John Dycus critique notes

A big thanks to the staffers who attended Mr. Dycus’ Friday staff meeting critique. He reported that you all were polite, asked good questions and seemed genuinely curious about how to be a stronger reporter and more effective writer. He also said he had a lot of fun working with you.

Mr. Dycus trained and educated many local journalists as The Shorthorn’s longtime adviser, so I appreciate you respecting his time while he was here.

Here are some overview notes that Bekah typed up from the session for those who were at TIPA, in class or otherwise unable to attend:

March 30 critique

  • Good, clean ledes

  • Tighten word use — don’t use 4 words when you can use 1 (He made the decision to join the group. He joined the group).

  • Get quotes higher up. If we’re talking about a specific person, they should be quoted by the third or fourth graf.

  • Interweave the characters. Don’t make them a list in your story.

  • Don’t repeat verbs in sentences and in headlines and summary decks.

  • Avoid “There were,” “There are,” “There is.”

  • Quotes are for opinion, color, to hear the person talking. Facts do not go in quotes.

  • Features need reaction — talk to the people who are affected by this person.

  • Weave “he said” into the graf — don’t just stick it at the end every time.

  • Don’t end stories with attribution.

  • Keep your eyes open to stories.

  • Ask followup questions. Ask why.

  • Use active verbs and reduce prepositions

  • “Of” is a trigger word. When you’re done with your story, search for “of” and see what you can trim.


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