Hindsight, Jan. 25, 2018
The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications
I was disappointed with the first issue of the Owl this semester. We ignored the news of the $2 million shortfall and potential budget cuts. I assume we did that to more fully flesh out the story in the next issue, but still should have had some presence about the shortfall in this paper. Or on Doaneline. After all, the president informed the campus on Tuesday. And timeliness is an element of news.
In addition, we fell in love with one-line headlines and, for some reason, decided to put most pull quotes at the bottom of legs of text.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that we failed — once again — to include the Nebraska Press Association ads in the paper. We get paid for those ads. If we fail to run them, we’re basically stealing money. That’s unfair — and NPA has said it will bill newspapers for failing to run them. If we don’t want to run them, we can stop being an NPA member. But that means we don’t get the revenue, either. Your call — but as long as we are an NPA member, which we are now, we need to run those ads in every paper.
On to specific praises and problems:
The P. 1 stories generally speaking are well written and informational.
Wow, three bylines by the EIC. As if she doesn’t have enough to do.
Pages 4 and 5 are the best designed pages in the paper, even through P. 5 is gray below the fold. Consider a mug or two or a pull quote.
Columns are OK on editorial pages. Just an editorial note about sexual assault allegations: Matt Lauer hasn’t been prosecuted for a crime. He has not been charged with a crime. He is, in the eyes of the law, innocent until proven guilty. He was fired from his job because NBC can’t afford the negative publicity keeping him on would cause. It fears its rating would plummet, meaning fewer viewers, which would translate into less advertising and less money earned by the Today Show. He may be innocent, but he is jobless.
Michele Knott makes good points with her column, although I scratched my head when I read: “…I had to move into Sheldon Hall a week earlier than I was allowed to.” What does that mean? How could she move in a week earlier than allowed? Still, I understand her point in the column and think it makes for good discussion — perhaps even a news story.
Fine story from Trey Perry on Zach Brittan. My only complaint: Move his Doane success, now in the fifth graf, to at least the fourth graf.
Lede of the Week: The phrase blood, sweat and tears has always gone hand-in-hand with the sport of wrestling. — Austin Plourde. If only the rest of the story had supported the lede …
Photo of the Week: Wrestling by Nishes Yadav
Headline of the Week: Get Back to the Boogie with Prince Ivan
Graphic of the Week: Basketball schedule by Steph Hoshor.
P. 1 is text heavy. What is the dominant art?
The one-line headline — in an 8-page paper, we have 16 of them — on P. 1 says: Concerns on campus now anonymous. I have no idea what that means. How can concerns be anonymous? Only people can be anonymous. We know what the concerns are. We can identify them. What won’t be ID’d are the people who report them.
Why does white space appear at the end of the first line of the top story in the paper?
Who is the “senior vice president” mentioned in the anonymous story? I didn’t know Doane had senior and junior VPs.
I’m unsure what the graphic that Logan Thurston drew means. Is this some app that people can download?
If it’s “iceless ice skating,” why do we show skates with blades?
Headline: Tax cuts fly by Doane. Is tax cuts a species of bird — like geese or a robin?
What’s the point of a localization? Yep, to tell what locals are thinking or doing about an issue. So why do we have to wade through three long paragraphs about net neutrality, including a decision more than a month old, to get to how it impacts Doane?
BTW, sources are needed for news stories.
Scatter P. 2 art. Now it’s all on the right side of the page. Also, we lack dominant art — again.
Please someone explain to me the point of placing pull quotes at the bottom of legs of text. What’s the rationale? If there’s a good reason, I may agree with you, but for the life of me, I don’t know what it would be. It seems to me that we lay out the story, find it’s too short, then stick a pull quote at the bottom to avoid white space. The solution is simple: Place the pull quote at the top of legs of text.
Improve ledes. Write ledes to stories that will draw or pull people into the story.
Avoid buried ledes.
Why do we number the campus crime report? Is #1 more important than #8? List them in chronological order. Or most important to least. #8 is online harassment/threat at Smith Hall. Should that be checked out more thoroughly? And for #5, what does it mean when we write that the “case is in police custody?” Custody normally is used for people who are in jail. I’m confused. Do we mean the Crete police are investigating?
P. 3 photo — the only photo — is too dark. Lighten. And why don’t we have more photos?
Explain people, places and things that are unusual in a story. Example: What is the Irene Ryan Award? I know of Irene Ryan as the grandmother on the 1960s “Beverly Hillbillies” TV show. So if someone wins an Irene Ryan Award, have they acted like a crotchety hillbilly granny?
The paper includes just two headlines that are not single lines. And I understand what we were trying to do on P. 3. But use these type of feature headlines should be used on feature pages, not news pages. And that front is difficulty to read, indeed.
What’s the point of the Greek story on P. 3? In fact, we have two Greek stories in this paper, for some reason. Wouldn’t one suffice? The P. 3 story seems to lack newsworthiness. It reads more like a promo for Greek groups than an objective news story. And why is someone who is a member of a sorority writing this story? That’s an immediate conflict of interest. The P. 5 story provides more useful information, even though the news is buried. What’s new? That Doane is working on a rushing system for transgender students.
Why in the Rhett Price story do we lede with something that happened two years ago? It’s not until you get to the ninth graf that you find out the guy will perform again at Doane. That’s burying the lede. The news is that he’s returning. It needs to be much higher.
Also, what do the SPB buttons have to do with the Rhett Price story? Either you need a transition — something as simple as Meanwhile would work — or write a sidebar.
The men’s basketball story needs a new lede.
Why is the graphic about upcoming basketball stories placed below legs of text, when you could easily move it up an inch or two to make a better designed package. BTW, it’s difficult to read that Feb. 1 game info.
If we run a profile of Zach Brittan, we need a photo of him, even if it’s just a mug. I’d prefer a shot of him in action … but we need some visual presence of him.
Men’s wrestling isn’t preparing for anything. The team is preparing. That noun needs to be in the headline. And why preparing? Why not: Men’s wrestling team prepares for GPAC? Or even: Men’s wrestlers prepare for GPAC?
It’s toward, not towards.
Avoid: They will be learning and educating … substitute: They will learn and teach … Omit needless words. Remove “to be” words when possible. Also, we’re talking about teaching, not educating. Use simple words when possible.
Like means similar to. That’s why we need to substitute “such as” for like in this phrase: … others about topics like sexual and domestic violence. There’s not much similar to sexual and domestic violence, is there? I certainly hope not.
Avoid starting sentences with: There will be; There is; There are; etc.
Avoid adverbs. Find stronger verbs.
Why lede any cutline with a date?
Titles are lowercase after the name.
Follow AP Style in cutlines. If we do that, the cutline on P. 3 would read, “Twenty-eight students …” But even that could be improved. Why not name the person in the photo earlier: Freshman Jimmy Nguyen was one of 28 students who traveled …
Not 300+, but “more than 300.”
Use said to attribute info to human sources. Use according to for documents/printed materials.
Avoid the use of prior. Past. Before. Those simpler words are preferred.
Place said, the attributive verb, as close to the name as possible.
What’s style for numerals?
We already have a story exclusively for Doaneline in the Message to Martin piece produced by Jess Eddmeiri, Jen Sorensen and Lauren Wagner. Good work. A few comments about the package:
- Our graphic image, though well created by Lauren, fails to fill the horizontal space on Doaneline. Look for horizontals to fill that space. It will make you seem more professional.
- We need more links in stories.
- We needed video of the performers.
The change from spring 2017 to fall 2017 in the magazine is astronomical. To be honest, the spelling and other errors in the spring magazine were embarrassing. In the fall issue, not only did we clean up all those errors but we produced some wonderful story packages and, to be truthful, an impressive magazine.
The goodness begins with the cover story about Steph Hoshor, one of the best 1014 Magazine stories I’ve read. Exceptional work by Lauren Wagner.
But it didn’t stop there. From The Easy Way to Around the World with Doane, the magazine is packed with interesting stories, good design and excellent photography.
It’s not quite the best magazine in the history of 1014, but it’s by far the most improved magazine.
Are there areas in which to improve? Without a doubt. We lack dominant art on some pages. We shoehorn too much onto some pages. One package, in particular, seems out of place in the magazine. But for the most part, I’m proud of the work the staff did — and you did it while making deadline. Fantastic.
I hope to meet with most of the staff on Tuesday to conduct a post-mortem of the magazine, a critique of sorts. I’ll point out some picky stuff about design and writing then.
For now, you should know that I’m so pleased and impressed by the work that the staff of 1014 Magazine did for the fall issue. Here’s hoping you continue to improve the magazine this spring.