Hindsight, Nov. 9, 2017

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications

Before I start with the usual Praises and Problems, allow me to praise Cole Bauer and the Doaneline staff for its continuing work on the Tracey Wyatt story. We’ve been on top of the story since it broke last week, and published two folos to the original story. As I understand it, DSM is working on a third folo. This is important news, folks. You don’t see a story everyday about the university possibly misusing $350,000 of federal funds. Here’s my plea: Keep at it. Keep digging. Keep working. Don’t let this story drop through the cracks. Whether the accusations prove to be true or not, we need to folo the story to its conclusion.

Praises:

I’m pleased with the P. 1 design. We somehow found a way to fit four stories on the cover — including a vertical piece — when normally we only print two stories. Good work.

As noted earlier, the Wyatt piece is exceptional. Outstanding work.

Excellent use of Headline Hierarchy on P. 1. Top story deserves the biggest, boldest head.

Headline of the Week: Wyatt fired; reason disputed

Nice work on the anxiety piece from Kayla Starbuck.

I’m glad we folo’d our original Starbucks piece on gouging students with a story that praises Sodexo for lowering its prices. Students should thank Doane Student Media, and especially Allison Priddy, BTW, for those lowered prices. Good job, Allison. That’s the power of the press.

I like the weekly campus crime report — assuming it will be a regular feature in the paper — but we don’t have to make it that large, do we?

Kellan Willet’s story about the advice professors give to students is well done — but a tad too long. Cut unnecessary quotes. The story contains way too many quotes.

Nice feature lede from MacKenzie Burch on the Fulbright piece.

P. 4 is well designed.

I like the photo collage on Sports, but I would put it above the headline, not below the legs of text.

Lede of the Week: “Ordering a grande vanilla latte with extra whip cream at Lakeside coffee shop has never been so easy.” — Allison Priddy.

Photo of the Week: Ally Ibsen’s shot of the three characters play, “The Flick.” Good job, Ally.

Graphic of the Week: Step-by-step guide to creating your major by Caitlyn Nelson and Logan Thurston. Helpful directions.

Problems:

Avoid leading stories with the time element. That’s rarely the most important aspect of the news.

In design, remember the concept of dominant art. Make sure you have dominant art on every page. How dominant should the art be? That varies, but a good rule of thumb is that the dominant art should be twice the size — at least — of the next largest art element on the page (assuming space allows, of course).

When editing stories, ask more questions. That could provide details to stories that could improve them.

Avoid bumping heds. What are bumped heds? When the headline for one story and the headline for another story beside it look as if it could be the same headline (sometimes called Tombstone heds). See P. 1, below the fold, for example. When heds do bump, you can do several things to let the reader know that the reader should not consider the two headlines as one:

  1. Write the headlines differently, as we do on P. 1. One hed is one line, the second is a two-line hed.
  2. Box one story or at least draw a rule separating the two stories — and the headlines. We did that as well.
  3. Write the heds in different fonts or sizes. Again, done.
  4. Leave an X-space or two at the end of a line of a hed so that it’s clear to the reader that the headline doesn’t continue.

Consider smaller photo credits.

Omit needless words.

P. 2 is, once again, way too gray. All pages should be, at least, 1/3 art.

Answer questions readers may have in reading stories. Example: If a committee is educating the student body on how philanthropy works, and how it’s made some Doane programs possible, give us examples of how it has worked. Or in another story, we say how one failure made a student question her career goals — but we never say what those career goals are.

P. 3 is too gray, too.

BTW, can we spell our reporters’ names correctly? It’s Kellan Willet, not Kellen.

Cutlines need work. One says that Theater Professor Rob McKercher offered students advice. Who cares? What advice did he give them? That’s the key. Another says a student is a Fulbright winner living in Brazil — but we fail to tell the reader what she does there.

Why is the body text on the Fulbright story twice the size of our normal body text?

Watch spacing. Several times, we have headlines dipping into the body text or body text crowding a graphic. Build in a point or two of space to allow the page to breathe.

Rewrite ledes if needed.

Why place print on a photo if it’s difficult to read?

Avoid long introductory clauses. Keep any introductory clauses short.

What is the dominant art on P. 5? To me, it looks as if it’s the “create your own major” step-by-step instructions — which happen to be below the fold. Consider flipping the stories. Put the create your major story at the top of the page, the book club at the bottom.

Why list two separate credits for the create your major graphic? If it was a collaborative effort, simply say that the graphic was by Caitlyn Nelson and Logan Thurston.

I’m not going to comment on the editorial (yep, no one likes STDs) or the snow days column (an entire column on why you hate winter?) but I will make one comment about the faith column. Here it is: We convicted Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov in print. How? We said that he killed eight people and injured 11. That’s it. Here’s the issue: People in this country are innocent until proven guilty. He has not been convicted of a crime. Yet we say he killed people. You cannot do that. You can say he was charged with a crime in connection with … but you can’t say he killed people. Is he guilty? Probably. But you can’t say that until a jury of his peers convicts him. Otherwise, you could face a libel suit.

Could we please space out the ads rather than put them all on P. 7?

About the house ad for Doane Student Media — WTF? Did a Neanderthal design this? (Full disclosure: I know who “designed” that POS house ad. I’m just flipping him, er, excrement.)

What is the dominant art on the Sports page? It looks to me as if it’s at the bottom of the page. That shouldn’t be.

What’s the news in the main sports story? Where’s the lede — or does the sports editor think that this lede: Fall seasons are coming to an end, will get people to read the story?

Where’s the headline hierarchy on sports?

I would crop the soccer photo that contains the sports schedule. It’s a good photo, but it contains too much unnecessary space. Crop it and move it to the left or right. Then, you have room for a third story on the page.

Style:

Eliminate the word “of” in titles. Example: director of Human Resources becomes Human Resources Director. Save a word.

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

Place the student’s class — Freshman, Sophomore, etc. — before the student’s name.

Spell state names when not used with a city in the state.

What is AP Style for play names? Check out Composition Titles in your AP Stylebook. You’ll find the answer. It’s not what we used on P. 4.

Also, when listing an event, AP Style calls for the listing in this order: time, day, place. So, the play will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Con (I thought the Con was not the preferred style of our paper).

What is AP Style for book titles? Once again, see Composition Titles in your AP Stylebook. Someone has one, correct?

Advisor or adviser? The answer can be found in your AP Stylebook, which no one seems to use. Why spend money on it if you are not going to use it?

What is AP Style for money and why do we keep screwing it up? Please, for the love of all things green, look it up in your AP Stylebook. Why is this so difficult, people?

Grammar:

How do we spell their? We failed to spell it correctly on P. 2.

Singular nouns take singular pronouns. The pronoun for “book club,” then, should be “it,” not “them,” or “they” or “their.”

Use “who” as a pronoun to refer to people, not “that.”

Omit adverbs.

Doaneline:

The staff of Doaneline has been busy with the Tracey Wyatt story, so I’ll cut it some slack for failing to produce a multimedia piece this week.

However, links should be provided in stories. We still fail to do that consistently.

We have three “breaking news” pieces on the site. I think we can downgrade them now from breaking news — since they are at least three or four days old.

The photo link to the Faith opinion piece appears to be broken. It should be fixed.