Web critique: 8.29.12

A look at the web page from this morning: I couldn’t find much in the way of new stories this morning when I read the home page at 6 a.m. Notes on the new headlines follow.

Note: We need to be sure we leave new stories on the home page long enough for readers to find them before they migrate to another category. The staff is producing so many stories that readers can’t find them all … don’t assume they’ll click through for more news or features (or opinion, etc.).

Good find, cute comments from our enchilada-loving friend. Writing needs some work.
– What is HomePlate? Include in your nut graph (right after the lede) a short description of what this feature is. “In HomePlate, I find students who miss Mom or Dad’s cooking and discover the different recipes for the ultimate in comfort food.” We need something to explain what this is.
– Where is the recipe? Last week and this week, I’m set up to get a recipe. I missed that in the blog.
– Didn’t see a need to insert your own thoughts at the end. They distracted from Duran. As the writer of a blog about other people and their comfort food, don’t insert yourself into their stories. (You can insert yourself as you and the source make the food.)

HondaCivic Tour
– Lede is wordy/overwritten.
When Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington said there was (passive, empty phrase) something special about Incubus (person or band? don’t assume readers know) and his(unclear pronoun reference) band sharing the stage for the 2012 Honda Civic Tour(what is this? don’t assume people know), the world may not have known the true magnitude(overwritten – omit true. magnitude by itself works) of his statement.
– Is this a review of the performance? The piece needed to be labeled a review.
– Watch for overwriting. (“Absolute perfect” is redundant; “the only thing they left the crowd wanting was more” … isn’t fact – that’s what it left you wanting – don’t speak for everyone.) and confusing phrasing. This paragraph left me scratching my head:
“Despite the show’s length, which seemed to go on for hours and hours, the  the crowd was anything but ready to go home and screamed, cried and cheered for Linkin Park to once again take the stage.” (Break this into two sentences. Keep to one idea per sentence to help clarity.)
– Nice photos, Bianca. Each needs a complete, unique cutline. (Full ID on musician and the band he/she is with; something about the band.)
– Overall, I don’t get a sense of the type of music these bands perform. I get a sense of screaming, but I would have liked a few sentences describing this type of music.

UTA-HOST mentors and mentees break the ice at Welcome Mixer

Headline is too long: Never use padding (“the, and”) and omit unnecessary words “welcome mixer.” Name of organization is UTA-HOSTS.

Photo: Nice image shows interaction. Be sure the cutline provides complete information. This lists the people but doesn’t tell the story of how they are connected (is the senior the mentor for the other women?). Get the full story in the cutline.

Story: The lede packed in a lot of information about WHO and WHAT, it didn’t mention the key point – WHY the groups of students were getting together:

“Mentors, mentees and other UTA students attended the Welcome Mixer hosted by UTA-HOSTS! (Helping Other Students to Succeed) Tuesday evening in the University Center’s Bluebonnet Ballroom for bowling, billiards, board games and snacks.

The event’s goal was for new students, or mentees, to meet with their mentors in a social environment.”

The news in this story is that many mentors were meeting their mentees for the first time, not that they attended this mixer. (Saying the met omits the need for saying they attended.) Always simplify to get to the heart of what happened and why:
“Mentors in the UTA-HOSTS program met their counterparts, many for the first time, during a welcome mixer Wednesday in the Bluebonnet Ballroom. With bowling, billiards and board games to bring them together, program organizers hoped to provide a social environment for the new partners.”

Don’t forget basic information that should be reported: How many mentors were there? How many mentees? How many mentors and mentees are in the program overall? (A check of the archives should be the first stop in ANY reporting – doing so would have shown the reporter and editor that the program has more mentees than mentors, causing nearly all mentors to double or triple up on mentees. That could have been a good angle to follow up on as a mentor meets all three of her or his new mentees). ALWAYS CHECK THE ARCHIVES. Good paragraph about what the program is is tucked at the end; that needed to be moved to the second paragraph. The writer did a nice job talking to multiple students. Don’t be afraid to dive deeper into a conversational interview with the sources; ask them why they joined the program, what they hope to achieve with their mentors, how they plan to communicate this summer. Be the link between the reader and the source.

Guest column
Great job finding and working with a student to get local reaction to a national story.
(I was turned off by the writer’s plug to his event. Be mindful of how a reader will react to such things. Pull out the event and write a news story if it’s that important, then tease to that content.) The writer also turned off readers with his constant nickname giving to the people he’s writing about. We got the point early; the repetitive sarcasm got old and diluted his argument.

New Maverick Orientation assists new students in overcoming homesickness

(This story is about homesickness and features orientation leaders … but isn’t about New Maverick Orientation. Headline is misleading.)

Style notes:
– We don’t use single quote marks unless inside a direct quote, to indicate a quote within a quote. Any other use should be double quotes:
Never to be outdone by his counterpart Todd ‘legitimate rape’ Akin, who took heat for saying legitimate rape victims rarely get pregnant,  Steven ‘pit-bull’ King

– Watch your hyphens. Review AP style punctuation guide (in back of the book). No hyphen needed here:

More to come,



4 thoughts on “Web critique: 8.29.12

  1. Pingback: Published Work: 8/25 to 8/31 | No Bull

  2. Students discuss trouble with classes
    3 Images, Interview with students and quotes.
    8/18/14 Online

    Students Participate In Ice Breakers At Annual Event
    3 images and 2 vines
    8/18/14 Online

    Wet ‘n’ Wild makes a splash
    11 photos and 1 Minute Video
    8/22/14 Online

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