… teaser design! I like our approach to the two spot-color fonts and page numbers in the teases. Clever approach!
… Cole’s sculpture story! His story on the Chakaia Booker weaves in some good context about how she chooses materials, and about the collaboration that brought the sculpture to campus. Nice job!
… Nick’s story on the Appellate Court! He does a good job reflecting the educational nature of the presentation, as well as the legal details of the case they heard. Good work, sir.
… Charles and Aliya’s piece on buckeyball!!! Really nicely constructed lede that breaks down all this science mumbo-jumbo into an understandable and clear story. Comparing it to a laser beam and a soccer ball are great ways for the reader to visualize a very complex concept. Wonderful job!
… Andrew’s story on the teacher resource-sharing system! Again, not a story that screams “entertaining,” but Andrew breaks it down into bite-sized, tasty morsels of information for us. Great job!
Light a fire under…
… copyediting!!! The retention story on page one is RIFE with grammar mistakes. I went over them in-depth with Nick, so I won’t do it here. In general, though, we need to correct sentences for parallel verb structures; subject-verb agreement; completeness and appropriate word choice.
We just can’t have mistakes of this magnitude running in our paper. If three sets of eyes saw this story, that is especially unacceptable. If three sets of eyes did NOT see it, then our system is broken and needs to be fixed immediately.
… three-source stories. Our feature on Jay Johnson only quotes the singer. Profiles should spend a great deal of time talking to people other than the one being profiled. People tend to be humble and reserved when talking about themselves. You’ll get better information from those who know and work with them. Also, we just never run a one-source story.
… no-news ledes. The open-mic story focuses WAY too much on the fact that the crowd was really small. It even editorializes and speculates what one performance WOULD have been like, had there been people there. Instead, let’s focus on the performers and their stories.
Also, in sports, we have a lede that says the soccer team “continues its season.” Wouldn’t it be more newsworthy if they weren’t continuing their season? The fact that a sports season continues, as scheduled, isn’t news. Similarly, it isn’t news that we “took on” Indiana University. Instead, lead with the highlight of the game — usually the final score.
Too many of our sports stories proceed chronologically — first, second, third. Instead, try focusing on the highlights of the game in the lede, followed by the players’ and coaches’ reflections on those highlights, then other important details. We shouldn’t always construct mini-replays of entire games, start to finish.
… we better coordinate our photography with our reporting? This is an ongoing complaint that still needs to be addressed. Some steps we need to take as a newsroom are:
- Reporters and photographers need to collaborate as early as possible to give photographers the chance to shoot the best possible photos. Photogs should not just be showing up at the end of an event, or AFTER an event, expecting to get good shots. Communicate and collaborate, please.
- Photogs need to provide page designers with options for the page. Close-ups, crowd shots, straight-news and more feature shots. We need to choose the most compelling images based on the quality of the photo — NOT because a shot has the greatest number of people in it or because it is the most representative snapshot of an event.
- In general, stop assigning photogs to panel discussions and research seminars. People sitting at tables or reading speeches from podiums are NOT visually interesting. There is little a photographer can do to make that a compelling image. BIG EXCEPTION: If the speaker is prominent and/or the event includes some potential for images — audience interaction or image projections or performance — that’s a different matter.
- Please take more feature photos! We have thousands of people interacting and doing interesting things on our campus each day. Show me some of them, please!
- Photos dictate page design — not the other way around. Our photogs spend too much time “sizing” photos at the request of page designers who have already laid down text. Instead, the photos should be edited early the in the evening — before 7 p.m. when possible — and the text should work around the images. This means that photogs can’t be showing up at 8 or 9 p.m. to start editing images. It also means that page designers must consult with photogs about what images are the highest quality before designing a page.
So the general rules are: Communicate early and often; and, give photos the attention, space and power they deserve. Photos are what grab readers’ attention first — and sometimes, most powerfully.