one article in the story that appeared in the Star Tribune’s website. The lead for the story is a standard lead that gives the reader the information necessary. The second paragraph is when the names of the people involved come into play. The article continues explaining the graphic testimony. The article is written in pyramid format and concludes by telling the reader to look for more information on this breaking story either later tonight or in tomorrow’s paper.

The story was also covered by the Pioneer Press on their website. The story took a slightly different approach then the Star Tribune. The lead paragraph is considerably longer, almost to a fault. The Pioneer Press story does however get into more details than the Trib and the story is longer. Like the Trib story it is written in pyramid format.

Both stories handled this breaking news rather well. I preferred the lead that was written in the Tribune however overall I feel that the stronger article was that of the Pioneer Press. Their article was handled as if it was the actually news article while the Tribunes was more of a breaking news format alerting readers to stay tuned.

February 22, 2007

Same Story, varying headlines

I noticed a story on the Star Tribune's website that is an AP story about national test scores are unimpressive however grades are improving. I googled this topic to look for other stories on this topic but I was only able to find the same AP story on several different sites. I did, however notice that the headlines for each story was different and in some cases changed the immediate interpretation of the story. I thought I would break the mold from previous blogs and look at the varying headlines on the same story.

Star Tribune: Test scores lag as grades improve, reports say. In this headline they use an attribution in the headline, which I do not think I see very often. Furthermore they mention BOTH test scores and grades. They mention the test scores lagging but then mention the improving grades. They do not focus solely on the bad. Furthermore there was no attribution in the headline

High School Test Sores Unimpressive: This headline takes a straight shot at the test scores and does not use a soft word like 'lag.' They just boldly say that the test scores are unimpressive. Furthermore they do not mention the fact that grades are improving. They are giving the reader the 'bad' and none of the 'good'

High school test scores unimpressive yet grades, transcripts improving: This headline, much like that of the Strib story mentions the test scores as well as the grades. However this headline goes further to mention that student's transcripts are improving as well. They mention the poor test scores than somewhat balance that out to the reader by showing them that grades and transcripts are improving. By showing one negative aspect but two positive aspects its as if they want a more positive connotation associated with the story. Also, like the previous headline, there is no attribution.

I found this blog very interesting that the same AP story could contain three very different headlines. It is interesting how different they all can be. I do not think any of the headlines perfectly encapsulated the story however I do think the Star Tribunes is the best. They mention the test scores as well as the grade and use attribution. The other two either do not offer enough information in the headline or use too much.

Wolves collapse vs Bobcats

The Minnesota Timberwolves gave up a 17 point second quarter lead to the Charlotte Bobcats and lost 100-95. Charlotte rookie Adam Morrison scored 26 second-half points including 15 in the fourth quarter, outscoring the entire Wolves team who only managed 14 points in said quarter.

Star Tribune beat writer Steve Aschburner did a great job encapsulating the team’s woes into his column after the game. Not just focusing on the loss of the game but the team’s struggles to gel at this late stage of the season. He uses a delayed lead that is very effective and timely by talking about today’s 2pm trade deadline. This encourages the reader to continue reading because as any NBA player knows the trade deadline is a very crucial part of any season. Another thing Steve does well is uses the quotes from the coaches effectively, I will get to more of this later on in the blog. http://www.startribune.com/511/story/1016878.html

This story was also covered by the AP. I read this article on ESPN.Com. This article obviously takes a look at both teams and does not focus solely on the Timberwolves. Since this is a national piece the writer obviously focuses on the biggest story, that being of Adam Morrison. Adam Morrison was the national college player of the year last year and has thus far struggled in his rookie campaign. However scoring 26 points in a half to single-handedly beat a team will silence any naysayer. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=270221016

Both sources included quotes from head coach Randy Wittman and Adam Morrison. I was also at this game, covering it for the station in which I intern. I was there during both interviews in which quotes are used. Steve Aschburner did a much better job of getting the quotes accurate than the AP did.
-"I'm tired of guys pouting on the floor during games because of whatever, not enough minutes, not enough touches, not enough shots. You cannot do that and win games." ,

-"Our frame of mind is more focused on me rather than we," Wittman said. "We were up 17 and really kind of had control of the game, and got caught up in 'Am I getting enough shots? Is the ball touching my hands enough?' We quit playing.?

Those last two quotes are from Aschburner’s Strib column and are completely accurate. There are other times in which Asch may not have gotten a complete quote and just uses words in quotes like “pout?

The AP however uses this quote, "I'm tired of guys pouting on the floor, during the game," said Wittman, whose team had just two assists in the second half after piling up 19 before halftime. "You cannot do that during games. Give me guys that have no talent, and you're going to lose the game but go down fighting. We didn't go down fighting tonight."

Here the writer uses this as an exact quote, but this was not the exact way he said it. The writer took it upon himself to correct the grammar of the coach as well as take pieces out. While he did not change the overall theme of the what the coach was saying, this is definitely not an exact quote as I remember it.

February 12, 2007

Explosion near U.S. base in Japan

A small explosion on a U.S. Army base South of Tokyo took place today with no injuries or damage.

There is an AP story in the Star Tribune, this breaking story and was added to the site just minutes ago. The lead properly explains the situation and has proper atribution however the final sentence of the lead "A Japanese news report said police suspected an attempted attack on the base." could have been shorter or put somewhere else in the story. Overall, the lead was rather long. The story does do a good job of explaining what took place as well as getting quotes from the proper people in the story.

An AP article also appeared on this topic in the International Herald Tribune. Their lead contains information that the other AP story did not even have, that someone was arrested on suspect. Otherwise the articles length and information is fairly comparable to the other AP story. This one gets more in depth into the possibility of the attack being carried out by extremists and also gets into past occurences.

For being a story that just broke both articles did a good job of handling the information. However I would obviously favor the one in the International Herald Tribune do to the fact that they have more information on the story that the other article does not contain.

St Paul Fire

A 29 year old man was killed after a grease fire got out of control in his kitchen trapping him inside.

An article was written about this story in the Star Tribune on Feb 11 and was rather brief, only 7 paragraphs long. The lead starts out by saying 'authorities believe' and so do the paragraphs that follow. Never once is it state who exactly these authorities are. The story does have a good quote from a St Paul Fire Chief where he explains grease fires to the reader.

The Pioneer Press also covered this story and it came out today (monday) so the information is much more detailed. The lead contains much of the same information however it is more specific and has no attribution in it whatsoever. Furthermore since the article was written later the victims name was released as were many other specific details into the story and how the fire started.

For a 'breaking news' type story the Trib did a good job with obviously not a lot of information to work with. The Pioneer Press did a great indepth follow-up piece that gets into more details and has a lot more information.