Hindsight, Oct. 6, 2016

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications


The Reporter of the Week award (I just made it up) goes to Austin Plourde for his last-minute reporting on the Blackout Day story. FYI, at midday Wednesday, the editor told me no one was available to write the story, despite it being such a timely piece. I urged her to do something. She pleaded and Austin responded. And got it done. That’s what a professional does. My hats off to Austin. Please understand that when important events happen, it’s news. When it’s news, it must be reported. Not tomorrow. Not Monday. Now.

I’m ecstatic that the staff turned our P. 5 into an appealing Life & Culture section front featuring a well done photo story and an athlete profile. Excellent. Well done.

Glad we did an advance on the Court of Appeals coming to Doane.

All of P. 1 contains decent stories: blackout, court, puppy mills and booze — what more could a reader want? I also like the way P. 1 is designed — four stories don’t seem shoehorned onto the page so that means the designer did it right. Only one small criticism — spread your art. Both photos are on the left side of the page. Consider moving the booze photo to the right.

Exceptional job by Jess Eddmieri to write the puppy mill story. But we misspelled her byline, which is an unpardonable sin.

Another Austin Plourde story on P. 1! This one makes it clear that alcohol is the drug of choice at Doane, as it is on campuses throughout the nation. The two questions then are: Should the university do anything about it and, if so, what?

Fine photo of a cute puppy from Brooke Buller. One tip: if the photo is about the puppy, not the guys, get closer to the puppy. Everybody loves cute puppy photos.

Happy that we got the new Student Congress members in the paper. Nice.

OK, how many stories can one student write in a week? Austin’s third story about the Doane signs leads P. 3. Good work to tell that one.

Managing Editor Lauren Wagner was busy, too. In addition to editing stories and designing pages, she wrote a couple of stories. That’s dedication.

More good work from Jess Eddmeiri (her second story!), about hit and run accidents. Good “crime” story. Get her byline right, please!

Nice fashion piece from Gibson Shaffer and good review of alum album from Stone Hood.

Love the photo story about the Great Pumpkin festival. Nice photos from EIC Bayley Bischof.

I especially like the pet alligator shot and will make it the Photo of the Week.

The photo of Kusena is also well done by Aspen Green. It’s runner-up to the photo of the week.

Jacob Duhey wrote a decent piece about two alums returning as wrestling coaches. Outstanding.

Welcome Cale Eirich to the stable of staff writers. His story on the soccer-playing brothers scored a GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLL!

Hey, on her third, count ’em, third story, we finally got Jess’s byline correct. Way to go sports staff. And nice work on athletic transfers.

Lede of the Week: When music professor Danni Gilbert walked out to her car one Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, she did not expect to find her car dented and with paint scratched off — Jess Eddmeiri. Yes, it needs tightening, but it’s a good example of an anecdotal lede.

No headline of the week. None of the headlines stood out (save for a couple on P. 3 that I had a slight hand in writing). :-)


Still need to tighten our roofs.

Avoid leading with the time element.

Be careful with words. One lede says students will dress in black to raise awareness for police brutality. I don’t think that’s the point of the story.

Our ledes throughout the paper are, in a word, terrible. We ran numerous buried ledes. In most cases, they lack focus. The lede should either state the reason for the news story — the what’s important — or should tell us the most interesting information (such as in a feature story). Instead, we have ledes that talk about what people think of when they hear the word Nebraska (on a story about puppy mills), a lede that tells us freshmen are elected to Student Congress every year (no news there), a long lede that attempts to define leadership and LIVE Doane (rather than give the news that 80 percent of freshmen are involved in activities), a lede that tells us something happened four days ago (no news there), another that tells us the United States has been a destination for migrants (thank you, Mr. Obvious; what about the subject of the story — an athlete from Zimbabwe?) and a lede about what a pain in the ass sibling rivalry can be (rather than the focus of the story — how brothers work well on the soccer field). Look, I don’t expect basic news writers to pen Pulitzer Prize-winning ledes, but I do expect editors to notice unfocused ledes that have nothing to do with the story’s subject. Is that too much to ask?

P. 2 mugs are way too big. Also, do not place any art element at the bottom of a leg of text. How to design the StuCo senators story? Scale down the mugs, run them side by side in the second (and third, if necessary) column, and run the story below the mugs.

The bottom of P. 2 also is too gray. Find some art element. Mugs? Pull quote? Photo? Perhaps a map showing where puppy mills are?

Write news stories in third person.

Stop’n’Shop ad still getting chopped off. Fix it, please.

On P. 3 and Sports, we need to add a point or two of leading at the top of the pages. The headlines are crowding the folios.

Do not write in first person, unless it’s a column. Why would we print: The area by Butler Gym was placed to showcase of the taglines from our … Our? This is not a quote. Our? Who is our?

On the signs story, the student opinion weighs more heavily than the OSC. Put the students higher.

When you lede with a soft, feature or alternative lede, you must write a nut graf within the first six grafs of the story.

Alumni band story is a review, but we fail to label it as review. This is Stone Hood’s opinion and it should be labeled as such.

When writing a review, it’s OK to include a lyric or two from a song or two.

Copy block on the Great Pumpkin festival is worthless. It doesn’t tell us much about the event. And it doesn’t deserve a byline. Was the festival a success? Did people have fun? We don’t need a 20-inch story, but we need more info than what’s available here.

On cutlines, you must get people’s names in the photo. That’s mandatory!

Why no locater map showing everyone where Zimbabwe is?

The editorial is weak and wishy washy. It’s as if we weren’t sure what we should write about. Oh, wait, I think we weren’t sure what we should write about. But … after I wrote this, I ran into a reader who absolutely loved the editorial so …

Will someone please explain to me what the lede on the concussion column has to do with the rest of the column? If you read to the last graf, the connection is made. I’m afraid most readers, tired of reading some of the same material printed elsewhere, won’t get there. It’s the personal experience that should make this column work, but the writer buries the most important info.

How do we attribute sources? Even in a column? It’s not: (The Washington Post 8–19–15). C’mon, editors? Where are you?

The faculty morale is at an all-time low. The president could be canned. We may elect a buffoon as president of the United States (no matter which political party is involved). And StuCo is worried about swans? Seriously? Still, glad we got a letter to print.

I’ll withhold any editorial comments about the content of Caitria’s column because I know little about this topic, but I will say that in the cutline, it would be nice to correctly spell disorder and kleptomaniac.

All Sports headlines are one-line heds. Write a two-line hed. Include a deck. Variety is the spice of life. Give readers a little spice.

Avoid changing the grid within a story. In other words, if you begin the story on the 6-column grid, don’t change to bastard measure in the second column.

Good wrestling photo from Brooke Buller, but who is who? I can figure it out, but I shouldn’t have to figure it out. The cutline should tell me.

A student doesn’t transfer from a town. The student transfers from a school. Name the school.

Answer questions the reader will have. If a student says it is simpler to make friends here than at his old school, ask him to explain why.


Titles after the name are lowercase.

What’s Style for South Dakota?


Avoid the phrase “in order to …” Just “to” will suffice.

It’s OK to use the attributive verb, “asked,” if someone asked a question.

Omit needless words.

Use smaller words. Avoid larger words. Use is better than utilize, for example.

Avoid adverbs that intensify rather than modify.