Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vermont House gives preliminary OK to gay marriage,0,4594392.story

The paper edition of the trib hasn't had much in the way of minorities, so I decided to check out the website. Creatively enough, I searched for 'minorities' and up came a whole lot about Tiger Woods (which I didn't think really would've been that relevant) and a lot about this gay marriage vote that's been going on. So yes, this isn't about a racial minority but, instead, a minority in sexual orientation. Spicing things up a bit.

The lead was a combination of a scene-setter and a regular news lead. It contained most of the important information about the logistics of the vote, but threw in the fact that homosexual legislators were trying to persuade the voters by telling their own love stories. I think that this was a nice touch because, personally, I see the issue of gay marriage as more than just a vote left to a panel of people. It's about strangers deciding on whether they should recognize a couple's love if they are of the same gender. (Since this is my blog, I feel like it's ok to through in a little opinion here.) This isn't just about numbers, it's about people, and these people are brimming with emotion. I think it's a nice juxtaposition.

I appreciate the homosexual legislators in this article. In some of the other articles I've read about minorities, they lack sources of the race in question. Or, they have people of the race but not really connected to the event in question. Here are these homosexual legislators that are in the middle of it all - what a wonderful addition. They even have a person quoted saying that he would vote for allowing gay marriage if it was up to him, but his religion won't allow it. Again - a quote from a person in the middle of it all. These are the conflicts that come in to play with the vote. And yet, he blatantly marks his blending of church and state. Should a person who is so ruled by their religion be allowed to make decisions? He admitted that his personal choice varied from that of his church, yet he was bound. Ethical? eh.

While I am a supporter of gay marriage, I still feel as though the opposing side was under-represented. There is the quote from the man who voted against it, but wished he didn't have to, and then there are two more shorter quotes from other objectors. These two quotes seem to lack the punch that the quotes of the supporters carry. The one quote that puts up a good front is one from Douglas, who personally opposes but says he won't push his opinions on others. I do get a pro-gay marriage feel overall, though.

The article includes good information, including a little about the law in other states as well as where the bill is likely headed. Even with the good sources, I felt like the article was a little dry. The transitions were somewhat choppy and I didn't feel a strong overall connectedness.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

After years of growth, ethnic press industry hit hard by recession, steep advertising decline.,0,6987332.story

This article is about how ethnic newspapers are suffering from the economy. These papers are intended to help immigrants/minorities keep in touch with the news from their home countries as well as in the US. Often written in their native language, it helps those who speak little English stay connected.

I've come to notice the differences in writing styles between Trib writers and AP articles. This was an AP article.

I think it did a good job with sources, which included owners of the periodicals as well as people that advertise in them. It would've been nice to get some reactions from readers of the periodicals in question, but I think including that might have loosened up the writing.

I think this article did a great job of showing the lesser known impacts of the economy. It went beyond the basic news of the decline of ethnic periodicals and expressed their importance in immigrant communities, weaving the two effectively. It also includes some prospective looks at what could happen to the newspapers in the future.

Overall, I think this article was concise, newsworthy, and effective.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Probing bias behind the badge

This article is extremely disturbing. Not in a blood and gore sort of way, but a 'how did we get here?' way. Even if my review looks too long for you to read, just check out this story or look at the direct quote at the bottom of this blog to understand. Link to read the article:,0,7686526.story

This article is about the shooting of Bernard Monroe, a 73-year-old black man. While sitting in his front yard, hosting a cook out for his family and friends, two white officers invaded the party and fatally shot Monroe. According to those present, Monroe was simply walking towards the door to try and calm the situation down. After shooting Monroe, witnesses said that one officer moved a shot gun that had been on the porch to near the victim. The official reports state that Monroe had been holding the gun to begin with. Recent police activity has led to some scrutiny about racial bias in the police force.

I wasn't a big fan of the lede, which led my attention to the state of his house as opposed to the topic of the article. The intro to the next paragraph explains that Monroe had throat cancer and could no longer speak, a fact that I felt could've waited until the end as it wasn't crucial to the story. The first couple of paragraphs give a very vague outline of the events and then the following paragraphs go into more detail. I think this style would've been much more effective had he condensed his first couple of paragraphs, giving the story a bit more of an initial punch.

The writer includes a couple of other incidents that coincide with this one.

One of the major things I think is relevant to our most recent discussions is a direct quote from the police chief of the Homer Police Department, the department of the two white cops that shot Monroe. His is the only quote that is in the article from the police. Apparently, they didn't want to comment on the specific case of Monroe, but would comment on the broader topic of racial profiling.

"If I see three of four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names," said Mills, who is white. "I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested. We're not out there trying to abuse and harass people - we're trying to protect the law-abiding citizens locked behind their doors in fear."


After the initial shock of reading this quote, I wondered if the chief would regret his words or if he would stand by them. It reminded me of the conversation we had of libel and what we should do if someone says something and then asks for it to be struck from the record. I think this is a good example of when it should be used. It is really important to the topic of this article and, if anything, cements the reasoning of the FBI to look into the Monroe case.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Muslims in U.S. struggle with alienation

From March 3rd.

By Sarah Gantz

This article reports on the results of a poll given by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. I personally enjoyed the section where they incorporated pie charts and bar graphs to display the results. It was a nice touch & gave the story some variety.
Overall, I feel like the article was well done. It provided the most notable statistics for the Muslim population and compared them to the other religions. The article was very thorough and I didn't feel like there were any unresolved questions. The only direct quote comes from the first Muslim elected to Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison and the only indirect quote comes from an analysist for the Gallup Center. I think that since the article is about the Muslim attitude in the US, it would've been beneficial to get some comments from everyday Muslims who would've been polled.
Also, the final line in the article attributes experts to saying that the feeling of alienation is a product of 9/11. However, it doesn't say who those experts are or when they even said it.

OVERALL: Interesting layout, good use of statistics, would've appreciated some more direct quotes and more specific attribution.

Durbin details race issue

From March 2nd.

This article is about the 'race issue' that is surrounding Sen. Burris' appointment to the Senate. Apparently Dick Durbin has advised Burris to step down because the initial decision to seat Burris was influenced by racial considerations. When Blagojevich made the announcement of his selection of Burris, Sen. Durban pounts out that Rep. Bobby Rush, used "racially charged language to defent the appointment" ( a direct quote from the article, not Durban himself).
However, this is the only mention of any 'race issue'. There isn't any quotes of what was actually said or Burris' actual reaction. The next part of the article explains that Sen. Burris is under some scrutiny for his fund-raising for Blagojevich while "lobbying the governer's inner circle" for the newly opened seat.
Following this is Durbin's proclamation to continue working with the Senator, no matter what is being said about him. While this is an interesting enough quote, I feel as though this could be failed with more relevant information. The title is "Durbin details race issue", yet there is only one vague mention of what the race issue actually is.
Next, the writers go into Burris' church visits, where his fellow church goers prayed for him and his future and where Burris spoke of his contributions while in the Senate. Is this relevant? I felt like the article was really losing it's focus here. I still don't really know what the race issue is.
The article closes with a partial and complete quote of Rush, where he implies that the whole issue was blown out of proportion and that there are more important things to focus on.

I am now at the end of the article and I have no idea why this article was titled the way it was. Content-wise, they had great sources, but the content of the article did not match to the title. Which leads me to wonder...
Is there really an issue that demands 2/3rds of a page in the Monday edition, or is it simply because the issue is tied to race? Could this just be a way to pull in readers, hoping for some inequality of scandal to erupt? That's the feeling I'm getting.
When the writers go into the church scene, they say "...friends who offered prayers for him as he faces adversity in the weeks ahead." Direct quote from the article, but not attributed to anyone. Perhaps it is just me, but the word adversity was, and is, often the word chosen when describing the civil rights movement and things related to that in nature. The fact that these writers specifically chose that word rubs me the wrong way. Had it been in a quote, then ok. But, maybe that's just me.

Overall thoughts: Not very newsworthy, perhaps pulling something out of nothing, and a little writer infuence (word choice?).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Egypt blast kills 1, Injures 18

The writers of this article, Jeffrey Fleishman and Noha El-Henneway, start off hitting the main W's of the event: a bomb exploded Sunday in Cairo, killing one and wounding 18. The attack is believed to be the work of Islamic militants who are unhappy with Egypts decision to keep the Gaza border essentially closed during the 22 days of fighting. The authors make sure to point out that accounts of the event aren't all matching up and they specifically credit the source from which they pull their own report in the text of the article. This is important to do in case they later learn that what they printed is, in fact, incorrect. They were able to interview a man that was present for the bombing, but only for a brief time because he was taken away by the police. This man, whose name they could not get, the Egyption TV (where they took their account of the explosion), and the Murbarak government are the only sources cited.
I think that the story is as accurate as it can be given the fact that the Egpytian Interior Ministry hadn't released a public statement about the event at the time this article was written and that it would be essentially impossible to speak to someone in the militant group. However, there is only one quote in the entire story. It would've been nice to have a few more, even if they were just reactions. In the first sentence the writers give the impression that since this event occurred in a public bazaar, it is feared that the Islamic militants will be targeting Egypt's tourist industry. However, they have no other information to support the claim. Have there been other attacks in similar venues? Or is this based entirely off of one attack? The authors do a good job keeping any personal bias out of the information about the religios groups, though they do include information about a Muslim Brotherhood that has ambitions to create an Islamic state at the end of the article and it didn't really have strong relevance to the story.