Newspaper critique 1/28

Wow! It’s been quite a day. I apologize for not having the critique up earlier.  

So here it is, the second issue. Lots of improvement from last week — better selection of stories, better reporting, some nice headlines. Although the day and the creation of this issue felt hectic, some how it made for a solid issue. Let’s get started.



I am fuzzy hearting the cerebral palsy story on the front of the paper today. Garret Martin, you did an excellent job describing how gaming is helping those with the disease. Reading the equipment used in this research showed me how important this work is. The accompanying picture from Richard Hoang brought the story to life by putting a face with the research. Great job, guys!

Chris Perry, I am loving your work in the paper so far! Portraying Student Congress as a superhero helping out a Maverick… you hit the nail on the head with Loan Ho’s guest column. Great job.

Richard Hoang’s photo illustration on the front of life was great. I liked that there were two great options to pick from for this story. I think everyone had a favorite, which is exactly the right position you want to be in when you’re choosing art for a page, picking from really good vs really good. Thanks for putting that together.


Hello visuals! I can tell you did some work this week. It’s very much appreciated. Let’s start with the front page.

Not a bad photo for the Little Libraries story, however, I don’t see the person’s face. With stuff like this, it’s always to get the angle that isn’t the most obvious. Even if they don’t completely turn out, it’s always a good idea to think outside the box with camera angles and framing of basic photos.

This is the same note I have to the professor photos on page 6.  The photo of Roemer standing at the board is a nice basic shot but perhaps standing at the back of the class with him in the front, the back of students in the shot and the scope of the room. Or maybe he’s framed in a different way — between two rows of desks maybe.  


Designers have done a great job with this issue. Woo hoo! Four stories on the front. However, let’s treat all section fronts like 1A, giving the stories some great play.

Let’s talk about Pg. 7 Even though we have a really nice portrait of Mr. Smith on the page, it’s gray, meaning there is a bunch of type there. Would have been nice to have some different elements to break up the type on that page.  


Pg. 3 the city council story needed a locator map. Where exactly is this development?


Guys, let’s talk about details. The best stories are made the best because of details. For example, in the Little Library story, we write about it but we never say what it is or how it started (it was not the brainchild of the people in the story. Little Libraries is a nationwide thing that started in 2009.) That needed to be in the story.

Another example, in the theft decrease story, we know that the MAC has the same system that is being used in the library and that is being credited with the decrease. So what does theft look like at the MAC? That’s a detail that would only take a sentence or two but would make a difference in the story.

In the city council story, we learn about the development that’s going in but there’s a sentence that says, that this development will bring commerce to the North Arlington entertainment district. So that means something is already there. What’s there? This project is coming in two phases, when do those phases start? What’s going to be done with traffic? What shops are going in and if they don’t know when will they? Details, details, details.

Another thing I see us doing is that we’re still burying the lede, the NASA (Oh snap! We misspelled department in a headline) story. The lede on this story is not the lede. Neither is the next paragraph or the next one. The lede is on the bottom of the first column. By the time a reader get there, they’re confused. Don’t confuse the reader. Ever.  

The same goes for the Real Stories, Real Life story. The first paragraph isn’t the lede. For a story like this, a straight lede would be good. Something like:  A UTA professor will debut his latest film on HBO Go Sunday.   Or maybe a delayed lede:

Ya’ke Smith grew up seeing things most people see in a movie. People getting shot. Drug dealers. Gang activity. But when it was time for him to make his own movie, he chose a topic with a character on her path to redemption.

“I wanted to create stories and narratives about people that are vilified, demonized or stereotyped by the media,” he said.

Smith, a UTA film and video assistant professor, will debut his latest film on HBO GO on Sunday.

See how that works.

Okay, guys. That’s what I got today. Both critiques are on the board.  Let me know if you have any questions.

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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.