Newsletter Notes, July 21

Notes from Beth on today’s newsletter:

Best thing(s) in today’s newsletter: Nnenna did a great job getting very detailed accounts from each of the English Language Institute’s two candidates. The quotes were incredibly thorough, and I got a sense of their voices.

Best headline: “Alumni Association bounces back”
This headline is successful for several reasons — it’s accurate, it’s concise, it uses double alliteration. It also has a strong verb – bounces – and it gets the attention. Good job!

Best lede: Jasmine’s Alumni Association story’s lede was great. It summarized the story to a T and immediately grabbed the reader’s attention.

“Last year Dale Martin said he witnessed the Titanic sink.
Martin, president of UTA’s Alumni Association, said after the university withdrew operational and programming support, the organization fell apart.”

Quick note on news judgment:
Every day, the website and newsletter should be a snapshot and reflection of life on the UTA campus for that day. Did we succeed in that with today’s newsletter? According to The Shorthorn, there’s little of importance going on when the No. 2 and No. 3 story spots are held by dull briefs (woman leaves purse out, purse gets stolen; someone unrelated to UTA arrested close to campus for a small amount of pot). Champion your ability to capture life and news on this campus. Get aggressive in your decision-making. Reflect the world around you. We are relying a bit too much on events like candidate forums to fill … if you had no events to cover, how would you find news? Reflect on that for our staff meeting Thursday.

Other observations:

  • We tease a video to the SAE race, and I love the natural sound it afforded. I love the GoPro idea – keep it up! It works because you put the viewer in the driver’s seat, literally. Be sure you’re checking microphone levels prior to the interview. The source on camera was very hard to hear. Avoid giving people a reason to stop viewing.
  • Most of the headlines missed the news … or simply misidentified the news. That’s an easy fix. I want you to start using what we’ll call the Calendar Test on your headlines: That is, if you read your headline after writing it and it simply states that something that was previously scheduled happened, it’s time to rewrite.
  • While I love the lede of the Alumni Association story, the story itself contained errors that could have been avoided. How? Simply calling the university. This story did a great job talking to three people/sources … but it failed to talk to the stakeholders in the topic. That is, the people or entities that have a stake in the topic. We talked to all one side – the new association board – but didn’t talk to the university that is directly impacted. Let’s think of our sources as stakeholders – do you have all sides considered in your story?
  • While I appreciated the thorough quotes in the ELI stories, it’s important to realize that they were very long. Instead of including everything, select the best parts of the quotations that tell the story. Paraphrase the rest. (You’re a trained professional and have the ability to be selective with your details. Use that great ability – trust it.)

One other note: The rotator on has all old content, even though there is so much good content on the site! Please make a better effort of swapping out the stories for our repeat readers.

Onward! Please share any thoughts or questions below.


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