Hindsight, Sept. 24, 2016

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications

A couple of words before I begin the Praises and Problems section of Hindsight.

We switched printers for the Owl. Has the work flow improved? Do students like the change in work flow? If so, we can keep the schedule even if we want to change printers again in the future.

The printing of the paper is OK, but I expected sharper images and, frankly, better color. Is that the printer’s issue or ours? Do we need to do something on our end to make the orange the Doane orange or the photos to print sharper? That’s a conversation we need to have with our new printer.

I didn’t realize we would have a new section front when we switched printers. Apparently, neither did the editors. That’s OK. Although I was expecting pages 4 and 5 to face each other and give us a chance to print a double truck, the new section front also gives us possibilities. I suggest we make that an ad-free page, if possible, to showcase that front. Whether that’s a second news front, Life and Culture or Sports, I think it needs to be a highlight of the paper and we should anchor one of those pages there. Then, any color ads we get should go on pages 4 and 8 — unless we can get 4 or 5 more color ads to make a full-color paper (one of my dreams!).

OK, I return you to your regularly scheduled critique.

Praises

The story by Bayley Bischof on the president’s troubles is excellent. Notice that she tried to contact the president to defend himself but he refused to comment. That’s the way professional reporters handle that situation. You ask and if the interview is declined, you print that in the story so our readers know we at least tried to contact the guy being criticized.

Notice also in Bayley’s P. 1 story how all of the accusations are attributed. Exceptional. No worry about reporter bias here. One detail that should have been included, though, were how many faculty were at that all-faculty meeting. I can guarantee you that at least half the faculty — included a few from Doane-Lincoln — were there.

I’m also ecstatic that since Bayley got at least one defender of Carter to respond on his behalf. In other words, she made a concerted effort to be fair to the president. That’s what professional reporters do.

As a fol0, perhaps we investigate how much money has been raised in Carter’s years and compare it to the past two or three presidents.

I’m unsure who Liz Kurtz is, but I welcome her to the staff. Thanks for writing an important piece on networking.

Notice that Liz contacted more than the College to Career Center people about the networking story. She also contacted representatives of potential employers who will be there. That’s what reporters should do.

Good story on the Butler dances from Jess Eddmeiri.

Austin Plourde does a decent job of trying to decipher the Rev. Jim Keck’s main point from his speech. One thing I would change, though, is the lede. How does this sound: Celebrate differences between people, the Rev. James Keck told students and Doane community members on Wednesday.

Another fine story from Liz Kurtz, this about the hypnotist. Fine advance.

And a good headline on that piece: Hypnotist will work his ‘magic’ on students Sept. 23. One problem: use the day, not the date. Open your AP Stylebooks!

Stephanie Hoshor writes a comprehensive piece about volunteer opportunities for students. Good work, though I think an anecdotal lede on this feature would be more appropriate than the hard news summary lede.

Austin writes another good story about Andrew Brown. Well done.

Fascinating piece by Gibson Shaffer about Eric Stearns and his pottery. However, this story is missing one major piece of info: What does he charge for his pieces? We need to know that. Don’t be afraid to ask these types of questions.

Outstanding editorial.

Caitria West-Warren knows how to write a powerful column. I hope her column will at least stir Doane students to educate themselves about Syria and the rest of the world. Don’t be like Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who famously asked, “What is Aleppo?”

Wow, Chris Wentworth’s letter must have been difficult for him to write. I didn’t know this. Perhaps others did. In any event, I’m glad he wrote it — and praised Caitria for a previous column. It’s too bad we somehow messed up the third graf of the letter.

Lede of the Week: “They feel undervalued. They feel disrespected. And they’re questioning President Jacque Carter’s leadership abilities.” — Bayley Bischof

Headline of the Week: Beyond the clay: how he became an artist. I’d make just one change: we need a space between the colon and the word how.

Photo of the Week: Making ceramic plate by Aspen Green. I love how she shows the subject doing something.

Problems

Our roofs (teasers) aren’t as compelling this week because we have too many people in them and, when photos print that small, it’s difficult to see what’s going on. Sure, the football photo is obvious, but the Life and Culture photo is not.

The orange ink in those teasers is way too light — too much yellow. It’s too difficult to read.

Here’s how I would write the teaser info: Rivals Doane and Concordia kick off on the football field. Page 8. Students provide community service. Page. 6. Make them short, snappy, peppy.

SEX photo is too small. Faces must be the size of a dime.

Type underneath a photo should be at least 1 inch deep. It’s not on the SEX story.

We missed the boat on the lede for the Summer’s End Extravaganza piece. That the APE’s will focus on sexual assault in this event stuns me and I think that should be the lede.

Also, headline misses the main point of this story: “APEs host Summer’s End Extravaganza for awareness” Awareness of what? Headline says little.

Another lackluster headline: Networking event hosts multiple employers. Can’t we be more specific?

Rev. Keck speaks on pluralism is yet another example of a poor head. I’m glad Rev. Keck can speak.

OK, more poor headline writing: Students engage in community service. Can we be more bland and vague?

I thought we agreed: No more photos of people working at desks.

What’s wrong with this cutline: “This will be the College to Career Center’s first networking event on campus and will be a great benefit for Doane upperclassmen and almost 18 employeers registered to attend.” Quite a bit. How do we misspell employers? Is a verb missing? I think so. What is “this” as in, This will be …” Never assume that the reader will read the story. One more thing about this cutline: Who are the people in the photo? We don’t tell readers.

Students say bye bye Butler dances was going to be the Headline of the Week, but the dances apparently are not over. Most students just won’t attend them, correct? So I’m unsure the headline quite matches the story.

Photo with the community service story fails to ID which one is Eric Tapper. I think I know, but a reader shouldn’t have to guess.

Mug shots should show the face. No one cares about a person’s chest. Also, with a mug, you don’t need a cutline. Just the person’s name will suffice.

Avoid placing any photo, even a mug shot of a column, between the headline and the start of the story. We do that on all three columns. Why?

I’m not a fan of the names of columnists placed on their photos.

Why don’t we put headlines on letters to the editor?

“Blood will be spilled” is just too strong for a headline about a football game. These are games. It’s not war. Please don’t equate the two. Don’t believe me? First, play a football game. Then, go to war and have bullets buzzing by your head. In war, it’s life and death. In football, it’s just a game. Life will go on if Doane loses. The only football game that comes close to being a war is THE GAME, between my beloved Buckeyes and that hated SUN (School Up North). Buckeye fans never say the name of their rival. :-)

Also, the deck for the football game story — Doane’s new rivalry with Concordia — needs a verb.

The football story needs a new lede, too. Plus, a better second graf that focuses more on the new rivalry and less on the old. The rivalry with NWU is old news.

Avoid placing photos underneath legs of text.

Does the pull quote on the sports page match our style? It looks small, and the ID of the quote comes close to being unreadable.

Where should credit lines go on photos? I see we’ve given up on the vertical credit lines, which is OK by me. Most seem to be flush right on the photo — except for the main sports photo. There, the credit line is on top right of the photo. Why?

Grammar and structure

Avoid repetition — unless you’re doing it for a purpose, to drive home a point.

Omit needless words. Editors, where are you?

In the phrase “whether or not,” you don’t need the “or not.”

Place the attributive verb, said, as close to the name as possible.

Put attribution — the boring but necessary stuff — in the middle of long quotes, usually after the first quoted sentence.

Why do we use semi-colons? Get rid of them. Use colons to precede a list. Rarely should we use semi-colons. It’s better to end the sentence with a period and start a new sentence.

AP Style

What’s AP Style on: (Open your damn stylebooks!)

  1. Use of dates and days? Why do we have these errors on nearly every page? We for damn sure do not need the day AND the date.
  2. Time, day, place. Does anyone remember that from Basic Newswriting? Why is this so difficult to remember?
  3. T-shirts
  4. Names after titles are lowercase.
  5. It’s adviser, not advisor.

Doaneline

Happy to see we have one story from CJ Keene that’s unique to Doaneline about the fastest routes on campus. That’s news students can use.

Why, though, is the map in black and white? Can’t we make that color?

We still seem to be lacking links in stories. Folks, this is the entire point of the Internet. Why have a online product if we’re not going to differentiate in some way from the paper? One of the ways to reward online readers is to provide links so they can look deeper into the story. We need to begin doing that — now!

Clever social media posts:

  1. Look into my eyes. Come see the hypnotist show tonight at 8:30 in Heckman.
  2. We’re the football team your mother warned you about.
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.