Online stories, Oct. 24, critique


Best things:

       Samantha and Cody produced a lovely look at a family saying goodbye from the Irving candlelight vigil that marked the death of UTA student Hussein Zaybek. Sam has led the way on the coverage of this family’s loss (another brother in the car, also a UTA student, was not killed). She has hustled for the better part of a week on this, following up and driving all over to stay in touch with Hussein’s relatives. What does this get us? Access. Having the tenacity to follow-up means that we’re there—and allowed to take photographs— at this family’s ceremony. It also allowed Sam to practice using some great description about a worn dock, the sunset and a lone table set up to honor his life.

Another best of the weekend also involves the Hussein Zaybek death, but in a combined story about another UTA student who also died in a car wreck within the last two weeks. Following back up to get accident info on both deaths is important and is a necessary news story to pair with the more narrative vigil story.

Our staff columnist Isabel is growing by the day, both as a person full of insights and as a writer who is figuring out how and when to share those insights. Her column about bilingualism provides a window into the difficult transition that students from other countries are making on this campus every day. From struggling to keep up with our language to the fear of fitting in, she provides a real look at the challenges that students in our global university face. She pokes fun at herself and offers advice. It was a charming look inside what is a daily struggle for many.


Needs improvement:

       Let’s work on not using the word “opportunity” and see what happens. As in, “had the opportunity to” and “as an opportunity.” Most of the time, you don’t need it at all.

The Peers Against Tobacco story could have benefitted from student voices. The educator actually filled out one of our online story feedback forms and said she would have liked to get some of her students into the story. So let’s always ask: are there some students we can interview as well? And this story is ideal for a follow-up that broadens it with national stats and student voices that can chronicle the battle with tobacco that can rear its head in college. I’d read that story and so would others.

Part of what I was talking about at the Friday staff meeting about broadening event coverage beyond the event itself was illustrated with Parent and Family Weekend. It takes time to learn how to access people at an event, but it’s always worth it. Was there one family we could hang out with for awhile? Was there a theme about missing family or getting re-energized by having family around?

We have to be having these conversations between reporter and editor before we head out. We need more meaningful conversations about the potential of a story on the front end. We’ll never move beyond basic coverage and into storytelling if we don’t.


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