Wednesday, September 24, 2008

KUDOs for Sept. 23 issue

The Sept. 23 issue had some good points and bad points. Layout and designwise, we salvaged with flutter-bys and zarapes - the front and back page. The scariest part of the Sept. 23 issue was pi - page one. At 10:30 a.m. Monday, all we had on the page were cutouts of butterflies. The story on Strawswer was late, the story on enrollment died, other stories (I forget now what they were) disintegrated and we had nothing, nada, zilch. Carlos Alvarado came through with a butterfly invasion featurette and Jaime and I did a story on the football game to sort of kinda save the page. But, the butterfly effect layout was not totally finished when deadline arrived at noon, and the page was not very pretty. Juan Carlos added the hammer headline and deck to sort of kinda save, but not really. We turned out with a weak layout because there was very little advanced planning. The butterfly layout was a good thought, but it wasn't followed through. And, as for the stories on page one being late, well I don't know what to say. In 20 years of advising college newspapers, this is the closest we have come to not having material for page one. I'm disappointed. I don't know what to say. Now, as always, there were some good efforts. Angela continues to improve as a leader. Jaime is doing a very good job on sports and his editorial/column writing is superb, in most cases.Clavens Charles is always "ready" to take pictures for us. Pub Lab students are starting to get the hand of deadlines and news writing - GOOD! Tania covered SGA, BETTER! Police Blotter is back, AWESOME! However, we still nee to format Police Blotter better and no matter what, if it's in news style and not agate matter, we never start a paragraph with the date. That's how Police Blotter started out. Some high points: Erika's Ag Olympics story (good strong lead, solid quotes, well covered), Amanda's Yoga story (Newsy and well written), Yamira Hispanic Heritage story on Stephanie Griest (Good use of quotes), and the Ed-Ops page (good variety of columns and editorials). Some low points: Savannah's Hispanic Heritage Month story (poor reporting, events that were reported as happening did not, etc.), Hogs battle on page one (written too late and then spellchecker changed word to wrong word), Snout Invasion (turned in too late to fix and had some disappointing qhotes, i.e. "None of us are butterfly specialists") and Katrina's/Lorraine's/Ali's obesity story on page 2 (Zero, nada, nothing, no plannning for layout and design and photos). Why? Well, you get the point. While this was an "okay" or "average" issue it was not our best and we can do much better. The key to it is for us to get on an early cycle and not wait on everything till the last-minutes. Friday's can be our work day, don't you think? To have a story for the main feature piece on pi to come in at 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning is unacceptable, unacceptable. We can do better. J.C., Jaime and others (Angela, Kristie, Kiki, etc), let's organize ourselves as team. Let's set some real-time deadlines and let's get it done. (Music here) KUDOs? Another tough week. Because of their continued willingness to help, KUDOs this week go to two of the least-complaining, most-cooperative staff members - Adrian Trevino and Clavens Charles. Adrian did a volleyball story and a strong column on Hurricane Ike's impact in Houston. Clavens took some of the better volleyball pictures this year. Well done, both you. Thanks for your hard work and thanks for being a part of the team without whining or complaining. Your in the pot for the $100 at the "-15-" Party. Good luck.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

KUDOs for Sept. 16 issue

First, thank God all of us are safe. A scare from a hurricane often puts journalists in harm's way. Last Wednesday, when we met to discuss the publication schedule in case the hurricane hit our area, there was both a sense of urgency and anticipation in the air. I appreciated the journalistic and professional attitude of all who were present - JC, Jaime, Mary Beth, Jaime, Edwin, Kiki, Adriana (I don't remember the others, but there was a lot going on). Assignments were made. We all understood what we were doing. Immediately, we must point out the work of two of our students - Mary Beth Cleavelin and Edwin Vasquez. Mary Beth took it upon herself to head to the hurricane-torn area to get a first-hand look and report on how strong the damage had been to the Houston-Galveston area. The devastation was unreal, and Mary Beth was there. Her photos and stories were poignant and solid. Edwin Vasquez was the first on the staff to recognize the news value of what was happening on our campus Wednesday prior to school being let out. Edwin noticed the scores of National Guard troops and trucks lined up along University Boulevard and Santa Gertrudis Ave. and immediately set out to take pictures and interview the guardsmen. His news instincts were superb and he is to be commended for his efforts.I also want to thank Juan Carlos Reyes for his column and news story on Michelle Leal's husband, one of our students, who tried to save a person who drowned as the hurricane approached. Juan Carlos' story and column were well done and actually we had a news exclusive. Angela did her usual goo job with the layout - she's becoming "Circle Girl," but very effective in this case. The only thing we have to watch for in a photo layout is that we have one solid BAP. One solid lead big photo. The photos compete for attention and that is distracting. Of course, the problem is that we had so many good photos. In another case like this, run three or four at the most and refer to the web for more marvelous photos. Okay? Also, the colors were too dark. Because they are dark, the text is hard to read. No matter how good the layout is, if you can't read the text, the photo layout won't work. This concept was almost true for pi this week. The front page lead photo of the hurricane in the gulf, which still needs a cutline by the way, printed out too dark in some issue and reading the copy was hard. By the way, Edwin's and Jaime's story was very good. The timeline is also a good touch. The only disappointment was that the photo of the bus was too dark here and the photo of Vera was "fuzzy." Homero Vera should not be a fuzzy character. Page 2 was good. The Q&A was a good touch but is unlabelled - in other words it needs a headline. The "Focus on Us" is lame. We need a good strong photo here every week, every week. Kiki, this is you job and Kristie, you find an assignment to cover this. Okay? Film review is bogus. No rating stars, no Hog's heads, now a grade of "D." Pick a symbol and stay with it, and also run a photo of the movie so it won't be so grey. Okay? Our South Texas graphic works, but barely. Bugs must be distinctive and add to the layout, not distract. And, the photo of the bridge is like from the 1970s, what's up with that? Plan, Plan, Plan, Plan...Please Plan. Page 2 is the easiest page to layout and design. Please, let's work on this. Sports is functional. Clavens had a good action photo. Thanks. Well, back to the start. KUDOs? We hav to give it to Mary Beth and Edwin. Both showed wonderful news judgment and Edwin "rode the storm out" here in Kingsville. He was ready for action and his photos were timely and newsy. Well done, both of you. You're in the pot for the KUDOs Award. Congratulations.

KUDOs for Sept. 9

First, a good effort. The front page has kind of a USA Todayish look to it, with weather, a graphic, a solid lead story and a BAP (big ?&% photo). The stories in pi are also pertinent and newsy. My only problem, besides another poor print job by Alice Publishing, is that it's too "horizontal modular." It looks like the same series of rectangles over and over, except for the "rail" on the left side. True modular is a series of squares and rectangles with one BAP and a photo with every story. Also, true modular uses decks (secondary headlines) to help the reader understand the story better. Other elements missing are quote outs, charticles and graphs. All who are involved wit pi are aware of these layout devices and should plan to use them in the future. Page 2 is better. The "By the Day" calendar is an excelleent feature. The "Focus on Us" feature still needs to be developed, that means "planned." "The Reely Speaking" bug and graphic is a nice touch, but this is still lacking something. I don't know, a photo of the movie, a better bug for th rating? And, what happened to our Hog Heads' rating? Oh well...we'll see. Oh, I think I understand "Chupi" this week. Not sure. Page 3 works, but one of our goals should be to have a photo, graphic or quote out for every story. Ed-OPs page is solid, as usual. Nice columns and editorial. U Wire stuff still bothers me. JC, in 17 years at DMC we never did this unless for an emergency or photo that we could not get. We have yet to have a "real" emergency. Sports, nice touch on "Hog Talk." Let's develop this. Also, please see me about "idea" on picks. We can do it. Angela, you put in a lot of work on the features page. I can tell you didn't get all that you wanted on it, but it was extremely busy. On a photo page like this, you must have one dominant piece of art and one scene-setter. You have many photos the same size and, they're so good and powerful, that they all serve as scene-setters. Still, well done. Thanks for all your hard work. As for KUDOs this week, well our editor outdid himself. His 6 stories are an example of what KUDOs is all about - a hard-workig student journalist who goes beyond the normal duties and helps us produce a quality student newspaper. JC had two stores on page one, wrote an excellent movie review for page 2, reported on the Sodexho menu on page 5,had a column on page 6, and wrote part of the feature on page 8. Excellent. Hard work, for sure. Thanks JC. However, an editor cannot get KUDOs unless he or she is part of a team coverage effort. So, JC doesn't get it. This, however, in no way takes away from his hard work. JC, get others to help you. Others, help JC. KUDOs this week goes, almost by default, to Angela Palacios. Angela help re-write two articles, took care of a very difficult featuare-page assignment and was a real leader in the newsroom. Angela, this is what we need from you. Well done. So, you're in the pot for the $100 at the -15- Party. Good luck and thanks for your hard work.
NOTE: An apology for not posting this sooner. The hurricane and other elements got in the way. I will try to be more prompt with my KUDOs' postings.
Dr. Flores

Saturday, September 13, 2008

KUDOs for Sept. 2 Issue

Our second full issue of the year had many good elements which made it a solid newspaper, coveragewise. Unfortunately, our layout and design remain mediocre, and so does our photography. These are areas we must get better in if we expect to maintain our reputation of being among the state's Top 20 programs, at least. We have been in the Top 5 at times and almost always we are a Top 10, out of the nearly 70 journalism and newspaper programs in Texas. Right now we're struggling to be in the Top 20 and we are stuck in mediocrity. That means "average." Average, where many of you are going is not fantastic. We can do better, as our editor has told us, and we will.
First off, our front page design leaves much to be desired. It looks as if someone went back to the 70s and 80s and plucked a layout out of the Laredo Times. Orale! What's wrong with it? The "reader" at the top of the page is too deep, leaving only that headline above the fold. Next, our main art is below the fold. We saw only the head of our esteemed state representative peering at us from above the fold. It's as if we scalped her. Remember, art to the top, art to the top, art to top, hmmmmm, hmmmmm. If we follow that mantra, at least, we can prevent us falling further and work toward escaping mediocrity, escaping mediocrity, escaping mediocrity, hmmmm, hmmmmm, . . . .Also on pi (that's page one and read "p" "i" and always italicized pi) Also, every page must have a main piece of art - a photo or graphic that stands out and is prominent. Look at pi and what do you see? You see two color photos of the Freshmen Convocation and they're the same size. This is not right. By doing so, having pictures of the same size, we confuse and frustrate the reader. We need one piece of art bigger than the other. Could we have done better? Yes. And, also the photos are too static. I can tell we took these two photos from the same spot. In other words, our photographer did not move. Our photographers cannot be lazy. They must move and look for the best angles, the unusual shot, the photo with a better perspective. Don't get me wrong. They're nice snapshots and good photos but they are average. That's not fantastic. We can do better. There were some good points here. Yamira's story was well done and Adrian had a good story on the convocation. Yamira's story had much potential and had several stories just hitting us between the eyes but because we think about just getting through and just being average. Page 2 is better. Nice job. Now, let's make sure we have space for these features...let's not let them slip up. "Chupi" looks good. This is up to the page editor and also the editor and managing editor. Also, we need names for photos. Carlos, I need you to get serious about working with us. Please. Our editorial page was excellent with some very strong columns by Juan Carlos and Jaime. The sports page was adequate. Lots of potential here. And, our final page was strong. Well done Angela. Well, we have lots of rooms for improvement. KUDOs? Juan Carlos has not talked to me about this and still refuses to the do the Dominique Garcia Hi-Liter Award, so here it goes. KUDOs goes to Yamira González-Mendiola for having the only "real" news story in this issue. Yamira took it upon herself to go to the hotels to talk to these students and also visited several sources before writing her final version. It is this type of attitude that will help us avoid being average. We cannot be satisfied by being average Joes or Marias. We have to do better. We're TAMUK. We're Javelina Journalism. Now, let's live up to that legacy.