7/15/15 Critique

-Best visuals: SAE photos shot by Cody Bahn. Coming in a close second is Alexa Stickler’s photo ill for social media.

-Best story – I enjoyed three stories this week. Anna Gutierrez’s social media story, the 25 criminal trespass story, and the system separates fees from tuition story. I like them all but for different reasons. I’ll explain more in depth in the critique.

Again, I think the SAE story was great choice for centerpiece. Congrats to Javier for his first centerpiece!

The design could have been a bit more fun. It would have been a great opportunity to play with white space. The main art, the horizontal could have been the dominant art with white space. The vertical could have been smaller as well. The headline should be fun something like:

And they’re off

Formula SAE team hosts annual racing event

Looking at the story, I wish that it had a deeper read. There were lots of typos that weren’t caught. The copy isn’t very clean and it was difficult to read because of it.

The fees and tuition story – the was very clear. So was the headline. Super newsy with important that readers need to know about. Among one of the attributes of the story is that Matt Fulkerson clearly explained how tuition is decided, a process not everyone knows and understands.

I chose the trespass story as one of the best stories because it’s an example of something called an enterprise story, a story that isn’t breaking or from a press release but that is “found” on the reporter’s beat. Kathryn Cargo noticed that there were 17 non-students arrested so far this summer.

Enterprise stories are how news reputations are built. They also make great clips. Every reporter should aim to do enterprise reporting.

I was surprised that the trespass story didn’t have a graphic. The story has lots of numbers, most especially in the lede and it lends itself to numbers. It was disappointing that we didn’t take that opportunity to do that with this story.

Also, I’m surprised that this didn’t make it to the front page. No one else has this story! This is our story that we found and reported! When we have these stories, we need to show them off.

Digging in – the lede isn’t as direct as it should be. It doesn’t tell me why having that many non-students arrested from May until now is a big deal. Is that number up or down from last year? Is it the same? Is police increase patrols? Do more people need to be on alert? Those are just some of the questions from the lede the reader is asking. So many questions and not enough answers.

Remember when we talked about numbers and stats? There always needs to be a baseline. Did something increase or decrease? Can’t know that until you have something to compare it to. This story missed that.

The I-30 story is one of those that are definitely of interest because, as a commuter campus, anything having to do with roads readers will flock to. This in particular is of interest because it’s frustrating to get off of 360 to get on 30. Like, what is that?

So this lede, however, is clunky and complicated.

Modern renovations are in the works for Interstate 30 and State Highway 360 at the heart of Arlington’s entertainment district. Because I-30 and SH 360 don’t directly connect, motorists have to exit the highway and drive through multiple stoplights to get on the other.

The lede really is just that first sentence. The second sentence is completely out of place and seems like it would go in the nutgraph. But is it renovations or are they building connectors?

The story has some structure problems as well. We learn that the project will be out to bid before we even know what the project actually is. What are the contemporary upgrades exactly? And since they build things like these in phases, what are they going to be doing in each phase. And the MILLION DOLLAR question wasn’t answered. When are people going to be able to drive on this thing?

The Life section had something I’ve been talking about forever – news to use. Just a calendar of the fall concerts. Brilliant. It’s something that people can tear out of the paper and keep for a reference or a graphic they can look on line for to find out what they need to know.

I’m wondering, however, why the social media story wasn’t the centerpiece in the section? The photo ill told the story and the topic is of interest to readers.

Alright. More on the board! Door’s 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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