E-newsletter critique, Feb. 21

Best thing in the newsletter

Duy’s photo from the track team’s loss at the Sun Belt Championships really captures that disappointment of defeat in sports. Sometimes, a victory doesn’t always result in the strongest image. The team put in a solid showing regardless and Duy and JR did great work from Alabama.

Best story

Sorayah hopped on the arrests Tuesday of two Arlington High School students for making terroristic threats in the wake of the deadly school shootings in Florida.

This story was worthy of our coverage for several reasons: it’s nearby, it’s a piece of a bigger national story, Arlington Police were involved (and we cover Arlington), students who attend UTA may have siblings at Arlington High, those students are future UTA students, etc.

In short, what happens in any educational institution related to gun control and terroristic threats is news. Safety in our schools—high school or college–is a big story.

Headlines

“Engineering students strut their stuff in fashion show”

This captures the lighthearted tone of the story and features some fun alliteration as well.

Visuals

Allee captured a nice moment from the Engineers Week fashion show of a student decked out in all his nerd glory. Great reaction.

Elmer really worked the room at the Maverick Speaker Series. He shot from up high, he got a nice tight crowd shot and he captured a variety of angles from the event. Good work!

Needs Improvement

It’s been a strong few days for multimedia. Let’s challenge ourselves to widen the scope of every assignment we shoot. Stay longer, experiment with angles, lighting and composition. We need to be shooting much more than we are. Don’t be afraid to get in tight or to pull back and shoot an atmospheric overall. Every assignment is a chance to grow as a photographer and to give our readers more. We need multiple photos from assignments, enough for a gallery. And turn in all of your images. We can’t see where you need help if you don’t turn anything in.

If you have any doubt of the power of a good photo displayed well, look at our print edition today.

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E-newsletter critique, Feb. 20

Best story

Reese did a very thorough job on Pizza with the President coverage. He got to every issue that was addressed and used subheads to break up the topics. I know it took him awhile to pull all of those disparate pieces together

 Headlines

“Musical theater masterclass helps strengthen storytelling”

Nice alliteration.

Visuals

Nice shot by Duy of the distance runner at the Sun Belt Track and Field Championships in Alabama. It captures his expression and tells the story all on its own.

Needs Improvement

Let’s work on not using “provided the opportunity to” or “gave the opportunity to” just use the verb instead.

Instead of “gave students the opportunity to perform” just say “students performed.” Cut to the verb. It takes out unnecessary words and makes the sentence more active.

The first day of early voting in the primaries is today. Where is the story? People need to know where to vote. The story should have run today.

The photo that Jennifer shot of the visiting musical theater teacher acting with the student looks great in the newsletter lineup. It is most interesting photo and illustrates the story well. So why isn’t it attached to the actual story or in the slide show of images? It also needs to be in the rotator.

Also on multimedia, if you are going to use profanity in a cutline, run that by the Editor in Chief. And make sure it’s really necessary to use it at all.

 

E-newsletter critique, Feb. 19

Best thing in the newsletter

The follow-up on the architecture students building their own house was thorough, included good interviews and advanced the story from when we last wrote about it. Good work.

Robust sports coverage led—and mostly covered- by Nana this weekend rounded out the newsletter well. Her play-by-play writing is fantastic right now. She’s getting better because she’s writing regularly. It’s a model that everyone here should follow. (Maybe not working quite as much as she does…)

Best story

Max asked good questions and received some interesting responses and explanations from the Afro Goth culture artist featured by Life today. The interviews enriched her art. 

Headlines

“Michael Pollan to talk food at Texas Hall”

Simple, straightforward and to the point.

Visuals

Gorgeous illustration from Vincent on President’s Day column

Nice work by Jennifer and Alex on baseball. Don’t be afraid to shoot a lot to practice using a variety of angles, composition and lighting. You have nine innings to work with.

 

Needs Improvement

Line editing and copyediting: dropped letters in direct quotes (Engineers Week story); missed punctuation in contractions (Afro Goth story; men’s basketball); Spacing issues. These are things that are making it through your net. Tighten the net.

 

During a busy week like Engineers Week, it isn’t only the beat reporter’s responsibility to cover the many events associated with it. Editors should examine the entirety of the week and look for smart, forward-reaching stories that can be done by harnessing the people who will be on campus this week for the career fair: industry heavy-hitters and employers. These folks would be ideal to talk to about the state of the industry and what they are looking for in new hires. We could talk to emerging companies who can talk about new fields in engineering. College is not only about getting a degree. It’s about getting a job and finding a career. Make the most of the resources available this week to tell bigger-picture stories.

 

Resource box with school shooting trauma story?

 

On the crime log, use bullet points to separate multiple entries in one day.

E-newsletter critique, Feb 15

Best thing in the newsletter

The lede on JR’s athletes with injuries story is great.

“During a sporting event, a moment of dead silence following a collective gasp of the crowd only means one thing — a player has gone down.”

 Also, this is a smart story approach that other sections could model: reporting trends. Equally smart use of recognizing good themes that touch multiple sports.

Best story

Liz wrote a clean, thorough advance of the chess team’s upcoming championship. Good quotes!

Colby did a nice job following up on the nursing students’ blanket drive delivery to the hospital. Good beat work!

Headlines

“Nursing students give the gift of warmth”

It makes me feel warmer just reading it. 

Visuals

Allee shot a joyous photo of nursing students delivering blankets to a hospital from a drive that was held at UTA. Nice job getting access and following up.

Needs Improvement

I know you are working on it today, but I was very surprised to not see any mention in the e-newsletter about the school shooting in Florida. This was major news and we didn’t react quickly enough. We need to make sure we have the newsroom TVs on and are monitoring them as well as social media for daily breaking news.

We are a university full of experts who can provide context and perspective on the death of 17 students. We also are an educational institution. While we are not a K-12 school, we still need to pay attention to all school shootings especially. Mass shootings of any kind are news. Period.

Line and copy editing: “their” v “its”

If it’s a body or a group, we use “its.” Even though a group may be made up of people, when we refer to a body collective like a government group or a fraternity or sorority, we use “its.”

 

We don’t need extra wording like “by any means” or “at all.” These are qualifiers that are not necessary to stories.

E-newsletter critique, Feb. 14

Best thing in the newsletter

There is beautiful heart art throughout print and the newsletter. Malik created a colorful heart/world illustration with Bekah’s story and Sorayah shot a cool tennis ball/heart photo illustration for Edgar’s story in print. Nice job working a theme!

Best story

With stories that are challenging to report, we must work for and weigh every word. The suspended fraternity story was more than a week in the making. Ultimately, we reported what we had confirmed and what we had comment for. And we told our readers that we asked for more. Good, responsible reporting while still being assertive. Nice job.

Headlines

“Student can spice up the bedroom with consent”

This encapsulates the story effectively and definitely makes people want to read the story.

Visuals

Smart illustration by Ed on the consent story. Nice compostion by Mara on the wheelchair team photo.

Needs Improvement

Headline: “Declarations of love across the globe” doesn’t have a verb. Needs both subject and verb.

“Flirty Under 30” looks great online. It has the tone and user-friendly approach that works better online. Think about keeping it there.

Although the concept is well intentioned, this feature is a little to close to advertorial content. When we advertise for businesses by telling readers where they are, their hours and how much their wares or food sell for, we’re essentially providing them free advertising. In Arlington, that particularly hurts our ad sales team. Have a conversation about re-tooling this to avoid that conflict.

The Movin’ Mavs story was a bit repetitive in talking about preparing for nationals. It needed to be rounded out with more statistics.

The last line of the otherwise well-done Valentines around-the-world story was not needed.

Though cultures from around the world have varying Valentine’s Day traditions, the same basic concept remains: love is something to be celebrated.

This is a bit of a magazine-style wrap up ending that isn’t something that we do in traditional daily news or even features. End on an interesting fact or a good quote.

 

 

 

E-newsletter, January 23

Best thing in the newsletter

We tackled news in smart way on Monday. Bre took on the wildfires that scorched Parker County. The wildfires were an important story because it not only turned into the news of the day but also because some of our students come from west of Fort Worth out by Weatherford in the Parker County area. The fires also closed in quickly on Interstate 20/Interstate 30 which is even closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Kudos to Bre for jumping on that.

Also, loved the listing of the staff members who make up the Editorial Board. That’s a pleasant surprise and a nice bit of transparency for our readers.

Best story

Reese researched and wrote a solid reaction to the budget drama in Washington, D.C. Because he worked ahead on it, we were able to treat our readers to both a bigger-picture story and the news of the (temporary) conclusion as an accord was reached Monday night. It was a smart approach that really paid off.

Headlines “Government reopens after stopgap bill goes into effect.”

This cuts right to the point and tells us exactly what happened. Good work.

 

Visuals Yes, that was an animated graphic strutting across today’s online editorial. This visuals team is not messing around this semester. Nice one, Vincent!

 

Social

There was a noticeably engaged presence on social today. Love the “In Case You Missed It” collection of top stories, the cookie invite to the Life Science Building and the morning reaction to the Oscar nominations. Good work.

 Needs Improvement

In the newsletter subject headlines, we refer to the temporary government closure as a “shut down.” Used as a noun, it is one word, as in “shutdown.” If we are referring to an action, “the government was shut down” it’s two words, because shut is the verb in that sentence.

Also, we need to make sure and use verbs in the newsletter subject lines. Say, “Government shutdown ends.”

I suggested on the critique redline to really keep an eye on your pronouns in the editorial. You are making a universal point to a wide audience. Using “we” too often could make it seem like the Editorial Board is a club and the well intentioned argument could get lost. Staying more general helps that. Removing the familiarity and the personal nature of “we” focuses on the argument, not the language:

Before: “If we wish to see real change, it is vital that we translate the vigor and directness of our protest into effectual legislative action.”

 After: “To see real change, it is vital to translate the vigor and directness of protest into effectual legislative action.”

 

Before: “This is how we drive progress: formal legislative action in tandem with equally-necessary social protest.”

 After: “This is how to drive progress: formal legislative action in tandem with equally-necessary social protest.

 

ALL: Let’s all get comfortable with using more than one sentence in a paragraph. There were several places in Reese’s story where a lone sentence could have been combined with another sentence in the graf above. Keep like items together.

Also, ALL: tell the reader where something is. If we are speaking of Parker County, say west of Fort Worth. Also, don’t assume that readers know where small towns are. If you don’t equate people, they get lost and they stop reading. Give them some context and provide that big-city locator for them.

E-newsletter, January 22

Best thing in the newsletter

Kudos to Duy and Kyle for covering the Women’s March in Dallas and finding the issues within the overall event. We’ve seen a lot of protest and march coverage within the last year, but as we head into 2018, it’s important that we seek out specifics and people’s stories and life experiences that resonate beyond a sign or microphone. These demonstrations across the country dominated the news cycle over the weekend so it’s important that we kept up with our local version of this for our readers.

Best story

Reese did a nice job on this lede for his advance story on the upcoming Activity Fair Day:

“More than 170 organizations, businesses and colleges will be represented Wednesday to demonstrate ways students can get involved in activities outside of their classes.”

This confident lede sets up the story well, is specific and tells us everything we need to know about why we are reading it and why now. That’s the purpose of a lede. Good job.

Headlines

“Library policy change limits guest computer usage” was clear and to the point and told readers exactly what the story was about. Well done.

Visuals

Cutlines have been clear and concise and have included two complete sentences containing reported information. Good work. Keep it up!

Social

Good job by social over the weekend with clean, clear, explanatory writing on posts that introduced our content. The explainer on Reese’s semi-truck accident story was especially well done.

Also, congrats on the summary card. Looks professional!

Needs Improvement

We had some sloppy line editing over the weekend. In Kyle’s protest story, Republican should have been upper-cased; Trump lacked a first reference; the story should have said “Saturday” not “yesterday.” These are the types of fixes that need to be caught in line editing and copy editing, yet they were published.

 

It seems like we struggled with having enough images to include in multimedia galleries this weekend. We only have three in the paint party and we have a full gallery for men’s basketball but not for women’s. Shoot lots—that’s how you improve as a photographer! And if we only have three publishable images, imbed them in the story, don’t build a slide show.

 

We need to be careful allowing sources that we quote state things that can’t really be proven. In the library story, we ran the following quote:

“Most people don’t even have access to a laptop, and they come over here to the library to do their research,” Meghani said.

First of all, who are “most people”? And how do we know that they don’t have access to laptops? This is way too general and it deserves a bit of pushback on the source. It’s possible if we ask it again, they might say “many” or even back off or, even better, elaborate on why they think they know that. But we won’t know if just accept these unverifiable statements for fact, even if they are a direct quote. We don’t have to use them.