The Line. 04.05.11

It’s back! Here are some notes on today’s print edition:

The Best Thing in Today’s Paper: Tory Barringer’s story on the student constructing a nine-foot ceramic teapot. Great find about a student doing something on campus that is different. Strong lede and focused story throughout. Nice job, Tory.

(This would have made a strong Page 1 story – it’s something readers won’t get anywhere other than The Shorthorn. Play up your student features.)

Best photo: Daniel Molina’s portrait of the two students on Scene. It put the guys in their element, which helped tell the story.

Note: Photos throughout today’s paper were pretty weak. Too many glorified mugshots, too little to reflect what is happening on campus. Inconsistency in technical quality continues to plague us. Do not run photos that don’t meet The Shorthorn’s quality standards (tells the story, focus, lighting, depth, complete cutline). Reshoot when necessary.

Best headline: Texas-sized Tea (in the Page 1 teaser). Nice play off of story, about a huge teapot.

Other notes:

Avoid redundancy.

– Nice job on the College Park Green graphic – it’s clean and explains clearly what things are. However, the story doesn’t do much to push it forward – a lot of the information is redundant after reading the graphic (the first thing a reader sees). As a package, the two need to work together to tell a complete story with unique angles in each. Use the story to talk about what the reader wants to know – how it will impact the student, show people using it, etc. This story focuses on how the university (read: administration) benefits from the progress on the green. But what can students do there? Also, the lede focuses on the butterfly release, then doesn’t follow up on it.

– Avoid stealing, or repeating, information from a quote in the transition introducing it. See Page 1 women’s studies story.

Structure, structure, structure

– Background information is choking the news out of news stories. Save it for after you state what is happening now – the now factor is what keeps people reading. (The college park story takes so much space in the first three graphs explaining what the thing is, it loses sight of what the Green is.)

– Ditto on the Japan t-shirt story.

– Avoid transition-quote-transition-quote-transition-quote setups. We have this in a few places, and it gets repetitious

Where are the students?
Tory’s story about film and music students collaborating was a great topic, but we spent so much time talking about why profs decided to do this that we didn’t get student voice until the middle of the story – not good, especially when the story is about the students! Let the students tell the story, and use the profs to back up their statements with how the collaboration happened. This structure killed the chance to elaborate on what, specifically, it meant as far as time, the projects, etc.
– We’ve underplayed, pretty dramatically, International Week activities. This is a huge week for a large portion of our readership (at least 10 percent of our campus is documented as an international student). Think about the “butts in seats” principle when making news decisions – how many people are involved or have the potential to be involved? If the number is large, especially for an on-campus event, it’s an indication that it deserves high placement in the paper. Vice-versa – is it likely to draw a smaller crowd? Why not downplay that story (considering other news indicators, as well). Key: People want to see themselves AND their friends in print. We’re not really doing that right now.

Style, grammar and other nitpicks
People are “arrested in connection with xxxx,” not “arrested for.” Every time.
– Please review rules for using single quote marks. Using them in this regard is incorrect: said they didn’t want to exclude ‘women’ from the title. In general, use the regular quotation mark in each instance, unless quoting something within a source’s quote.


Headline verbiage

Great: Brews (plays off the piece) – page 5

Not so great: to change (instead, say what the change is) – p1

Great: Music scores with film (plays off the idea of a musical score in a film) – p1

Not so great: dedicated (dull, dull, dull. Say what students will get out of it) – p1





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