Hindsight, Sept. 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day! Welcome to Hindsight, the weekly critique of Doane Student Media

Owl Praises

Exceptional story on preventing student suicides by Lauren Wagner. I especially like the first three grafs.

Lede of the Week: “It was a Saturday night in December when Jon swallowed five sleeping pills before he went to bed.” — Lauren Wagner

Excellent facts on campus suicide and depression sidebar.

Glad we wrote a story on the new engineering major’s lab. Nice work, Anna Flores.

Good photo by Aspen Green of construction workers working on engineering lab. My only complaint: Find a more interesting angle.

Outstanding work to point out the mold growing in various buildings through campus. Thank you, Bayley Bischof.

Photo of the Week: Aspen Green’s close shot of alcohol littered sidewalk. Well done.

Good P. 3 design.

Ecstatic that we double checked rumors about the cops arresting people for disturbing the peace and discovered that they were just that — rumors. Folks, our job is to verify information, not to spread false info. Good work by Caitria on getting the facts.

Glad we profiled Courtney Bruntz.

Shopping for your dorm is a fine idea, written well by Haley Nast.

Love, I mean absolutely love, the photo that accompanies Aspen Green’s first-person account of flooding in Louisiana. I’m sorry that her backyard and home were flooded, but the photo shows that well. Glad we played it large. Excellent choice.

Outstanding idea to write the headline, Washed Away, on empty space of the flooding photo. That works so well, in part because we ran a deck head to explain the story.

BTW, wonderful first-person account from Aspen. Fascinating.

Glad to see a Clayton Anderson byline again. And not just a byline, but an interesting story about how one freshmen whose family suffered greatly in the Louisiana flooding still was able to enroll in Doane despite the heavy financial losses his family suffered.

Photo of Da’shaun Dotson by Aspen Green and headline, Against all odds, work well together. Exceptional work. This is a close runner-up in headline of the week.

Headline of the Week: Washed away


The teaser in the flag is way too wordy. We’re not supposed to write a story here, just pique the interest of the potential reader. Maybe: Students lose all in flooding, survive to tell story. That’s about 33 percent of the words but gets to the gist of both stories.

I thought the photo on P. 1 looked familiar. Sure enough, we printed it in almost the exact same spot on Sept. 24, 2015. We need to better plan our artwork and be more creative in illustrating stories.

Some cutlines still are not flush with the left border of the photo. Why can’t we get that right?

On Editor’s notes, consider placing them in italics or BF, not asterisks.

Unless we get a new printer, which looks as if it will happen, please consider avoiding screens. They print way too dark. Notice the P. 1 example. It makes the rest of the page too dark as well.

While the data on the suicide sidebar is good, the presentation is lacking. Consider artwork of some sort. Or larger bullets. Or reverse type. Something to make that graphic pop.

We couldn’t get a mug of Amy Schlichting?

Second story on P. 1 needed to be edited because we say the faculty acted today, meaning they acted on Thursday. They didn’t, of course. They acted last week. But since we failed to re-edit the piece that appeared online, the Owl looks foolish and, frankly, inaccurate. We should correct that.

P. 1 below the fold looks too gray. If nothing else, find a mug to break up the text.

Where are our follow stories about Carter, Cooper, etc.? There’s more to this story, folks. Don’t drop it. Have we contacted the board of trustees? What’s happening?

For some Godforsaken reason, we ran five stories that led with the time element. From BNWR, you should know that the time element, while important, rarely is the most important info about a story. So why lede with it? Please, I implore you, do not lede stories with the time element again this semester.

Consider balancing artwork on a page. In other words, put photos on both sides of a page, not just all on the same side.

Rewrite ledes when necessary. When is it necessary? When the lede fails to support the story’s focus or theme.

Stop’n’Shop ad is fuzzy. Replace.

When writing a profile, don’t write in chronological order. And tell us what the person’s title is.

Answer questions in stories. For example, we have a story about someone who left Oregon State University, but I never discerned why. We should tell people.

Photos of people at desks looking at printed materials are boring. Find a way to better illustrate what she does for a living, or even her hobby. And let us see her face. If that means we run a mug with the feature photo, I’m OK with that.

Headlines need verbs. “Most and least popular majors” fails that test.

I thought Doane had more than 1,000 students but the lede in the majors’ story says that 984 were enrolled last semester. What gives?

Where do all the majors rank? Might be interesting info.

Photo of comedienne Kieran Dole is worthless. Faces should be as large as a dime. This one is not.

Tell the news in the lede. That a person visited campus isn’t news.

The design of Life&Culture is lacking. Here we have a decent story idea about shopping for your dorm. And we have one good photo of a person’s room (though we probably should include the person in the photo). But then we have a bunch of bubbles with no icons or photos to accompany them. Why not? Spice up the page with photos of power strips, Emergen-C and cleaning supplies. And don’t be afraid to play them large.

Why screen the editorial to make it more difficult to read?

Why place a photo between the headline and the text? That just makes it more difficult for the reader to determine where the story begins.

While we’re at it, why are we writing five-column decks. What happened to one or two-column decks?

The shows on Cole Bauer’s piece should be BF’d so they stand out. Also, column needs a better lede. Is this a column about nerdy shows to watch? Then say so in the lede.

BTW, why is this on the opinion page rather than Life&Culture?

If you can compare something, let’s say a TV show, to another, similar show — as we compare Marco Polo to Game of Thrones — then Marco Polo is not “pretty much unique.” Instead, it’s simply shifted the action to a different time and place.

Third cutline to go with the debris photo to accompany Aspen Green’s piece needs editing or rewriting. We write … “other belongs” when I think we mean belongings, and the debris isn’t taken away by the city’s disaster relief. Someone has to remove it. Maybe the city’s disaster relief crew? Or workers?

If we’re going to write a story about how Doane helped an athlete with financial troubles get to school, shouldn’t we say how it helped? How much money was raised to help him? What the money was used for?

Tigers: the week ahead is poorly designed. I know we did this at the last minute, again, and so the point is to plan these things before you actually need them. Here, we make the entire lineup black, which in part makes it look as if it’s an ad. The icons are fine, but we need to spice up this type of service to make it pop. Here, it seems more funereal.

Grammar and fluency

Proper nouns are uppercase.

Eliminate words such as “therefore” from your stories. You’re not writing lawyer’s briefs.

Omit needless words. Write tight.

Like means similar to. Replace with “such as” when necessary. Example: The program differs from that of a big university because at larger schools, such as UNL …

Cutlines also need to be well written.

Eliminate adverbs.

Eliminate -ing words when possible.

Write S-V-O sentences — subject, verb, object.

How do you spell university? It’s not univeristy.

What’s style for dates because I know it’s not “On Wed., August 24”…

Gifted is not a word. A gift is a noun. You cannot make a noun into a verb by adding -ed to it. The verb is “to give.” Example: … including a poster given to … not gifted.

One cutline states: The night after parties leves…What exactly does that mean? Do we mean leaves?

Now means the same thing as currently and is much shorter. Use now.


The person who is in charge of a department or committee is not a “chair.” You cannot sit on him (at least, not comfortably). The person is a chairman or chairwoman.

What’s style for numbers because I’m sure “forty years” is not the correct style. Or twenty episodes.

Avoid leading a sentence with a numeral. Exceptions are possible, but rare. This is not an exception: 47 percent …

What’s style for Louisiana when used with a city because it’s not to spell out the state?


No big issues with Doaneline other than we need content unique to the site.