Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ill Wind, Bad Predictions

Preparing for a hurricane when you know it's coming your way is hard enough. But if the hurricane predictions are off track and you don't expect the storm to hit you, the result can be disastrous. In her two-part series in the Miami Herald, reporter Debbie Cenziper tells us that breakdowns in weather forecasting equipment at the National Hurricane Center are causing faulty predictions. Cenziper's investigation shows that the weather tracking equipment has failed forecasters during nearly half of the hurricanes that struck land since 1992.
''It's almost like we're forecasting blind,'' she quotes a National Weather Service officer as saying.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Steroids Saga

I've always thought some of the best newspaper writing comes from sports scribes. In the case of Robert Dvorchak of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and his four-part series, "Never Enough: Steroids in Sports," it's also some of the best reporting. Dvorchak traces the spread of steroid use in America starting in 1959 with a Pennsylvania weightlifter through its widespread abuse in almost every competitive sport. Dvorchak mixes medical information with compelling anecdotes. He also has the courage to address steroid use by his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Katrina in Black and White

Kia Gregory suggested I check out her story, "Flood of Emotion," in this week's Philadelphia Weekly. I'm glad I did. Gregory puts some perspective on what Hurricane Katrina meant for black America by weaving together accounts of what happened during the storm and its aftermath with the comments of prominent African Americans. The result is a perspective that much of the media has avoided. The story concludes that the racial scars left by the storm will linger a long time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Islam in Chains

Nearly a third of the inmates in Bollate prison on the outskirts of Milan, Italy, are Muslim immigrants. Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times tells of their lives in her story "In a Prison's Halls, the Call to Islam." Her vividly written portrait of what goes on inside the prison shows how these inmates turn to prayer, boosting the power of militants "who use cellblocks to attract followers and spread a doctrine of violence." Reporting in a foreign culture is not easy. Reporting in a foreign jail is even harder, but Wilkinson pulls it off.,0,3043797.story?track=tottext

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Migrant Misery

Nearly 45 years after CBS and Edward R. Murrow shocked the world with their documentary, "Harvest of Shame," which depicted the lives of migrant farm workers, the Florida Times-Union shows us that conditions for these workers are still often miserable. Matt Galnor's "Farm labor camp problems: 'Out of sight, out of mind'" reveals the deplorable housing, lack of health care and spotty police protection endured by many northern Florida farm workers.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bad Body Armor?

One of the companies sending body armor to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has been subject to recalls and lawsuits alleging that it makes defective products. In "Vested Interests," Trevor Aaronson of the New Times of Broward-Palm Beach, Florida, details the profits that Point Blank Body Armor has made from the Iraq war and reviews the difficulties that the military and police agencies say they have with the company's vests and other products.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Two great articles have come out recently on the growing controversy over whether juveniles should be sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole. In "Locked up Forever," Gwen Florio, Sue Lindsay and Sarah Langbein of the Rocky Mountain News thoughtfully explore the issue while weaving in the story of the harrowing murder of an elderly Colorado woman by two teens whose childhoods were filled with brutality. In "To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind Bars," Adam Liptak of the New York Times shares the tale of Jackie Lee Thompson, who is spending his life behind bars after killing his girlfriend nearly 36 years ago, when he was 15. Both stories contain a wealth of information while remaining compelling.
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