Monthly Archives: October 2008

Halloween critique… Bwaaaaahahaha

Treats for…

… more great election coverage!!! Nick’s story on early voting turnout is timely AND forward-looking. He notes that ISU’s satellite voting station may get cut because of low turnout. The story lede also paints a strong image of apathy. Nice work, Nick! Lana’s story on the Tufts survey is a nice complement to the election coverage. I like it because it’s interactive and gives students a chance to act. Nice job, Lana!

… an interesting and very readable SGA story from Harold! This story could have easily been a dry mishmash of “topics,” but instead Harold organizes the piece with subheads and an anecdotal lede that really make the story easy to digest. Excellent job!

… cool follow-up on alumna athlete Dani Prince by Jake!  We need all of these stories we can get about alumni doing interesting things. Nice job Ben and Jake! Scary tricks for…

… a dull presentation of the calaveras story.  We could have had some close-ups of the decorated skulls. We could have used a plain-looking skull as a story canvass.  There were options here, but we needed to think more creatively. Thinking outside the pumpkin…

… to push through Nov. 4!!! Our brainstorming session for election stories was great, but it won’t matter if we don’t see those stories through to fruition.

Editors, stay on reporters about meeting deadlines (the earlier, the better).

Reporters, be dogged and creative in tracking down the sources you need. Don’t give up!

And photogs, be proactive in working with the eds and writers, so that we capture the election in people’s actions and in their faces. Our pictures need to tell their own stories.

Happy Halloween!!!


Oct. 29 critique

You oughta be in pictures for …

… solid overall news coverage this issue.  It’s a small issue and we lack feature stories, but the news pieces are all concisely written and informative.

… Bethany’s shot of Gov. Sebelius.  A nice angle and strong lighting makes the color pop in this shot. Good work!

Watch out for…

… ahem… photos.  The lead shot has some issues that I’m told everyone recognizes. So I won’t say any more about it.

… features! This issue is fine, but bland.  It lack color, description, innovation, creativity. Let’s try to get some whimsy, some creativity into every issue.

What if…

… we take the election issues REALLY seriously.  By that I mean, let’s leave our mark on history by trying to capture this moment on our campus and in our community. It’s a lot to ask, I know.

We had a great brainstorming session on Wednesday and I hope that you all take the opportunity to put this election into context for our readers.  Think visually. Think about the images we want to give our readers about the passions, loyalties, ideas, issues, etc. that are important to our students.

I know you’re all working really hard on the election. Just remember to take a step back and think, “What’s important about this story in the grand scheme of things? What’s the point here?”

Good luck and happy reporting!

$$$$ & Democracy - Center for Responsive Politics

WASHINGTON — The 2008 election for president and Congress is not only one of the most closely watched U.S. elections in years; it’s also the most expensive in history. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates that more than $5.3 billion will go toward financing the federal contests upcoming on Nov. 4.

The presidential race alone will cost nearly $2.4 billion, the Center predicts. Already the candidates alone have raised more than $1.5 billion since the election cycle’s start in January 2007. This is the first time that candidates for the White House have raised and spent more than $1 billion, and this year’s total is on track to nearly double candidate fundraising in 2004 and triple 2000.

Weeks before Election Day, the 2008 cycle has already surpassed $4.5 billion, $300 million more than the $4.2 billion that had been raised by the conclusion of the 2004 cycle. The overall estimated cost of the 2008 election would represent a 27 percent increase over the 2004 cycle. Looking at each party’s growth, however, Democrats will have collected 52 percent more money for their congressional and presidential efforts by the end of this election cycle, compared to four years ago. Republican fundraising growth, however, has been a meager 2 percent since ’04.

“This election will blow through historic records on a number of counts,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “We’ve marveled for years at the cost of elections, especially during presidential cycles, but this one is the first to cross the $5 billion mark. At the same time, it’s encouraging to see more Americans than ever participating and offsetting the traditional dominance of special interests and wealthy donors who might be expecting payback. The only payback the small donor is expecting is a victory on Election Day. And that’s healthier for our democracy.”

Homecoming issues critique

You oughta be in pictures for…

… consistency and strength of design throughout the week!  The Homecoming logo and coverage of events was very even and high-quality!  We did a great job conveying the diversity of Homecoming events and telling personal stories, as well. Great job to the whole team!

… people-focused photos!!!  Lots of great shots of people enjoying the week’s events.  From Bethany and Amanda’s shots of student events, to Nathan and Ben’s shots of sports — we had lively and vivid pictures. Excellent job!

… excellent leads!!! Nick’s story on early voting introduces us to Asia Smith, a first-time voter. Heidi and Greta offer nicely written leads on President Bradley and Dean Balch, respectively. We’re doing a much better job getting people into our leads. Good work!

… The Walk map! I know this is always a touchy issue, but I think you all handled The Walk very well this year.  Harold’s story on safety, as well as the disclaimer on the map make it clear that we are taking a reasonable and responsible approach to this tradition.  Acknowledging the event, while encouraging practical safety measures makes us look very smart and responsive to our community. Nice job to the editors!

… a nice package (pun intended)!! The Monday package of three Homecoming stories was nicely designed and well-written by our reporters.  The Trike breakout is smart and useful.  Trever’s lead is innovative and unexpected.  Harold’s story on the parade deserves its own kudo (see below).  Excellent job!

… Harold’s parade story! Here’s what I love about this story: It’s a story.  We begin with lovely description, including an adorable image of little Jake enjoying the parade “with a timid nod of his head.” Nice touch. But then we meet lots of other people braving the cold — “under a dark morning sky with a chill wind blowing at 4 a.m.” — just lovely writing! Harold also pays attention to details, such as the 39-degree temperature and one parade goer wearing “six layers of clothing.”  This is what storytelling looks like. Excellent job, Harold!

… Lana’s story on Joan Graham and other alumni!  This is a wonderful anecdotal lead. We meet Graham, a 60-year alumna, who is candid about watching her former classmates die off after so many decades. Very nice way to tell the story! Lana finds someone for whom being an alum is a very emotional and historical experience.

Watch out for…

… *crickets*

The fact is, you all did a wonderful job filling a great deal of space with great photos and lively stories. I’m not going to harsh that victory. Reflect on a job well done!

Tonya says “Thank you!”

We had a great turnout for Homecoming — both at the parade and helping pass out candy and newspapers! So Tonya just wanted to say thanks to all of you who helped out.

National paper goes online-only

Wave of the future?

The Christian Science Monitor goes online-only.

Oct. 22 critique

Please forgive the super-quick critique. I’m off to Minneapolis tomorrow morning and I’m rushing around today.  Because of my trip, there won’t be any Friday critique until next week. So you may publish anything you want – with impunity!!! (Just kidding, of course.)

You oughta be in pictures for…

… really strong photos!!! Amanda’s lead shot of the stompers is really nicely composed and captures a cool moment. Amanda, Bethany and Nathan all contribute wonderful action-packed shots. We’re much better these days at capturing action and emotion. Excellent work, photogs!!! (But we still miss Anna and can’t wait to have her back with us!)

… lots of local content!  Again, in spite of 14 pages, we aren’t using filler. Good planning again, eds!

… solid speech story by Jake on Bill Kurtis. Newsy and concise.

… very well-reported and designed story by Nick on scholarships. This is a really useful story for our readers. And I love that we ran the breakout on specific scholarships. Very reader-friendly!

… innovation on the sports page! Ben does a pretty cool layout on football offense and defense. Even a sports ignoramus like me can pretty much follow it. Very creative approach.

… another big-picture sports piece by Jonathan Stoner. The women’s volleyball story he contributes offers an insightful look at the coach’s strategy and the challenge to overcome a team legacy of negativity. A good read.

Watch out for…

… promos, refers, teasers!!! We promo the blood drive and the police blotter. Nevermind the Federal Building story or the Get Out the Vote story (related to the front-page politics panel story).

We have to set better priorities about what we tease. The blood drive already happened. But the Federal Building has lots of new info in it; and the voter event is something people can plan for. Let’s make those stories more prominent. And please refer related stories from the front.

What if…

… we finish up Homecoming this week, as well as set a time next week for a down-and-dirty election meeting in which we set all the necessary preparations for Nov. 4?

We can go over details next week, but the things we know we need to plan for include:

  • Getting contact information for — and an interview time set up with — the local elections clerk, so that we can get turnout figures on early voting and election day voting.
  • Determining where key political figures will be on Nov. 4, so that we can set up photos and interviews.
  • Finding out where key student groups will be for the same reason as above.
  • Setting our own internal deadlines about how long we wait for election returns, and how long we make the TribStar wait for our front page.
  • Making a plan for the Web. Are we going to have real-time results online? If so, who is in charge of getting those results? How will the newsroom coordinate with the other end of the hall?
  • What stories can we have in the can, ready to place, so that we’re only concerned with the breaking election coverage, and not chasing down less important stories on deadline?

These are just SOME of the considerations. So don’t be complacent. Preparing ahead of time will save us from tears, shouting and drama on election night. Go ahead and schedule the meeting time and day ASAP.