Sunday, October 25, 2009

Breaking News, Crime Report and Homecoming Festivities make Oct. 20 edition solid

I think I have been remiss. I have stressed from the beginning of the semester when we implemented Plan 21, that we must think "Online First" and "Print Second." I have not done that in my reviews (which really doesn't matter cause no one reads them) and I apologize. This past week, I had a striking reminder of what it is I said and what I have not done. As we had the prisoner escape story unfold right before our faces as we neared deadline for the print edition, it occurred to me that we couldn't possibly cover the story on print. Online was the answer and online we galloped toward a great job by a group of solid young reporters and online web techs. Great and courageous job guys. David, Mike, Claudia, Katrina, Sabrina and others (including the irrepressible Adriana Tapia Garza and the indomitable editor Angela Palacios, and Mr. Don Fisher, among others, too many to name) you are the bomb! Is that good? Ha, don't matter. What I am trying to say (if anyone reads this) is that we did as good a job possible with our training and equipment in covering this story as well as any staff (university or professional) in the nation, really! The coverage was excellent. Imagine if we had waited til today (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) to report on that story. In today's media world, it's old. Old news is like stale fruit that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. You all did it right. We (myself, Mr. Fisher, Adriana and Angela) are all so proud of you. You can't imagine. So, right off the bat: KUDOs goes to the online techs who posted our stories and updates and to the courageous reporters who went out, literally, to get the story. Well done. Those people are: David, Mike, Claudia, Katrina and Sabrina, as I recall. If I missed someone, please let me know and I will update this posthaste.

Now, as for our last print edition....not bad, not bad at all. Stories did come in late, as usual, but I couldn't tell if the delay in finishing the pages was due to our being late or our preoccupation with the breaking news story. I saw the look in Angela's face as she made a decision to tease it at the top of pi and just go with the story online. In the past, ol' Fisher and I would have yelled "Stop the Presses." Ha!!!! In today's journalism environment, there is no need to stop the presses, because even little old South Texan has 24-7 news capability now with the web. Wow, things have changed.

There is, however, one glaring mistake on our pi and it is one that has been there since the first issue of the semester. Our folio on pi has our website wrong. It's not It's only southtexan. Let' fix it, okay? Now for a page-by-page critique:

Page 1: This is a solid page with a solid news feature on the crime report, a good update on the SGA by-laws and good reporting on Tejano Heritage Awards and 2009 Homecoming celebrations. Crime story by Angela is particularly good and we seem to have gotten lucky with photo. It's an actual photo of a student actually filing a compliant with UPD. It's too bad she looks like she is being arrested, but that has been cleared up and thank God someone wrote a good, solid cutline. The best thing about this page, however, is the teaser at the top with Homecoming and the prisoner escape notice. Well done. Thanks.

Page 2: This catch-all page is a solid design but art is too heavy down the right side. We needed some art on the other half of the page. Also, disappointed on story on the serpentarium. We need a stronger story and better pics. Perhaps we can fix this next week. On the UPD column, we probably need to consider doing a bigger story on the car burglaries (but no one will read this and it won't be done). Sigh!!!!

Page 3: Well,we finally got the words "Ta Ta" on a headline. Yea! Good stories on campus events here and very appropriate for Campus News page. Only disappointment, no real BAP.

Page 4: Nice, very nice. Who did this page? Nice BAP. Good solid stories. Good color, good ads...well done. Solid Campus News page.

Page 5: Spanish page is a bit crowded but the photos do give us a look of all that happened during the previous month. We have only one Spanish page per month and Edwin did a good job with this one. Also, good story on Sigma Delta Pi. Perhaps, we should consider running this in English? (But no one will read this and it won't get done). Sigh!!!!

Page 6: Sports is again our weakest page. There is no BAP. I know, I know, we didn't have room. The good news is that Mark did a solid advance and Jaime had a good game story. On the charticle on the Javelina Homecoming, we lost the dog....let's make sure the reproduction is there by checking our PDFs. Okay? We can do better here. There was no advance on Javelina Cross Country. Oh, and the teaser, let's spice it up. Think! Think! Think! What would have made this teaser better? Duh, a photo. Let's get to work sports guys and gals. Let's lobby for more pages. Angela is a nice young woman. She will listen to you and if you have a good argument she will move ads around of give you another page. Really, she's a nice young woman.

Page 7: With the exception of the cartoon, everything strong here. Good play on Homecoming events editorial. I don't know if we had an influence on the change back to the old ways, but they did change it...hooray! You know what would have been nice, on the pi story or even here, a photo of the old king and queen and a comment from them about how they felt. We need to plan these things out. Perhaps, next time. Sigh!!!! Oh, and I never like the university to have a column on our space. Kenny did a good job as SGA President, but I don't like this. It gives us an aura of us not reporting things well (which we don't sometimes) and also that we are a mouthpiece for the university and its SGA. I don't like that. Who started this anyway? Oh, I hear it's a tradition. Well, let's just make it work. Don't let the SGA president use this piece to get on a soapbox and try to influence results of an election or an issue. All we need is info....okay? But, we can still have a forum if there is a need for that and that is determined by the editor, managing editor and ed-ops editor talking about it....okay?

Page 8: A good page, not great. This should have been designed earlier and should have been more solid. It has a good ad. Oh well. Still, good info and we got pictures of all the candidates. I remember when that used to be a chore.

Overall, a good issue. However, there is no mistaking, our best reporting and effort this past week went to our online edition. I applaud all of you for thinking "Online First" and "Print Second" and if we continue on that route, we will become better 21st century journalists. Plan 21, seems to be working, no? And, if you have a chance, give a hug and a thank to Adriana Garza and Jaime Gonzalez for planning this over the summer. Their brainchild has grown wings and is working. Thanks Adriana and Jaime.

And, also, a big hug (abrazo) and thanks for all of you who make time to produce and publish the print and online editions of The South Texan. Most of you are volunteers and we know you have to make sacrifices from your regular school work and campus lifestyle to become an integral part of our staff. And, one last note. Newcomer Adolfo is stepping right in there with the rest of the staff. Good job Adolfo and welcome to our silly crew.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dead Man and Tejanos and another thrilling Hoggie football win make for interesting Oct. 13 issue

Catastrophe almost struck this issue when one of our staffers, who was overworked with three stories, called and said she could not have those stories ready for us in time for deadline. While the call came late (Monday morning by the time we verified it), we did not panic and thanks to the leadership of our editor, Angela Palacios, and our publications lab director, Adriana Garza, we were able to salvage the issue, make deadline (sort of), and have another informative edition of The South Texan available to our students and readers. Of course, the added pressure and approaching deadline meant some things had to suffer. In this case, we did not read our material very well and we had some typos, including a story I helped with late but was sure someone would read or spell check. No one did. Still, overall, an issue about old men, Tejanos, Dead Man's phones and football came out, OKAY. Thanks for a job well done. Now, here's a page-by-page review.

Page 1: - We salvaged this page. We had a definite strong photo of the play with a very strong headline. Oh, by the way, the story and headline are right, technically. We got complaints about the "cast" not advancing but only three of the cast members advancing to regional. The publicity they got was awesome on this and the story clearly says "three" cast members. The complaints probably stem from our review. Nevertheless, good play on an important story to our university. The folklorico picture also well done. It beats all the other mugs of old men that we have on the page. Only disappointment here was that we used a "canned" PR story of Dr. DeLeon's presentation. I would have like our own story, but at least it got covered. As far as layout is concerned, the "Tejano Heritage Awards" story and the "DeLeon" story should have lined up to make it true modular. Still, it's a nice blockish format a la USA Today and it works. Teasers (both top and bottom) still need help.

Page 2: Cute (I don't really like cute but there are so many young women on the staff that cute seems to be the thing to do this semester), well-designed page that flows well. UPD column text is much too big. Let's not do that. Let's try to stay as close to body text as possible. And, why not use more items? I'm sure we have lots of interesting stuff to use here. Please tell our reporter, Raymond, to send us more items. We can always cut them if we have to for space reasons. Nice page and nice tweet. Green tip of the week turned pink - cute. Ha. Oh, nice "tweet." I, too, tweet blue-and-gold.

Page 3: Nice modular page with good art work (Javelina flag always helps, ha). Wish we would have had a solid story on Arnold Gonzalez. Still, nice play with photo. However, he is not an attorney. His son is the attorney. Can we correct this? A short explanation on p.2 next week would suffice. Everything else here is very nice. Don't really have a BAP but modular layout makes it all work. Also, Arrellano story needs to be broken up at bottom. It's a little too grey.

Page 4: This is a "wow" page. The color is overwhelming. We must have gotten every color in the color wheel for this work. Our previous printer just could not have pulled this off and our layout editors knew that. Wow. Green, blue, pink, dark pink, red, yellow, aqua in the It looks good and the Cortina story makes it newsy. Well done.

Page 5: This was the "Flores Page" - Ha! Still, it was the photo of Ronnie Jordan that made this layout complete and workable. It's the perfect use of a BAP, even though it's a publicity photo. Only thing happened is that when we PDFed the page, the headline changed and we had two ol' big dots for the ellipsis on the deck. We need to double check the PDFs before sending them. Hope this is a lesson-learned. Also, the photo of Marcos Flores should have been to the right of the story to avoid bumping photos. Okay? Lesson-learned. I don't know who that handsome man is on the bottom of the page speaking about vaqueros, but it sure made the page solid. Don't you think? Ha.

Page 6: This is always my favorite page because it shows what our staffers are thinking and feeling. From the editorial cartoon, to the columns and editorial, this page is full of life and vigor. This issue was no exception, but we failed our staffers in some way, which I will explain at the end of this post for this page. First, Katrina's column was heart-warming. It's an all too common story for South Texas, but Katrina found a way to tell it differently and with a passion and sense of purpose few could have. Well done, Katrina. Now, believe it or not, this could have been stronger. We failed Katrina because we (including myself who was too busy trying to salvage pi) did not proof read it thoroughly. The ed-ops page should be the first to be ready and its pieces (since they represent OUR THOUGHTS) should be read must be the cleanest page in the issue. Claudia please have this page ready first thing Monday (at least) so that we can read it thoroughly. Also, Amanda, can you please help read this page. Thanks. Now, the editorial on the Chicano monument was well done and timely, considering it's Hispanic Heritage Month. The Obama Nobel Prize editorial is very well done. Thanks. Solid stuff with a cute (I don't like cute) cartoon. This page could have been stronger, but the material carries it, in my opinion.

Page 7: Our sports pages still need work. However, a nice strong photo and great headline carry this page. The story was okay, but not great. We need great now. We can't stand for mediocrity. Also, it's time, as the games have more meaning, for us to do a complete advance on Monday and not just put it into the game story. We have time on Monday to do a through review of the next opponent. Mark, can we do this? You are the sports editor, right? I've asked you to this for the past month and there seems to be no movement toward doing a complete advance separate from the story. Also, with all the "pinche" sportswriters we have, why do we not have stuff on the cross country team and why do we not have solid features and columns? Oh well.

Page 8: Well, we almost got something right. Page 8 is the sports package on Billy perhaps qualifying for the Harlon Hill Trophy. This was supposed to be a story validating Billy Garza as a Harlon Hill Trophy contender. A story uses stats to verify. There are no stats in the Mark's story. Instead, there are implications of opinions. Therefore, what we had, was a column by Mark Molina on his views as to why Billy "The Kid" Garza should qualify for the Harlon Hill Trophy. Turns out, it's a good column. It's the first one ever this year. Are you kidding me? Jaime's stat story and the whole package with Artie's Johnny Bailey Story makes this a complete and very good package, but it could have been much better. I know, Mark probably let Jaime tell the stats....which he did. But, Mark needed to say just how Billy compared with other notables across the nation. By the way, Artie, good job on your story. One. more thing, the PDF bugaboo got us again on this page. When we did the PDF, the headline on Alfie's story got longer and we wound up with an incomplete headline. Angela, Jaime and Adriana, can we please double-check the PDFs for any changes from the original quark layout? Thanks

Well, that's it - from a Dead Man's phone to old men photos on the front page and a good attempt at sportswriting, this issue had a little bit of everything for the reader and our students. Question is, who gets KUDOs? It's very hard, especially since this issue almost fell apart. Sometimes, however, KUDOs is about consistency. Over the past four weeks, as we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, we have had one student consistently, accurately, and in a timely matter cover a myriad of presentations and activities solidly. That person is Angel Flores. His coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month is exemplary. He met deadline every time, asked for guidance when needed and then turned in solid stories that needed little editing. For this effort, he gets KUDOs. Congratulation Angel. You are in the pot for the $100.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our 'pink' issue was a hit, postgame interviews were better

Last week, as I made my way through the campus, I could not help but notice how many students had our paper in their hands. I know that having a winning football team makes people hungry for news, but I felt it was more than that. Then it struck me! Most of the students with the paper in their hands were young women. Why? Well, the pink headline and the topic - breast cancer - had caught their attention. The article at the top of pi - the strip, if you will - is a perfect example of the WIIFM (What's In It For Me?)Theory. Later that week, breast cancer activities, including the DIGG IT Volleyball game were filled to capacity. As an old fuddy-duddy professor, I can't always gauge the news value of students. I'm glad we at The South Texan have such insightful leadership from young women like of Adriana Garza (our pub lab director, the best), Editor Angela Palacios, Amanda Marcum, Sabrina Reyna, Katrina Alejandro, Claudia Garcia, Mary Beth Cleavlin, Erika Hernandez, Sabrina Salinas, Tania Garcia, Jacque Hutton and Jennifer Garcia to make sure that we cover issues pertinent to young women and women in general. If it was up to Fisher, myself, Jaime, David, Mike and Adolfo, we would be happy with just football and we wouldn't even care if the football was pink. Hahahahahaha! Again, good job.

As for our paper last week, it was as good as it could be with the exceptions of the sports page and the photos - which were pixelized in some cases. Mr. Fisher has worked with our photographers to remedy the photo situation and sports just has to do a better job. Mark, you are your own man now. Fix it! We need more features, more photos and more pizzaz. More stats,perhaps, would also help. We have one of the best teams in the nation and our coverage is flat. We should be making heroes and role models for our students. The advance should be our main story, not the game story. How many times do Fisher and I need to tell all of the sports staff guys about this? Fisher is mad. I'm just about ready to give up.

In spite of all these, your sports coverage was still a better than average effort. I don't think you all realize this, but for the past three years we have had the best sports staff in Division III of TIPA and have consistently won more writing awards than all the other 68 university schools at TIPA. In the past we have had people like Rolando Flores, Ted Briggs, Jaime Gonzalez and J.C. Reyes as our stalwarts and all knew that when the Javelina sports staff arrived, we were the best. So, you have to live up to the tradition. Do it!

Now, here is a page-by-page review:

Page 1:
A very nice modular layout. Good use of Nieto mug. We should use a photo or a mug on every story. Audit headline, too small. BAP weak. Football package had a good idea and worked. And, on the subject of sports on the front page, I don't like it unless we achieve something significant. We haven't won a conference championship and are not even playing for that yet. Sports on pi should be reserved for "real" stories, not game stories. And, if we're going to have a game story on pi, then the advance of the coming game is the lead story on sports. Mary Beth's story on Round Table was excellent, but we had to rewrite the lead to help it make sense. Mary Beth, when all else fails, think summary lead. And, we should have used a mug of Tallant here, don't you think? Teaser was nice and the pink think was awesome, as I said earlier. That is the prettiest pink that we have ever run in our newspaper. Wow, I like pink. Who would have "thunk" it?

Page 2: Good job Erika! Wonderful, informative column! Nice page Strong elements with "Green Tip" and "UPD" columns. "Tweet of the Week" cute.

Page 3: A solid, newsy page with a solid mug of me, yea! No, just kidding. The one thing wrong with many of our inside pages is that we have a problem putting the BAP to the top. The BAP is "family weekend" and it should have been featured higher. The stories are well done. And, the review on Dead Man's Cell is solid, in spite of some misgivings from the Drama Department people. We have been doing reviews of university drama productions since 1926 and have always stated our opinion. We will continue to do this as long as the editor feels that the reporter doing the review is qualified and properly prepared to do the review. ROTC story posting also well done. Disappointed n Dr. Baker's fuzzy.

Page 4: Again, a very newsy page with plenty of information for our readers, students. Again, no real BAP. I agree, however, it would have been hard to have a BAP with these stories, but we have to try. Perhaps the ROTC story could have gotten bigger play? Good story on Goswami and the photo of him, which we had to scramble to get, and I'm sure pleased many of his fans.

Page 5: Layout here is weak. Material is strong in some places, weak in others. Katrina's "football" column is a tear-jerker for old fuddy-duddies like me. It would have worked better on sports page (which reminds me, where have our sports column been this year?). Editorial cartoon is bit weak. We can do better on this page. Let's work on it.

Page 6: Gosh darn it, guys. Our sports page is weak. Photo weaker, although a nice save with cutout. This is a color page and we have no action pics, no provocative columns and not even a real story. What's up? This is lazy reporting and not with the tradition of The South Texan sports staff. We started the page with a jump. Why? Never is the lead story on our feature page, the last page, a full-color page, a jump. And, we need an advance on the significance of the game with Commerce with interviews from both coaches. Yes, you can do this on Monday morning! Why don't we. Angela, you have to be a leader here. You have to tell them that is what you expect. Mark, you need to think. Remember, WIIFM! Poor effort. Disappointed. Please do better.

As for KUDOs, well the print edition was excellent but, like the Hoggies' win last week, it was a team effort. This leads us to The South Texan On Line where new things are been tried and quality material is been posted. The post-game interviews and video of our players after that exciting win over Tarleton State were excellent. Mr. Fisher, Ms. Adriana and I were very pleased with that posting. We understand that Noe the Nomad and Sabrina Reyna were responsible for this. So, they get KUDOs. Congratulations and keep up the good work.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's a dog's world after all and, on the road with Hogs helps solidify Sept. 29 effort

The Sept. 29 issue of The South Texan had some excellent stories and features, but lacked photo and design quality. However, don't get me wrong, this was a solid paper and we are very proud of you. Let's talk about the highlights first and then we will do a page-by-page review. The highlights included: (1) Excellent news coverage and advances, (2) wonderful columns and editorials, (3) great features and a great headline on "All Bark," and (4) good sports coverage and great road trips (yes we had two - Canyon and Corpus Christi). Nice, very nice. Now, let's look at this issue, page-by-page.

Page 1: Great picture on teaser. The determination on Billy's face evident. Wow, I know some of you (young women) would want to blow this up bigger. Perhaps we should have it on the sports page? The lead story about the A&I alumni well done. However, we had a hyphen in the headline. Let's not do this. The package on flu shot very nice, but label head (Being Prepared) does not do justice to the story was well done. Katrina's story on flu well written and Mary Beth story on alumni is just as good. Nice work on Tejano features. A suggestion use more decks (more decks, more decks, more decks) and more charticles (more charticles, more charticles, more charticles). Short brief info with information that is pertinent to the reader is how to describe a charticle. Also, mugs on the speakers would be good. The "Teasers" at the bottom look better every week. Let's "lighten" the pictures to make sure they reproduce. Layoutwise, a very good modular format. Headline font use could have been better.

Page 2: I think our Page 2 is pretty solid now that we anchor Erika's column at the top. I didn't like this at first, but it's the best thing there. I still feel we should use a photo with the jumps, just to break up the grey. Some of our "additions" on the page - like the Arnold Gonzales and Ishmael Soto exhibit and the Family Weekend - need "real" stories. They look like ads. UPD and Green Tip very well done. Finally, the "Focus On Us" photo is again a sideshot. We can't use sideshots or backshots. Okay? Let's work on this.

Page 3: Nice tease at top on the South Texas Archives cinema exhibit. Good story and photo by Edwin on art exhibit. Poor play and photo (no cutline) on Dead Man's Cell. This should have been on pi (page one).

Page 4: A nice color page with a great ad. Wow, have we collected for this? Photo of Ricardo Martinez excellent. The story on "Wall" documentary well done by Angel. Thanks, Angel. Jason Justice had another good story, but missed lead. Don't take for granted it's "ready for print." The editors must read the story and edit it just as any another story submitted by any other staffer. On the story on the "Wall," I think we missed the assignment. We were supposed to get student response and opinion. We missed that.

Page 5: Excellent feature page with some excellent photos. The kitty on the top left is a wow photo. The lead photo of the volunteer (he is a volunteer right?) with the cat nuzzling up to him is also wonderful. Good charticle on the bottom right and a strong story. Overall, very well done. Great headline. Who thought of this? Also, could tease on "Cat Nap." Wow, well done. It's one of the highlights of the year.

Page 6: A well done ed-ops page. Only problem is the gutter going down the middle. We need to work on this. Amanda, Claudia...good commentary. Editorials, especially the "Wall," are well done, too.

Page 7: This page lacked some cohesiveness. First, when we travel to a site to cover a football game, we need a dateline. In this case, it should have said CANYON -. Also, we need to look at style. Are we AMK or TAMUK? Angela and Mark (maybe Jaime, too), please review this and choose a style. Perhaps we need an editors' meeting to decide which style we want. Mark, the story you wrote was good for Saturday morning but was not good for Tuesday. The news in this story is old. We need an advance on the biggest game at TAMUK this year, the undefeated teams of TAMUK and Tarleton State clashing at Jav Stadium on Saturday. The sports staff totally missed this. We are disappointed. Think, THINK, THINK! THINKTHINK!! And, please don't be lazy, get quotes on injuries and coming games on Monday. You have plenty, Plenty, PLENTY of time to do this. I don't like lazy people. Javelina game week for volleyball should not be on top. Not important any more. Photo by Artie excellent. Too much space on the top.

Page 8: A very nice feature on Kristin Chancellor and a very nice story on cross country by Katrina...well done. Page layout was weak. There was no BAP. Cutout was good, but should have been higher and bigger. The photo of cross country kids should have been to the top and dogleg on ad on cross country story should have been avoided. Still, a good effort here. Well done.

So, who gets KUODs. It's tough. Lots of good efforts, including Claudia's pet story and photos, Artie's coverage in Canyon, David Brott's help on Saturday, Katrina's all over the place reporting and Edwin's reporting as well. Angel, too, did a fine job and Amanda had several worthy items as well. By sheer count, Katrina has three stories and went out of town on her own time to cover cross country meet. She also has two photos. Claudia has a column and a story plus five photos. Artie's online work, along with Mark's help, while travelling to Canyon, was also quite a "volunteer" effort. Amanda had a very good front page story, layed out and designed several parts of the paper,and a solid column. We could go on and on. What's an adviser to do? Well, time for multiple awards: Katrina, Claudia and Artie. Good job guys. Thanks. You're in the pot for the $100. Good luck.