February 2010 Archives

Analysis: Multimedia

When comparing the multimedia options of the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, several differences emerge. I thought it would be interesting to compare two papers that cater to the same audience and are both local. While both have different multimedia options, the way they are approached vary.
The Star Tribune has several different multimedia options. These options include video, podcasts, slide shows, photo galleries, audio, news graphics, NewsBreak, and reader submitted photos and videos. These options are presented in the stories, as well as extras. They add depth to the stories, and allow readers to interact and feel more connected to the story. When looking at the website, it appears that multimedia is used often by the Star Tribune, and many stories are presented with a multimedia option.
The Pioneer Press on the other hand, does not have as many multimedia features. They only have video and photographs, with podcasts and interactive features "coming soon". The options do not seem to be as integrated into the stories, and there are fewer options and features available.
The writing on the slideshows are similar to what was discussed in class. They are typically two sentences, with the first one telling what is going on in the picture, and the second one giving more details and reporting the story. They are written in the present tense, and focus on a specific theme.

Tsunami warning lifted as waves pass lightly

The tsunami expected from Chile's 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Japan and other Pacific islands only lightly, causing little damage, the New York Times reported Sunday.
The tsunami struck Japan, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands, but brought smaller-than-expected waves, causing the tsunami warning to be lifted by officials.
In Japan, hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii warned 53 countries and territories of the possible tsunami. However, the highest wave was reported at four feet, and there were no immediate reports of damage.
The center lifted its warning Sunday, but some countries kept their own warnings in place as precautionary measures, the Associated Press said.
The tsunami caused concern that a similar situation would occur as the tsunami in Indonesia of 2004, where 230,000 people were killed after little warning. In this situation, officials overestimated the size of the waves by nearly 50%.

Arrest ends 4-hour standoff in Roseville

A 23-year-old Minneapolis man was arrested after a four-hour standoff with police Saturday, the Star Tribune reported.
Police were called to a Super 8 Motel at about 2 a.m. to assist bail bond agents, who were trying to arrest the man. He is wanted in Hennepin County on charges of making terrorist threats.
The man barricaded himself in the room and said he had multiple guns and weapons, and would shoot any police officer that tried to enter.
The East Metro SWAT Team was called in, and police blocked off the street and the motel, evacuating guests during the standoff, the Pioneer Press reported.
Negotiations took place over the phone, and after four hours, police shot "chemical munitions" into the room, forcing the man to leave. He was then arrested and taken to Ramsey County jail, where he is being held on suspicion of making terroristic threats, discharging a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.

Mounds View student newspaper encounter prior review

A Mounds View student newspaper is in a battle with the school's administration over a policy forcing all articles to be approved by the administration first, the Pioneer Press reported Friday.
The Mounds View school district now requires its high schools, Mounds View and Irondale to have prior review of the stories before publication by the principal.
The Mounds View High School Viewer said it would stop preparing the paper if the rule was enforced.
"I would like to keep our newspaper a real newspaper, not a newsletter for the district," said editor-in-chief Christina Xia, 18.
The rule was enforced after a particularly controversial story was printed, one the administration said had errors and was an intrusion of privacy. The article contained a picture posted on Facebook of a teacher with two students making suggestive poses behind her.
While the school has always had a review requirement, it was not enforced, and the item was the first time in 10 years a story had been pulled from the paper, the Star Tribune said.

Killer whale attacks and kills SeaWorld trainer

A SeaWorld trainer was killed after a killer whale snatched the trainer off a platform and killed her in front of an audience, the Star Tribune reported.
The whale grabbed trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, by her waist and thrashed her around underwater.
Brancheau was rubbing the 12,000 pound whale when he grabbed her. It was not clear if she died from drowning or from the thrashing. Witnesses who attended earlier shows said Tilikum was not responding to directions and appeared agitated.
An alarm sounded and audience members were immediately instructed to exit the stadium, the Pioneer Press said.
This was the third human death the animal was involved in. Brancheau was one of the most experienced trainers, and one of the few allowed to interact with the whale, Tilikum, because of his large size.

Sex offender sentenced to 7 1/2 years for assaulting girls

A man who molested a nine-year-old girl in a park in St. Paul's Midway area was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported.
John Knudson, 69, was sentenced by a judge to prison and also ordered to register as a predatory offender for the rest of his life.
According to the charges, Knudson was sitting on a bench near University Avenue, when he saw the girl pass by and asked her to come over to him. When she resisted, he grabbed her and would not let her go.
He then forced her to a more secluded wooded area, where he pulled down her pants and touched her. He then paid her $5 and told her he would see her in a couple weeks.
The girl immediately went home and told her mother exactly what happened, and charges were pressed immediately.
The incident with the girl was his eighth sex-related conviction since 1963, the Pioneer Press reported..

Analysis: Spot and follows

In the article about three teens girls killed after being hit by a train, the first-day story reported only the facts and provided few details. In the follow-up story the next day, there were more details, and the event was presented as a story.
In the lead, for example, the follow-up article presents more of a story. It describes the howl of the whistle, the sunset, the helplessness of the friend who watched his other friends get run over. It is more emotional and adds a touch of human interest. It describes what they were doing leading up to the accident, and how oblivious they were to the danger ahead. In the first-day story, this was not reported.
The follow-up contains quotes from witnesses, a timeline of what the teenagers were doing prior to the incident, and the identity of one of the girls killed.
It also described what the scene of the accident looked like the next day. It describes memorials that have been constructed in the wake of the deaths.
In the first-day story, only the facts are reported and there is not a sense of emotion like there is in the follow-up story.

Alexander McQueen line will continue

The Gucci Group announced on Tuesday that the Alexander McQueen brand will continue, despite the designer's death last week, Women's Wear Daily reported.
Robert Polet, the chief executive, said the company would continue to back the brand, and a posthumous showing of his fall 2010 collection would be held during Paris Fashion Week in March. McQueen was widely reported to have finished some of his fall 2010 collection at the time of his death.
The Gucci Group's strategy for the future of the brand was not announced, but will be meeting with the staff to create a plan, the New York Times said.
Prior to the announcement, many retailers who carried McQueen's brand were worried about the future of the brand, as many lines suffer greatly after the loss of their creator.
"I believe strongly in the Alexander McQueen brand and its future," Mr. Polet said in regards to these concerns.

Abu Sayyaf commander killed by Philippine troops

A top Islamic militant was one of six killed in an attack by troops by Philippine Troops in the island of Jolo on Saturday, the BBC reported.
Commander Albader Parad of Abu Sayyaf was killed after a marine special operations platoon raided a camp on the island, following reports that two wanted leaders were there. Parad was wanted for the abduction of three Red Cross volunteers, as well as several bombings, beheadings and kidnappings. The radical group has been linked to al-Qaeda, the Star Tribune said.
Gen Benjamin Dolorfino said the death was a huge loss for the group, after confirming Parad was one of the six bodies found.
One marine was killed and three others were wounded in the attack. The 30-man platoon was backed by other troops to ensure the militants could not escape from their camp on the island. The group has operated there for years, even through a United States military campaign against them. campaign against them.

Mexican gray wolf on the loose in Forest Lake

A Mexican gray wolf went missing from a Forest Lake science center after a break-in Monday, the Star Tribune reported.
Three wolves were released from their cages during the break-in, and while two were recaptured quickly, one is still missing.
Bob Ebsen, the education director for the Wildlife Science Center, said the biggest risk is actually to the wolf herself, who has been in a cage her entire life and is ill-equipped to hunt or live in the wild.
The center is relying on tips and photographs of sightings sent in from residents. Few of the sightings, however, have actually been of the wolf. Many have been of coyotes or other animals, but the last known sighting was Tuesday night near Coon Lake, the Pioneer Press reported.
The center's staff believe the break-in may have been committed by someone opposed to wolf research or an animal rights advocate.
Mexican gray wolf's are one of the rarest species of wolves in North America, with only 350 known to exist.

Three Tesla employees killed in plane crash

Three Tesla employees died after their small plane crashed in a Paolo Alto neighborhood Wednesday, the New York Times reported.
The twin-engine plane crashed shortly after take-off due to foggy weather, crashing into a residential neighborhood. No one on the ground was injured, but two houses and several cars did set fire. A wing from the plane also slammed into a day care center, but everyone inside was able to escape.
Nearly all of Paolo Alto, around 28,000 residents, were without power for most of the day, after the plane struck and clipped three transmission lines, the Star Tribune reported.
The plane was bound for Hawthorne Municipal Airport, near Los Angeles International Airport. One of the Tesla employees was piloting the plane, and the plane was owned by Doug Bourn, a senior Tesla electrical engineer. The identities of the employees have not been revealed.

Mother of Iowa football player recounts son's mental illness

The mother of an Iowa football player accused of fatally shooting his high school coach testified that her son suffered from manic depression and mental illness on Wednesday, the Pioneer Press reported.
Mark Becker, 24, has been charged with first-murder for the shooting of coach Ed Thomas, but has plead not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys plan to show that Becker is a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from delusions, hallucinations, and schizophrenic episodes, the Star Tribune said.
On Wednesday, his mother, Joan Becker, testified that Becker had been hospitalized for mental illness three times before the shooting last June. Thomas was often a target during these episodes, and Becker accused him of sexual harassment.
Joan Becker said her son did not take his medication the night of the shooting, and only took it "sporadically" when it was prescribed. Becker was not considered a risk to himself or others at the time of the shooting.

Structure in McQueen story

In the New York Times article about the death of designer Alexander McQueen, the writer must structure his news delicately. The most important aspect of the story is that McQueen died, and that is what was reported first.
While it had not been confirmed, it was suspected that the cause of death was suicide, and this was reported next. Thus, the second paragraph summarized the first, but then provided more details and in-depth information.
Because this is such a delicate subject, and occurred so suddenly, the article memorializes McQueen. The writer talks about McQueen's work and accomplishments, and quotes friends and colleagues. Some of these quotes try to explain or make sense of the death, and explain what McQueen was actually like.
Finally, this occurred at the beginning of New York Fashion Week, thus the writer also wrote about the effect of McQueen's death on the mood of Fashion Week.
However, this was not until the end of the article. The facts were reported first, then he was memorialized, and finally it was put into context.
This was a good way of dealing with a touchy subject, and struck the right balance between reporting the facts and being sensitive to the situation.

Whistler track reopens after death of luger

Luge training resumed Sunday in Whistler after the fatal crash of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, the BBC reported.
After investigations by the Province of British Columbia and the International Luge Federation (FIL), the track reopened with new safety measures, the Christian Science Monitor said.
The men's event was lowered to the women's starting point, cutting speeds by over six mph. Furthermore, the walls at the end of curve 16, where Kumaritashvili went off the track and hit a steel pole, have been raised. Finally, the ice profile will be changed to make the track less dangerous.
The investigation also found that the crash was not a result of the track, but mistakes made by the driver.
A statement by the FIL said "after a routine run, the athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into curve 16," resulting in the athlete losing control of the sled.
The track is known for its speed and difficulty, and has caused other accidents.

Designer Alexander McQueen found dead

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen was found dead in his London home Thursday after an apparent suicide at age 40, Women's Wear Daily reported.
Circumstances of his death were not revealed, and his family and spokesperson were not available for further comment, the New York Times said.
McQueen's mother, to whom he was known to be very close, died on February 2, and his close friend Isabella Blow, a well-known stylist, committed suicide in 2007. Both deaths were said to have a devastating effect on McQueen.
The news cast a shadow over New York Fashion Week, which began today. Celebrities and fashion insiders expressed shock and sadness over the loss of the celebrated designer.
"He was such a great guy and such an amazing talent that it is so devastating to know he is gone," said designer and friend Marc Jacobs. "We have a lot of mutual friends and some of them are working here, and everybody is walking around crying today."
A presentation of his lower-priced line McQ, scheduled for today, has been cancelled.

Teenage girl brutally beaten while tunnel guards watch

A Seattle girl who was severely beaten and robbed in a bus tunnel as three unarmed security guards stood watching thought the men would protect her, the Associated Press reported.
In papers filed Wednesday, the 15-year-old girl said the group of four people followed her from a nearby department store to the bus tunnel on Jan. 28, where she purposely stood near the security guards in hopes they would protect her, USA Today said.
Instead, they only called the police and then watched as she was beaten, repeatedly kicked in the head, and robbed of her iPod, phone, and backpack.
The security guards had standing order to "observe and report". These orders are being reviewed by government officials after reviewing surveillance video. The guard's duties include helping customers, and reporting suspicious objects and activity.
All four attackers were charged with first-degree robbery.

Denny Hecker indicted on fraud charges

Auto dealer Denny Hecker was indicted Wednesday on accusations of scheming to defraud lenders of millions of dollars, the Pioneer Press reported.
Hecker and his business partner, Steven J. Leach, were each charged with one count of conspiracy and five counts of wire fraud. Hecker was also charged with one count of money laundering.
Neither was taken into custody Wednesday, but both are expected to make an appearance in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis Thursday afternoon. Hecker's attorney's dispute the allegations, while Leach's were not available for comment.
If convicted, the men could face up to 20 years on each count of fraud, and Hecker could face an additional 10 years on the money laundering count, the Star Tribune said.
The indictment centers around allegations of doctoring loan documents, as well as trying to cover up the crime and using the money to supplement his luxurious lifestyle.
Hecker filed for personal bankruptcy in June of last year, owning $767 million.

Police arrest U of M shooting, robberies suspect

A 21-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in connection with a series of robberies and a shooting on the University of Minnesota campus, the Pioneer Press reported.
Devon Jamal Jones was arrested at his Minneapolis home, and then turned over to university police for questioning. He was later booked at Hennepin County Jail for possible cause aggravated robbery, the Star Tribune said.
Police say two men robbed three students in separate incidents on Jan. 25 and then shot 10-year-old student Timothy Schumacher outside Centennial Hall. Schumacher has been released from the hospital and resumed classes.
University police officials would not comment on the arrest, except that more work remains. Security camera footage from campus has identified several images of the suspects throughout campus. However these images were dark and difficult to see.

Analysis: Attribution in Light-rail story

In the Star Tribune's article about Minnesota Public Radio suing the Metropolitan Council over the construction of the light-rail line outside MPR studios, attribution played an important role in reporting the story.
Because the story was so focused on two parties disagreeing, the writer used many sources from both sides to explain and convey their respective opinions. Thus, he talked to the executive vice president and the managing editor of MPR to discuss their point of view, and the chairman of the Met Council to discuss his point of view.
Many of their quotes focused on why they felt a certain material should be used to dampen noise outside the studios, and were opinion based. They are scattered throughout the entire story, and every time a point is brought up, an attribution is used to back it up or explain more.
The writer also speaks with the mayor of St. Paul's point person for the project, and an administrator for the Federal Transit Administration to get an opinion outside the two parties. Furthermore, these sources have much higher positions and are able to give a different opinion from a state level.
The use of attribution and sources is very useful and important in this story because it gives a deeper perspective and allows the opinions of the two parties to speak for themselves.

Toyota to announce Prius recall in Japan

Toyota plans to announce a recall of the Prius cars in Japan due to a possible problem with the brakes, the BBC reports.
The problem is said to affect over 270,000 Priuses that were sold in the United States and Japan since last year. A software glitch is to blame for this problem, according to Toyota.
While a recall has not yet been called in the United States, dealers have been warned that the company plans to fix the brakes in the models affected. Over 100 Prius drivers in the US have complained to the government over problems with their brakes failing while driving on uneven roads, the New York Times reports.
Toyota Motor Corporation was already forced to recall over 7 million other cars, and estimates its losses at nearly $2 billion. These problems, as well as the response from Toyota, has raised large amounts of criticism, and stained the reputation of the company.

Connecticut power plant explosion kills at least two

At least two people died and seven were injured after a power plant explosion in Connecticut on Sunday, the New York Times reported.
Officials expect nearly 50 people were injured, but could not confirm the number killed or injured as the fire still raged on.
The blast was reported at 11:25 a.m. and could be felt from miles away. The power plat was under construction, and over 100 people were working on purging the gas lines when the explosion occurred, the Associated Press reports.
The state's Urban Search and Rescue Team and the Emergency Operations Center have been dispatched, and dogs are searching through the rubble for signs of life.
The 620-megawatt plant was being built to be both gas- and oil-fired, and was scheduled to be completed in January.

Unemployment rates drop to 9.7 percent in January

The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent in January, the lowest it has been since the recession began, USA Today reported on Friday.
Employers cut 20,000 jobs in January, raising hopes the job market may be improving. In December, the unemployment rate was over 10 percent.
Manufacturing added 11,000 jobs and the economy added 52,000 temporary workers in January, the Star Tribune reported. Retailers also added 42,000 jobs and the government added 33,000.
While some see these rates as indication Obama's stimulus program is working, Christina Romer, the leader of Obama's council of economic advisers, viewed the numbers with caution, admitting she had failed to understand the magnitude of the unemployment crisis while assembling the stimulus program.
The Labor Department recently revised data concerning the economy, finding the crisis was even more severe than reported. Since the recession began in December 2007, the country has lost more than 8.4 million jobs.

MPR sues Metropolitan Council over light-rail concerns

Minnesota Public Radio sued the Metropolitan Council, builders of the Central Corridor light-rail line, Thursday, citing violations of an agreement between the two parties over lowering the noise and vibrations of the light-rail line, the Pioneer Press reports.
The line is scheduled to run only feet away from MPR's broadcast studios, raising concerns the line would be noisy and cause distractions during broadcasts. An agreement was reached in April between the parties, and the Met Council agreed to install a floating slab along the length of MPR's property, the Star Tribune reported.
The suit centers over what material the slab should be made of. The Met Council has proposed using a rubber-based supported slab, while MPR engineers prefer a steel spring based support. Engineers from both sides disagree over which material is better suited.
This is not the first suit brought against the Met Council. The University of Minnesota and a Saint Paul neighborhood group have sued the council over other concerns.

Prior Lake pastor pleads guilty to soliciting prostitute

A former Prior Lake pastor plead guilty to soliciting a prostituted woman on Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported.
John K. Erbele, 35, will not serve jail time for the offense, which is only a misdemeanor. The judge sentenced him to probation, counseling, community service, and "john school", an educational program for men caught soliciting prostitutes.
Erbele was one of 16 men arrested Sept. 1 in Saint Paul as part of a "john sting", the Pioneer Press reported. Erbele had responded to an online prositution ad.
Erbele was the pastor of LifePrint Church, but was relieved of his position after his arrest. The church's website stated Erbele was meeting with the curch council to discuss returning.

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