The Line. 03.31.10

Here are some notes on this issue of The Shorthorn:

Best headline:

Group tumbles into town next week (by Mark Reeder)

The verb does all the work here – tumbles is specific, sets the tone for the article and paints a picture, all in one. Nice job.

Lesson from other headlines: We’re losing specificity in headlines. Remember the key-word method and focus on what makes each story unique. You aren’t just selling a story, you are selling THIS story.

Best story find:

Great beat reporting from Joan Khalaf on her Phi Gamma Delta story regarding an incident that is impacting the fraternity’s involvement on campus for the rest of the semester. The story, although it does not include details of what happened, reflects good source building and hustle in trying to get the info to the public. Joan’s next step will be to push this story forward with more details, including police reports (that we can link to online) about the incident. This is the start of a compelling story to tell, and it started at the beginning of the semester with good source building and reporting in previous stories. Nice job finding this story.

Lesson from this: Joan found a real newsy story from her beat reporting, and jumped on it. Let’s jump on news as soon as we find out about it. We’ve been sitting on stories (like the SG filing deadline and candidates, among others) and need to get the info out as soon as possible. Don’t wait.

Best bounce back

Today’s editorial was a well-written piece that, well, I wish we didn’t have to write. The editorial faced challenges – correcting some not-so-great journalism done in Friday’s editorial stance, as well as restating its original intent. The Shorthorn editorial board took its medicine, and hopefully that will help ailing relationship with some fellow students. However, it’s important to note that this relationship started to break when we decided that something that impacts the entire student body wasn’t “newsworthy.” The lesson? Decisions you make about what goes in – or doesn’t – the paper affects your readers. From beat reports to story pitches to the budget meeting, consider your audience. What’s interesting or newsworthy to them might not be to you – and that’s perspective to include in all of your decision making. Nice sentiment in the editorial, guys.

Best thing in today’s paper:

Rasy Ran’s photo package on Page 6. The three images worked together to show different aspects of the Greek Week events, which painted a more accurate representation of the day. This, and he got video for the webcast. Nice work. Also, kudos to design for packaging this well. Curious, though – why is the best thing in the paper on the back page?

Thing to work on:

Ledes: We are backing into stories. In several stories (Bill simplifies student loan process, Hadron collider, Mavs fall, Coordinator shares tips on recycling, architecture brief, SC revisions), we gave too much background, stated the obvious or made sweeping statements instead of saying what was new in the story. Remember that the lede sells the story – it must summarize, entice, state impact and draw people in. If it doesn’t, it’s time to rewrite. Ask yourself: Why does my reader care about this story? Answer it in that first graph.

Remember, we have a lede contest going on. So far, there are no entries for this week. Fabulous prizes await …

-BF

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