Friday, April 18, 2008

The last roundup

I'm spending my Friday evening at Jaho Coffee & Tea in downtown Salem, where I'm assembling our final blog roundup of the semester. This is one of my favorite writing spots, and I imagine I'll be putting in a lot of time here during the next four months.

Even though the semester is nearly over, I hope you'll continue blogging. It's a skill every journalist needs to master.

It's a leap year. And Bailey Clear wants us to know that means it's the Year of the Frog, species of which are disappearing at a disturbing rate because of environmental contamination. We're also moving into whale-watching season, a dangerous time for those vulnerable animals. Scientists are taking new steps to protect them.

Continuing with our animal theme, Bianca Strzelczyk considers the phenomenon of "doggie discrimination," and shares some information about the secret lives of rats, too. She thinks the just-opened Newseum is "one of the coolest museums ever created." OK, I'm convinced. Next time I'm in Washington, I'm going.

Information is power, and with power comes a desire for someone to come along and take it. With the Internet, says Brendan Gupta, that someone is the telephone companies, who want to gain control in return for installing fiber-optic transmission lines. Brendan also lays out his political agenda for a post-9/11 world.

Surprisingly, the demand for green housing has survived the housing slump, Brian Benson finds. And — in a return to our focus on critters — Brian tells us that the long Maine winter has created problems for the state's deer population: deer do not hibernate, and the deep snow pack has covered up their food supply.

Here is a difference between Candice Springer and me: she is obsessed with David Cook; I've never heard of David Cook. Whoever he is, Candice says he has done it again. She also checks in on Donald Trump's Miss USA contest, and wonders whether beauty queens who are black are held to a higher standard of behavior than those who are white. has put together a great page on the Boston Marathon, says Casey Ramsdell, who nevertheless wonders why the 26.2-mile race doesn't seem to be that big a deal this year. Casey also finds that the Patriots really did go 19-0, only not in the United States: the NFL sent the Pats' championship gear to poor countries around the world.

Chelsey Pieretti is a fan of both J.K. Rowling and the "Harry Potter" books, but she thinks Rowling is being selfish. Chelsey also ponders those clips of Hillary Clinton drinking: "I mean, if I'm going to base my feelings on a presidential hopeful on their shot-taking technique, I think I know a few people here at school who would get my vote."

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Players Association president Donald Fehr lost their chance to do something about steroids when they should have, says Danny Kowalski; but at least they're doing something now. Danny also takes a look at the relationship between Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain and his disabled father.

The city is being challenged on its anti-student housing restrictions, reports Derek Hawkins, who issues a challenge of his own to college newspapers: cover the story. He also takes a somewhat jaundiced view of whether the college press is obliged to cover student government — and an extremely jaundiced view of Twitter.

"Puppies make everything better," writes Eleni Himaras, which allows me to return to our theme. Eleni looks at Web-based databases that will help her find a puppy when she moves to Texas later this year. She also tells us about Teens in Print: Boston, a four-times-a-year paper put out by Boston school kids with the help of the Boston Globe.

Erin Cahill checks in on a recent panel discussion about "Reporting on Religion," sponsored by the Northeastern University School of Journalism. Erin notes that such coverage isn't necessarily restricted to the religion beat. As the controversy over Barack Obama's former pastor shows, religious literacy is valuable for any journalist.

The new Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, likes to brag about how comfortable he is with online technology and social networking, observes Erin Semagin Damio. By contrast, Erin shows us a clip of President Bush on CNBC in which he talks about how much he likes Google Earth — but he can't remember what it's called.

Is that a naked woman reflected in Dick Cheney's sunglasses? No, it's a hand casting a fly rod — and it's pretty obvious unless you've got a dirty mind, says Jessica MacNeil. She also profiles Mac Slocum, an Internet entrepreneur whose Web site, The Independent Publisher, is devoted to innovation in online journalism.

The Northeastern News could have done a better job with its headline on the student-government election, writes Jessica Torrez-Riley, adding that the paper saved the good stuff for the editorial page. She also hails the Harvard Crimson for diving into live-blogging, even though she's skeptical of the trend in general.

Kelly Sullivan is appalled by the story — now revealed to have been a fraud — of the Yale student who claimed to have transformed her repeated abortions into an art project. She also ponders the fate of "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, whose low ratings may soon force her out of the anchor chair once occupied by Walter Cronkite.

America's cocaine habit is destroying the national parks of Central and South America, reports Lisa Newman, who wonders whether there are other issues we ought to be worrying about instead. Lisa also ponders new state laws allowing the death penalty to be imposed for child rape, and wonders about the moral and logical implications.

Ninety-six years after it sunk, people are still wondering what really happened to the Titanic. Maureen McLaughlin looks at a New York Times story reporting that the problem wasn't the encounter with an iceberg per se but, rather, faulty rivets that could not withstand the force of the crash. Maureen also calls our attention to an undersea slide show.

Trying to make sense of the story about the third-graders who were allegedly plotting to hurt their teacher is difficult, notes Mitchell Esteller. What's important, he says, is to make sure the students understand the meaning of accountability. Mitchell also gives us a peek inside the dauntingly expensive "rubber room" for New York teachers accused of wrongdoing.

The new Web site iConflict could be a great way to keep track of news from hot spots around the world, says Stacey Perlman; but she adds that, so far, the idea is better than the execution. Stacey also describes Ushahidi, a system that allows Kenyans to report on violence resulting from the tumult over the December election.

I'm not sure I want USA Today bugging me via AIM, but Stephen Asay gives McPaper credit for doing it in a reasonably spritely manner. Stephen also digs up a remarkable post about the ethics of photo editing, linking to two shots of high school football players that are literally as different as night and day.

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