Critique: online stories Sept. 7-9 and print edition, Sept. 7

Best things:

We’re doing a great job getting around campus, covering events and getting to know beats. These are important things, especially as everyone gets back into classes for the fall and we’re working rookies into our Shorthorn system. I appreciate the hard work.

There were some wonderful bright spots this last week that should be celebrated:

–Ariana’s “Finstagram” story in print was a great example of a story that’s ahead of the curve, just beginning to be talked about in a mainstream way. These “fake Instagrams” are so interesting. And Ariana was smart enough to not only tell us about this but also tell us why it’s interesting. Turns out that some folks are worn out by pretending to be Instagram worthy all the time and want to have some place to document their lives when they’re not trying to be perfect. It’s an interesting read. You all should give it a look.

 

–Welcome back, Kevin Cushingberry! I was not here when Kevin was on staff last time but I certainly feel like the lucky beneficiary of his writing this time around. His cross-country coverage so far takes us inside the people of the sport, such as the junior distance runner who is shaping up to be a team leader this year after struggling as a sophomore. It’s a nice read.

 

–Marian Bilocura’s artwork is just beautiful. She elevates every story she illustrates with depth and detail.

 

–Shay wrote a dynamic column on the Colin Kaepernick saga. He obviously feels passionate about the topic. Glad he wrote about it! He’s a solid writer so he should write more. Hint, hint.

 

–Duy’s photo of the sleeping student with the Panda umbrella is priceless. This is what wild art should be: attention-catching, humorous, slice-of-life. I hear he even woke the student to get a name for his caption. Love it.

 

–Also re: multimedia—cutlines are improving. Names, details, location, action. Keep it up!

 

–I enjoyed Taylor’s left-hand desk story. It was a perfect example of a reader tip that turned into an interesting story. It’s our job to tell people about the quirks and inequities of college life. This is one of those stories. She turned it quickly and well.

 

Needs work:

            I’ll say it again: teams, groups, governmental bodies, groups are an “it
not a “they.” So we use it, not they. Its not their.

We’re struggling with including the “how” and “why” in stories. Let’s ask how an event is different, why it’s important that students attend an Engineering event, how a research project will create something new, etc.

 

We need more art elements like text boxes and locator maps. We need to use our imaginations and work with Dylan and Cody about how to add digital and photographic.

 

Repeated words. Repeated words. (You noticed that, didn’t you?)

If we say “collaborate” then next time, say “work together.” Practice it. It improves your ability to say something more than one way.

 

Nut grafs. Pull back and tell me why we are writing a story and why it is important. We have to do this. Otherwise the stories lack heft and it seems like we’re starting in the middle of a movie. We must get better at this. Line editors, please work with reporters on this.

Some section specific issues:

News: let’s watch our wording. See the Faculty Senate and Chartwells stories for some specific suggestions. We need to watch it with legal terms. Someone can “seek” an injunction but only a judge can grant one. Headline missed that, too.

We noted several times in the Graduate Student Senate story that the group’s new secretary was the lone female finalist. Was this unusual? Was she the first? We can’t assume that people know. We needed more context if we’re going to point something our like that.

We’re suffering from a lack of “stakeholder” sources in stories, instead using students to fill in for those we should have interviewed to get to those “three sources.” Ask yourself early on in the reporting process “Who is affected? Who is involved?” Let’s not overlook obvious sources like a professor giving a speech that’s part of a speaker series or a director who is at the helm of a play included in an upcoming theatrical season.

We still need to work on structure. The City Council story was not told in the correct order for the news that came out of it.

 

Sports: Say where. We’re getting better with the when. But if we name a venue that’s unfamiliar to our readership say what city it is in.

 

Life: The Twitter story needed an outline to identify the issues that would be included and the order that it should be told. It wandered, which is a shame since it had some good info.

 

Thematically, did we need to have three social media stories in the same print edition? We needed some better planning here.

 

With “Ransacked,” I want more detail: what kind of backpack? Why that style of planner and not another? Let’s push for more specifics.

 

Production desk: Better layout and cleaner design throughout print. Skyboxes back=yay!

Please continue to get involved with stories and art elements early on in the process. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Push for more elements at budget and planning meetings.

 

Let’s continue to not write headlines that make inanimate objects do things.

 

Instead of: “City Council meeting discusses body cameras for police.” (meetings can’t discuss)

 

Let’s say, “City council members discuss police body cameras at meeting.”

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