Hindsight, Oct. 12, 2017

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications


This week’s Owl was a 180-degree turnaround from the previous week. Good ledes, newsy stories, timely and relevant pieces, decent headlines, a well-reasoned editorial and a column that made me install a new operating system on my phone. Lots of news — and news to use.

Excellent lede from Cole Bauer: The Faculty Council has released a draft of a resolution of no confidence in the leadership of Doane President Jacque Carter. Just 22 words. Written in S-V-O style. Who: Faculty Council. What: released draft of a resolution. Where: Doane. Why: No confidence in president. We’re missing the when, which should have been in the lede. But overall, this is how breaking news is written. This is a textbook example of a hard news summary lede.

What do you think of the headline Survey says Carter should go? Students struggled with it for awhile because it’s impossible to get the words “Faculty Council” and “no confidence resolution” in a headline at the top of P. 1 (or anywhere else for that matter). The argument could be made that the survey doesn’t say that but you could make an argument that it does. I like the Survey says part. What saves the hed, though, is the verb “should go.” Had we written “must go,” we would have difficulties.

Talk about good ledes, try Lauren Wagner’s on the California fires story: Doane students are still reeling after California wildfires have burned through their families’ neighborhoods. Another S-V-O sentence. A good lede. We could have used an anecdotal lede here as well, but this is another textbook hard news summary lede.

Trey Perry’s lede on the attempt to censor Student Media isn’t as good as others, but the story itself is well done. No misquotes — at least of me, thank goodness. :-) The only question: Should we have talked with students who are writing the report for President Carter? Oh, one other question: If Carter had so many complaints, as Savory suggests, why didn’t he share them with the Owl staff instead of hoarding them? The point would be to correct problems as quickly as possible.

Yet another good lede, this from Basic News Writer Kayla Starbuck: Students aren’t lining up to take classes at the Doane Omaha classes. Wow! Twelve words. Tells the story, in S-V-O style.

I absolutely love that we put two localizations together — on the California fires and the Las Vegas shooting. That’s exceptional reporting.

Yet another wonderful lede from Allison Priddy: Gun laws were brought back into the political debate after a Nevada man killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more in Las Vegas.

Good job by Kellan Willet on Alternative Spring Break.

Frank Zhou does nice work on the emergency training story.

Wonderful photos from Aspen Green on minority students story. The main photo, especially, is a good shot. This is the idea. Shoot people doing what they do. This is a textbook example of those photos.

Another good lede, this one from Anna Flores: “Lunch with a career coach and …” has been revamped with a new location and more experts on various topics discussed throughout the series.

Fine editorial. Well thought out. But hide the time element close to the verb.

Love the editorial cartoon.

Good, informative column from Caitlyn Nelson. It made me download the new iOS operating system. Thanks, Caitlyn!

Headline of the Week: “It’s not a big deal to kneel”

Thanks to CJ Keene for his column on the kneeling controversy.

Decent lede from Tyler Pham: Rosten From is Doane’s running man.

Lede of the Week: Cole Bauer — The Faculty Council has released a draft of a resolution of no confidence in the leadership of Doane President Jacque Carter. Why? This lede was written under pressure on deadline and it works well.

Photo of the Week: Caitlyn Nelson, From running.

Graphic of the Week: Estrella Urenda’s editorial cartoon.


We did have a few problems. One seems to be with the flag. For some reason, we say that the paper was published “Thursday, October 10, 2017,” when it was published on Oct. 12. Not sure how we got the wrong date, but that’s something that shouldn’t happen. We’ve now bungled that twice in a semester.

Shouldn’t “Lunch with a career coach” be in italics? Or uppercase? Isn’t this the name of a program and, as such, a proper noun?

We use an anonymous source in the Student Media story. Was that approved by the EIC?

Probably should have published a mug of Carter for the top story.

The Doane Student media logo is too dark. Lighten it. Or perhaps it’s time to create a different logo?

Why no fire photo to go with the California fires story? I’m assuming photos we could use are available on government websites.

That raises the only true issue with P. 1 — the lack of dominant art. We needed something to draw our eyes into the page. P. 1 is chock full of news. One of the newsiest, if not the newsiest, page of the year. But we still need a dominant art image to draw eyeballs. We don’t have it.

The second line of the headline on the fires story on P. 1 is way too short. How about: Doane student helpless/while neighborhood burns; or stick with what you have but change it: California fires/affect students; that’s not nearly as compelling, but it does get California in the headline.

Omit needless words.

We’ve had too many inaccuracies all semester. We need to do a better job of limiting them. Reporters, editors, photographers, graphic artists — all of us need to pull together to limit the errors. Let’s start now.

Be careful about how you write police stories. Example: On Oct. 1, Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, was identified as the gunman in the Las Vegas shooting at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. What’s wrong with that sentence? Here’s the issue: In the United States, people are innocent until proven guilty. You cannot convict people in print. That’s potentially libelous.

We have white space at the end of several stories. A little is OK. A lot is not. To make things fit better, consider adding a mug shot or a pull quote — assuming the story contains a quote worth pulling — to fill in that white space.

ID people in stories.

Too much wasted space on P. 5. I don’t have any argument with recipe pages, but we should better use the space, IMHO.

Build more space between cutlines and headlines.

We must attribute information. Example: The cutline with the gun screening column. We assert that additional screening should be used for American citizens who have a mental illness. That’s opinion. So we need to attribute that info.

Another golf story? OK, at least it’s about the men’s team. Although you cannot tell it from the lede, which says Doane men’s golf. That phrase would be OK if you’re referring to the the history of the sport at Doane. We’re not. We’re talking about the team.

If you give the name of a golf course, you should say where it is located.

Write better transitions.

Avoid widows.

Text that runs underneath photos should be at least 1 inch deep.

Grammar and structure:

Avoid leading a story with the time element. Put the time element as close to the verb as possible.

We need to spell the names of our reporters correctly. It’s MacKenzie not MacKenizie.

Omit adverbs when possible.

Team is a singular noun. It requires a singular pronoun. Its, not their.

Why, when the golf team was leading after the first day, did it slip to third? What happened? We should tell readers.

Place sports schedule at the bottom of the page.

Gifted should not substitute for given. The award is given to athletes … not gifted. A gift is a noun. To give is a verb. Don’t verb nouns.


When something happens within a week of publication, use the day, not the date. How often must I write this?

What’s AP Style regarding numerals as percentages? Look it up.


Nothing much new here except the usual: Link to relevant sites.