Hindsight, Sept. 7, 2017

The weekly critique of Doane Student Media publications


Good skyboxes.

P. 1 is newsy, even if we failed to localize two huge news stories.

The writing, for the most part, is better in this paper than last week. We have a few decent ledes, for example, including this one from Cole Bauer: “The brick walls, creaky stairs and musty rooms of Gaylord Hall may be gone in the next two years.”

I’m glad we mended fences somewhat with Sodexo by writing the story of the new chef.

Nice photo from Caitlyn Nelson to illustrate the comedians story.

I like the SPB events box, but it seems too large. Also, no need for a cutline on that.

Editorial cartoon is better than last week’s.

I’m glad we gave so much free publicity to Great Wall IV. Maybe we can convince the restaurant to place an ad?

Nice lede: “Doane’s athletic app has brought more fans to the stands.” — Stephanie Hoshor.

Upcoming athletic events graphic is well done. Thanks Logan.

Another fine lede: “Doane’s volleyball team is just six games away from being the first Nebraska National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program to reach 1,000 all-time wins.” — Lauren Wagner. Simple, tells the story in 24 words.

Lede of the Week: Cole Bauer — “The brick walls, creaky stairs and musty rooms of Gaylord Hall may be gone in the next two years.”

Photo of the Week: Painting Butler Gym by Caitlyn Nelson.

Graphic of the Week: Upcoming Athletic Events by Logan Thurston.

Headline of the Week: Doane planning/new academic/building; Gaylord/endangered


We have a news judgment issue. This paper contains no localizations on DACA — even though the president of the university issued a statement to the community that was worth news coverage, IMHO — and we still haven’t done anything about Hurricane Harvey or Irma, even though I know coaches sent care packages to Texas. Why are we ignoring these national news stories?

The photo of the new chef makes him look as if he’s a member of the KKK. Couldn’t we get him flipping pancakes, throwing pizza dough in the air, etc.? In other words, get him doing something, rather than standing there looking as if he’s ready to light a cross on someone’s lawn.

Avoid bumped heads. We have them on P. 1 and sports.

You must attribute information. Example: … Doane Dining has certainly made steps in the right direction in order to improve the quality of service to the Doane community. Forget the sentence’s wordiness. Instead, focus on its meaning. It is, without a doubt, a statement of opinion. Attribute those.

Find the focus of the story and you most likely find the lede. Don’t bury ledes. Example: The lede on the PBS/NPR story should be the second graf, not the first.

Is it me, or is the pull quote on P. 1 super large?

Get rid of widows. Example: … at 9:05 a.m. (Cutline for the NET art)

The ATV story cries for an anecdotal lede — and the second graf would work well in that regard. Cut the first.

The P. 2 design needs help. Make it modular. One rectangle or square. Get rid of the photo of the guy standing there. What’s the point?

Why, for crying out loud, would we lede with: “In case there was any question …” What’s the point? Cut that and the lede’s not bad.

Why do we mention a policy change from last year in this year’s story about Greek Council? I don’t get it.

Avoid such phrases as: As reported last week.

Theatre recruiter story needs a new lede.

Be accurate. Journalism is not a department at Doane. The department that houses journalism courses is Communication.

Likewise, there is no yearbook ATV. Doane hasn’t had a yearbook for years.

We need more space — a pica — between our cutlines and headlines. The reader appreciates a little white space.

Explain obscure references in stories. What is JFL42? I’m clueless.

The quote from Jes Slavin in the comedians story makes little sense. I’d cut it.

Why place column mugs at the bottom of the columns? That makes little sense. Either text wrap or place the mugs at the top of the second or third leg of text. Also, consider reducing the mug size. They seem super big.

What’s with the white space at the bottom of P. 2?

Do not, repeat, do not, run a photo of eight people lined up, execution style, against a wall. That tells the reader nothing. Instead, shoot one or two people doing something. And if you do run a photo of several people, you must ID them. We failed to do that.

The text on the networking story needs to be deeper between the headline and the ad. It should be at least 1 inch deep.

The first rule of journalism: Get the names right. It’s not Ziad Jabber. It’s Ziad Jaber.

We must deliver names if we’re going to tease readers with “Hollywood actors and directors” in a column. Who are they?

Headline hierarchy: Headlines should be larger and bolder at the top of the page; smaller and less bold at the bottom. Give readers an idea of how they should read the page.

The headlines on the sports page, especially below the fold, are too close to the body text of the main story. Use white space. It can be your best friend. Consider adding a pica or a few points of white space to loosen the page.

Volleyball headline needs to be rewritten. First, it should be Volleyball is winning its way … second, the last line is way too short.

College females are women. The vast majority are 18 years old and older. They are no longer girls.

Grammar and Structure:

Omit needless words.

In reported speech, said becomes the controlling verb, meaning all other verbs must be past tense. Example: Flesner said that if he had to make a guess, it would be that Gaylord will be torn down. Nope. It should be … Gaylord would be torn down.

Avoid “will be hosting,” will be doing, etc. Try: will host, or will do.

Avoid adverbs.

Avoid the unintended repetition of words. Example: Greek Council is looking to charge forward with recruitment events that look … Enlarge your vocabulary. Substitution: Greek Council plans recruitment events this year intended to reinvigorate the system.

A restaurant is a singular noun. It requires a singular pronoun and verb.

Avoid “there are,” “there were,” “there is” … etc.

Rather than write with an introductory clause, as I just did here, turn the sentence around. Example: Turn the sentence around rather than write with an introductory clause. Another example: You have to make connections to be successful.


What’s style — day or date? Or both? Hint: It’s not both, so why are we doing that?

It’s before, not prior to.

When someone has a long title, place the name of the person first, the title after the name.

Why is this in the copy: “Haley, can you check this AP Style?”

What is style for money? It’s not 10 or 11 dollars.

What’s style for months? Do we abbreviate Dec.? Yes, but only when used with a date.


Links! Where are the freaking links in stories?!?

Nothing on the web site that I can’t find in the paper. Why should I read the paper? Or the website? We need more exclusive content online.