Feedback: Aug. 31 Newsletter

The Good. The Bad. The Shorthorn.
Feedback on the Monday, Aug. 31 newsletter edition & website

The Best Thing in the Newsletter: Kelsi Brinkmeyer’s action shot from the volleyball game captured quite a scene: middle blocker Marisah Ingram trying to block the ball … and the very sad arena there to watch it. The cutline did a good job of explaining what she was doing. (I do wish we would have said whether she actually blocked the ball. We also needed the outcome of the match.)

Best Headline: Kevin Cushingberry’s “Cooney climbs charts, but Mavericks falter” quickly identified the unique angle in this sports story while alerting the reader that the team lost. Nicely done! (And a good reminder that reporters know their stories best: This suggested headline came from our volleyball reporter!)d

Best Story Package: Kathryn Cargo and Jessi Jones’s coverage of Super Service Saturday, a Maverick Stampede event, didn’t actually get promoted in today’s newsletter (more on that later). But this story package did a great job of showing its impact on the community and the volunteers (kudos to KC for her lede focusing on a student rather than the event itself). Jessi did a great job tying her reporting together with the stills and video she shot at the event. I especially like that you both highlighted students and impact in this story – not the background of the event.

Overall impression: The newsletter was full today … but not from what I expected to see. TheShorthorn.com had some great video and story coverage from multiple events this weekend that drew several hundred students … but they weren’t anywhere in the newsletter. The newsletter is the No. 1 driver of readers to your site. If they don’t see a story there, it is likely they will miss seeing it altogether. The newsletter must contain everything published online in the last 24 hours; on Mondays, that’s everything that published from Friday to Sunday night.

I am confused by the news value we placed on the nearly week-old crimes that are in the second-most important position in the newsletter. Crime briefs should be fresh (daily) in the newsletter.

This newsletter could have benefited greatly by using more photographs and even queuing to some of the interesting stories we had in the print edition, in case someone missed those items. I found myself wondering, “On the first weekend of school, are there really no groups doing any activities?” It was after I visited the site that I realized we were at some of the major events, but didn’t mention some of the most active groups: the veterans (didn’t they have a fish fry?) and the Greek barbecue (good photo opportunities). We really needed to be at those events.

Other observations:

  • Reporters are doing a great job on sourcing, talking to people who have a stake in the stories they are telling: Kathryn found a student who connected with the community through Super Service Saturday; Braulio is developing a great relationship with McCord;
  • We’re missing the news in our news stories. Here’s an example: That the parking permits are going to be enforced starting tomorrow isn’t new — that happens every Sept. 1. That makes the fact that sales are down 20 percent (that’s pretty darned significant, btw) your news. No one else knows that until The Shorthorn tells you that’s the case … and why.
  • Allow yourself to “unstuff” your stories, as we talked about during Friday’s staff meeting. Our sustainability institute story did a great job of outlining the year’s goals, but I’m left wanting more detail on each of them. The story also refers to the institute as “new” — include a paragraph or two providing background on when it came to be and why.
  • I LOVE THAT YOU HAVE SO MANY VIDEOS! However, we need to address some basics. The Pajama Jam captured some great scenes but lacked any reporting. Without independent reporting, we don’t know how many people were there, what the event was or why it matters. Don’t forget to add that context. (I’m proud of Kelsi’s first attempt at video – it’s a good start.) The video did a nice job of providing an overview of the event … but didn’t have any voices in it explaining the event. Such reporting and sourcing is necessary, especially because you do not know how your end user is actually using your video. They may read a story with it, but it’s not likely. Jessi did a nice job incorporating the voices of those involved with the Super Service Saturday and had a nice variety of shots. However, we need to ID those in the photos.

Today’s lessons:

  • Please do not publish unreported videos. All video coverage must include sources.
  • All Shorthorn content must be reported independently and must contain basic information, including who, what, where, when and why.
  • Photographs must include complete IDs in cutlines.
  • Treat your newsletter like your daily front page: Stories should go from most important, timely and newsworthy to those that are less of those qualities.
  • Shorthorn rookies are rockin’. Keep up the good work. J

Please see the board for detailed critiques of each story.

Onward,

– BF

 

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