Hindsight, Nov. 17, 2016

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications

Praises

I think Jess Eddmeiri’s piece about minority student emotions regarding the election of President Trump works — even though it uses, in part, first-person accounts, a rarity in journalism. What do others think?

I like putting Trump’s mug within the huge Q.

The Chi Delt story about sexual assault by Jess Eddmeiri should, in my opinion, be P. 1. It’s an important story that certainly outranks an entertainment advance about someone who calls himself a human iPod.

Love the photo of the Chi Delta sorority members with their petition. This is the Photo of the Week. Good job, Aspen Green.

I’m glad we recognized the new Honors members. Thanks, Gibson Shaffer.

Handwritten mail? What new technology will we think of next? Nice report, Austin Plourde.

I like the social media photo. Who is Ashley?

Social media story is well done by Stephanie Hoshor. Interesting that people spend so much time on social media, then say that they shouldn’t, but still do it.

I’m happy we gave some ink to Ceska Muzika. Thanks, Stephanie Hoshor.

I found the No Shoes story to be quite a hoot. But how does he not get blisters? Or cold? Good job, Jess Eddmeiri (that’s at least three stories from Jess this week!)

Good photos from Caitlyn Nelson on Austin Conn. Nice work.

Glad to see Clayton Anderson’s byline back in the paper.

Good eddy. It’s one we had to write.

Glad someone tackled the Electoral College issue. Thanks, CJ.

Fine graphic from Kelli Albracht on the Electoral College. Good work.

Excellent work from Hillary Chaisson on athletes and their difficulty eating nutritious meals.

Nice story on basketball team’s resurgence after years of mediocrity from Austin Plourde.

Lede of the Week: Leonardo da Vinci once said that “the human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” One student at Doane has taken that saying seriously, showcasing his part of “art” weekly.

Headline of the Week: Students cannot get enough social media.

Problems

News judgment is poor, IMHO. How is the Human iPod more newsworthy than sexual assault, for example?

The orange reefers to sports and life and culture do not work. You can barely see them. They fail to stand out. May I suggest we either change that color — perhaps simply outline the orange type?

Questioning American futures is one of the several lousy headlines in this paper. It’s not the worst, but it’s not good, either.

FYI, our reporter’s byline should read: Jess Eddmeiri. Not Jess Eddmeirri as it appears numerous times in this paper. What’s the first rule of journalism? And we can’t even get our own writers’ names correct? Wow.

Why the gray screen behind the Trump story? Is there a reason? I ask because that’s a lot of reverse type to read. Usually, you want to limit the amount of reverse type to read because it is difficult to read.

Avoid bumped heds.

Avoid dictionary introductions. Example: The Phone-a-Thon is a service that … Instead, write: In Phone-A-Thon, Greek students call Greek alums to ask for donations. Don’t tell us what it is. Show us.

Two questions about the Phone-A-Thon story that must be answered: 1. How much did Phone-A-Thon raise? 2. How poorly did the calling company fare regarding donations the past three years? Look, there must be a reason why the university terminated its contract with the calling company. I’m guessing it raised little money. We should report that. To her credit, the reporter asked those questions but the source refused to answer. OK, then we should note that the source declined to answer those questions.

In the cutline of the Phone-A-Thon photo, which student is which? We fail to ID them.

Why write several inches — maybe 20 of them? — on an advance of a performer who has been here before?

What happened to the cutline on the Chi Delta photo? First line is indented. Why?

Avoid introduction sentences such as: Senior Cheyanna Kempel is the president of Chi Delta sorority. So what? Include the intro as we advance the story: Chi Delta President Cheyanna Kempel said the sorority chose to …

Several parts of the Chi Delta story are impossible to read. Words are dropped. Partial words are printed. What gives?

I thought we were writing headlines for jumps. What happened to that idea? We should revive it.

Can we, somehow, fix the fuzziness (not to mention cutting off part of the ad) of the Stop’n’Shop ad? Please? I’ve mentioned this in several Hindsights but nothing has happened.

Someone please explain to me why we wrote a 20-plus inch story on students who attended a conference. Students attend conferences often. I’ve taken eight students to NYC and we never wrote about it. I read the story in vain to find out why this was newsworthy. Maybe they presented at the conference? Maybe students have never gone to this particular conference? Maybe it was in a unique place? I’m still trying to figure out what makes this newsworthy.

No posed photos. Ever. Again. Why do we run these? I’d rather see a gray page. This photo is taken from such a distance — and uncropped — that it’s difficult to see the people in the photo. I don’t care what they were wearing. I want to see faces. More importantly, no more Executive at Dawn photos.

What is this: Honors Program Director Patrick Monaghan talks about … WTF? That’s not how we write news. Where are the editors? Here’s how you would do that: Honors Program Director Patrick Monaghan said Honors members must meet three requirements to stay in the program: Then you bullet those three — by paraphrasing what he said, not running a ho-hum quote. Have you forgotten everything you’ve been taught?

Austin Plourde’s lede on the postcard story is acceptable, but it fails to tell the reader what the story is about. The story is about handwritten mail. Shouldn’t that be the lede?

Should we talk not just to students, but experts re: social media? Wouldn’t that be a good idea?

What exactly is The Telegraph? Is that a newspaper? Where? We need to ID these things.

The social media story says: The average person has about five social media accounts and spends roughly 1 hour, 40 minutes browsing those accounts every day. That is roughly 8 1/2 hours per day spent on social media…Sorry, but I’m confused. I thought we spent 1 hour, 40 minutes “browsing those accounts every day.” Does the writer mean we spend 1 hour, 40 minutes browsing each account daily?

Another poor headline: History of KDNE show Ceska Muzika. Wow. I can’t wait to read another history piece.

Paraphrase boring quotes. Only use standout quotes.

Worst headline of the Week: First education major lands job. This simply is inaccurate. I’m sure Maddie Noonan is not the first education major at Doane to land a job.

Why did we write about Maddie Noonan anyway? She has an open contract with LPS. Good for her. Last year, Mackenzie Santos had one but we didn’t write about her. I’m guessing a few students have open contracts to different school systems. What makes Maddie Nelson unique? I read the story in vain to determine what makes her so special. I couldn’t find it. What am I missing?

Our columns leave something to be desired this week — primarily research. First point: Liberal bias? Please show me the evidence that says Doane professors have a liberal bias. I haven’t seen that. Before you put that phrase in a headline or a column, you should have evidence to support it. Where is it? Also, if you are going to accuse a political science professor at Doane (there are only two of them, you know) of liberal bias, perhaps you ought to ask him to what he was referring before you rant and rave about what he said in a class that you apparently failed to attend. That’s only fair. As for the Electoral College column, why not educate students about the Electoral College and why it exists? That would help your column immensely. My point about both these columns, but especially the “liberal bias” piece, is that you cannot simply rant and rave in a column about your opinion. That doesn’t help anyone. You have to provide evidence to support your views. A good column cites sources to support views. A good column acknowledges that an opposing view has points, but it also shows that the writer’s points are superior. And any good columnist, before singling out a political science professor when only two exist on campus, would, in the interest of fairness, contact that person before writing about what that person supposedly said.

We must attribute information. How do you know someone’s beliefs unless they tell you?

Watch spacing on credit lines on photos.

Basketball scores are never written in reverse. The winning score always is listed first, even if the other team scored the most points.

Columns of text below a photo must be at least 1 inch deep.

Why would we place dominant art low on a page?

What exactly is Under Amour? Is that love under some bridge? Under the covers? Do we mean Under Armour?

Here’s the problem with the Under Armour story: What are the terms of the contract? How much money is involved? We fail to tell readers. That’s a major hole in this story. You can drive a semi through that hole.

Style

What’s style on second reference of people in stories?

Not prior to, but before.

Time, day, place — in that order.

Titles after names are lowercase.

Avoid leading any sentence or paragraph with a numeral, unless it’s a year.

What’s style for numerals?

Grammar and structure:

Eliminate most adverbs.

Omit needless verbs. Example: She said that in hearing Trump’s announcement to run for president, she did not take him seriously. How about: She said when Trump announced his candidacy, she did not … The proposed edit is four words shorter and, I think, clearer.

Why can’t we get reported speech right? Junior Kennarly Benraty said that he is … No! In reported speech, the attributive verb, said, is the controlling noun for all others that follow. If it’s past tense, the other verbs must be past tense. We should know this by now. BTW, this error exists on nearly every page of the paper.

Commas go within the quotes. I’m weary of writing this in Hindsight. Does anyone read these? Does anyone make the required changes? Will anyone?

Not will be performing, but will perform. Why add a word and include -ing on the end of another when there is no reason to do so.

Avoid unintended repetition of words and phrases.

Doaneline:

Tigers Together piece is OK, but … avoid the use of tomorrow. It lasts less than 24 hours. Then, readers have no concept whether tomorrow means Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday … Use days or dates.

Online stories without links are as worthless as a college class without a syllabus. Provide links.

Thanks for the photo galleries of Tigers Together and the Improv team, but the photos provide minimal info. We have no cutlines. Nothing exists on those photo galleries to tell us what is happening with these photos. We should — at the least — provide cutlines so that viewers will know what is happening. A copy block would help, too.

Happy Thanksgiving:

One more note: Happy Thanksgiving to all staff members. I know I can be acerbic in these critiques, but I’m only trying to help you to improve the products you produce. The better the product, the better you will be accepted by the community. And the better your clips will appear eventually to prospective employers.

You should know, though, that I’m grateful for all the hard work that all staff members put into the magazine, newspaper and website. You staffers rock. Without you, there would be no Owl. No 1014. No Doaneline. You are the reason Doane Student Media is successful.

Please enjoy the break. Return to Doane refreshed, ready to distribute the magazine. Ready to post the latest breaking news on the website. Ready to make the last two issues of the paper better than ever.

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