M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Posts Tagged ‘obama

Development of a news story: Is Obama’s high-speed rail a ‘train to nowhere’?

with one comment

Over at msnbc.com, I have a piece looking at the status of President Obama’s ambitious project to bring high-speed rail — think Japan’s bullet trains — to most of the country by 2034.

The assignment was to write about the ballooning costs estimates for the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco project, which has been widely covered. So the challenge was to find A) a new angle on a story everyone already knows about and B) a way to make an infrastructure budget story — a known click repellent — interesting.

The first part was relatively easy: Let’s put the California project into a national context and see what, if anything, it says about Obama’s overall plan. The second part was a little harder.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

November 7, 2011 at 9:30 am

Reporting: Majority of states line up to ditch No Child Left Behind

with 3 comments

Since President Barack Obama announced last month that he would allow states to request waivers from mandatory participation in No Child Left Behind, at least 27 have already signaled that they will ask to opt out.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan — who had to follow No Child Left Behind when he was CEO of Chicago schools — isn’t just offering the waivers. He’s actively encouraging education officials to apply for them, he says, because it’s “fundamentally broken.”

What officials want to fix is the rigidity of the current law, which set standards so restrictive that entire schools are deemed to be failing if only a relatively few students don’t meet test standards.

Under current rules, a school’s success is based on a statewide test that assesses 40 categories. If just one subcategory — such as students with disabilities or those who are economically disadvantaged — doesn’t make its federal Adequate Yearly Progress benchmark, then the entire school fails.

What do you think? Who should measure how well our schools are doing?

Full story (Alex Johnson/msnbc.com-NBC News special report)

Written by Alex

September 30, 2011 at 7:41 am

Obama: Military action has stopped Gadhafi

leave a comment »

President Barack Obama declared Monday night that the U.S. military action in Libya had “stopped (Moammar) Gadhafi’s deadly advance,” fulfilling what he said was a U.S. responsibility not to “turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries.” …

In a nationally televised address from the National Defense University in Washington, Obama sought to convince a skeptical Congress and a doubting nation that he was doing the right thing by intervening militarily in a third Muslim nation. He did that by casting the conflict as a moral response to oppression by Libya’s leader, whom he called “a tyrant.” …

The administration has struggled to make clear what it hopes to achieve in Libya, where U.S. forces were sent March 19 while Obama was out of the country on a South American tour. …

Obama acknowledged that “Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya.” To allay those concerns, he stressed that enforcing reform in Libya “will be a task for the international community and, more importantly, a task for the Libyan people themselves.”

Full story (Alex Johnson/msnbc.com)

Written by Alex

March 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Posted in Original

Tagged with , , ,

State of the Union: Obama urges cooperation and innovation

leave a comment »

Declaring that the nation faces big decisions like those it confronted at the dawn of the space race, President Barack Obama called for sweeping bipartisan “investments” in science, education and infrastructure in his State of the Union address Tuesday night — all without increasing government spending.

In a 61-minute address from the House chamber, Obama pleaded for a cooling of political tensions to help him reach that goal, saying America faced a crossroads that demanded a cooperative effort “bigger than party and bigger than politics.”

At “our generation’s Sputnik moment … we will move forward together or not at all,” the president said, recalling the massive U.S. mobilization of money and resources to catch the Soviet Union after it launched the world’s first satellite into space in 1957.

At the same time, Obama acknowledged that he must accommodate conservatives’ demands for restrictions on overall government spending and taxes, proposing a freeze on “annual domestic spending for the next five years.”

Full story (Alex Johnson/msnbc.com)

Written by Alex

January 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Decision 2010: We voted against Obama, Pelosi, voters say

with one comment

For Democrats, Election Day was judgment day, with the jurors standing up and convicting them of guilt by association with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.

Full story (Alex Johnson/msnbc.com)

Written by Alex

November 3, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Decision 2010: Divided Congress on tap as Republicans take House

leave a comment »

Americans who insisted they were tired of partisan divisions elected a divided Congress on Tuesday, giving Republicans control of the House of Representatives but handing Democrats a razor-thin hold on the Senate.

Full story (Alex Johnson/msnbc.com)

Written by Alex

November 2, 2010 at 9:52 pm