Newsletter Critique 1/23

Good Friday morning! How was your week? Classes, work, and The Shorthorn — I’m sure that it was a busy one for you guys.

Looking over some of your work in the newsletter today, we’ve got some work to do. But first announcements.

TODAY is the first all staff meeting, which is followed by training. All this starts at 2 pm. If you will not be here, you need to talk to your editor about the staff meeting and ME about the training. I’m the only one that can excuse you from training.



Heba Said jumped on two big things on her beat yesterday and it shows. With the new UT System Chancellor visit and with the Governor making two new appointment to the board Thursday, it was a busy day for her. I’m glad we got this. Good job, Heba.

So we’re missing a couple of things in the newsletter. The multimedia desk is responsible for a multimedia story every day. I didn’t see one in the newsletter today even though I know they produced something yesterday. Let’s make sure that they are included in the newsletter.

An opinion piece was also missing from the newsletter. I don’t recall seeing one yesterday. What gives?



After nearly a week of reading your work, I’m starting to see patterns in the reporter’s writing. There’s a couple of things I want to nip in the bud.

Ledes: They were a bit off today. Here’s something that may help. Sometimes I like to think of ledes in two parts — the news and what it mean/how it impacts. So let’s take a look at the UTA Police lede:

The UTA Police Department is in fourth place one week into the Stanley Safer Schools Grant Contest.

This isn’t the lede. Not even close. What we know about the story is that the department is competing for a grant from a group that will allow them to do some stuff. The fact that they’re in fourth place is news but shouldn’t be in the lede. Here’s how to rewrite the lede.

The UTA Police Department is competing for a $200,000 grant that would be used to purchase physical security equipment.

That lede is closer. What we don’t know is who they are competing against and what specific equipment they are wanting that money for. See how the first part is the news and the second part is the impact? Let’s take a look at another lede:

Karen Kabbes, president of ASCE Environmental & Water Resources Insititute, spoke about adapting sustainable practices for water conservation.

Besides the fact that institute is spelled incorrectly, (and what is ASCE?)  this lede tells us very little, if anything at all. A person said something about water conservation.  So? Why should I keep reading? Alas, there is an easy fix to this and it’s in the next couple of graphs.

The public must look at how they use and reuse water before a decrease in freshwater resources happens, said a speaker Thursday.

Ledes is not about that something happened but what does it mean or how it impacts the reader.

I’ll address other points during my verbal critique today.


I like that we had a photo of the president and the chancellor as the lead story in the newsletter but … is it my computer… or does it look really blue?

Now that we have some content on resolutions, we should think about packaging all the of them together on the website soon. Resolution stories have a shelf life and by packaging them together and using social to promote it, you can extend the shelf life a bit.

Talking about the website and packaging — we have new content. Time to change the rotator. That rotator has to change everyday. Fresh stuff needs to be going in there. It’s a visual cute to readers that there new stuff to read. If they see the same stuff they say yesterday, they go away.

I’m wondering about art for the Engineering speaker. Where is it? Do have a mug shot? Something? That story needs art.

McRaven video: Videos need context. Always and forever. I’m glad for the lower third on it. Let’s make sure that when we do lower thirds this semester that they are uniform and consistent among all videos. Each One.

So the context here is easy, a title screen with the information — who is speaking and where. Or there could be a voice over telling viewers what they are watching. The context doesn’t have to be elaborate but it does have to exist. Also 3 minutes is a bit long for a video. Cut.

Alright, that’s what I have for now. See you at the staff meeting. The full critique is posted on the bulletin board.

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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.