Feedback: Today’s e-edition of The Shorthorn

The Good. The Bad. The Shorthorn.
Feedback on the Sept. 28 e-edition

Good news: People are reading you online. Web traffic is up by 23 percent for this time over last year. That’s 54,280 pageviews in September. Wow!

It’s even more reason The Shorthorn MUST cover things of importance to the UTA community and do it well. Today’s showing was disappointing: We failed to report basic information in each story published this weekend. We failed to identify and interview relevant stakeholders (and ended up with one- or two-source stories). We failed to select images that truly told the story.

If we’re not providing what people need – news and information – they will go elsewhere.

Here are details:

Best Content Today: The Luke Wade Q&A posted just in the nick of time last Friday, before he performed at the Levitt. Anna and Jessica did a great job incorporating audio into this alternative story format, giving viewers the chance to literally hear the voice of this Voice contestant. We need to do this in almost every story!

South Street Art Festival video: Video is a good way to incorporate action and motion, as well as to bring together multiple reactions/stakeholders. This video did some of that well, but contained technical flaws that should have been edited prior to publication:

  • I couldn’t hear anything the first woman speaking said. She should have been cut entirely in editing. You must use the lav mics when shooting video.
  • Shots panning the artwork were nice, but very shaky. We should have used a tripod to get those shots. Always bring a tripod. Always use your tripod.
  • This video didn’t do the basic reporting all Shorthorn content needs to include: Who, what, where, when and why. How many booths were there? How many people came? What is the focus of this story, and why does the UTA community care?
  • Were there no students there? We interviewed people with no UTA ties.

Cross country: This story had one source, and it published on Sunday. This was track meet coverage (numerous people on those two teams), and the meet was Saturday. Publishing late, incomplete stories is unacceptable.

Luke Wade: Love the questions, especially about college-related topics. Incorporating the audio engaged the reader and let us hear his voice! We need to do this more often! That brought this singer “home” for UTA. Don’t forget to describe references for your readers. We don’t say who Pharrell is or how he is connected to the show; we don’t say what “The Voice” or “Child Life Zone” are; we need to explain what the Pink Out Cowboys game is.

Refugee: This is a two-source story. Additional stakeholders should have included: a refugee family; a Syrian student; other students in the group; a professor with expertise in refugees or this portion of the world. In addition, the story assumes we know what is going on in Syria. You have to have a paragraph that explains it for people who are not as informed as you are. Don’t assume.

Car chase: I don’t see how this is a UTA or Shorthorn story. There’s no tie. If it happened where a bunch of people would have seen it from UTA, that needs to be more clearly connected. Other questions I wanted answered included how much money was stolen, was the person ever arrested (story doesn’t say), and why we are calling this person a suspect if he’s been arrested and we’re naming him.

Cyclethon: Story doesn’t contain basic reporting or update. It also sources a calendar item … that we entered. Not OK. Any advance of this type of event needs to include how many teams have registered to participate, whether that number is higher or lower than last year, what the fundraising goal is. Also, why didn’t we talk to someone who plans to participate? This is a story about people preparing to ride bikes for 12 hours. How they feel and why they are doing it is your story.

Leaked document: I’m glad we jumped on this news tip, but there isn’t much news reported in this. What the document said and where it came from is more important than the fact this website posted it (that’s your time peg … but not the news). Our job as news reporters is to verify its validity. We needed to ask UTA where it could have come from, what the nonpublic meetings could have been, how the university is maintaining documentation related to the meetings, and how to take information when it is leaked – should they believe it? How viable are the locations listed on the document, and what are they? In addition, we needed to state when the next meeting was going to be in the story – don’t make the assumption that people know. (Editorial leadership is asking the tough questions that students don’t have a chance to ask. We needed to do that here. Instead, you might have caused panic. At the very least, you sent readers on a hunt to find this website.)

Dream sculpture: This story had great potential, but fell way flat on delivering. The event is your time peg, not your news. That Karbhari and Hall went doesn’t matter to your readers. You have to report facts: How long did this sculpture take to do? What was the total cost (it’s unclear)? When did this take place (story never says)?. Why is it here? Story never references Arlington as America’s Dream City … so how will people know why this big Dream sculpture is here? Where are residents’ voices? As written, it is difficult for me to believe that the reporter was actually at the event. I also wonder why we don’t show the sculpture as the main image on this story – show people what you are talking about. The photo of the artists, at the angle taken, is difficult to read and I can’t see their faces or the statue. I’d have pinned the sculpture as the main.

Lead lab: Folks, we made headway with leads last week … then dropped the ball this week.

What published: Against some of the region’s best, UTA finished in the middle of the pack Saturday in College Station.
Instead: UTA finished in the middle of the pack against some of the region’s best Saturday in College Station.
Avoid beginning your story with a clause. Instead, start with the UTA tie – it says who and what first.

What published: As news of Syrian people fleeing their country continues to make headlines, one local group is doing what they can to help.
Instead: A student organization hopes to help 20 Syrian refugee families transition to new lives.
Be specific and clearly state the UTA tie and what is happening in the lead. The original lead relies on an assumption that your audience knows what is happening in Syria.

What published: Students can learn about the American Heart Association and living a healthy lifestyle by putting their pedals to the metal.

Instead: Students will put their pedals to the metal to raise money for the American Heart Association on Monday.
Tighten your lead and say what they are doing: Who, what, why. Reading the original lead literally, and it sounds as though they are learning by cycling … not true.

What published: Arlington is now home to a 12-feet-tall sculpture titled DREAM, created by artists Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg, Kimpton said. District 5 council member Lana Wolff, UTA President Vistasp Karbhari and John Hall, vice president for Administration and Campus Operations, attended the unveiling.

Instead: This dream has come true.
A 12-foot-tall, LED-lighted iron sculpture of the word DREAM will remind the city of …

Leads must be direct, get the news across immediately, and make the reader want to … read on. Work on that first paragraph.

Sloppy edits:

a pair of seniors leading the women’s team and an underclassmen guiding the men’s team.

Should be underclassman.

With about 150 competitors on both the men’s and women’s side, Sauerhage said he was pleased with how well both teams responded to the volume in runners.
Should be of runners, and sides.

As news of Syrian people fleeing their country continues to make headlines, one local group is doing what they can to help.
What it can. Group is singular, and any reference must also be singular.

The UTA Students for Justice in Palestine organized an event that will allow students to assist those refugees living in the Metroplex.
This implies the event already has happened. Instead: The UTA Students for Justice in Palestine will hold …

DREAM is the seventh word the artists have made into sculptors so far.
Sculptures. OUCH.

“We just really encourage people to come out and support, donate, you know if they don’t want the whole responsibility of adopting a family, just please do drop in a dollar or two, it’s for a good cause and none of the money is going to be proceeds to SJP, it’s all for the families’ sake,” Joulani said.

“Blood pressure check, glucose check, healthy snacks, so there’s promotion, health promotion, in that sense,” she said. “That all combines with exercise to promote overall well-being.”
Both of these quotes contain confusing, incomplete sentences that harm the reader’s perception of this source. Instead, paraphrase weak parts of the quotes and save your best material for the direct quote. I underlined what I thought was the best part.

Corrections

Saturday’s meet was also the longest distance UTA has competed in this season, with the men’s team running 3,000 kilometers more than last week’s meet. (That’s 1,800 miles.)

it’s super bad-ass that I get to play in Cowboys stadium (It’s AT&T Stadium)

TS: What is your favorite State fair food item? (It’s the Texas State Fair)

Sales assistant Gabriel Guerero (I’ve never seen that last name spelled in this way.)

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