July 8 issue critique

Woo! It took some time to get through this meaty newspaper. Lots of news! More than last week. Lots to read.

So let me get started.

Best lede: Anna Gutierrez’s lede on the Transformation Tuesday story is just plain awesome. It captured the essence of the story before I read it. It passes the TSA test – what will you tell your loved one something important right before you pass the guard in the TSA line.

Best headline: One extra life for video games. LOVE THIS! It’s a pun, it hints at the story about dispelling a video game myth by using a common thing in the subject of the story – an extra life.

Best visual: I love the football photos on the front page. I’m glad we took advantage of color this week. And also glad that we promo-ed a story online that was a great enterprise piece from Karen Gavis and great photos from Kayla Stigall.

You’ve heard me say before that details will take something from good to great. That has never been so true than it is with this issue. I read some places where the word choice wasn’t quite right, or there was lots of info stuffed in one sentence, or where things were just not quite as focused as it should be.

For example, this headline: Benefits linked to homophobia

Reading it before the story, it makes me think that there are some benefits to homophobia. Yikes! When I read it, it instantly put me off. Imagine what it did with the reader?

In the copy, there’s examples of work choice or tightening that could make the stories better. For example, in the Transformation Tuesday story, the sentence “The tweet ended up getting close to 34,000 retweets and over 50,000 favorites.”

Not a bad sentence. Here’s what it looks like when it’s tightened.

The tweet received about 34,000 retweets and more than 50,000 favorites.

It gives the reader the same info with fewer words. Five words were replaced with two.

Let’s do another one. The Facebook lede was great.

Facebook “likes” Fort Worth by unveiling a $1 billion, 250,000 square foot data center Alliance Center with plans to expand to 750,000 square feet with two additional buildings in the future.

Wow. That’s a long sentence. Let’s try this.

Facebook “likes” Fort Worth.

The social media company unveiled a new data center at Alliance Center Tuesday that will (insert what data centers do cause I have no idea). The $1 billion, 250,000 square foot building is one of five worldwide. The company plans to expand the facility to 750,000 square feet with two additional buildings.

There’s lots of information in the lede of this story. There’s so much that it’s a lot to process all at once. So how do you distill lots of good info that needs to be up high in the story? One thought per sentence.

Also, you gotta separate the “likes” sentence because when are you ever going to get a chance to write that again?


Looking at Opinion and Life. Both have opportunities to make the content more focused. For the two columns, the argument, the writer’s actual opinions were at the end. Why? They’re great opinions! There’s lots of story but not enough opinion.

Usually when the opinion is at the end of a column, it’s because the argument hasn’t been development enough.

On the Life page, the name survives rebuild story seemed like it was two stories in one. Large chunks of it had been reported before (some by this paper) and there was really nothing new. Also, the story began as a look at the library’s name sake but quickly went to another topic. That reporting wasn’t picked up until the very end.

This is what these three things have in common. The focus wasn’t quite right. In the opinion pieces, more time should have been spent developing the arguments. Tubman on the $20 rather than the $10 – would be great to know why the writer thinks so at the beginning of the piece. Being taken seriously as a professional woman? Yes! So how does it make the writer feel? How have other women combat this? The name story – is it about George Hawkes? Then we need more about him, most especially answering the question: why it’s important to our readers? Or is this a story about UTA student usage at the main library as they talk about what bells and whistles they’re going to put in the new building.

Alright. There’s more on the board to read and look at. As always, my door is open!

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, NBCNews.com, 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.

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