Two days ago the music world lost one of it's great performers. Legendary member of the New York based hip-hop group the Beastie Boys Adam Yauch, who performed under the name MCA, died Friday after a long bout with cancer. Yauch was 47.

Even though it was written by the an AP writer, I felt that this event had too be talked about, so I am doing the final beat post on this article posted on the Star Tribune website.

MCA, pictured above in the black blazer along side band mates Ad-Rock (right) and Mike D (left), was a legendary performer and lyrical genius with the Beastie Boys who's career spanned 33 years. The Beastie boys originally formed as a punk band in the mid 70s by Adam 'Ad Rock' Horovitz. Yauch joined later and Mike D a time after that, when they became a full time hip-hop trio.

That early punk influence was still heavily engrained into the Beastie Boys' music, enveloping heavy guitar riffs into the all encompassing genre that is hip-hop. World renowned for such hits as "Fight for Your Right," "Intergalactic" and "Sabotage," the Beastie Boys ushered in a new, goofy style of rap that hadn't quite been seen before. No matter how old they got, on stage they always looked like a group of teenagers just trying to have a good time. A personal favorite song of this writer is "No Sleep til Brooklyn," Yauch's lead verse begins at 2:30.

I have heard a lot of things said praising Yauch since his death. Some of them may be misremembering his impact a bit. I read one blog that called him the "Reverse Jackie Robinson of Rap." And yet another that suggested that he was the "John Lennon of a New Generation." I love MCA, but let's be fair to him. He was not Lennon, and he was Obviously not as important to rap as Robinson was to baseball. However, MCA was a wonderful musician and his death was a heavy blow to the music world.

As for the article written, it was very nice. It is exactly the way Yauch should be remembered I am glad that the Tribune ran it.

RIP MCA. You shall be missed.
Anyone who knows me generally knows that music plays a major role in my life. I used to walk everywhere with headphones in my ears, drowning out the sounds of the world while I walked from class to class. I still would to if my iPod weren't broken (how the battery has managed to wear down to the point of only lasting 20 minutes is astoundingly frustrating). When the One at Marquette projects were assigned and explained it felt natural to choose someone who had a background in music.

A background in music is exactly what I found in the DJ Matthew Future, the techno-producing alter ego of the mild-mannered Marquette student Freter. Admittedly electronic music is not normally in my forte. I listen to a little bit of Deadmau5 and Avicii, but I am far more likely to listen to garage rock like The Strokes or The Libertines, even a little bit of hip hop like Nas or Chiddy Bang. But, I had taken a class with Freter the semester before and knew him to be an interesting guy who had good taste in music, which I felt would make a good story.

I first interviewed Freter in Feb, and it went interestingly. One would think that a guy who was used to performing in front of so many people would be far more comfortable at speaking with just one other person in the room and a recording device, but he was nervous. He stuttered at parts and didn't quite know what to say at others. It almost seemed like he was to humble to believe his story was newsworthy.

His personality changed, however, the first time I went to get photos. Freter is truly in his comfort zone when he performs. he becomes wrapped up in the music and it becomes part of who he is. In the DJ booth he becomes a magnetic force, armed with turntables, on a mission o infect the bar-goers with dance the spirit to dance.

That nervousness the first time i interviewed him must have been an anomaly, because that was the only time Freter seemed uncomfortable telling his story. Other than trying overly hard to give me good sounding – Freter is a former Journalism major - Once he was used to me being around he was very  comfortable within himself. I got to see all the aspects of his weekly life. From the early morning valet shifts to the late night DJ shifts to the full commitment to his classes three days of the week, Freter is 100% in everything he does. It is an amazing thing to be around.

The first time I saw DJ Future perform it was at Caffrey's on a Thursday night. I was going to take photos of him for for my story and was concerned about the lighting since it is usually very dark in bars. One thing did pay off in my favor, the lighting in Caffrey's was very good. However, the crowd was very small and clearly not there to dance or enjoy the tracks that DJ Future was performing.

Two nights later at Murhpey's I had the opposite problem. It was a dark room with bright neon lights directly behind the DJ booth. In short, the lighting was terrible. It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I did get some good shots. And the best part was that the crowd was great.

Seeing a performance from a third party standpoint, rather than in the crowd or on stage, is a very odd experience. you see the people dancing and you see the performer, but you feel removed from it all in a way that is surreal. It is the same feeling you get when you are covering any story other kind of event that you have been a participant in, I guess, but to be among the crowd and trey to remove yourself from the show so that you can be a reporter is a strange thing.

I didn't only cover Freter when he was performing. I took photos and interviewed him while he was squeezing in some study hours, and I took photos of him while he was working as a valet. The valet photos were interesting because he really wasn't busy. He really just sat around in the booth, did reading for school and listened to his ipod while waiting for customers to arrive. He told me it helps him keep up with music and stay in the DJ mindset.

Freter's work schedule is insane and his passion is infectious. He said he is concentrating on school, but you can tell that somewhere in the back of his mind, he really just wants to DJ for a living. Perhaps one day he will and I'll get to tell his story all over again.
On April 16 the multimedia package and story my classmate Alex Rydin and I had been working on was published by the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. This was my first major publishing i a while, so needless to say I was excited. The Beerline Trail was a great learning experience for me (as can be seen in my last post) left me with a lot of great stories. 

The assignment was to write a story on the Beerline Trail, which had recently been nominated for a Milwaukee Area Neighborhood Development Initiative award (MANDI) for the change it was causing in a couple of rough neighborhoods in the area. Unfortunately it wasn't in my area of the city, and was a 45 minute bus ride to get to. 

Our first meeting was with a man named Chris Grandt, who was managing the project for Riverworks Development Corp. It took us all of 15 seconds to hit our first bump in the road as I forgot to double-tap the record button on our digital reorder (after we had been warned to do so not 3 days before) and missed the first 5 minutes of our interview. Grandt gave us good material however, so we never ran into a problem.

Our next trip downtown cam a few days later when we set up a meeting with Mario Costantini. Costantini owns a furniture factory in the Riverwest and led the original purchase of the land. We also managed to run into some unusual characters on the way down, most notably a strange talkative man by the name of Roosevelt McCarter. McCarter seemed a few screws loose and was talking about how many Facebook friends he had. He also seemed very interested in where Alex and I were planning on watching the Marquette Basketball game that day, which needless to say made us a bit uncomfortable.

The interview with Costantini went off without a hitch, we got good material, but nothing that would carry the story. He even gave us images to use in our slideshow. We went out to take pictures for the multimedia portion of the piece, but unfortunately it began snowing, so we had to go back to the trail again another time to get decent photos and on trail interviews.

We went back to the trail again the next wee, but once again the weather had taken a turn for the worse. The only people in sight were on a basketball court or simply passing by on the street. No one seemed to actually be using the trail. This obviously gave us some hangups about the piece. If no one was using the trail then why was it news? We were able to get an interview from a local barber named Randy Johnson, but had to leave with only a handful of decent pictures.

Two weeks later Alex and I went back to the trail and finally got a decent day. There were people on the trail and we were able to get some fantastic photographs. We left thinking we would be able to complete and turn in our story later that week. Unfortunately we had an issue

When we interviewed Randy Johnson, I forgot to take down his information, and therefore my editors could not verify his existence. So what was left to do? The day before I left for Easter Break I went traipsing off back into Riverwest to track down the barber who gave me a 2 minute interview. Luckily this wasn't difficult. There was only 1 "R. Johnson" in the Riverwest zip code, and once the house was found so was Johnson.

Our piece was published about two weeks later. It was a good experience that featured a lot of hard knocks style learning on our part, but it was a heck of a good time.
On  April 12 my journalism class watched a Poynter video on natural sound recording. The video lecture – entitled "Natural Sound Packages: Video Storytelling Without Reporter Narration" – featured loads of useful advice on collecting audio and getting soundbites that are great for your story. It was a fantastic informative piece that I learned a lot from, I just wish I had seen it sooner.

 For most of the semester I have been  working on two projects that heavily involve this type of audio narration. One, which will be posted later on this site, has yet to be completed. The other was just published by the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, who I have reviewed in the past. I am very proud of my work on the Beerline Trail story that I did with Alex Rydin, but there were certainly some hiccups that could have been avoided had I known the ins and outs of how to go about collecting audio for a story like this beforehand.

A lot of what was talked about in the Poynter Lecture was obvious, but it seems it was the obvious things that tripped me up. For example, one of the very early things that was talked about in the lecture was that you need to find a great storyteller. When Alex and I began the story our primary source of information was the project manager Chris Grandt. Mr. Grandt was knowledgeable and excited about the project, but he wasn't necessarily the best storyteller, in my opinion. He was more interested in facts, cold hard math. We did find a fantastic storyteller in Mario Costantini, but he didn't have the knowledge of the project to be able to drive the story forward. In a perfect world Mr. Grandt and Mr. Costantini would be the same person, and Alex and I would have gotten the best audio possible. The problem is that we never were able to get someone who could give us the basics. Mr. Costantini didn't really know them, and Mr. Grandt was, at times, so detail oriented that the simple basics weren't an option for him.

Of course, this may also have been my fault. I rediscovered during the lecture that asking the right questions is vitally important, which is something I did not always do. Going into the interviews I had done my research like any good journalist, and was more interested in the detail oriented questions. I never asked the big picture "So what" question right from the beginning, which would have mad mine and Alex's lives a whole lot easier when it came to editing time.

Now don't think that I ruined our story with my mistakes, because I certainly didn't. My story came out very well in the end. I just managed to make my life unnecessarily difficult for a few weeks, which I don't plan on doing again.
Today the Star Tribune posted this editorial of American war correspondent Marie Colvin's death. She was killed in Syria yesterday along with French photographer Remi Ochlik. Her death, the result of a Roadside bomb, comes days after the death of New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid, who died due to complications from an asthma attack.

Colvin was a correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times who covered wars all around the world, including Kosovo, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka (where she lost an eye) and around the middle east. Recently she covered much of the Arab Spring uprisings around North Africa. She was in Syria covering the siege of Homs when she was killed.

I find this event to be very important because of who Colvin was. She was, in my mind, the pinnacle of what young journalists like myself should strive to be. She had a commitment to the story that led repeatedly led her into war zones and conflict ridden areas. Even in the days before her death she was doing reports for BBC and CNN.
Colvin had sneaked into the city of Homs only days before using an old smugglers route and was stationed in the heavily shelled Baba Amr district of the city which is home to roughly 28,000. When the majority of western reporters left Homs because of the danger, she chose to stay believing that the attack on Homs was too important for the world not to know about. She displayed all of the qualities that we hope to find in our members of the media.

The reason I wanted to comment on this editorial is twofold. 1) It is the ONLY coverage on her death I could find today on the Strib website. 2) It was written by an editor for the Washington Post, not a member of the Star Tribune.

Now I understand that Colvin had next to nothing to do with the Strib, or Minnesota as a whole for that matter, but she was one of the more important figures in journalism and I am surprised that there is no obituary for her. I don't believe that the Strib loses credibility for not publishing an obituary for her, because she was far from a household name. I do, however, believe that they are remiss for not publishing an obit on someone who was such an important figure from the industry.

With Colvin passed on, I hope that there will be other journalists to take her place soon. The world needs more journalists with the drive, belief in what they are doing of Marie Colvin.
I was planning on writing this post about this weekend's biggest story, the death of Whitney Houston. However, this morning I found this on the website. This is a website focused entirely on high school hockey, and as you can see from the quality of the site, hockey is clearly a very big deal at that level in Minnesota, which is something that is new to me.

This is a little bit strange to me in a couple of ways. As I may have mentioned before, I am from Virginia. Outside of the Washington Capitals, hockey isn't very big in the commonwealth at all. I know people who pay attention to prep basketball and football back home, but that is more related to major college recruiting. This site and the in depth coverage provided by it really speak to the passion for the sport in the area.

The other way that is is interesting to me is that the site is managed by the Star Tribune, which is the major news source in the the area. The major news source in my area is the Washington Post, one of the three premier news papers in the country, and possibly the world. They don't spend very much time covering high school basketball (which is very big in DC, though not on the same level as Minnesota Hockey), much less devote resources to managing an entire website for it.

Ultimately, my point is this; this is one of the areas where a regionally focused newspaper like the Strib hold an advantage over national papers like the Washington Post or New York Times. It's great to have a major paper as your local paper. You get the best coverage on the biggest stories, but the small stories do receive less coverage than they would in a paper like the Strib.

I like the fact that the Strib covers prep hockey. It is the kind of regional news that really appeals to the local markets rather than the national ones. In a sense I wish
I'll admit it. I'll come right out and say it. I have been pretty hard on the Star Tribune for most of my beat posts. I criticized their Superbowl coverage, called their blogs repetitive, and said they didn't provide enough original content in their State of the Union coverage. But it seems the fine men and women of The Strib have gotten high marks from me this week, because I really have nothing to complain about with their photos.

I have commented before how visual the site is. It has graphics and photos for almost every article. But now  that I am finally talking about photos specifically I get to rave on and on about how great my beat is, rather than give my typical "Oh they were pretty good but nothing really spectacular is here."

Looking solely at The Strib's photo galleries, (because I have talked about the photos and graphics in articles in previous blog posts) I was endlessly impressed with the work being done in the Twin Cities.
One gallery in about the violence in Syria particular caught my eye. Obviously the uprisings and violence in the Middle East and North Africa have been a major news story for more than a year now. So when I saw this among the listing of galleries for today I was immediately drawn to it.

Naturally, pictures taken in a war zone have great impact and emotion. One image (shown at the left) caught my eye more than the others, however. The image shows a man carrying a wounded other while another follows them with an assault rifle.

This is a powerful impactful picture. There is a lot going on here. The movement of the picture gives the viewer a sense of urgency.  This coupled with the body obviously gives the picture a very dark mood. The gun and the background grant a sense of place to the image. We see the assault rifle and the trees in the background and we realize that this is a photo being taken in a war zone, but not in a major city. This is just one of a group of very powerful photos.

The Strib has many other very good galleries. They post photos for major local events, such as the Minnesota caucuses, as well as local sports teams' games. In all there were 10 photo galleries posted today alone. I am very very impressed with the photography work in the Strib.

As a Patriots fan it was difficult and frustrating for me to go through and revisit that game. But to be perfectly honest, there wasn't a whole lot of punishment I needed to suffer.

The coverage on the site was good, but nothing truly exceptional. The articles posted about the game offered no exceptional analysis. "Welker should have caught that ball," and "Eli Manning is an Elite quarterback now" were common lines among the writers and bloggers of the site.  I don't want to take anything away from the coverage that the site did have, but you were definitely aware that this was a site catering to a regional market.

The pregame coverage was pretty good as well. There was one article in particular by Dan Wiederer which summed up the leading story heading into the game. The article talked about how winning a Super Bowl validates greatness in a quarterback. This story line was all over the place before the game. Preseason someone asked Eli Manning, the quarterback of the New York Giants, if he considered himself to be an "elite" quarterback. Six months later that question appears to have been answered in the affirmative.

There were also the few articles that come out every year that manage to be both about the Super Bowl, and have absolutely nothing to do with the game.
There were obviously the the articles on the ads were prominent. Everyone enjoyed talking about the overuse of celebrities and how they ruined otherwise funny commercials (see Mark Cuban in the Skechers ad).

People were also talking about musical artist M.I.A. flipping the bird to the camera during the halftime show. You'd think we would have learned our lesson with the Timberlake Janet Jackson incident of 10 years ago. This of course will cement over-the-hill classic rock acts for the next 10 years. Why can't we just get a cool artist like the Black Keys or The Strokes to do the halftime show. They will have no interest in showing their breasts or flipping the bird to create headlines, and the show probably won't be awful.

For a journalism project this semester I have been tasked to work with the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. Launched in just last year, the multimedia website partners with the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University to provide "Professional reporting on local issues in five Milwaukee communities." The communities it services are Lindsay Heights, Clarke Square, and the Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods of Burnham Park, Silver City and Layton Park. You can read all about them here.

Looking around the site I was pretty impressed. Its clean and well organized. I especially like how the For Neighbors section is broken up by area. It keeps the news easy to navigate and easy to find for those who will be interested in a particular neighborhood.

The News tab is not very impressive. It is incredibly bland, only listing articles by date and giving nothing that draws you to a specific article. Really its just difficult to look at.

The tab that is best set up is the For Media tab. All the articles shown have the lead underneath the title giving you a better feel on what the focus of the article is. It also provides photos for every article. This tab is very visually appealing, unlike the completely underwhelming news tab.

Some of the content was disappointing as well. One article in particular about an Elvis Tribute Band at the Domes was particularly surprising. It was the top story on the front page, had an 11 image slide show, but only produced three short paragraphs. The brief focused more on the concert series under which the band was performing than it did the concert, which I felt made the headline misleading.

I may have been pretty harsh here, but after I read the mission statement that said the site provided "Professional Reporting" I expected more full length articles than briefs. I also don't want people to think I am trying to tear down the site. These are my observations after looking around he site for a couple hours. In fact, most of these problems could are probably a result of being understaffed or underfunded. I honestly don't know what their business situation is like so I can't comment on their business practices.

All this being said I am very excited to work for the Neighborhood News Service and look forward to all of you reading my work in the future.
You certainly can't criticize the Star Tribune for a lack of blogs. Actually the website of the Minneapolis based newspaper commonly referred to as "The Strib" boasts 44 different blogs on a wide variety of subjects.

As I looked through the website I was able to find out that every section has its own blog, and most of them have more than one. In fact, every section except politics, which is stuck with only Hot Dish Politics, has more than one blog.

As my count went, the section with the most blogs was Sports, providing 19 almost different blogs commenting on everything form the Minnesota Twins (5 blogs) to combat sports (one blog). The Local News and Lifestyle sections each provided nine different blogs while the Business section came in with six. The Arts & Entertainment section was able to bring 2 blogs to the party, but one of them was solely concerning books and literature, which left the other to cover music, movies, television, museums, etc.

My first reaction upon seeing so many blogs was "Great! Perfect! Lots of differing viewpoints and and specific beats. This is fantastic." However, the reality was far from the dream. One problem, which surfaced most often in the sports section, Is that much of the information becomes repetitive. For example, with most of the 19 sports blogs attempting to report locally, everyone (except for Suzanne Solheim who hasn't updated her blog since November) commented on the Joel Zumaya signing, all saying it would create a great bridge between the starters and Matt Capps, the closer. (They Are all wrong by the way. Zumaya hasn't been healthy enough to make a positive impact on a team since 2006, and this year won't be any different. Of course on a $900,000 contract, its not exactly a bad signing if he doesn't work out, but I digress.)

Of course this is not the story for every section. Business and Local news have good originality through each individual blog, but some of the blogs become nothing more than a place for columnists from the print edition to become long winded.

In my opinion thebest blog published is the previously mentioned Hot Dish Politics. With seven contributors in Minnesota and one on the ground inside the beltway, this blog is able to provide the best coverage of any of the blogs on the website.


    I'm a native Virginian who traveled to Milwaukee to study Journalism in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. 


    May 2012
    April 2012
    February 2012
    January 2012


    Beat Assignment
    Beerlin Rec Trail
    Journ 1550
    Star Tribune
    Super Bowl