Monthly Archives: February 2008

Feb. 29 – Happy Leap Day!

Since today doesn’t officially “count,” I consider it an under-the-radar catch-up day in which I can do anything I want. And yet here I am, reading our newspaper and writing in the pub. It’s actually pretty pleasant. Without further ado, the critique:

605480_thumbs_up_with_clipping_path9.jpg It’s clear that Aliya, Anna and Nathan had a lot of fun with the “Night of Elegance and Beauty.” The photos were absolutely essential to this story, and Anna and Nathan both shot some beautiful photos of the queens in action. Aliya also took the right reporting approach, in keeping the story about the larger purpose of the event, rather than the “zoo” mentality of “look how colorful they are.” Much more newsy and useful way of writing this piece. Excellent job! (The blue background effect was nice, too.)

Welcome to Annie Smith and Jonathan Stoner! Annie’s piece on Multicultural Scholars is a concisely written piece that is an easy and informative read. Jonathan’s MVC track meet story is comprehensive and offers some history and context to the event. Good work and welcome aboard!

It’s nice to see the faculty diversity story get the play it deserves. It’s an issue that has many consequences for students and the university as a whole. The pie charts on page 3 were useful (in spite of the formatting gaffe) and the comments from student and faculty leaders were well reported. Keep reading for my suggestions on this story under “Watch out for…”

The smoking policy story does a nice job giving context to the recent forums that have sought input from students and faculty. Here we also find the quote of the day: “First it’s our cigarettes, then it’s our Bibles.” Can’t beat that for quotability! Good job, Aliya!

Harold’s story on the FUSION performance of Inuit legends has a great feel for the performance itself. I also enjoyed hearing the writer discuss the inspiration for and reaction to the performance. Nice description and color, too!

Today’s paper has a very clean design, with a long-awaited springtime feel to it. From the daisies on India Black’s dress to the baby chick pale yellow and eggshell brown in the teases, I feel like winter has nearly passed. Hallelujah!

lightbulb-2.jpg What if…

… every writer told one good story in their story? I wonder what it feels like/sounds like/ looks like to dance onstage with a drag queen? I wonder what it feels like to be the only African American faculty member in a department? I wonder what it feels like to be only one of nine black faculty members on campus? I wonder what it’s like to brave the cold and wetness of winter in order to get in a few drags on a cigarette outside an ISU building? Let’s try to get some anecdotal leads into our stories that paint a telling image of the people in our community. Let’s work in some description of people’s lives and experiences. A spoonful of sugar, as they say…

300px-stop_hand_cautionsvg.png Watch out for…

… leading with old news. The diversity story needs a little something we call a “news peg.” The news peg of a story is the reason it’s running now. Having a good news peg freshens up a story that might otherwise sound outdated. So, instead of a nut graf that pegs the news on a Sept. 28 report (5 months ago), we could use a lead involving the Multicultural Scholars event or a more recent event in the life of a black professor, etc., as the news peg to lead off the story. We could then bring in the Sept. 28 report as context and supporting information, rather than the entire reason for the story. So the story might read,

“Dozens of black and Latino high school students toured the campus of Indiana State University Wednesday as part of Multicultural Scholars Day. As they strolled through the Commons and among the classroom buildings, they no doubt saw faces like their own among the ISU student body, more than 10 percent of which is non-white. But if they choose to attend ISU, they likely won’t see faces like their own at the front of their classrooms.” …

This approach not only allows you to freshen up what is otherwise old news, but it also allows you to paint some images and package the story with Annie’s Multicultural Scholars Day story.

Feb. 27

605480_thumbs_up_with_clipping_path9.jpg Thumbs-Up Awesomeness

It’s excellent that we had a follow-up on the hate crimes/noose incident from November. This is the kind of issue that can get lost if we don’t do the kind of reporting Sara did, to bring all the pieces together. Excellent job! (And well-designed!)

Robin’s piece on the Trustees raising room and board rates was nicely reported. We were behind on this story, but we made a solid effort today. The Trustees meeting can be mined for many more stories over the coming weeks. I would suggest trying to turn some of the little meeting snippets into more in-depth features that explore the issues connected to the meeting agenda. (The narrowing of the ISU presidential field is one such topic.)

Aliya offers a comprehensive preview of the drag show on page 3. Her sourcing gives us some history of drag at ISU and the info box adds nice context. A very readable — and not at all mocking or condescending — preview. Good job!
Harold offers us some colorful imagery from Inuit lore on page 6. A good read!

Our Sports page looks clean and action-packed today. Love the “Moore File”!

Greta does her best work yet on the freshman forum. Way to go, Greta!

Lana and Anna work well together to offer a story and picture from the EASE mentoring program. This is what coordination of reporting/photography looks like! Excellent…

In general, today’s issue is very newsy throughout! Fantastic work to reporters and editors alike…

lightbulb-2.jpg What if…?

… we follow up on the Trustees meeting with some stories from students who will struggle with the 4.5% increase in room and board? This seems like a significant increase; I wonder how this increase compares to those in the past? And how many students might we lose because they are “priced out” of the school? Might it drive some students to off-campus rental housing?

… we find out how many students experience eating disorders at ISU? I would imagine the percentage would be comparable to other campuses, but what is that percentage? Are women really more forgiving of looks than men? Or is that a stereotype? Could we find some ISU students willing to talk about recovery from an eating disorder?

… we expand on some of the issues brought up at the freshman forum? For example, the prevalence of Facebook to organize social events — how is this impacting students’ social life? I think there are many great Facebook stories that have yet to be told (dating, security, etiquette, etc.).

300px-stop_hand_cautionsvg.png Watch out for …

… AP Style errors. It’s “more than,” not “over” when referring to a greater number.

… letting stereotypes go unquestioned. The eating disorders story allows a source to accuse men of being more beauty-conscious (and therefore culpable in the stress to be thin) than women. I think we should interrogate this notion more critically. Many men would disagree with that statement.

… weak verbs such as “occurred” and “are actions done.”

Come sit a spell…

This establishment is a place where you can pull up your chair, cozy up to your screen with your favorite libation, and chat about the day’s events at the Indiana Statesman (a fine establishment in its own right). This is the Statesman’s online pub, where all are welcome to join the conversation about this crazy news business, its challenges and how to make it better. So make yourself comfortable and join the neighborhood newsroom buzz. Welcome!