Hindsight, March 23, 2017

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications

Praises:

This paper was not as good as the past two weeks, but it still was a winner, compared with some of the stinkers we ran in February.

P. 1 is attractive, if a little light on art under the fold. I like the eye-catching shot of Andrea Butler, even if it’s a glorified mug shot.

This isn’t the Lede of the Week, but it’s a nice lede anyway: Doane is making an investment in online education.

Nice story about the food pantry.

Actually, all P. 3 stories are decent. Good work from Jess Eddmeiri and Lauren Wagner.

Life & Culture pages are exemplary this week. Probably the strong suit of this week’s paper.

Fine, informative piece on Red Dog Tavern from Bayley Bischof with nice photos from Aspen Green.

I absolutely love the artwork for the “Snowcatcher” advance. I only wish we would have said what characters she plays in each of those photos.

Graphic of the Week: Late Night Laughs from Caleb Rezac. Well done. My only concern: perhaps it’s a bit too large since we run less than an inch of text below the graphic.

Fun editorial cartoon from Nikki Blumenthal but … why run it now? We’re nowhere close to Finals Week.

Strong column from Zach Renshaw.

Fine photo from Caitlyn Nelson on trap team.

Problems:

Translate academese into simple English language. Example: What exactly does “effective and continuous change initiatives within online education”?

I’m questioning whether we need a two-line banner headline on the Butler promotion. By the way, she wasn’t hired — she already was on the payroll — she was promoted.

We must ID people in stories. We may all know who John Burney is, but someone may not. You must say that Burney is the vice president of Academic Affairs.

Omit needless words.

Avoid ending a sentence, or a headline, with a participle. Example: Program set to include seven different emphases to choose from. Rewrite that deck. BTW, in headlines, use numerals. How about: 7 emphases included in new MBA program?

Here are the first nine words of the MBA story: Doane University’s College of Profressional Students (CPS) announced March … Have your eyes glazed over yet? How about rewriting it to get to the point quicker: Doane University will offer a new MBA program, the university announced March 20.

A commission, as in the Higher Learning Commission, is not a person. You cannot use the word, “who,” when referring to the commission. Make the sentence read: The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits …

Answer questions. Fill holes in stories. If a program will be different, explain how. BTW, the program will be different from rather than different than.

We include too many large mugs in this paper. Where are the shooters?

When we write advances, we often say when the event will happen in the last graf of the story. So, readers have to read 10–12 grafs to learn that basic info. But isn’t that info exactly why we’re writing the story — to let people know when someone will speak, for example? If so, shouldn’t we move that info higher in the story? Somewhere in the first six grafs?

Write titles as concisely as possible. Example: English professor Phil Weitl …

Avoid leading a story with the time element, i.e. “Every month,”

P. 3 is too gray. We need a mug shot, a pull quote, something to break up the text.

Compare and contrast like items. For example: In the comedian story, we attribute someone saying that the comedian has appared on multiple shows, including NBC, ABC, Disness … Those are not shows. Those are networks. Be accurate.

Huh? Someone decipher this for me: While this isn’t great, it’s going to happen regardless of policies in place, as it now without regard for abiding by the law. I’m still scratching me head.

Why do we continue to violate journalistic design principals by putting a photo between a headline and the text of the story? I don’t get it. I’ve mentioned this several times in Hindsight. I’m getting tired of bringing it up. Don’t do it. Not for the rest of the semester. Deal?

When the controlling verb in a sentence is past tense, the rest of the verbs in the sentence must be past tense. Example: Marshall said overall he was impressed … not is.

The March Madness bracket is way too small. Too difficult to read.

In the March Madness story, we write that March Madness is stressful on athletes and fans. After that graf, we need a quote, from either an athlete or a fan, to back up the stressful graf.

Grammar:

Avoid adverbs.

Place the attributive verb “said” as close to the name as possible.

Style:

Titles after the name are lowercase.

What’s style when telling people when an event will be? Here it is: Time, day, place, in that order. So, it should read like this: 7 p.m. Monday at Doane’s Chad Weyers Art and Education building.

Don’t give the day AND the date.

What’s style regarding courtesy titles? Will someone please look it up, preferably before we print?

What’s style for composition titles? You do have stylebook, right? Use them.

What’s style? Advisor or adviser? If you opened your stylebook, you’d know.

What’s style for $1 million dollars?

Doaneline:

I found two stories on Doaneline that were not in the paper, so that’s an improvement.

The first story, by Lauren Wagner, tells how Doane Lake will be updated over the summer by adding two “bubblers” that will help to aerate the lake. The story was well written, but for online, it needed a couple of extras:

  1. A photo of a bubbler or a video of one being installed. Be careful here. If you Google bubbler, you’ll be inundated with various pot websites, which you don’t want (or maybe you do. In that case, you’re welcome!). Instead, Google lake bubbler or ask maintenance exactly what bubbler it intends to use and look on the brand name’s website.
  2. Links. No links are included in the story. That’s a crime for online stories.

The other story is a well-done video of the International Cooking Club making crepes. Here are some thoughts:

  1. I like the opening and closing with the Doane Student Media logo.
  2. I especially like the ending of the video, with a club member offering viewers a bite of her crepe. Nice.
  3. The video is shot well. All shots were in focus, the videographer did not pan or zoom, etc. But all of the shots came from the same angle — the angle of someone standing and shooting. Think how much more interesting a story it would be if the opening shot wasn’t a talking head, but a close-up of a crepe sizzling in the pan. Yes, I said sizzling. Make sure you get the ambient sound. We need more close-ups or different angles. The BBC recommends that, when shooting video, you shoot these shots in sequence: close-up of the hands doing something, close-up of the face, a medium/establishment shot (which is what all of these shots are), an over-the-shoulder shot and a shot of your own choosing. Those different close-ups and angles would have made for more compelling video.
  4. Editing. The video was poorly edited, especially the shots of the guy narrating the video. Consider building in video transitions (perhaps fade ins or fade outs) to move the audience from one point to another. That would be more beneficial than some of those nasty edits, IMHO.