Print 2/25 issue critique on deck

Wow! What a week. There was rain, sleet, and snow. But none of it kept us from getting the news out.

That’s exact what we did this week. For two days, the campus was closed but we kept working AND got a paper out AND beat deadline by hours.

Not too shabby, guys.

However, this wouldn’t be a critique without pointing out areas of improvement. So let’s get going.


We have a photo page this week. I’m a huge fan of these because it gives multimedia journalists a chance to tell a full story with more than one picture. This week, the team told the story of a campus encased by ice and sleet.  So, congrats to Alexa Stickler, Kayla Stigall, Joclian Caston for a job well done.

Guys, we’re getting lazy with our ledes. Remember what they do, their function. Almost all the ledes had issues this issue. Let’s take a look at a couple.

For the CP, the Snow Much Fun story had this lede:

Winter weather shut down campus for several days. For some on-campus residents, it wasn’t a problem, but it was a huge concern for others.

A couple of things with this lede. 1) It’s Wednesday, we all know campus was shut down for days. That’s not news. 2.) If it was a huge concern for some and not huge for others then what is the story? That’s most things. Why should I read that?

The solution is simple. Open this story with a scene. And that exists in the story already.  

Let’s look at another lede, the health care pricing story.

Feb. 15 was the deadline for enrolling in a federal Marketplace health insurance plan. It was also the deadline to avoid the penalty for not having health care for 2015.

What is the story here? Is it the Feb. 15 deadline that already happened? Or is it how this impact college students? We need to see college students in this lede and what the impact could be for them. This lede doesn’t give me the news.


Some good headlines in this issue. I particularly enjoyed “Snow much fun” and “Wranglin’ Spirit”. Yes, they’re puns but they also capture readers attention as well and performing their core function – to inform.

The same can be made for summary decks. However, there’s one that bothers me at bit, the one the obit. The headline, “Transfer student had passion for animals” is fine. But the sum deck, not so much:  

Sister recalls Rebecca Keel hiding stray animals from parents in the house.

Although this is true and even in context, this is creepy and it’s a detail that is just weird to highlight. Something like: Sister recalls Rebecca Keel’s love and care for animals  

Less creepy. Still accurate.


The photographers worked it this week but their cutlines, are a bit thin this week.  Remember, as per page H-10 of the handbook (and the flag that’s attached to your monitors) there’s 10 tests to make sure you have a well written headline. Most of the photos this week don’t pass that test.  I know that we were under the gun this week but there’s no excuse for thin cutlines. Bulk them up, please.

Alright, the entire critique is on the board. Verbal critique Friday. Be there. Be on time. Be ready to learn.

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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.