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.


ADRIGRZA said...

I agree that this was an "interesting" newspaper...if by interesting we mean "lots of room for improvement."
I commend the leadership Angela and Jaime continue to put forth on a weekly basis. The ship, I fear, would be sunk without you two.
Others (Katrina, Sabrina, etc) continue to work hard. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Two things come to mind after looking at this issue:1.) PAGE EDITORS: YOU MUST LIVE UP To YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES. If Monday morning comes around and stories are not in (for whatever reason) it is the job of the page editor to find a way to make things happen. Angela is very busy Monday mornings overseeing everything and shouldn't have to do this. Flores and I can help but we shouldn't have to do this, either. The ramifications of page editors not stepping up to the plate means that we don't get to read copy (like we should, as Flores points out) and mistakes are made. We are always here to help...but help doesn't mean do the pages ourselves.
2.) WE MUST GET THINGS IN EARLY. Stories and LAYOUTS should be done as early as possible. If that means you guys have to work on the weekends, well, that's part of the learning process and you'll be better for it in the long run. When pages are 60% done Monday mornings, we waste time finishing layout when we really could be reading copy.
Fisher, Flores and I all know what it takes to be where you guys are now. We've all been there. This is not an easy job. But you guys (I suspect) aren't the type who look for the easy way out. We do good work...but we owe it to ourselves to be better than ok.
So here is a challenge: let's see if one Monday morning in the next couple of weeks, Flores and I can walk in and see a stack of 11x17 pages stapled together containing a 90% finished South Texan. This would allow us to read copy for mistakes, producing on overall better newspaper, and ease some of the stress heaped on you guys Monday mornings.
We believe in you guys. If we didn't we wouldn't ask you to try so hard.

Angela said...

"let's see if one Monday morning in the next couple of weeks, Flores and I can walk in and see a stack of 11x17 pages stapled together containing a 90% finished South Texan. This would allow us to read copy for mistakes, producing on overall better newspaper, and ease some of the stress heaped on you guys Monday mornings. "

Golly, I would LOVE for this to happen....That's how things were run at the internship I was at for the summer and it was such a breeze, so much more relaxed when you're putting the paper to bed.

longtimehoggie said...

Thanks Angela and Adriana...of course, no one reads this. I am going to make it mandatory and see what happens.

longtimehoggie said...

First one to read this post and leave a comment will get five entries into $100 prize.