Monthly Archives: March 2010

Flash Mob Howls: Further Demonizing Black Youth Without Understanding the Issues.

You know it’s a slow news day when the lead headline is “Possible flash mob thwarted by police.” And you know the story isn’t going to contain very much news. After all, how can you thwart a possibility?

As Philadelphians – or perhaps more aptly, the Philadelphia media – have been discussing the recent flash mob phenomenon occurring amongst the city’s youth, overhyped concern about overplayed events characterize much of the coverage. Continue reading


Bedbugs + Lack of Information = Howl!

The Philadelphia Daily News story titled, “Phila.-area hotels to bed bugs: there’s no room for you,” is a bonafide snooze fest. Journalist Emily Schultheis writes about an upcoming bed bug seminar in Philadelphia hosted by the Philadelphia Hotel Association. Unfortunately, she only provides readers with a general overview of what bed bugs are and stops short of actually giving readers useful information. The article doesn’t tell you how to detect bed bugs, what to do if you have them or if any hotels in the area have a bed bug infestations. Continue reading

Howl! Someone Made an Assumption and the Inquirer Jumped.

Normally I like Peter Murcha’s articles. But I had several complaints with his recent story about some rocks that look like a skull and shoulders. For some reason, some people thought they were the remains of Natalie Holloway. But they weren’t.

Where did the Natalie Holloway component come from?  It’s not really clear from this story. From what I gather, this local woman took some photos of rocks while in Aruba, and when she thought they looked like skull and bones, she handed it over to the FBI.  So, just because you find some weird looking rocks, they’re automatically the bones of a missing girl?  What? Continue reading

Hoot! The DN Takes the Time to Hold the Government Responsible.

My Hoot for this week is a story by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker about the former Mid-City YMCA annex, and how it has become an eyesore and a toxic place for students at a charter school and the surrounding neighborhood.

This story was interesting to me for a couple of reasons. One, 20th and Chestnut is one of Philadelphia’s nicer neighborhoods and I’m surprised that the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority has been allowed to leave this building in this shape for this long. I also thought the story was interesting because of what is connected to this building, the Freire Charter School. I thought about the kids and how crazy it is that they are exposed to rats and mold.

It was a well reported story that you could tell the reporters spent a lot of time gathering information for. The entire mid-section of the story is filled with the kind of information that I would really want to know if I were the parent of a student at Freire. 

The best of these details was the information that the reporters got from Bill Cullen, the owner/operator of Mr. Cleanouts, the organization that won the RDA contract to clean out the Annex. He said that he hadn’t been told of the potential environmental hazards contained in the rat infested and mold covered building. He also said that he hadn’t seen any carcasses and asbestos. While had been told to wear a hazmat suit, Cullen decided not to and said to the reporters: “I was happy to make money. I’m a family man, I did what I had to do.”

– Denise Clay

A Howl! For Assuming Everyone Hates the PPA (Sure, They Probably Do … But How About Reporting That?).

Melissa Dribben’s Inquirer feature about the public’s distain for our new parking meters has a promising headline but never really delivers.

According to her, the city is fed up with the new credit card reading meters and, as a result, the Philadelphia Parking Authority. I’d never suggest that Philadelphians aren’t PPA haters, but those two dots are never connected in a way that correlates them

She speaks with Linda Miller, the PPA spokesperson.

Miller says, “We’ve sold $1.5 million and have only had 200 complaints.” Doesn’t sound so bad to me.

This is counterbalanced by, I assume, upset people Dribben spoke with on the street and the plight of a 60 year-old woman who couldn’t get the meter to work for her. When’s the last time a 60 year-old couldn’t get new technology to work? I was expecting more compelling evidence.

The second half of the story basically talks about how much people dislike the PPA by taking a look at some of the horrible things that go in inside their office. Other than some pretty shocking quotes that fine-payers have said to employees, such as telling a pregnant employee, “I hope your baby dies,” this seems fairly average for any town that doesn’t give away parking for free.  It’s definitely not caused by the new meters.

The story suffers from not having any solid information to stand on. It assumes that most people are upset about the difficulty of using them.

– Brendan McNamara

Howl! Big News From the Eagles? Nah. But Read This!

Ladies and gentlemen of Philadelphia, I have news. Big news.  

Donovan McNabb has not yet been traded to the St. Louis Rams.

Let that soak in for a moment. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Ok, ok, but the deal is going down, right? I mean, at this point, they’re just ironing out the details, right?

Well, actually, um – how should I put this? – not quite. According to Jeff McLane, author of the Eagles’ blog Birds’ Eye View, “Whether that deal or any deal is imminent is unclear.” Eagletarian, another Eagles’ blog appearing on, notes that the Rams’ front office has vehemently denied that the proposed deal – Donovan McNabb to the Rams for their second round pick (33rd overall) and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe – is on the table. Continue reading

Hoot: The Inquirer Explains the Impact of the New Health Care Law on Students.

This week I am hooting a Philadelphia Inquirer article that does a great job of taking a complex topic and simplifying it for readers.  Covering anything having to do with health care is a cumbersome and confusing task, but this writer breaks down the topic and hones in on the health-care law “hitch.”  In this article, staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen reveals a loophole in the recently signed health care law.  Apparently one provision of the law will allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26 years old.  However, the question of who is to pay for the coverage remains uncertain. Continue reading