Sunday, February 14, 2010

Critique of first 3 issues

Our first three print issues showed much dedication and diligent work by our staffers. They also showed good leadership from our new editor Amanda Marcum and our new Publications Lab Director Angela Palacios. We had a lot of transition after the December edition, losing some key staff members (Katrina Alejandro and Adolfo) as well as Angela stepping down as editor and our experienced Pub Lab Director when Adriana Tapia Garza left us to accept a high-paying job with the university. But, we are a team and we can survive. Angela is the new Pub Lab Director and has hit the road running. Amanda is quickly learning the role of a leader and others like Jaime, Claudia, the two Sabrinas, Edwin, Mark, Artie, Michael, Paul have stepped up. New additions like Allen Fisher have been a joy to have on staff. We are still building our staff so we will get better., here are some critiques. KUDOs will be on a separate post and will stay together for the entire semester. It will be easier to see who gets print KUDOs. Mr. Fisher will do the online critique on another post.

Jan. 26 Issue

Page 1 - A decent modular layout with a good reader at top on the search for Honors College Dean. The headline was an attempt at what is called a TRIPOD headline. To make it work, one of the elements must be much bigger. Let's talk. I'll explain. Also, the H1N1 story at the top got good play and was good information, but it should not have been centered. It made for some strange "widows" or words that stand along like "p.m." by itself. Also, when we mention a room number it's always caps. For example, it's Room 219C. Okay? A disappointment on this page was the Black Heritage story. It's great that we ran a schedule but we needed a real story. Okay? The story on Viper's Day was strong, but we needed to run it on a clearer screen. The Haiti story was good and had a picture of students. Good job.
Page 2 - A solid page with a good "Focus on Us" feature and solid "Tweet of the Week." The photo of Angelah Johnson needed to be cropped tighter. Too much space on both sides. And, "Tweet of the Week" must line up with the book rental story to be true modular layout. Speaking of book rental story, that sure seemed like pi material. What do you think? News judgement is crucial to the appeal of the paper to students. Certainly many students feel this is important. Enjoyed the "By the Day" feature. It's a good addition and complements the "Green Tip of the Week."
Page 3 - The Ed-Ops page had some good material for a first edition. Amanda's column was informative and told about our goals for the year. The only problem is that we did not justify it at the bottom. This looks bad and makes it look as if we don't care about accuracy and layout. We had several stories like this. Let's fix this. Also, Nndy's logo on his column is butting against the photo on the Haiti relief effort. Please move it to the other side of the column and also to the top. Nndy's story solid. Our editorial on Haiti needed a little more work.
Page 4 - The sports page had some good stories but seemed to lack "zest." It's the first issue. We will get better.

Feb. 2 Issue

First, this was one of our poorest issues in recent memory. I'm sorry I was not there to read the pages before we PDFed them. It's obvious something went wrong and we had some very important stories that gained much attention on campus and from our alumni. Unfortunately, we had many, many (too many) errors. We will not mess up like this again. Please, read the PDFs before we submit them. Also, please make sure the right stories get posted. And, please remember that when we finish proofing pages on Quark,we must step back and wait at least 10 seconds before we touch anything. Okay? Personally, I was very disappointed with this effort. Now, let's look at the issue page by page.

Page 1 - On pi we had several stories that were not justified at the bottom. In particular, the theatre season opening story had too much white space the bottom. Again, we don't do this. Use a layout device like a "big cap" or Quoteout to take up some of this space. Okay? Also, I was disappointed on some of the stories, including this one. The photo on Kingsville cleanup story was also disappointing. We have butts and backs. We need faces. Also, when we are running a story on a Regents Professor, don't you think he/she deserves a picture? Of course, yes. Plan for this. And, another disappointment, this story should have been written by one of our staffers. We should have gotten quotes from his students and other professors. This is very, very weak and very, very disappointing. On the front page, at the very least, the stories must be written by our staffers.
Page 2 - This page has some good ideas to increase student readership. Our new feature column - "Greek Letters" - should be popular with our readers. Artie did a good job to start this out but the column needs to be developed into one with a lead section and then some briefs. For example, the lead article is good and then on other notes we use the actual Greek letters to announce what other groups are doing. Angela and Amanda, please help Artie develop this. Nevertheless, Artie we are proud of you. "By the Day" looks better. "UPD" stuff good addition. Also, good place for "Tweet of the Week." Overall, nice page.
Page 3 - This was a good Campus News page It was very newsy and covered several campus activities. Again, we had a story by a non-staffer. Not good. The stories we did cover were solid, in spite of several typos and errors. Again, we can't do this.
Page 4 - Originally, this was one of our weakest pages ever in the history of The South Texan. Mr. Fisher and I are glad the PDF was corrected, but the damage was done. Hundreds of administrators and alumni and we suspect faculty and student saw the myriad of mistakes we had on this and it reflected very poorly on your hard work, the work of myself and Mr. Fisher and on our university. People were actually laughing at us - Mr. Fisher and I included. One of our supervisors actually called and asked "What are we paying you for?" Of course, it's our fault. We should have "read" the final pages but didn't. What was wrong? First, the lead editorial on budget cuts had too many errors. How did this happen? We don't know and we ope it doesn't happen again. We have too much at stake, including our funding that pays for some of your salaries and for our trips. Needless to say, it was embarrassing. The good news is that Angela made the corrections and Michael posted the new pages online. Perhaps our readers will realize that we can make corrections. Also, please place Nndy's column bug on the other side of the page. Okay?
Page 5 - A good sports page with a good addition for Player of Week, but we can do better. Mark, can you and Paul workout a new graphic design for Player of the Week and let's also run it on the online edition. Please do this. Good job on the golf coach story. We can still do better. The sports page is flat. It needs more "zest".....Mark, get more zest into it...okay?
Page 6 - A very nice Super Bowl page. Writing could have been tighter on both stories. Next time, please let Mr. Fisher read items like this before we publish them.

Feb. 8 issue

First, a much better effort. Thank you. It seems as if we truly worked to cut down on mistakes. Unfortunately, this issue did not have a story of the caliber and interest of the 5% budget cut story, so it went unnoticed by many. At least, the students, faculty and administrators who read it and did not laugh at us. I saw many students pick this edition up and carry it throughout campus. Of course, some were using it to shield themselves from the rain, but many also read's a good change of pace from the mistakes of the previous week. And, at the very least, we do serve a purpose. A wet South Texan is better than one which we dump in the trash. Ha. Now, let's look at this issue page-by-page.

Page 1 - A very sweet page with the candy teasers. Ha. It makes my mouth water (sugar fit) and is eye-catching. The layout is much better, but we are getting away from "big headlines." Why? The enrollment story should have had a bigger headline. This story, too, was updated late and did not truly match the headline. Michael and Amanda, whenever a story like this emerges (with late additions or statistics) please make an editor's note for readers to catch up online. Okay? Jaime's story on "Javelina Spirit" was solid and the photo good, but needed to be bigger and more commanding. Okay? Ask me how? The review by Allen Fisher was in the wrong place. A review is never pi material. It goes inside. Also, on this layout, the "cast" is to the bottom. Remember, all graphic elements to the top. The photo was also too weak? Can't see who they are. It's better to run a close-up of one actor than a photo of five cast members you can't recognize. The review itself was well done. Good job Allen. Amanda, good job on the dining hall story.
Page 2 - Okay, nice layout and the graphic material from the Roundhouse Movie Club makes this page stand out. Good job. But, again, we need a real story here. The "Go Green" column was very, very interesting and romantic. Ha.
Page 3 - Good and important tease at the top. Nice advance to "Brown Bag" story. Did we say where it was? Good job, Michael, on wind symphony. Good job overall Allen. Adolfo we're going to miss you.
Page 4 - Everything is solid on this Ed-Ops page with two exceptions. First, the cartoon is weak. We need to get much better on this. Jaime, can you help Ernest with this? Thanks. And, second, the letter-to-the-editor may need a editor's note. The subject covered in the letter has not been reported on by our paper so we need to inform the readers about the subject. Nndy's column and the editorial are solid. Nndy' column excellent. Wow.
Page 5 - Sports page getting better. Great action shot of Clifton Thomas stealing a base. Unique shot. Only ball was missing. Mark, you're lead is too weak and unimaginative. You can do better. Player of the Week feature still to weak. Make a nice design for this. It must stand out and it must run online. Layout good. Okay, getting better. And, in case you didn't realize it, you scooped all the papers on the Randle story. Unbelievable.
Page 6 - Cute. Nice job. It's nice to see Mary Beth writing again. Remember, she is auditing our Pub Lab course. Please let her know. She won't return my calls.

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