Online critique, Nov. 29-Dec. 5

Best: Great hustle on the homeless man found dead outside the University Center. News and photo both arrived before other media outlets and posted online and Tweeted quickly as well.

The sports desk has provided continuous, stellar beat coverage on basketball along with good, timely reaction to Coach Seymour retiring and the basketball conference competition schedule.

We had strong multimedia within this last week: Seymour timeline, imbedded clips of music with Nick’s story about the UTA grad that teaches high school and creates music on the side.

Isabel wrote—and has written throughout the semester—a clear and timely recap of the Faculty Senate meeting that lays out important changes to the tenure selection process.


Needs work: I’ve already spoken to news and the DME about this, but it’s a good lesson for the newsroom: in the story about the protestors at City Hall that took the city to task for safety issues with Cooper Street in the wake of the recent fatal accident, we need to point out (because we know it and have reported it) that Cooper is not the city’s road. It is a Farm-to-Market state road and under the Texas Department of Transportation. Just because we’re covering something in which the subjects purport something doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do our diligence to point out to the reader that the information might not be true or complete. This is part of our duty as journalists to write fair and balanced stories. We need to make sure that we always include background and context. Every time.

Online stories, Nov. 28, Critique

Best things:

Destine turned a nice piece from the two road games from the Lady Mavs’ trip to the East Coast. Covering road games from home is never easy, but Destine did solid work combining the play-by-play from the two games into one story. She also used active verbs to describe the games: “powered,” “struggled,” “topped,” “maintained” “falter.” This makes the reader feel they are right there at the away games, which isn’t an easy feat.

Good work by Madelyn on including a map with her College Park Center vacancies story. This helps equate us with the area we’re talking about and shows where these potential restaurant spaces are located. It’s less confusing, too.

Needs improvement:

Although I like the interviews and the writing on Zachary’s fear story, I’m puzzled about why we wrote it. Is there a time peg? Is there a purpose? We need an “in” or an angle to which readers can relate. Can we peg it to finals?

The headline with the College Park Center story reads: “College Park District vacancies may see new business.” The vacancies can’t “see” new business. It needs to read something more like “College Park vacancies may lead to new business development.”

Online stories, Nov. 23, critique

Best things:

         Nick did a nice job on the Student Congress walk around campus to look for potential safety hazards. He included good description and color and an abundance of quotes from multiple sources.

Audrey wrote an interesting and balanced piece on the Fort Worth Symphony strike that affects UTA Music Department professors.

Isabel wrote an entertaining tale about her decision to return to being a vegetarian. She comically quoted friends and family members’ reactions:

“Why?!” —Mom

“You’re so annoying.” — Lovely roommate

“How did that happen?” — Friend

“You’re still doing that?” — Dad

Needs improvement:

The lede on the UTA Thanksgiving dinner with Dr. K was at the end of the story: an anecdote from the president about how his wife invited him home for Thanksgiving in college. And the rest is history.

Online stories, Nov. 22, Critique

Best things:

       Good work on the writing about the new reusable to-go boxes being used by UTA Dining. Interesting story.

Selby did nice work on the men’s basketball home game coverage. Good use of stats and explaining how the team stopped its losing streak.

Allee showed great initiative on the photo slide show that details some electrical engineering students’ work assembling a wind turbine project.

Needs improvement:

Let’s watch our headlines: The one with Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities says “Arlington.” Only one of the three listed is in Arlington.

In the online degrees story, we say: The program “gives special emphasis to.” Just say “emphasizes.”

In the story about the UTA Dining to-go boxes, we don’t need the first sentence.

Before: Sustainability efforts grow at UTA through a new initiative for washable, to-go boxes.

UTA Dining Services has replaced the styrofoam to-go boxes at the Connection Café with reusable, plastic green containers.

The change is part of a sustainability effort, University Center director David Albart said. It will reduce the carbon footprint on the environment and also reduce food waste.

After: UTA Dining Services has replaced the styrofoam to-go boxes at the Connection Café with reusable, plastic green containers, continuing the university’s sustainability efforts.

The change is part of an ongoing effort, University Center director David Albart said, to reduce the carbon footprint on the environment and also reduce food waste.

Online stories, Nov. 17-18, 21 Critique

Best things:

You exhibited great hustle and teamwork with impressive contributions all around from the reporting and editing crew who covered and followed up on the fatal pedestrian accident. These are not easy stories to cover when they happen and in the days after, so kudos to John for tackling his first spot news scene and for Sorayah for keeping it going. We had great information ahead of everyone else that we stayed on top of in the hours and days afterward. Narda’s obit was well-sourced with classmates and social work sources.

Madelyn’s story about UTA updating its sexual harassment policy was timely and solid.

We’ve all benefitted over the last few days from unique voices and thoughts from established columnists like Isabel and Selby and newbies, like Zachary, who turned a wonderful theater review, and Chanel, who served up a shot of Disney nostalgia.

The Sports desk has done great work with the start of basketball season and hosting Sunbelt volleyball. Destine’s women’s basketball coverage from the team’s 3-0 start has been outstanding.

Needs improvement:

On accident stories and follow-ups, all spot news really, we need to practice “writing through.” If we start out with the news that we have at 6:30 pm and we update at 8 pm or 10 pm, we need to add the new info at the top but then re-edit and re-order the story from what we had earlier, cleaning it up and threading in new information. We can’t just put down a new time stamp and leave the old information. Much of what gets moved down can stay it just needs to be re-cast as context.

The meditation story could have benefitted from an information box on other social work meditation sessions or other departments like Counseling and Psychological Services who offer these as well. We told people about how the classes work but don’t tell them how they can do one themselves.

In the courthouse coverage story on the former UTA associate professor, the lede needed some re-working:


The discovery hearing for communication associate professor Eronini Megwa, who was arrested for money laundering, was canceled today.

Megwa was arrested in May 2014 in connection with charges of money laundering more than $200,000.


A pre-trial hearing in a former communication associate professor’s money-laundering case was canceled on Friday.

Eronini Megwa was arrested in 2014 in connection with charges of money laundering more than $200,000.

Online stories, Nov. 16, Critique



Best things:

       There was great teamwork and online collaboration from Sam, Nick and Narda on a comprehensive campus construction feature. And check out Narda’s interactive map/timeline. We’re getting there by pushing toward daily digital extras like this. So, for her initiative, Narda gets today’s “Digital Shoutout.”

Alex wrote a brave column about being a Trump supporter that offers interesting perspective about politics and opinions.

We had good follow-up stories from Isabel on Texas Live! construction and from Audrey on women at the polls on election day.

Quick thinking and hustle from Selby resulted in a nice daily story about Tony Romo stepping down as starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

Needs improvement:

       We suffered from some sloppy editing today.

Audrey’s story has a quote talking about “her,” which I assume is Hillary Clinton… before we even introduce Hillary into the story.

Also, in Madelyn’s Handitran story, Arlington only contributed a portion of the $3.5 million grant. We need to say “approved funding a portion” of the grant in the lede.

We also had several sentence fragments as quotes. These need to be complete sentences or we paraphrase them. Let’s be more careful.



Online stories, Nov. 15, Critique

Best things:

       Daniel’s photograph of the Super Moon was beautiful! Great work tackling that shot.

       John had a lede with his pipeline story that encompassed the details that we need and told the reader the important information right up front:

The Native American Student Association hosted the Stand with Standing Rock panel Monday to educate and raise awareness about the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The construction of the pipeline has caused controversy leading to a dispute between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The two-sentence lede works well here because it gets us the background we need along with the news value. Good job.

Matt did a nice follow-up on the Life Science building construction news that came out of last week’s UT System board meeting.

Carla’s column shared her passionate and funny take (and a bit of a counterpoint to Shabbir’s column yesterday) about being “concerned” about a person’s weight.      

Needs improvement:

       In the Phi Delta Theta chili cook-off story we say that the local UTA chapter is fundraising for a different group than its national chapter. Did we ask why?

Who is our source for weather stories, the Weather Channel or the National Weather Service in Fort Worth? I’ve seen it both ways.