The Line. 04.28.10

Here are some notes on this issue of The Shorthorn:

Best story:

Monica Nagy’s story on the upcoming immigration march put a strong local angle on topics that are being talked about across the nation right now. This advance of the Mega March in Dallas Saturday does more than explain what students can go and do – it gives context as to why the march is timely and just enough information to spark discussion among readers.

Note: Package this with a “comment at theshorthorn.com.” This is a hot topic, and letting people know that they can voice their opinions online is a great way to get them engaged with the paper.

Best online packaging: `

Nice work from the online team in providing video, related links and related Shorthorn content with the story mentioned above. All added to the story in that they provided depth to the coverage. Add the Google map of the march site, and you’ve completed the story online. Nice work.


Best photo:

Rasy Ran’s centerpiece art for the Jar Wars story. He worked with some harsh lighting conditions and fast movement and delivered an image that lets us look at the slider’s face in motion.

Best thing in today’s paper:

Joan Khalaf’s lede on the Jar Wars story:

“Rahul Gaba knew the chunky and wet mixture of coffee grounds, pickles, potato chips and syrup wasn’t something he was particularly excited to dive into.
But, he did it for a good cause.”

Great way to get the reader intrigued, and to follow up with the action. The next graph goes on to describe why this snapshot was important in a nut graph.  I’ve marked in critiques that we sometimes don’t complete the anecdotes – meaning we don’t connect the lede to the story – this does just the opposite. Nice work.

Things to work on:

–       Use cutlines to tell the story. In today’s paper, cutlines left me wanting more. If you state that someone was raising money, say how much he or she raised. If you state cheerleaders are watching something, describe (or better yet, SHOW) what they were watching. Cutlines need to be “mini stories” – they need to have complete information. Answer the 5Ws, but don’t forget the H.

–       Maps need to have explainer text in them, every time. The parking graphic on Page 6 showed where lots were, but looking at it did not explain the news value of that information. Think about graphics as stories – you need to have enough information to explain why they are newsworthy, just as you would a story.

–       Editing, across the board, is sloppy in today’s paper. We’re wordy or not specific with our language. Be sure you are using your self-editing checklist. Don’t have it? Check the blog this afternoon. It, and other material we’ve discussed, is posted there for your use.

–       Headline writers, don’t be evil. Reporters work hard to deliver their ledes. Ripping them off for headlines is cruel – and lazy. Instead of restating information in the ledes (immigration, sec, leader recognition stories in today’s paper…), be sure you understand the focus of the story and draw people in. Try to focus on the impact the story has on readers, as well as being conversational.  – we’re restating ledes instead of using the key word method to craft intriguing headlines.

–       Let’s cut out the play-by-play descriptions of award ceremonies and other events (student government swear-in). Chronological rundowns of such events sometimes are necessary, but they are symptoms that we aren’t talking to enough people to tell the “real” stories. Award ceremonies, like other event coverage, are a chance to talk about and describe the lives of real UTA students doing specific things that are being recognized. Reading through the leadership and SC stories today, I don’t get a sense of what the people did to get recognized. Show, don’t just tell, readers the full story.

– Love love love that we are teasing to online from a prominent spot on P1, but evidence shows that such teases don’t translate to readers on the web. When you tease to online-only content, a proven method is to have a headline and short (three graph) story summary that teases people to want more. Can we get back to the online refer package??

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