Hindsight, Dec. 7, 2017

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications

Adviser’s note: I have not had time to critique the latest issue of 1014 Magazine, but I hope to review it over break and write a detailed critique of it or conduct a post-mortem with the staff.

Adviser’s note II: I know I often criticize your work. I do that to try to make you better journalists and communicators. The hope is that you will use the criticism to improve and land a dream job in the future. I’m sorry that I don’t praise you enough. You deserve more praise than I typically write or say. I just wanted you to know that I am constantly amazed at the work you folks do, given the added pressures of classes, jobs, internships, etc. In short, I’m damn proud of all the students who make Doane Student Media the best “unofficial” source of news on our campus and, for my money, in the state. Despite your not being invited to a “student leaders” bash, you are leaders of this community by the stories you tell weekly — sometimes daily — of the life of the university. I salute you.

Adviser’s note III: Good luck on your finals. May you all ace them. Then, go enjoy the break. Happy Holidays! I’ll see you next year!

Praises:

Photo of the Week: Ally Ibsen for her excellent photo depicting the appalling waste of food in the cafeteria. Want to know why you pay so much money to Sodexo for food? Look at what you’re tossing away. Eliminate much of that food waste and not only will you help the environment, but perhaps could lower the cost of food at Doane — or get you more options.

Headline of the Week: 920 pounds of food wasted every day in the cafe. This tells the story and does so with an intended (or unintended) rhyme (day-cafe).

Exceptional story on the wasted food by EIC Lauren Wagner.

Two P. 1 stories by EIC Lauren Wagner, who probably is one of the busiest students on campus. If she can do that, so can anyone else. In other words, the I-don’t-have-time excuse has just been obliterated.

Love the smaller photo credit lines. They look cleaner, more professional.

Wonderful profile from Frank Zhou on Oliver Hofaker, though we need at least one more source — maybe a friend? Also, story about Oliver belongs on life & culture page, not on News page.

Nice portrait from Caitlyn Nelson of Oliver.

I’d suggest, if we write any more transitioning stories, that we place an editor’s note, in italics, at the beginning of the story that explains the use of “they” as a pronoun for a singular noun. Otherwise, it looks as if our writers lack the requisite instruction in the English language to know that singular nouns take singular pronouns.

Boxing a story should be reserved for special stories — so boxing the non-binary student story is a good choice.

Photo of Childers and Beran is compelling. Love the frame.

Cole Bauer’s piece on free speech is well done, but should be on P. 3 (or P. 1) not in life & culture. FYI, on a private campus, no one is protected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment says Congress (interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court as the government) can make no law … abridging freedom of speech. It doesn’t say anything about private interests. One problem with the story: What was the sample size for the survey? What was the margin of error? We need to share these types of metrics with readers so they understand how reliable the survey is.

Graphic of the Week: Logan Thurston’s free speech graphic.

Strong opinion piece from Cole Bauer on LAR classes.

Lede of the Week: Liberal Arts Seminar classes are an unnecessary burden on both students and professors and should be taken out of Doane’s curriculum — Cole Bauer. Yes, we could cut a few words, but notice how he states his opinion from the start and then explains his stance in the remaining column. That’s how opinion should be written. Fine work.

Clever hed: Let’s DU lunch: What it takes to be a coach

Problems:

Omit needless words.

Learn how to write better cutlines. Example: Doane students are wasting over 900 lb’s food in the cafe every day and Student congress is hoping to cut down foodwaste by ten pounds a week in the cafeteria. The number of grammar and AP Style errors is, frankly, unacceptable for college students. I counted 10 — in one sentence! Here’s how it should read: Doane students waste (active verb) over 900 pounds (spell it out) of (replace missing word) food in the cafeteria (we should spell it out) daily. (Avoids run-on sentence) Student Congress (proper nouns need to be capitalized) hopes (active verb) to cut down on waste (not the non-word, foodwaste) by 10 (AP Style) pounds a week. (Omits needless words).

Let me make sure I understand: Of the 6,440 pounds of food wasted each week in the cafeteria, StuCo wants to cut 10 pounds? An underwhelming goal, wouldn’t you say?

Avoid echoing quotes.

Pull quotes are too long. Why not pair a mug shot with the pull quote — especially a long pull quote?

Crappy headline of the week: StuCo recognizes leaders. Tells readers little. I also question the need to put that story on P. 1. I think we have more important or interesting pieces inside. Also, do we need to list all of the members of the president’s Cabinet in the StuCo leaders story? Isn’t this more of a story about the students who are leaders?

Editorial comment: I note that the leaders event lauds only leaders who are “approved and received allocations from Student Congress.” Is that what leadership is? If so, Doane has a skewed concept of leadership. Seriously? Only those people who are “approved and receive” money from government are worthy as leaders? Sorry, but why would you exclude others who are leaders? May I remind students that true leaders — Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., for example — weren’t “approved” or “received allocations” from their governments. Or, was Jesus Christ approved and received money from the Roman government? If that’s the criteria for having a party thrown on your behalf, I’d skip the party. In fact, we at Doane Student Media, since we’re not invited, should throw our own blowout party because you folks are just as much leaders of this university as any other students. And don’t you forget it.

Why is the cutline for the Greek photo so small? Not our normal cutline style.

I think I’ve mentioned this problem every week and yet we still make the same damn mistake. So, one more time, except this time I will shout it: DO NOT LEDE A SENTENCE WITH THE TIME ELEMENT!!!!! Rarely is the time element the most important part of the sentence. Where to put it? As close to the verb as possible.

Quote from Steve Jerina in the first column of the Greek story makes no sense. I’m guessing he didn’t say that.

8-ball graphic is well drawn by Logan Thurston, but we waste so much space by running it across six columns? Why?

Myths story is lacking. First, why not interview a Doane student who changed her major to show readers how it can be done? Or is that too much work to do? Second, no offense to Diane Temme, adjunct professor of music history, but what exactly makes her an expert in STEM programs? Are you telling me we couldn’t find a more relevant source? Or what makes her an expert in human resources? We do have one on campus, you know.

Why place a pull quote at the bottom of the leg of text? Move it to the top. And pair the quote with a mug.

Does anyone else want to know more about the “online harrassment” (misspelled, BTW) in the weekly campus crime report?

We should write headlines for our jump stories.

Page 2 is way too gray.

The Relay story is, in reality, two different stories. One is about the work on the committee that volunteers do to make this a successful event — and how they do it with love, determination and passion to fight cancer. The sidebar is on the theme. We need more info about the theme. It’s lacking in the story — especially if we’re going to lede with the theme.

I would not spread the correction over the bottom of the page. I’d make it one column (or a bastard size column). The first correction needs to be rewritten. We waste too many words. Where are the editors? The second correction should cite the source of the correction, since the correction is disputed. I would note that the correction was according to President Jacque Carter.

We run bastard size type way too often. It should be reserved for special stories.

We used a Flickr photo — and not a good one, for that matter — to illustrate our Relay piece. We couldn’t find a local photo out of the hundreds we have on file?

Exhibit #1 on why you should not print headlines or body text over photos: See P. 5 story about something (I can’t read the first few words of the headline) about finals. BTW, what exactly is that photo supposed to show?

Photo of LAR 303 class is poor quality. Photos of people meeting generally aren’t compelling or revealing.

Watch spacing. The hed on Jess Eddmeiri’s column is too close to the body text. Use a point or two of white space to provide separation.

The column of type to start the Legacies column is too narrow. It should be at least one inch wide.

What is the dominant art on P. 7?

The lede on the basketball story needs improvement. How about: Inexperience, turnovers and a lack of communication are plaguing the Doane men’s basketball team this year.

No paragraphs on the coach story?

The coach story, BTW, is a speech story. What should we write about in a speech story? How about what the coaches said during the speech? Shouldn’t the main point of the story be the main point of the coaches’s comments? So why do we lede with the fact that the coaches “spoke.” I always thought they could talk. I want to know what they talked about.

Not wild about the stripes on the calendar. Difficult to read.

Grammar:

Avoid long, introductory clauses. Turn sentence around. Example: Step one to reduce waste is to be conscientious of how much food you take in the dining hall, Vogel said. Two fewer words and it gets to the point quicker.

Remove “to be” verbs when possible.

Omit most adverbs.

Too many run-on sentences. Break them up.

Style:

Leaders are not chairs of committees. You can’t sit on them. They are chairmen or chairwomen.

We don’t abbreviate Nebraska in stories since we’re from Nebraska. But if we did, it wouldn’t be the postal abbreviation of NE. It would be Neb. That’s AP Style.

Why do we use dates for events that are within a week of publication? Use the days of the week in those cases.

Due to is not a substitute for because.

What is Style for numerals?

Doaneline: Links? Exclusive content?