Nick & Chanel tour the Dallas Business Journal

Part of an ongoing blog series of notes and tips from the 2017 College Media Association/Associated Collegiate Press national convention. Search by topic or “collegemedia17” on this site to find more, or #collegemedia17 on Twitter.

From Nick Tarrant: As I walked into the glass doors that separated the upscale streets of Dallas from inside, I realized the newsroom of the Dallas Business Journal was separated very similar to our newsroom. A front desk will greet you upon entering, taking a right will lead to the advertising and marketing cubicles, while making a left will bring you right to the cubicles of reporters working hard at their desks. I imagined our own reporters sitting at each desk, which circled the board with slugs in the middle of the room.
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Online Critique, Oct. 11-18

Best things

Good follow-up from Audrey on the Student Government beat on the Office of International Education creating a web page detailing steps to attain a driver’s license and state identification in Texas. She also jumped on the news from the meeting about the day before Thanksgiving becoming a student holiday.

Kyle wrote a thorough and timely Staff Advisory Council story about workplace bullying. Good quotes!

The CAPS Cares campaign from CommUNITY Voices is a smart, thoughtful approach to elevating mental health awareness. It’s a great use of resources and so far has provided a variety of perspectives. It’s powerful messaging about a sensitive topic coming directly from students. Keep it coming!

Chanel wrote a solid story about the Lockheed Martin Career Development Center scoring two Next Generations Initiative grants. It explained each program in depth and showed how it related to other efforts in the center. Good perspective.

Hana found an interesting nursing beat story about the link between cancer and zinc. It was a smart and timely research story told well.

Daniel’s gallery of State Fair of Texas photos is beautiful. There are some great stand-alone images in there.

Nice shots by Duy at the Founder’s Day event       !

Speaking of Founder’s Day, Anna picked her shot of her coverage and wrote a fun story about an historical stone from the university’s past against the backdrop of Founder’s Day coverage. She even interviewed Dr. Karbhari about it there. It was a nimble move and the best way to tell the story. She had three sources and wrote tight. This is a great example of using event coverage to tell the best story. It also included a fun stone headline: “University leaves no stone unturned.”

Good, quick work by Reese getting an interview with the new interim CAPPA dean. It’s always great when the beat reporter can handle breaking news that affects their coverage area.

Excellent sourcing by Max on the birth control story. This was a timely story that was a good move for Life to pursue.

Christina has done wonderful work on the CAPS Cares logo and the super informative graphic on the Ozone. Now that’s an informational graphic!

Anthony shot a fun Bed Races advance video. You could tell he enjoyed interacting with the subjects and making the video.

Colby has tackled the tough topic of how the city is going to implement firefighter civil service. It’s a difficult but important topic that voters approved in May. Proud of him for taking this on and telling it thoroughly and carefully.

Needs work

The headline on the Staff Advisory Council storyStaff Advisory Council talks bullying with Karbhari—would have been clearer if we had added “workplace.”


We continue to have email-only relationships with some of our deans. Let’s make an effort to get in the room, or at least on the phone, with these major sources. It takes all hands on deck, not just from the reporters. This should involve editors as well.


The Hispanic-serving campus story was well-sourced, but we let some of those sources off the hook by not pressing for follow-up comment on two occasions:

UTA has student success mechanisms in place, which Barnes said help students overcome any potential academic or personal issues.” What personal issues? What kinds of academic issues?

“Spanish senior Claudia Martinez Ponce is the president of La Sociedad Hispanica and said getting education from a good institution is getting more importance, considering the complex societal and political situation Hispanics are having to face.” What are we talking about here? We can’t assume readers know.

We need to press our sources for more specifics, more details. Continue to ask “such as?” when the folks we interview give us answers that need—sometimes demand– a follow-up.

The headline on the budget story, “University’s total operating budget rises” should instead read “increases.”

Online stories, Sept. 29-Oct. 10

I’d like to provide an overview of applause and areas for improvement for different areas of the newsroom for the last 10 days of online publication.

Thanks to all who helped out at Friday’s TCCJA conference and also for your patience this last week with adaptations to my scheduling, coaching and critique routines.

Let’s get back on track:

Best Things


–The mental health story by Sam was timely (World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10) and included good sources.

–The Student Government story by Audrey was a smart, well-reported follow-up on a decision to scrap the sanctuary campus effort that was championed by students in the spring. The story explains the “why” behind the vote. More like this, please.

–Kyle turned the employees injured in the car wreck into a quick story that was one of the most-read on the site the day after it ran. Good hustle on this! Staff and faculty likely found it interesting. Let’s check back in a few days.

–Bekah wrote a wonderful, descriptive lede for the Drag Show event: Standing 7 feet tall in platform shoes with feather boas framing their faces, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence opened the fifth annual Pride Week Drag Show.

–John’s DACA protest story was well done. Love how he worked in both description and a counter, conservative voice into the story. He paid attention (observation) and also asked questions to get this much detail (follow-up). The source praised John in a feedback form emailed to her from The Shorthorn (as we do on many stories we publish).

Here’s how he put it together:

Broadcast sophomore Estrella Gonzales gave Napieralski a bottle of water after seeing him begin to lose his voice during the speech. Gonzales decided to come listen to the protest after a friend told her the organization was going to host a rally.

Gonzales also serves as president for the UTA chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative group on campus. She identifies as Hispanic and said she felt divided on the issue and hasn’t taken a side. Many program recipients represent the ideal citizens, but she also raised concerns about taking on too many people into the country.

“I may not always agree with what they have to say but as a proponent of free speech, I still want to support their right to say so,” Gonzales said.


Digital/Online display:

–The campus elections timeline was a nice addition to the story.

–The graphic arts team has turned it up. Jonathan created a digitally rich lupus graphic and Juan turned out cool illustrations with the gaming story and casual relationships stories.

–The resources box with the mental health story was thorough and helpful.

–Christina created a nice piece of art for the housing options story.


–Great work by Alex on the double wrestler reaction shot from WWE coverage. It’s a fantastic shot. Good, tight edit helped.

–Anthony also caught a great moment from the drag queen show when the crown decided to take a nosedive.

(Note: don’t be afraid to showcase these moments earlier or leading the slide show).

Needs work


–The Columbus Day story that featured the alternative “Indigenous People’s Day” didn’t really explain this to readers. This is an effort that has taken root in some cities across the country but we need to tell people that. It needed a clarifying paragraph that explained the context. We refer to “Indigenous People’s Day” as something that we should already know or something that is unique to UTA. This should have been caught on the edit or during copy editing. Event coverage sometimes needs more reporting back in the office.

–As much as the mental health story was timely and well reported, it lacked attribution to the Medical Examiner’s office on the suicides. We’ve been reporting these two cases for months. Show readers where you got your information just as you would in any other news story. Again, we need skeptical editing. Not to poke holes in the story, but to shore them up.

Digital/online display:

–The Campus Security and Fire Safety Report story needed a graphic of results.

–Bekah’s story on the Aero Mavericks featured a rocket that could have used a more imaginative display than the photograph we used.


–On three events—the Hope Walk, drag show and the Native American Student Association gathering—we didn’t get enough angles or variety of different types of shots. Move around to get all options for the photo. Tom Pennington said on his recent visit that your legs are your biggest necessity in photography. Turn around. Get in front of people. Walk backward. Anticipate. Show crowd shots, detail shots, shoot horizontal and vertical. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

Online critique, 9-26 through 9-28

Best things:

Good job on the info boxes on the Student Government story.

Anna wrote a great lede about efforts to make blankets for Hurricane Harvey victims: “Colorful fleece blankets in the corner of the UTA FabLab demonstrate the different forms compassion can take.”

Anna also hustled to put together a great advance on two visiting professors visiting the College of Business this week. She followed up with a well-organized and informative daily about stress in the workplace from one of the professors on Wednesday. Her summary lede was well-done on this one as well: “Working long hours doesn’t increase productivity—healthy work relationships and understanding managers do, an international stress researcher said Wednesday.”

The transportation committee recommendations story by Colby was informative and well written. The map of proposed transit zones was a great addition.

Good, quick work by Samantha on the water main break and temporary closure of the MAC. Again, good hustle.

Bekah continues to impress by using just the right sources and breaking down complex topics into readable stories. Her waste-reduction, sustainability story was interesting and clearly written. Good work.

Nice job fair photo, Ed!

Needs work

 We need to be more careful with attribution. It’s “said she feels” or “said he believes.”

We need to make an effort to start reaching out to more conservatives for comment when we do DACA, travel ban and other national stories. Neetish did a good job reaching out to Dr. Saxe for the travel ban update but we need to get some additional sources as well.

The job fair coverage needed some sense from the Career Development Center about the approximate number of those who attended.

Internship opportunity: Texas Tribune (Oct. 1 deadline)

Information below is taken directly from the Texas Tribune’s website highlighting its fellowship/internship opportunities. We’ve had some great alumni work at this digital-only, nonprofit news organization covering all things Texas politics. You should definitely apply.

Paid Data Visuals Fellowships

As part of the editorial staff, the Data Visuals team does a little bit of everything — from analyzing data and reporting to designing, building and managing special features like Starstruck and large-scale data apps like the Texas Public Schools Explorer. We’re looking for creative journalists with a penchant for coding to help us build interactive features across the site.

You’ll work directly with our interactive news designers and developers, reporters and editors in the newsroom. Fellows are first-class citizens on our team – in the past, they’ve had the opportunity to not only contribute to high-profile projects but to take the lead on them. For more info, here’s some insight from previous fellows on what they learned.

Ideal candidates know a little bit about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and/or Python/Django and would like to continue to hone their skills. They are passionate about web standards, willing to discuss and show their code and deeply interested in politics, policy and open government.

The spring position is part time and the summer position is full time.

To apply, send your resume, a cover letter describing your interest in the fellowship and links to previous projects and/or your GitHub account to Annie Daniel, designer/developer, at Please be sure to indicate which fellowship (spring or summer) you’re applying to in your cover letter.

Application deadlines:

  • Spring 2018 fellowship — Oct. 1, 2017
  • Summer 2018 fellowship — Nov. 15, 2017

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Online critique, Sept. 22 and 25

Best things: Good work by Anna on the Pop-Up Produce event. She did a good job using background and context that went beyond standard event coverage into the bigger picture of why offering produce on campus is an important thing for college students. Well done.

Colby did quick work on a daily from the ballpark design press conference. Nice touch adding the numbers box.

Reese showed the importance of working ahead on event coverage with his story on the visiting performer who spoke about mental health. He started researching the event the day before and went early and scored some 1:1 time with the speaker. The story was much more in-depth and organized than if he had done no background and preparation.

Kyle turned two timely stories: an update on an expansion to the Mavs Courtesy Escort program and coverage of the DACA event on Saturday. One was important to his beat, the other an important follow-up to a major national issue that affects our students. He used quotes well and wrote clearly and succinctly on both. Good work.

Madelyn spent all Friday afternoon working on a timely daily story out of Washington about changes to the national Title IX program. She wrote very clearly about a complex issue and included the right sources, keeping pace with other national publications. She continues to put in the work to break down these important issue stories.

The Multimedia desk turned out great work on Oozeball coverage. All of you took one for the team!

 Needs work:

The Oozeball prep story is an example of when it’s OK to just focus tightly on one issue to tell a story against the backdrop of a larger one. We didn’t really prune away enough of the story to just reveal the one thing that everyone cared about on that: the dirt! It’s OK to just write about the dirt. We don’t really need the first few grafs. Get right to it.