Critique, Online stories, Feb. 14-28

The last two weeks (Feb. 14-28) have been productive and busy, with solid beat coverage on news, consistent sports coverage of both men’s and women’s basketball along with softball and baseball, stronger columns and inventive multimedia galleries of both events and wild art.

Best things

Some highlights:

–Kenney practiced good, careful writing and balance and reporting that he continued throughout the weekend on a sensitive story about UTA students and alumni who were accused of posting anti-Semitic messages online.

–Ashleigh quickly turned an FSL bid day story in fine form because she wrote as much of the story background as she could ahead of time. This is an excellent practice for anyone on event coverage.

–Zach has written several interesting stories recently. From the vinyl records feature to his New Black piece to a smart story about crowd funding, he’s really going deep with his interviewing and writing.

–Audrey did a great job covering Engineers Week. Her beat coverage across the board—from the Engineering/Liberal arts collaboration to her story about international students who find solace in the lab to her fun feature on the mechanics of pie-ing someone—are well done. And she’s finding her voice as a writer.

–Sports stories have been rich with great quotes from both players and coaches. This is important for readers and shows that our sports reporters are taking time to build relationships on their beats.

–Duy turned out a beautiful slideshow that features use of shadows and light. Great initiative!

Needs Work

 We’re getting better at using “its” instead of “they” in the proper place. But now we’re using random “they” in stories without a clear idea to whom we’re referring. Make sure you—and the reader—know what that pronoun is for. Better yet, just name the subject again. If the reader has to circle back to find out whom we’re talking about, they’ll give up and stop reading.

We’re seeing quite a few incomplete sentences in quotes. If a person doesn’t complete the thought with both a noun and a verb it’s not a complete sentence. Either paraphrase the information or use the fragment, but add it on to the rest of the quote with a comma.

For example:

Before: “I find [my groove] much easier when I’m playing defense. When I’m in talking trash in the offensive player’s pocket,” he said.

 After: “I find [my groove] much easier when I’m playing defense, when I’m in talking trash in the offensive player’s pocket,” he said.

We also continue to repeat words throughout our stories, especially when the words in the transition mirror the quote that comes after it exactly. Find more than one way to say the same thing. It will make you better.

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