First critique for the summer staff on deck!


Hello Summer Staffers!

It’s great to see everyone here and working. Orientation was fun and I’m sure you learned tons. Everything from Shorthorn policies to some basic interviewing skills, we covered so much information.

One of the things that was most exciting was doing the mock story.  This is an opportunity to learn the basics in a real world-esque setting before going out and doing it for publication.


It’s also an opportunity for your editors to see what you can do and how best they can help. It’s also a great chance for the adviser to see what you need to learn, grow, and be great.

So, I’ve gotten a chance to look at the mock stories. Overall, they were good. The news identified in the first graph — the lede — of the story. That’s great! There’s some patterns I’ve seen so far.

Ledes — Remember when I said they can be the hardest things to write but the most important thing read? It’s that way because it’s the first thing readers will read. That means that readers determine, very quickly, whether or not they will continue reading. So, you’ll need to get the news — and how it impacts readers — right on top.

For the mock story, it’s about this new space where students will be able to use 3-D printers and scanners for practically anything they want.  In this case, the info you want on top is 1) launching of dedicated space for 2) technical and highly expensive equipment that 3) everyone, including students will have access.

Attribution — Attribution is the he said/she said of the matter. There’s lots of opinion in the world and none of it should come from you in articles. In fact, there should be no trace of bias at all.  

So a line like, “ …these plans require professionals hired to assist in the use of these advanced technologies” needs to be attributed.  This is information that someone has to know and isn’t common knowledge. Though it may be in a press release, it still needed to be attributed.

Some things that don’t need to be attributed (in general)

  1. Common knowledge, i.e. the sky is blue, it’s raining outside, 2+2=4
  2. Things that you can look up

Everything else needs to be attributed.  

Editorializing — Remember when I wrote about biases needing not to be in the article. Editorializing is giving an opinion, even if you didn’t mean it. For example, this line:

Overwhelming is a key word is Bichel’s statement because like Vasquez won’t get help in their work from this technology.

Who said overwhelming is a keyword? Is it? Why is it? Is it supposed to be? If someone said this it needs to be in quotations but for the most part, it’s not the job of the reporter to say this.

Names, titles, and accuracy, oh my! — Tsk, tsk, journalists! I saw I some source names misspelled and some source titles that were not correct.  

Accuracy is job one for journalists. Always ask, even if they’ve already have, how to spell someone’s name. Always spell it back to them. Always check name spellings three times. I know it could be tedious to do it but you’ll be glad you did.

Several of you relied on the press release to accuracy spell names. Another tsk. One of the sources name was Rolanda but some wrote Roland. It’s details like that you’ll need to watch out for when reporting. When this happens, you ask the source, “I see that the press release spelled your name like this. Is it accurate?”

Sometimes, guys, the press release is wrong. It happens.

So you always have to ask the question and if there is something different from the press release or your research, ask about it and confirm.


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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.