Getting dirty on the page: Sept. 17 critique is on deck

Untitled design

Lots to look at and read today therefore there’s lots to touch on. Let’s get started!


1.) We’re getting better at the 3 sources in every story…except some folks didn’t get the memo. This is not negotiable, guys. Three sources always.

2.) Deadlines. Make them. Not going to say it again.

3.) I know I’m preaching to the converted here but subscribe to the blog. Everyone should do this. Why? It’s not just about being able to post payroll but you’ll get some awesome tips and learn about internships, scholarships, etc.

Tell your friends!


Lots of good visuals to pick from, which is a great problem to have. This week, I picked Alicia Brewer’s editorial illustration for the guest columnist this week. Trying to bring a visual to the topic isn’t easy but after reading the column, she gravitated to these lines:

For someone considering coming out, I would recommend thinking about who you would like to be the first person to know this important part of your identity. It should be someone who you believe will accept and support you beyond your gender or sexual identity.

From these lines she came up with the above illustration. Great job, Alicia.

Special shout outs: Perla Cabrera wrote a story that just knocked everyone over when they read it. And rightfully so. When international students had to figure out a new health insurance at the last minute, it’s easy to write a story that’s filled with complaints from students. What makes it a great story are the numbers in it and how each fact was backed up with a document of some sort. (I love documents!)


Today’s front page was fun to look at! I recall that there was talk of this cover a week before. I also remember than the last cover I liked also was planned out a week before. Oh, wait! I see a pattern here!

Does that mean that if you plan, the paper ends up better? Yes. Yes it does. Let’s continue this because this is how you get to do your best work. 

A couple of things about the cover: while I love the creativity, as a reader it took me a bit to figure out what was going on. I think the skybox (or tease or whatever we’re deciding to call it this week) needed to be in the graphic, perhaps one of the boxes. The eye is naturally traveling down so it was jarring to have to go back up.

Headline: Senior lecturer focuses on women. Creepy. Just creepy. The one on the site was better though.

Since we’re talking about ledes until we get it right (by the way, Lionel is wondering about some of them) let’s talk about the one on this story. Here’s the lede:

Carter Tiernan, computer science engineering senior lecturer, has introduced female students into the engineering field duing her career with her words and actions. She is coordinating and sponsoring Arlington Women in Engineering, the first club to concentrate on improving the gender balance in engineering programs and address the national shortage of women in the science, technology, engineering and math fields at a local university level.

This is a LONG lede and I’m not sure we’re getting the news right up on top. (Aside from the misspelling) What is the news? This new club/group/organization is starting to focus on more women entering engineering careers. It kinda sorta get there but not really.

Here’s how to fix it.

A senior computer science engineering lecturer wants to increase the number of women in engineering.

Here’s another way to write it

Carter Tiernan, computer science engineering senior lecturer, is organizing a group aimed to increase the number of women engineers.

See how the lede is streamlined and yet gives the information right up top? It’s right there and the reader doesn’t have to wait.

Yup, it’s the old waiting-in-the-TSA-line trick. It works. Use it. 

Here’s some stuff that was missing/we should follow up on from this issue:

  • Job fair? There was one today and we should have had something saying it was happening today.
  • Loved that we took two points of views on Oozeball, however, we missed the opportunity to update folks on the alumni association. This line right here make me leap yelling, WHAT!

“However, the Alumni Association is currently inactive….”

And then this line:

In former years, the money raised by Oozeball has contributed to the Student Alumni Association Sophomore Scholarship, according to a previous Shorthorn article. 

However, this year the funds will contribute to the student life fund, Kuykendall said. 

WHAT!?! Follow, follow, follow!  And btw, can we please link the two Oozeball stories together on the site.

  • UTA Radio didn’t make it into the paper today. We need more reporting so let’s get that done and online. ASAP. Folks are talking about it.
  • The fake parking permit to brief is awesome. Everyone thought so because folks have been reading it online all day.  I’m glad we wrote this one because this is a teachable moment for you guys. When a story has interest online, a follow up can help increase your page views because 1) people are already interested therefore 2) are hungry for what’s next. Let’s give them what’s next.
  • Hispanic Heritage Month? Heard of it? What’s the next event happening? Have you been reading the comments from your readers? Something that said that was story worthy. The kick off for Hispanic Heritage Month focused on Mexican traditions, however, not everyone who is Hispanic is Mexican. How can we tell their stories?
  • The health coverage story also needs a follow. It actually could have several follows. I almost feel like an open records request is coming in the near future.

The rest of the critique is on the board (and please put it back when you’re done with it.)

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s