Hindsight, April 6, 2017

Your weekly critique of Doane Student Media

The first paper of April is much improved from the last paper of March. We didn’t bury the ledes — for the most part — and page design was better. Even though the news failed to knock our socks off, it generally was told well and with a pleasing approach. As such, there will be more Praises than last week.


Well-designed P. 1 with plenty of art to spice up the page.

Fine story from prolific staff writer Austin Plourde about Jennfier Bossard being named interim dean.

Congrats to the Forensics team for its Top 20 finish during the national competition!

Nice shot of Meghan Gaul from Aspen Green.

Good photo from Caitlyn Nelson on Relay for Life prep.

I’m torn on the Photo of the Week. I like two shots. Both are from Caitlyn Nelson. The first is the Quad photo, for its informal look at Quad life. The second is the golf photo. I think I like the Quad shot better, though, so that is the Photo of the Week.

Nice use of dominant art on life&culture pages, especially P. 4.

Another good Caitlyn Nelson photo of Morgan Psyk shooting. I like it a lot. I’d like it more if it was cropped.

Anna Flores’s lede on the trap team legacy needs some work, but I quite like it. Here’s how I would tweak it: The sporting clays are loaded into the machine. The shooter stands ready to aim at the clays that soon will be flailed into the air in various directions. She takes a deep breath … then fires her Baretta 682 Gold E. A 12-gauge bullet bursts a clay into pieces, earning her a point.

Freshman Morgan Psyk’s sharpshooting helped Doane’s shotgun sport team to garner 1,972 points over six categories — and a national championship.

Good review from Austin Plourde on “Beauty and the Beast” but … the lede is buried in the third graf.

Graphic of the Week: Caleb Rezac’s U.S. map, with California seceding.

Nice lede: The men’s golf team has high goals set for this season with a young but talented team — Stephanie Hoshor.

Headline of the Week: Jennifer Bossard named interim dean.


Lots of wasted space in the Bossard photo. Crop it.

We say that Bossard is the interim dean but we fail to ID her. Is she a Doane professor? What does she teach, etc.? Yes, we say in the cutline that she is a business professor. We should say it in the story as well.

Is there a reason we failed to talk to President Carter about Bossard’s appointment? If he couldn’t be reached for comment, we should say so.

Write using S-V-O sentences. Ex: Doane’s forensics team ranked 16th in the nation this year in competition with 74 other teams.

And it did it with just six members and two coaches — half the team and only 33 percent of the coaches from the previous year, when it also ranked 16th.

ID people in photos. We show six people on P. 1 who are the forensics team. I have no clue who some of those people are.

When we publish a photo that has more than one person in it, we must ID who the primary subject is. Example: Meghan Gaul, left, assistant professor …

Avoid simply telling us what an organization is. Propel the story forward. For example: Instead of saying the American Institute of Graphic Arts is a professional organization for design — something readers could probably figure out — move the story forward by writing: The American Institute of Graphic Arts, a professional organization for design, never has had a chapter at Doane. Graphic arts professor Meghan Gaul intends to change that.

One buried lede: on the loan defaults story. This is a localization. Make locals part of the lede. How? Use the third graf as the basis for the lede: Doane’s most recent graduates are less in debt than the national average, according to a recent study.

Doane’s students in the class of 2016, on average, owe $26,320 in student loans compared to the national average of $30,650.

Then tell us why Doane students owe less.

When using a student to tell us about loan defaults, you must provide the student’s major.

Tighten the writing in cutlines.

Why is the type larger on the Relay for Life piece than elsewhere in the paper?

Tell us how the school intends to remain first in the nation in fundraising for Relay.

Place attribution at the end of the first quoted sentence.

Does Nurse Kelly have a last name? I think so. We should print it.

Who is Jerri Van Horn? We don’t say.

While I like the Quad photo — a lot — I don’t understand the point of the story. Perhaps if the story took a theme such as, Why do students like living in the Quads, which are rundown and moldy, I would buy into the piece. It’s written well — I just want an angle, a peg, on which to hang the story. There doesn’t appear to be one.

Type below an art element must be at least one inch deep.

What is the ACUI? We fail to say.

Place the attributive verb as close to the source’s name as possible.

Does Morgan Psyk’s dad have a name?

Use italics on disclaimer.

Edit stories. Edit columns. Edit letters (You’re good, Austin, but I question whether you are “the best writer the Owl will ever have” or that the staff won’t be able to replace you). Cut needless words. Edit.

Last week, we printed an editorial based on a rumor that Stop Day might be discontinued. This week, we print a letter saying StuCo intends to coordinate “Stop Day for years to come.” What is it? Why have we not written a story about the future of Stop Day?

Isn’t it Myron Parsley’s job to prepare his young team? Why is that news in the cutline?

But why, after that fine golf lede, do we write about what happened in the fall? Move the story forward.

Why two stories on the trap team? I get that it won a national championship, but two stories on different pages?


Avoid words such as “therefore” in news stories.

Team is a singular noun. It requires a singular pronoun — it.

Reported speech: Gaul said the group will begin … No. This is reported speech. Said is the controlling verb. It makes all other verbs past tense. It should read: Gaul said the group would begin …

How do you spell said? Because it’s not sais.

And is not spelled ad.

When possible, omit “to be” verbs.

Avoid “there are” constructions.

“… ask about controversial subjects like …” No. Like means similar to. Here, we want “such as.”

What does this mean: She said she hoped that the awareness of Doane … no words follow. That’s a sentence fragment.

What does wokring mean? I found it in a sports cutline.


What’s AP Style on titles?

What’s AP Style in leading a sentence with numerals? Reporters should know this. Editors must know this.

What’s AP Style on numerals?

People cannot be chairs. You cannot sit on them. You must refer to them as chairmen or chairwomen.

What’s AP Style regarding attribution of human sources?

What’s style for abbreviating months of the week? This marks the third straight paper we’ve abbreviated months that we shouldn’t. Open the damn stylebook.

Spell out NAIA on first reference.

What is AP Style for Rev.? I’ll tell you: “The Rev. Karla Cooper …” The abbreviation Rev. does not stand for a noun.


I found nothing on Doaneline that wasn’t already in the paper. That, in itself, is a criticim of Doaneline, which should have exclusive content weekly.