Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I was feeling a little dizzy right before noon today at the Republic and then this story broke about an earthquake in Mexicali. Wonder if they were connected. We have been working on getting reports from the public since noon from people who felt it in Arizona.

Click here to read the story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Suicides? Suspects? published this story about the suicide of a man who was suspected of committing domestic violence against his girlfriend. 

The first thing I wondered about is the Republic's unspoken code of ethics that designates that suicides are normally not covered because they are more of a private matter. I understand this was probably covered as the event was unfolding, but I wonder if the reporter and editor contemplated taking a hands-off approach once the suicide was made public information. 

Also, it bothered me that the story used the word "suspect" which generally puts unclear blame on a person. Even if he was convicted, media outlets would cover themselves and say convicted instead of guilty. 

The double-whammy about this case is that the man cannot be tried to establish if he was the attacker. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nie Nie

I just finished reading the first installment of Climbing Back on This feature is a story about Stephanie Nielson and her effort to recover from -3rd and -4th degree burns she suffered after she was involved in a single-engine plane crash with her husband and his flight instructor.

Her story is breathtaking and beautiful. You can visit her blog and see the tales of her life and her children before, after and during the incident. The stories and the multimedia projects on are heartwrenching.

Sometimes it is impossible to comprehend what happens to people and why.

Nielson's story is an important one for everyone to read.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Student vs. Reporter

I was sent this to cover an especially rousing round of Must-see Monday this week and wrote this story about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's visit to ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for

Oddly enough, being an ASU student and a Republic reporter made me realize I needed to control my reactions, my facial features, and my urge to join in with my fellow students when protesters began singing.

When Dean Chris Callahan said, "Thank you, some of my students are here," I (without thinking) pumped my fist and had to stifle a cheer. My friend Leigh Zinsmeister immediately pushed my hand into my lap and whispered, "You're a reporter right now."

To be honest, I was glad I didn't see myself on the 9 p.m. news segments, but I did have a small conflict of interest when I reported on that story. I was embarrassed Leigh to tell me to pipe down, but I was glad she did.

As for the event, I was sad to think that some journalism students didn't want to see Arpaio questioned by our professors, but the singing protesters made for a tighter, easy-to-swallow story. I knew what Arpaio was going to do and how he was going to answer the questions, because I am lucky enough to sit next to the sheriff-beat reporter at work. I wasn't extremely impressed by the professors' questions and methods, but I really wanted to hear Arpaio's answer to Rick Rodruguez's last questions. Alas, we shall never know what "tape-recorded" response he would have given.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A 9-year-old alleged rapist

How do you decide to run a story about a suspect in a rape if he is so young you can't, ethically, run his name. I'm sure it's not easy. ran this story about one of the suspected rapists in the case of an 8-year-old Liberian girl in an apartment complex in north Phoenix. The trials have been ongoing for all of the boys involved in the incident, but this particular story was about the youngest boy's ability to stand trial.

Technically, the story is easy to read and you don't really notice that his name is never mentioned. Similar stories, like that of the St. John's boy who killed his father, make it more
easy for the suspects to be labeled (Balloon boy).

As news develops, it seems like it continually gets harder to withhold pertinent information
from readers in the interest of minimizing harm, even to a rapist. I think my only query is if the story is even newsworthy at this point and if the story should even focus on a child or any person that would be unethical to name. The story could have been written about the 15-year-old who could be named in connection with this story, and a graf could have been dedicated to the 9-year-old who can't, but then the lead would not have been so compelling. I am torn about the story and its relevancy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miss Black Arizona

20 to vie for Arizona's Miss Black and Miss Black Teen honors (Jahna Berry/

I think this story from about the Miss Black Arizona and the Miss Black Teen Arizona neglects a graf that points to exactly who is eligible to participate in the pageant. It may seem like a "duh," but I think it is important to say the Miss Black Arizona is a scholarship pageant for young Black women with high aspirations and goals, etc. It is important to mention a background about how the pageant came about and how it is similar and different to pageants that emphasize one race.

I understand the reason may have ignored these facts in there story is because they seem obvious or the reporter may have thought such words would come off as either racist or proud. However, I think there are still many people who might question the story without the portraying the pageant's participants clearly aside from just stating the name of the pageant itself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reports about Crime Sweeps

In response to this report about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's 13th immigration and crime sweep, I am wondering what this type of report does to the credibility of

The story divulges details from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office about the two-day crime suppression sweep that began at 5 p.m. on Monday.

If we post a story like this, does it look like we are eating out of the Sheriff's palm for story leads, or does it seem like we are warning employers and illegal immigrants to stay home during the operation?

Both views seem rather controversial and I wonder what this type of story looks like to readers who don't have an inside knowledge of the newsroom, or those who have never seen a press release.

I understand that the Republic and normally post this information for public viewing because it is newsworthy, and I probably would have written the story the same way the Associated Press reporter did if it had been assigned to me.

Does it seem less biased if it was a report from the Associated Press or the wires, instead of assigning it to our own reporter? Regardless, does it make the whole outlet seem like an advocate for illegal immigration?

I think it is important to seek a balance between running stories like this that risk having controversial consequences and ones that really inform the public and/or serve the greater good.