Sunday, February 1, 2009

KUDOs Jan. 27 issue

Congratulations on our Jan. 27 issue. It's a strong second issue with plenty of news our students and faculty will enjoy reviewing. Our weakness? It's still photography. We just don't have the photos that jump out and grab the reader into the story. Another weakness is that we are starting to look the same, issue after issue. Some students (I sound like Fox News here) couldn't tell the difference between this issue and the previous one. While there are some good points about that - standard formula layout, for example - we need to diversify our look and try different things. There was one layout, page 4, that did stand out with a surprising graphic element to discuss the TAMUK System study on our university. The use of the clipboard, while not brilliant, is just different enough to attract attention to the page. We need more of this. I would like to suggest that our editor and managing editor review "good" or "eye-catching" layouts in daily newspapers like The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, San Antonio Express-News or go on line and checkout to get some ideas for future South Texan designs. It's okay to borrow and copy and modify the layouts to fit our needs and news. Try it, you may like it and you may come out with something that our readers will find appealing and would lead them to pick up our paper more.
Still, this issue had some good elements of design and reporting. First, our teaser is eye-catching. Second, our stories are solid. The "Tallant Reacts" story on pi is solid. It is one of the few instances that a lead news story is started with a quote and it works. Erika Hernandez then followed it up with good solid reporting and good quotes. Still, do not make it a practice to start a story with a quote, unless God himself comes down from heaven and says something like "The world will end in 40 days!", in which case it really doesn't matter any more. Ha. The story on the Cue Shack is good but, again, because we were too busy designing a feature page that wasn't ready, we didn't follow our edits and did not say when this happened. Every story must have a time element. What's good here is the "refer" at the bottom of the story. Again, on the edited page I had suggested moving the "refer" to the middle column. Let's try to have these types of design elements used consistently. Also, Edwin did a solid reporting job on the TAMU-CC Engineer story. The story came in late (Friday) and Edwin tracked down the principles of the story and had it in by our late deadline. Bien hecho, Edwin. Page 2 is coming together. We are attempting to use formula layout on this page and adjust to our news. The photo by Greg Stelfox does indeed show a "Focus on Us." It should be bigger. On "By the Day," we can fool around with the column-width when we have a strong photo such as the one Greg took for us. When we have a strong photo, USE IT BIG! On this page, we also find the "Green Tip of the Week." What a great feature and it ties in to the video on our TST Online. When we do this, we need to "tease" or "refer" people to our online site right on the story. Bob and Serbrina, good job. Our editorial page is again strong, although we had some silly typos such as "universities" instead of "university's," for example. Again, this can be caught if we meet deadline earlier and I and/or others are not busy starting a layout from scratch. Speaking of starting a layout from scratch, that is exactly what happened with Page 6. Carlos Alvarado had written a good story that had a strong time element on it and needed to be communicated to our students. It is the job of the editor and his main staff to recognize this and make suitable adjustments for coverage. I also was taken for a spin on this and suggested we put it on line and "refer" to it. On close inspection and after talking to Carlos, we found out it had a pressing time element and we decided to put it in the paper, bumping something else off that did not have as crucial a time element. This is an example of the type of decisions people in media make every day. This time, while we didn't recognize it at first, we made the right decision at the end. And, one other thing, journalism is not about doing the "easiest" thing so that everything works and we meet deadline, it's about doing the "right" thing so that our readers/viewers/listeners get the information they need to make a contribution to society. Let's keep that in mind as we progress through the semester. Thanks for the hard work. Oh, what about KUDOs? While there were many good efforts: Erika's coverage of Tallant's response, Edwin's story on TAMU-CC engineering, Carlos' report on the dorm choices for students, for example, there were three students who stood out. Those students were Jaime Gonzalez with his layout and report on the TAMU System audit of our university, Bob Pena for his "Green Tip," and Serbrina for her report on TST Online. Check it works....Well, these three students are in the pot. Good luck.