HOWL! Cockfights and Parking Meters

20090126_dn_g1cock26c“Didn’t know about cockfight in the basement, she says”

Philadelphia Daily News Monday, January 26, 2009

Fifteen people were arrested recently for cock fighting, resulting in the seizure of over 50 birds, including roosters, cockatiels and hens.  Police discovered the cock fighting after getting a call complaining of loud music coming from the house, and as they approached they heard noise in the basement.  The owners of the house Ismael Rodriguez and Reina Villatoro posted bail and deny any involvement in the illegal cock fighting.  They insist that another occupant of the home is responsible.  All who were arrested were charged with cruelty to animals.

The story, though involving an illegal act, is not very interesting.  The angle that the writer chose to focus on may be to blame.  I’m not sure if the claim by Ms. Villatoro, that she and Mr. Rodriguez did not know what was happening in their basement, is believable.  If the police were able to hear noise and the animals from outside the home, it is possible that the couple could have heard the noise and the fighting from inside the home.  Aside from that, the couple refers to a tenant living in the home, who is ultimately responsible from the cock fighting, but he was not among those arrested and was not named.  Having more information about this person could strengthen this story by giving readers more context to go on; his relationship to Ms. Villatoro or Mr. Rodriguez is important.

“Time’s up for $1 parking”

The Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, January 23, 2009

Melissa Dribben’s article addresses the increases of both the parking meter rates and the parking fines that began last week. The story itself is mostly reaction, as she talked to several people who park in the city on a regular basis. If it was meant to be a news story, Dribben fails miserably, as the information about parking rates going up doesn’t even appear until after the jump, to B6.

The biggest reason Dribben offends me is because throughout the article she appears to be mocking those who are upset about the increased rates. Beginning with the lede Dribben is sarcastic: “The city doubled parking meter rates in Center City this week. You’ll be shocked—shocked!—to learn that people who park at those meters are unhappy.” Sarcasm has no place in a news story, let alone the lede of the story.

The article itself is not very informative—the only useful part of the article is when Dribben interviews the deputy mayor of transportation. This does appear closer to the beginning of the article (before the jump), but this interview is not enough to save the rest of the story.

Dribben goes further to demean the parking citizens she interviews. Quoting a salesman who drives in the city often and has just received a ticket with the new, upped rate Dribben writes: “He said he knew the city’s reasoning: ‘The parking lots charge so much, so at $2 an hour it’s a bargain, and if you park on the street, you should—’ Translation: Blah blah blah blah blah.” This is disrespectful to her interviewee. Unless the salesman actually said this to Dribben, she should not have cut off his quote and interpreted what she thought he meant. And the reader will never know what the salesman said.

Grade: D-
Please resubmit.

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