Aug. 26, 2016 Hindsight
Welcome to Hindsight, the weekly critique of Doane Student Media products — The Doane Owl, Doaneline and 1014 Magazine.
Before I begin with my two sections — praises and problems — let me congratulate the staffs of Doaneline and the Owl for its incredible coverage (so far) of the Karla Cooper “scandal” and the faculty’s dissension regarding President Carter. These are important times for this university and the fact that the staffs put together the wonderful package on the Cooper firing, followed by the timely and exemplary reporting — on deadline — of the faculty’s response (in effect, a giant raspberry to President Carter) is impressive indeed. In particular, I’d like to publicly single out the fantastic work of Anna Flores, Cole Bauer and Bayley Bischof (who was suffering from bronchitis). They put those stories together. They worked developed sources, got accurate information, transcribed notes (15 hours worth!) and wrote readable, clear and yet comprehensive pieces for all to digest and comprehend. That’s harder to do than it sounds.
In addition, both staffs put out a paper with a lot of news you can use and you did it all while making deadline. There’s one word for that: professional. You should pat yourselves on the back and rest up. Fifteen minutes. Then get back to work. After all, there are more stories to be told regarding Cooper and Carter. And beyond that story, we should look more deeply at sexual assault and other issues (suicide, debt, etc.) affecting students on this campus.
For now, though, well done.
Back to your normal programming:
- Congratulations to the new staff! You put your second paper to bed, then likely put yourselves to bed after and exhausting 16 hours or so of work. You can edit print, edit photos, decide what stories should go where, write headlines, write cutlines and design it all in a pleasing, compelling manner on your page. I’m proud of all of you for willing to be a part of this weekly miracle of putting out a student newspaper (not to mention a daily website and a magazine every semester). And the sky didn’t fall. You survived. The paper survived. The university survived. Life didn’t end. The key, now, is to take stock of the work you did. Look at it critically and say to yourself, ‘I know I can do this, but how can I do it better?’
2. Notice the new look of the paper. Do we like it? The boxed flag? The lowercase lettering on the flag and folios? Does it work? The ear on the right? The new pull quotes? The teasers in the nameplate — do you think it all works? Bayley worked hard on the look but I’m sure she would love either praise or constructive criticism, as long as it’s geared to improving the look of the paper.
3. I like the photo of Cooper’s office, but I’m glad we used her staff photo so we could show readers — such as first-year students — what this woman looks like.
4. I’m OK with an entire P. 1 devoted to the Cooper story. Are students?
5. All Cooper stories were well written and chock full of info. Some surprisingly so. Keep getting all those details.
6. Great quotes in the Cooper pieces, too.
7. Headline of the Week: Gotta be “Carter eliminates chaplain position.” Says it all.
8. Normally, I’d say the photo of Jacque Carter on P. 2 needs to be cropped so we can see him better. But the point of the piece is his new office so I understand why Aspen Green shot it that way. And given that understanding, the photo works. But on a different level, it works even more. Three P. 1 stories basically isolated the president from the students and faculty of the rest of the university. Given that context, the photo of him sitting all alone in his office makes him look particularly lonely and isolated from the community. Photo of the Week is Lonely Jacque.
9. Page 3 design is decent. Large artwork draws your eye into the page.
10. Excellent package of news-you-can-use photos and stories. A good welcome-back, see-all-the-changes type of paper. Nice work.
11. Lede of the Week: Tiger Inn is Tiger out. — Aspen Green.
12. Glad we included a photo of the first-years on P. 5 to keep the page from looking too gray.
13. Strong, provocative editorial on a timely, relevant subject. Yes!
14. Also, photos on opinion page. Yes!
15. Glad we tried to spice up the Sports page with some creative design work. I think it works here. Just remember when putting text over a photo, consider bumping up the size of the text by a point and making it boldface so it stands out.
- Those teasers in the nameplate. How well do they read? Are you willing to grab a paper and look inside because of them? I’m truly curious. To me, both photos need to be cropped better so the coach’s face can be seen and so Starbucks fills most of that photo frame. Remember the rule of thumb with photos of people — the faces should be as large as a dime. If we’re going to have those two teasers, they need to pop out better, IMHO.
2. The ear on the right got me to thinking. I like that we use it to promote our social media sights, but should we make that ear similar in design to our flag? In other words, reverse type on orange background?
3. The Cooper stories were well done, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few criticisms. Our lede says she was left jobless. Was she? I thought she was a minister for a church in Lincoln. Isn’t that a job? Let’s make sure we’re completely accurate. I have little objection to the first three grafs, except that in the third graf, we tell readers that Carter praised Cooper three months before she was canned. Why not use the quote right after that as proof?
4. Also missing from the main story is a nut graf. In this case, it would sum up what has happened. For example, after we point out that Carter praised Cooper in March as the right person, we could include a nut graf that says something like: His praise of Cooper made her firing all the more bewildering to students and angered faculty, who discussed several options in an effort to reverse the decision. Follow that graf with: Doane’s faculty was shocked — and it began to take action.
5. Remember, all stories — even columns — need sources.
6. What happened to the gutters and the spacing on some of columns of type?
7. To follow with our lowercase theme, should we make IDs in bylines lowercase: COLE BAUER/multimedia coordinator?
8. Not a problem, but a suggestion: Be careful about using bastard type on too many stories. Like boxes and screens, it should be reserved for special stories. You have a grid for a reason. On P. 1, we have bastard type on two stories. Normally, you’d limit it to one piece. However, since all three of these stories are, in a sense, “special,” it works here. Just be careful for the future. Remember, all things in moderation (except for great photos. They should be played LARGE!)
9. P. 2 is too gray. Each page should be composed of 1/3 art. What is art? Photos. Graphics. Even type, if used creatively.
10. Could we move the ID of a pull quote higher to the quote? In other words, eliminate the space between the pull quote and ID? Or does that look bad. If so, can we offset the ID type somehow? Maybe italics? Maybe lowercase the ID of the speaker?
11. Lauren Wagner’s piece on changes is fine, except for two early graphs that talk about Nexus. We have a story on the facing page about Nexus. Why include two graphs about it in this piece? Simply mention it, perhaps refer the reader to the P. 3 story and move on to the other changes.
12. One other point about Lauren’s changes story. The info about the money is way too low in the story and we should, in my opinion, break it up to tell how much for each project. Nexus, OBC, Lakeside Coffee, etc. are all things from which students can benefit. How will students benefit by the president spending $90,000 to move his office? Or Safety to move to Padour Walker, removing itself from where students spend so much time?
13. Lame headline of the week: Fall semester brings many changes. Sorta states the obvious, don’t you think?
14. I praised the P. 3 design earlier, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things we could tweak. For example, when you stack stories, do them this way: photo, headline, cutline, text. What’s wrong with the Nexus design? The headline is so far away from the start of the story that the reader may not realize the headline and story are related. Another small issue: Avoid semi-colons. Here, we wanted a colon, as if we’re defining what Nexus is. Example: Nexus: where …
15. One last comment about headlines. Make sure the words are spelled correctly.
16. About our photo credit and cutline styles, the credit and cutline run together at the bottom left of the photo. Running the photo credit up the side of the photo isn’t my favorite way to do things, but I can live with it. Perhaps if we change the photo credit type: italics? Bold? Lowercase? Smaller size? The cutline, though, begins to the left of where the photo starts. That shouldn’t happen. The cutline should line up with the photos borders.
17. The Nexus photo lacks people. I know the idea is to show the space, but read the cutline: The Nexus Center … is a home for groups of diverse backgrounds to come together and discuss different topics. Yet the photo shows no one in there. Oops.
18. The problem with P. 3 is repeated on pages 4 and 5 — too gray. Don’t be afraid to run good photos large.
19. What’s the definition of a good photo? First, it should include people. The OBCGrill photo does not.
20. The meal options story begins with a great lede and two supporting grafs. The third graf mentions Lakeside Coffee and what it has to offer. The fourth graf then mentions a student who sampled the coffee. That’s OK, but what happened to the graf about the OBCGrill and its offerings. That should come right after the Lakeside Grill so readers will know what to expect of each. Then write about people’s experiences. In other words, move the sixth graf to the fourth.
21. What’s the news with the Pokemon Go story? It’s not in the lede, which tells us that the game was released in July (several weeks ago so it’s not that timely) and that it’s made numerous headlines (so it’s not that newsy — people already know about it). So what’s the news? Are Doane students playing it? How? Why? Where? In a localization such as this, that’s the news. What we need here is a lede — even a story — about a Doane student actually playing the game. Example: Late Saturday morning, when most Doane students were waking, Austin Plourde already had been biking, searching for eggs. But not eggs to eat. Or something like that.
22. Why is the Doane University logo paired with the Pokemon Go story? The university has nothing to do with this phenomenon, as I understand it.
23. The new faculty — and it should say new, otherwise you have to intro all of the faculty — box needs some pop. Photos of the profs would be the best option; boldface the names perhaps; use bullets. Something than simply a listing of a name, title and school. People, if you’re going to do these things, you have to plan them in advance.
24. The same advice goes for the Freshman year goals piece. First, the headline should be freshmen, not freshman. Freshmen is plural. Freshman is not. Second, why not have photo or graphic icons to go with each point? That would dress up the page nicely. But you can’t do that unless you have a plan in advance of how you want it to look.
25. Why do we have a different byline style on P. 5?
26. Nothing against Kelli Albracht. I’m glad to have her on the staff. But the story about the Crete native cried for a photo of Alexis, not the graphic Kelli created. Alexis is the subject of the story and we should have a photo of her doing something she enjoys.
27. Not sure what happened to a couple of ads, but the Pizza Hut ad looks squished and the Nebraska Classified Ad Network ad is nearly unreadable. Can we fix these issues for the next issue?
28. On editorial page, the masthead takes up a lot of room, IMHO. Could we compress it?
29. The screen on the editorial is much too dark. I’d eliminate the screen altogether. If you want to make the editorial stand out, consider boxing it.
30. Another cutline problem: The second sentence in the Gary Johnson cutline is a sentence fragment. It starts with “Though” … leading the reader to think two pieces of information will be imparted, such as: Though Gary Johnson tallies a paltry 9 percent in the polls, his staff notes that his numbers have doubled since the end of the Democratic convention. But our sentence doesn’t do that.
31. Duhey may be a good-looking guy, but that mug of him is way to big and it’s not even in focus. Ugh! One other suggestion: Consider placing his name and ID under the mug rather than the byline.
32. Anything wrong with this lede: It is time to feel the Johnson. Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but it seems a little too risqué for me on the editorial page. Remember, you can prick your finger but don’t finger your prick.
33. I don’t mind columns about alternative candidates — as fairy tale as their candidacies may be — but the columns must be supported by data, sources and facts. You shouldn’t just spew your opinion. You should support your opinion with data, facts and sources. Unfortunately, we fail to do that with our columns this week. For example, last I looked, Hillary Clinton was investigated by the FBI and not charged with a crime. How can we throw her in jail without, um, evidence?
34. More cutline woes: Who is Jill Stein? Because the cutline in the photo fails to ID which one is Stein. And since she’s a third-party candidate with far less than 10 percent in the polls, it’s a good bet that most readers wouldn’t know which of these women is Stein.
35. Crop photos. Even mugs. We want to see the faces. Focus on the faces.
36. If you play a sport, you cannot write about the sport. That is a clear conflict of interest violation. Don’t do it. Ever. Again.
37. On the two coaches story, we have a photo of the new tennis coach played across the page but the first half of the story focuses on the baseball coach, who, BTW, isn’t all that new since he was an assistant for eight years. Focus on the tennis coach.
38. News stories are written in past tense, not present.
39. FYI, Peru State is south of Crete, not north.
40. Fourth cutline issue (or is it fifth?): Missing verb: Seth Harris, the new tennis coach, already getting out … Huh? Do we mean: New tennis coach Seth Harris already is working with the team on Doane’s courts?
41. What’s wrong with this sentence: Doane football is prepared to live up to the hype this season? First, what is meant by Doane football? You’re talking here about the history of football at Doane through the years. I don’t think that’s the intent. To make this work, you need to be more specific: The Doane football team is prepared to live up to the hype this season — being ranked ninth nationally in the NAIA.
42. Use quote marks around quotes. If it’s not a quote, omit the quote mark.
- Overall, I’m impressed with Doaneline. Just a few comments.
- The featured stories on the home page make the entire page jump as they shift. Please try to make all photos in that featured stories section the same size, preferably so we can see the headlines just below the photos. They need to be horizontals.
- Great photos of Carter with the new office story.
- Can we get more photos in the section area?
- Glad we put a link to 1014 Magazine on our nav bar. Too bad it fails to link to the page.
- We have last year’s Owl rate card posted. Shouldn’t we have this years? And instead of a scanned copy, shouldn’t we be a bit more professional? In addition, where are Doaneline’s rates? I’d put those first.
- Social media work is impressive.
- Shouldn’t we include our Doane Student Media policies on our About page?
Grammar and Fluency:
How do you spell receive?
Avoid “to be” verbs when possible.
Place the attributive verb said as close to the name as possible. For example, … said Wilma Jackson, Multicultural Support Services director; NOT, … Wilma Jackson,
Director of Multicultural Support Services, said.
What is a Caf? I can’t find that in the dictionary. Café is there. Cafeteria is there. No caf. Look, don’t use slang, jargon or colloquialisms. We use proper English for a reason — it is inclusive. Slang and the rest are exclusive. Why would you exclude readers?
Omit needless words. Example: This project is currently unique to Doane, but if the project is determined to have been successful after three years, Doane could receive another grant for up to two million dollars to expand the program nationwide. Change the previous sentence to:
If the unique, three-year project succeeds, Doane could receive a $2 million grant to expand the program nationwide.
By writing tighter, you can cut your sentences in half.
Here’s another example of tightening your writing. Instead of: As an orientation leader, Manley was able to sample the new options at a taste-testing event, why not: Orientation leader Manley sampled the new options at a taste-testing event.
You also must watch that nouns and verbs agree. What’s wrong with this sentence: Every student in the dining halls will receive a container and are able to fill it with food from any of the stations available in the Caf. Aside from the use of “Caf,” how does the noun, student, agree with the verb, are? Student is singular; are plural. Students are … Yes! Student are … No!
BTW, what are dining halls? I thought the only food service was in the campus center. Could someone please explain?
In addition, you can eliminate needless words in this sentence. Example: Students with meal plans will receive take-out containers they can fill in the cafeteria. Assuming my rewritten sentence is accurate, that’s a saving of 13 words from the original sentence of 27.
Cutlines must be grammatically correct. So, this cutline: The original burger company is still ran by Sodexo … is incorrect. The correct verb is “run.”
Avoid snooty words such as “thus” and “therefore,” if possible.
You cannot simply omit articles and pronouns. You need them for your sentences to make sense.
Possessives need apostrophes.
Uppercase proper nouns, such as Saturday.
Avoid unintentional repetition of words.
Avoid long introductory clauses.
Rewrite awkward sentences.
Use parallel construction.
Use active verbs.
Write in S-V-O style — subject, verb object.
Use personal pronouns for people — who, not that.
Use such as or as if rather than like. Like means similar to or that you have a fondness for someone.
Substitute shorter words for long words.
Avoid There is, There are, There will be, etc. constructions.
Avoid the awkward he or she construction. How? The simple way is to make it plural.
Avoid starting a sentence with a numeral. You must spell it.
Avoid using in order to. In most cases, just “to” is sufficient.
Avoid leading any story with the time element.
Avoid burying the lede.
We don’t use Oxford commas in journalism. In journalism, they are superfluous, worthless and non-existent. Notice I failed to put a comma after worthless.
Design: copy below a photo must be at least an inch deep.
Grammar: You do not need “or not” in the phrase: “whether or not.”
When it stands alone, the name of the country must be spelled. It’s United States, not U.S. Use U.S. only as an adjective: the U.S. State Department, for example.
No courtesy titles, such as Dr., unless the person is a medical doctor. In Carrie Petr’s case, she’s not. I know she wants to be called Dr., and you can do that in person, but not on the news pages. In a news story, she’s Carrie Petr, student dean and vice president of Student Leadership.
Also, please note, titles after the name are lowercase. Uppercase before the name.
What is the correct AP Style for a reverend?
What’s AP Style on numerals, specifically two million dollars. It’s not two million dollars.
What is the correct style for the word advisor?
The percent sign is never used. The word, percent, should be spelled.
Never start a paragraph or sentence with a numeral. Spell it.
Tiger should be uppercase in all cases that refer to Doane Tigers.
It’s p.m., not P.M.
It’s before, not prior to.
Use said for human sources; save according to for documents, statements.
Learn state abbreviations. Or at least look them up.
Internet is uppercase.
Why do we use dates for events that happen within a week of publication? That violates AP Style.
Numerals of 10 or above are expressed as numbers.
Last names only on second and subsequent references.
Avoid writing that something is being held, unless someone is holding something. The event is scheduled, not being held.