Shorthorn Critique: July 16 issue

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It’s been a busy day (and week actually). But it’s never too busy to get some critiquing done. (Nice try, guys.)

First, let’s talk about the good.

Best lede in the paper goes to: Ahmed Mheta. Ahmed worked on this story for a bit, making sure he got the right students talking about the new minor in the engineering college.  Sustainability is not an easy thing to write about mostly because it’s more concept than definition. His lede was direct and to the point and mentioned what the minor was about, not by name. Sometimes with complicated topics you have to write the lede as simply as possible and not rely on the title of one thing or another.

Honorable mention for ledes is Tanasia Curtis. Tanasia has had an interesting week working stories for print and a big one for online. Her lede about the students traveling to D.C. to celebrate the Civil Rights Act was direct. I was expecting a more feature-y lede but when I read hers, I couldn’t see another lede on that story. It was unexpected and enjoyable. Good job.

BTW, Tanasia was also chosen to be part of a journalism workshop, TheiJournalist: Smartphone Journalism for Texas Community Newspapers.  Congrats, Tanasia! 

For visuals, Richard Hoang was untouchable this week. His picture of a student’s head surrounded by Pringles and Cheetos…gross but fitting. We are talking about junk food, after all and it’s a bit gluttonous. That photo showed that. Also the video was great! LOVED IT! Is there any way we can put his story in the rotator?

Alright, this week’s theme is (insert drum roll)  finishing. Some parts of the paper felt unfinished and unpolished. I’m talking into some consideration that this week we had some people missing and on vacation, however, there’s little excuse for some of the things I saw.

Front page CP: Thank you so much for putting the VPSA visiting out front. The position in play here (actual employment position not story positioning)  is the third highest ranking official in the university. That in itself is big enough, but no other person in the administration has more influence on student life than the person heading student affairs. And the fact that so far both candidates have been women means, so far, there’s a 50 percent chance that there could be a woman in that seat. That’s a huge deal!

The design I thought was on point and I liked the mugs and quotes. YES! Refer to online! We gotta do more of that! Great job! However, I was disappointed that there wasn’t a full story there. I know we wrote one because I see it on the site. What we have is a brief that wasn’t structurally sound and, frankly, looked like we didn’t try. But here’s the thing, we did. I know we did. And we do. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell from the brief. And neither will your readers.

This is how you lose readers. We can’t do this again.

The Hong Kong story: I wonder if there were any mugs or a chance to get mugs for Team Orion? I wanted to see a picture of these folks.

I thought that the headline for the buildings story was solid. However, I wished it was more UTA centered. I wanted to see a more UTA centered focus in the lede too. We should lead with UTA’s price first with these kinds of stories.

In Life, I think that the veterans story felt more newsy than life focused. It’s almost as if Life only had one story this week. I also noticed that there was a Veterans orientation today. Did we at least send photo for some nice wild art to be published online?  Would have been nice to have seen that on the site since it’s a huge part of the UTA demographic. Perhaps we can follow up on the topic of student veterans? Maybe a day in the life?

Talking about follow up, two pieces on opinion could be amazing follow up for news — graduate student representation and social media for job seekers. Both would be widely read and hits some demographics we don’t usually cover. Let’s get on it.

We need to be more careful with editing. It’s something I’ve been noticing for a bit now but it was extremely apparent in this issue. We  should not be afraid of pronouns. We should make sure that sentences receive one period. We need to make sure that there isn’t weird spacing. Wordiness needs to be weeded out. Immediately.

When things are left unfinished, it looks like we didn’t try. If it looks like we didn’t try, then why should readers read us. It’s about trust. They trust us to give them the goods. When we don’t, they go away. So, let’s give them the goods.

Alright, that’s what I got for now. As always the door is open. Onward and upward.

This entry was posted in Training by Icess Fernandez Rojas. Bookmark the permalink.

About Icess Fernandez Rojas

Icess is a writer, professor, and blogger. She is a graduate of Goddard College's MFA program. Her work has been published in Rabble Lit, Minerva Rising Literary Journal, and the Feminine Collective's anthology Notes from Humanity. Her nonfiction has appeared in Dear Hope,, HuffPost and the Guardian. She is a recipient of the Owl of Minerva Award, a VONA/Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation alum, and is also a Kimbilio Fellow. She's currently working on her first novel.

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