One Week Down…

JAN. 13

Our first issue out of the gate was a BIG one! Twenty-four pages is a lot to handle the first production night back. But you all made it happen and you are to be commended.

GOOD STUFF:

  • Solid content! It was important for us to mark the end of the J.D. Miller saga, with the memorial service attended by his friends and family.  Our coverage of his life has been sensitive and thoughtful. Today’s issue is no exception. Ben’s story captures the mark he made on this community during his brief life. Daniel’s memories of J.D. were touching and an important aspect of J.D.’s impact. Heidi’s coverage of the memorial service captures a wide range of emotions among the people who remember him with love and warmth. Nice job to all who saw J.D.’s story through its final chapter.
  • Nick’s piece on the search for the African American Cultural Center director is an important one. We need to follow up on this story as the search continues.
  • The retrospective of the “Oughts” or the “Two-thousandsies” is a great idea that is nicely executed. The spread features some wonderful factoids and conversation starters about our last decade. Well done.
  • Blaine and the gang did a really strong sports section in this issue! Nice game recaps from the break and wonderful use of graphic logos to break down the match-ups.  I also appreciated the insightful track and field graphic on B11. Great job, sports desk!
  • Harold’s first foray as Features editor produced some cool stories that set the tone for the first week back. Our ball drop story by Sayna Dennis was newsy and had great background on how the event came to be. Caitlin Martin’s story on what the first semester teaches freshmen was a cool idea and well written. Our point-counterpoint reviews of movies and restaurants is a nice approach that readers will appreciate. I have high hopes for this Features staff!

FOR NEXT TIME:

  • This issue had a lot of sloppy execution in terms of design and copyediting.  Our lead stories’ jump lines are mixed up; the text inside several of our text boxes bumps up against the borders; we had weirdly placed bullets inside of boxes; our column logos text was WAY too small; we used an ornamental font on A8 that isn’t appropriate for straight news copy. In section B, we lacked a cutline on the ball drop photo; our sports/features combo is confusing and needed to be clearly segmented into two sections; our community calendar is misspelled and lackluster, to say the least.  We run a men’s basketball photo with a women’s basketball story on B12 (I know, I know, B12 was a nightmare, but still…); several folios feature the wrong year (2009).  Sloppy.  With this many pages, we needed to begin layout a day early. Lesson learned.
  • We needed FACES in our paper. We have bags. We have a disembodied hand writing. We have file photos. We have a lighted ball. But, with the exception of column mugs and sports, where are the PEOPLE in our paper? Editors, you need to be sure that photogs and reporters are coordinating their efforts to get the most compelling images of people doing things.  Also, when we show faces in our paper, they need to be big enough to see. The rule is, faces should be no smaller than a dime or your thumbnail (That’s why we call them “thumbnail” images.)

In all, a great first effort. The second issue was much stronger in many ways. So without further ado…

JAN. 15

Much better execution of design and little details in this issue! Our Haiti package was very strong. Lots of good stuff in this issue!

THE GOOD:

  • We did a great job tracking down students who had some involvement with Haiti in recent months. Jesse, Erin and Allison all added valuable perspectives to this still-unfolding tragedy.  Zach’s story featured a compelling lede that shows Jesse Coomer’s reaction to the Haiti quake and focuses on the emotion he feels. The nut graf emphasizes the scope and seriousness of the death toll.  Allison’s column is a touching first-person account of how lives here at ISU are touched by Haiti and its people. Her details about the children holding her hand and hugging her are sweet and heartbreaking. Wonderful job getting submitted photos of the devastation and pre-devastation, as well. Great effort overall!
  • Nick’s story on the long-term effects of budget cutting, as it relates to ISU’s “master plan,” is a really important big-picture story. This is the first in what will, no doubt, be an ongoing series of stories on the budget and economy. Good thinking to include the campus map, too.
  • Robin’s veterans counseling story is so important and begs for follow-up with soldiers who are returning to college life. It is a difficult adjustment for many who have come from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, back to classes and jobs and daily life. Let’s get some veterans to talk about their experiences.
  • Harold is does a great job diversifying the content of the Features section, with stories on theater, Lunar New Year, Miss Black and Gold, a wildlife photo exhibit and restaurant reviews. Wow! Lots of great stuff here! Way to go, Harold! Keep up the good work.
  • Shayna has a really descriptive and engaging lede on the photo exhibit story. I see the little black bear peeking back at me. Nicely written, Shayna!

FOR NEXT TIME:

  • Our copyediting is still missing some typos and headline quirks. The story on the veterans counselor needs a subject and verb. Some headlines and subheads are too short to fill their spaces. Remember that copyeditors should be the LAST people to see a page. Once a page is copyedited, nothing should be changed on that page without being seen again by a copyeditor.
  • We need to choose front page content carefully. We have men’s basketball on the front, which is fine except that it’s a two-day old game and not an exciting one, relatively speaking. MLK Day activites would have been a better choice, or the vets’ counselor.
  • The Haiti donations breakout is a wonderful part of the main package. However, we include Heifer International, which is a wonderful charity, but which has absolutely nothing to do with the Haiti earthquake. Heifer International donates livestock to rural families worldwide. But the last thing you need in an URBAN earthquake zone is a cow. (I think experts would back me up on this.) A more relevant inclusion would have been Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders or any of the number of other medical and disaster relief charities working in Haiti. Editors and reporters shouldn’t let their pet causes (no pun intended) skew coverage.

Seeing Stars

With the consultation of Dan and the advisers, I have decided to critique the paper this semester using a 5-star system.  It should be familiar to anyone who’s ever read a movie or album review, or rated any product on Amazon.com.

The catch is this: For every week that you all produce only 4- or 5-star issues of the paper, the advising staff will donate $5 to an end-of-semester party.  (Marcy is organizing a similar rating system for the ad room.)  So, your 4-star and 5-star papers will actually pay you back! Below is a guide to how I will rate the paper using the star system.

The Star Guide:

5 Stars = A GREAT paper! Most photos capture key moments of action and emotion. The design jumps off the newsstand. The stories break new ground with information readers can’t get anywhere else. The content reflects strong planning by editors.

4 Stars = A GOOD paper. The photos are enterprising and lively. The design is compelling and clean. The stories are engaging, with ledes that SHOW ME PEOPLE DOING THINGS. The content shows some creativity and effort by editors.

3 Stars = An OK paper. The photos are average — mostly podium shots, mugs and inanimate objects. The design is ho-hum. The stories are ho-hum. A 3-star paper can be summed up with one word: Boring.


2 Stars = An unacceptable paper. Perhaps it includes a major factual error or a misspelled headline. Perhaps the issue relies on press releases and lazy reporting. Whatever the problem, two stars is NOT COOL.

1 Star = The lowest of the low. Let’s not even go there.

Trust me when I say that I do not hand out 5-star ratings lightly. You will EARN a 4- or 5-star rating. I have no doubts that with the crew we have on board this semester, I will never have to give less than three stars. Most papers should achieve a 4-star rating. I would like to see you all earn a 5-star rating once issue per week.

Go forth and let the stars be your guide!

Story ideas!

As the new semester gets underway, let the brainstorming intensify!

  • HAITIAN EARTHQUAKE LOCAL: We certainly have a few Haitian students on this campus. Let’s find them and tell the stories of how the 7.0 earthquake is affecting them and their families back home.
  • TEEN UNEMPLOYMENT: Teens are some of the hardest impacted by the high jobless rate in America. Time has a story today; let’s localize our own.
  • JACK MAYNARD JOB: We have it on good authority that the Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Jack Maynard has applied for the president’s gig at Youngstown State. Let’s get on this. We’ve known about it for two days already.
  • BUDGET CRISES: President Bradley sent out a cryptic email about possibly 80-100 (verify the number) faculty/staff cuts because of our shrinking state funding. This will have a HUGE impact on campus and students, in particular.
  • SHOW-ME’S OPENING: This boobtastic restaurant chain (a Hooter’s clone) may present some controversy among local women and feminists. Can we find out the impact?
  • CENSUS COUNTING STUDENTS: The student population of ISU helps determine Terre Haute’s population (and therefore funding). So, filling out the U.S. census this year is a big deal and students need to fill out their forms.
  • NEW LAWS: Many new laws take effect in 201o in Indiana and Illinois. Find out which will most impact students. RELATED NEW DMV REGS: You must apply for driver’s license or ID in person and they verify your info before sending your ID to you 10 business days later. No more first-day service.
  • BIZ COLLEGE COFFEE SHOP: Executive Express, to open Jan. 19, is a business that grew out of a class project. Great feature potential!
  • BENJAMIN IN THE CLASSROOM: The former president is now faculty. Good personality profile to think about.
  • PLAYOFF/SUPERBOWL PARTY PLANNING: Big NFL games make for big parties. How to plan one? Good feature potential. Think recipes, renting a big screen TV, etc.
  • IVY TECH ENROLLMENT BLITZ: The school now broke its own record for enrollment with 119,773 students now attending. WOW! This is big competition for ISU. How are we handling it in our own enrollment efforts?
  • MLK CELEBRATION: How can we approach the holiday from a new angle?
  • BUILDING UPDATES: Children’s Museum and Barnes & Noble construction updates.

Facebook bra story

I was wondering why many of my girlfriends were posting random colors as their Facebook status the past day or two. This Washington Post piece explains it (and another from Politics Daily)! And it’s further evidence that the things that happen in your world of social networking are story-worthy. Take note…

Take heart…

If you ever get to feeling down about the inevitable (but always avoidable!) corrections we run, remember that things could always be worse. Or even worse.

Happy holidays!

Happy Holidays, Statesman Staff!!!

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Cool story on tiny NYC apts.

Eddie Rabon

Angel Chevrestt/ New York Post

You think your dorm room is tiny? Check out this piece from NY Post! Watch the video. We should be EASILY able to emulate this style of video reportage. Let’s get out there with our video/Web operation!