Hindsight, Feb. 2, 2017

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications

Welcome back to Hindsight — and to the spring semester. This will be a trying semester for editors because there are so few reporters to develop content. We need to try to recruit writers/photographers/videographers etc. to help us publish our products. Alternatives include shooting more photos, using more graphics, writing larger headlines and using more pull quotes or, as a last resort, cutting the number of pages. Still, for the first issue, we did a decent job. My main concern continues to be how as a news team we fail to grasp the importance of timeliness. When the governor speaks on campus or the dean announces that he will step down, that’s news that should be shared ASAP. Start with quick posts on social media, follow up with a few graphs of the most salient information on the website and, within three hours, post the final, complete version of the story. Then, think about any follow ups to that story. For example, what happens now with Academic Affairs? The administration apparently wants to move to a provost system. How about a story saying what that means? What exactly is a provost and what does that person do? How is that different from the VPAA? Will this add more administrators to the university payroll? etc.

Praises:

Glad we (finally) got the story about John Burney published.

I think I counted four stories in the paper by Austin Plorde, not to mention a column. We’re going to give him a new nickname: Wire machine.

Good profile shot from Caitlyn Nelson of Erin Lukin, though we should crop the photo better. BTW, is it Caitlyn or Kaitlyn Nelson? We printed it two ways.

Fine story, too, from Jess Eddmeiri, about Lukin — even though the paragraph indentions are too deep.

Lede of the Week: Students are stirring up Doane’s melting pot by creating an International Cooking Club — Cole Bauer.

I enjoyed Jess Eddmeiri’s column on muslims.

Decent story from Duhey on high jumper Hightower.

Photo of the Week: High jump by Kaitlyn (Caitlyn?) Nelson.

Problems:

Two headlines on P. 1 are misleading. John Burney, Dean, resigns is one. Yes, he resigned his position as a vice president but he’s still going to teach as a history professor at Doane. The headline implies that he has resigned and will no longer be at Doane. How about: John Burney/steps down/from VP job. Make it three lines, not two. Be more accurate, not less.

The other misleading headline on P. 1 is: Nexus creates new discussion forum. This is packaged with a photo and a story that focus on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Why not write the headline about the Dakota pipeline? Wouldn’t that be more accurate and timely? Later in the story, you can note that this is part of a discussion forum.

I think we should say higher in the Burney story what he intends to do now.

Edit the paper severely.

Be accurate. We say that a person from Lexington is speech coach for Levington High School. Do we mean Lexington?

When giving educational background, make sure to include what school was attended, not just what the person majored in.

Get to the point. Example: Nebraska governor Pete Rickets visited campus Jan. 25 to address his legislative update for the upcoming year … No. How about: Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts vowed to cut state spending and increase revenue without increasing taxes when he met with the Doane and Crete communities.

Better yet, get to DeVos and Trump earlier in that story — perhaps the lede?

In one story, the lede discusses that a Doane education student is scared for her future as a public school teacher but the story never tells us why she’s scared — because Betsy DeVos might be confirmed as Trump’s secretary of education. You must spell out that to readers. And why does that scare her so?

When citing a website, especially an obscure one, don’t just give the URL. Give readers an idea of what that site is.

What’s the point of the story about the SPB Events Calendar? We ran the calendar. Why would we repeat the information in a listing next to the calendar? And why would we write no headline?

The uncooked chicken loses its impact in black and white.

Headline should be: Cafe catastrophe, with a deck.

Shouldn’t the cafe piece be a story rather than a column?

To be fair, even in a column, we should contact Sodexo for a response.

Why would we put an art element between the headline and the text? I’d suggest there’s a better place to put a mug.

Two stories on the sports page have only two sources. That’s unacceptable. Each story should have three sources — unless it’s a speech story in which the speech clearly is the most important info.

List the Athletic Hall of Fame inductees higher than the history about the creation of the Hall of Fame.

When a story talks about goals, it should tell us what those goals are.

Avoid opinion in stories. We allow opinion in a couple of news stories.

Headline on the editorial is way too long.

Write headlines that make sense. Example: Hightower is a name, not a number. What the hell does that mean? Swartzlander a name, not a number. And Duhey. And anyone else. What’s the point? If his name was Highsix, I maybe could see it. But you could do so much more with a high jumper whose name is Hightower.

Style:

Titles lowercase after the name.

Use because of, not due to, for cause and effect.

When introducing a source, please give first and last name as well as title.

Percent is always spelled.

What is style on numerals?

About rather than approximately. About is shorter. Easier to read.

Use U.S. as an adjective. Example: The U.S. Navy today … Otherwise, spell it out.

What’s style for five thousand dollars?

No courtesy titles. Last name only for second and subsequent references.

Grammar:

Avoid to be verbs when possible. Example: The president will be defining … No. Instead: The president will define …

Avoid adverbs.

Write in S-V-O sentences — subject, verb, object.

How do you spell found? We spelled it foudn in a P. 3 cutline.

I encountered one 43–word sentence and another 46-word sentences. Those are too long.

Place punctuation inside quotes.

The team is a singular noun. It requires a singular pronoun … it, not they.

Doaneline

Not sure whether the issue is the videos of the celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year or my internet connection at home, but I couldn’t get the videos to play. I could get a NY Times video to play so I don’t think it’s my internet. We may need to check why those videos aren’t loading.

I like, though, the online headlines better than those in the paper. Example: Doane coach protests Keystone pipeline.

I’m hoping we can get more exclusive content online this semester. Breaking news, such as the governor’s visit or Burney’s decision, should be posted online first, then in the paper. Ideally, the newspaper story would have a different angle than the one online. This practice goes against what we normally do — run stories in the paper and shovel them online. But most people get their news on their phones, tablets or computers than their newspapers anymore. That may not be true for Doane students, but it is true for commercial news organizations that hire college graduates. It would behoove you to begin that practice so you are prepared to continue it once you are hired after graduation.

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