Critique, Online stories Feb. 10 -13

Best things

Matt did a very thorough job on the UT System Board of Regents story, including the item on the increased price tag for the new West Campus development now under construction. We should never take for granted reporters who can tackle these Regents stories and include comments from the university president who spoke at the meeting. These developments are important to our readers and give updated news pegs for future stories. Good work, Matt.

Kenney and Braulio did a nice job on the General Motors wind power story. It was an interesting environmental story told well with short quotes and packed with information. The photos were well done and feared plenty of different angles.

Isabel’s column, part of her UTA love letter series, about the MAC received some good traction on social media and resulted in a Facebook love letter response to her and The Shorthorn back from the MAC. Cool!

Weekend basketball coverage, particularly from Selby, was impressive. Tight writing, active verb, command of the subject matter—these are all key to great sports writing and beat coverage. Selby and Destine really shine at this.

 Needs work

 Friday’s normalizing sex story lacked structure and was a bit too conversational. I thought at first that it was a column. Our ledes need to be an overview about the story’s intention or a wrap-up of what experts said. This leade tries to hit too many marks. Let’s be honest: Sex happens. People may love the very idea of sex itself. Sex and talk of it can be found in a variety of places.

Reporters and editors should be talking on the edit about the story and if it turned out like the premise or if the reporter found new information. Let’s not forget to have these conversations about intent and structure. Otherwise, our good ideas aren’t getting properly communicated.

Let’s start doing a search and replace on the word “opportunity” before we file stories or before they are edited. We’ve used it enough now.

We’re still struggling with the need to provide context. It’s not enough to simply tell people about a topic or an event. It is our job as journalists to ask probing questions to get even more information than a member of the public can get. We have to provide as much of the full scope as possible and that means asking more questions. How so? Can you give me an example? Why?

The UTA student/Mansfield City Council candidate story doesn’t tell me if the subject grew up in Mansfield. I’m assuming he still lives there because he’s filed to run for office. Does he live with his parents? Did he get his own apartment there? Residency is important in elections. Also, has he ever run for any sort of public office before? Why City Council? Did he ever run for Student Congress or serve on student council in high school? If we’re going to write about people, we need the full picture.

The Arlington story about the city’s new public records site doesn’t walk us through what can be found there or direct us where to find it. Is this a money-saving move or strictly a way to advocate for a more open government? Have city leaders been criticized for this? Again, we can—and should—be asking more.

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