Three HOOTS! for the Daily News.

My Hoot for this week comes from the Philadephia Daily News.

It is a story about Marie Noe, the woman who became nationally and internationally infamous for killing eight of her 10 children over a 19-year span. In this story, reporter Barbara Laker takes us to Noe’s home, shows what kind of life she’s leading now, and talks about who is taking care of her now that her husband, the only person who believed in her innocence, has died.

What I liked about this story is that it takes you into this woman’s life and shows you what her actions have cost her. The only person who takes care of her is her Block Captain and that’s because her husband asked her to before his death. It also gives those who may be wondering why this woman is on the front page of the newspaper the answer to the question “Why is this important and why should I read about this?”

I also liked the way that this story was written. It illustrated the emotional conflict that people may have when looking at Marie Noe. For example, in the section of the story that talks about her husband’s death, some of the neighbors said “She was very shaken” while other neighbors said “She was devoid of emotion”. It is pretty much the same debate that has gone on about Noe since the discovery of her murdered children.

That was another thing that made how this story was written impressive. Marie Noe is someone for whom it is hard to feel sympathy because of what she was convicted of. But this story manages to make you feel for her in a way. She may not have spent a lot of time in jail because of what she did, but as the story shows, even if there are no walls or bars, you can still spend your life in a prison. The prison that Noe will be in for the rest of her life is one that does not include kids, grandkids, or even a mate for companionship. The last two lines in the piece: “In the end, the stillness in the house on American Street could be her life sentence.” and Noe’s quote of “I’ve got a lot of time left” bear this out.

The only complaint that I have about this story was the timing. Noe’s husband died two months ago. It would have had a stronger news hook had it been done during that time.

– Denise Clay

• Have a favorite Super Bowl commercial? I’ve always been inclined to Mean Joe Greene giving his jersey to the little kid who so graciously handed him a Coke after the big game.  Nothing like a guy with a nickname of “Mean” who has a soft spot.

I’m guessing Tim Tebow won’t inspire those same feelings for me this year.

And I’m not alone. John Smallwood, in a Daily News article appearing in the February 3rd issue, wrote about the Focus on the Family commercial starring Tebow and his mother Pam. CBS will air the anti-abortion message, despite a long history of networks not airing advocacy commercials during the Super Bowl.

Smallwood does a pretty good job in the article of toeing the line and keeping his opinion to himself (though I feel pretty confident that I can guess how he feels about the issue). He gives each side of the issue an opportunity to speak, and pulls from statements made by CBS.

He clearly stresses that the main issue in the article is whether or not CBS and the NFL should break precedent and allow an advocacy commercial to appear during the Super Bowl. CBS said in a statement to the Associated Press that they have “for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms.”

Smallwood then notes “if this is now the standard for network policy, why did CBS reject an advertisement submission by the gay dating site”

Funny, I was wondering the same thing.

CBS released a statement saying that the ad was “entirely commercial in nature,” thereby eliminating it from the advocacy issue.

Smallwood disagrees with that logic (and here I think he shows his hand), noting “the rejection of the ManCrunch ad was about not wanting to show two dudes making out during the single-most macho event in American society.”

Overall, however, Smallwood tries to give each side of the many issues raised in this piece a voice. The article kept me thinking. He gets a Hoot for at least hovering in the vicinity of objectivity.

– Timothy M. Rapp

Catherine Lucey writes her story about the Aria Health verdict straight, following the inverted pyramid format.  For a story like this, which has been surrounded by so much finger-pointing and speculation, this really is the only way to write it.  Not to mention the fact that this is not an editorial, it’s a news story, and so many of the other writers at the Daily News like to interject their own attitudes into their stories.  Lucey plays it fair and balanced; she covers the verdict and quotes from people at the health system, the attorney of Joaquin Rivera, the man who died and was then robbed in the Aria Health waiting room, and Rivera’s family.

Lucey also cites a report released by the Department of Health to relay the details of what happened the day that Rivera died, rather than just getting quotes from a hospital spokesperson or Rivera’s family.  She also quotes Linde Finsrud Wilson, CEO of Aria Health, as admitting her company was at fault, but also listing the changes and overhauls that they’re trying to make.  Whether it actually gets done will remain to be seen, but my hope is that Lucey will be the one to cover it.

There are many opportunities to portray Aria Health as a monster, and skew the story to show that.  Yes, what happened to Rivera was unconscionable, but that judgement has no place in a news story.  Lucey’s use of sources from all sides, and a state-issued report to get the facts about the actual incident, is exactly what a reporter is supposed to do.

– Renee Cree

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