Monday, March 15, 2010

Review of March 9 issue

We had a major accomplishment last week as produced another edition of The South Texan. We changed from Quark to InDesign. Thanks to Angela Palacios and Mr. Fisher for helping us in this transition. The transition is good because PDFs in InDesign result in a better quality print job. The issue March 9 was crisp and vivid. We are going to stay with InDesign from now on. Angela and Amanda will help us continue to progress with this change. This is important because many of the nation's newspapers, magazines and advertising/public relations firms are now using this desktop publishing tool for a majority of their products. It helps all of our students to say they are familiar with InDesign. Good luck!

The transition was not without its problems, however. As we learned the new program, the time it consumed led to us missing deadlines both on stories and layouts. We barely made deadline and we also did not have a chance to properly proof read our edition. The result, many errors, too many. We will have to do better.

Now, for a page-by-page critique:

Page 1 - Well, first of all let's talk about what we didn't do on page 1. We did not have a story on Spring Fling. This was a major mistake. It's a big story for our students and we just proved to them that they don't have to read the paper to find out what's going on at TAMUK. I know, we did have shorts on it the prior week and even this week, but that's not enough. Now, the coverage on page 1 was very good with the story on the voting, fee increases, Black Heritage Month banquet, car show and Battle of the Bands. The layout and headlines, however, left something to be desired. I liked the "Community News" label but we had a "label head" (a headline that states the obvious) for a very important story. Why? Headlines should GRAB the reader's attention. This was more boring than my grandma hemming her dress in her front porch. And, one of my pet peeves, we did not have a BAP. Why? Oh, never mind, just fix it.

Page 2 - We had a nice ad for TAMUK Roundhouse Movie Club, but that's about it. This is very "so what" page. Too many jumps, not enough substance. Just disappointing.

Page 3 - I know Edwin is very proud of his work, but does he have to have his byline in 14 point? Ha. This is a nice page, layoutwise. Still, there is no BAP. Why? All pages must have at least a BAP! The story are well done. All four stories by Edwin. There is something wrong here. Where are out other reporters? That's embarrassing.

Page 4 - This was one of our better pages, with the exception of the white-on-black revers. The type has to be bigger and bolder. And, we had too many "staff reports." Why? Where are our reporters? And, we ran the wrong story for the ADDYs. Why? We had our own story and it was in the server. Also, why didn't we take pictures of our students with their awards? Why? Okay, the layout was good and the photo at the bottom of the page was sharp. The only thing wrong at the bottom was the dog leg. No dog legs in the layout, please!!!!

Page 5 - It would be difficult to mess up this page. It was a full-page ad. How could we have messed it up? Easy, misspell "Advertisement" on top. Are you kidding me? And, to make matters worse, we did not place the ad in the PDF and now we are not going to get paid. Are you kidding me? Oh, and the mistake at the top with the misspelling is reason enough for us not to get paid at all. Please....every page must be spell-checked. Please! And, I don't like to beg.

Page 6 - Nice. Good columns and strong editorial with an okay cartoon. It's okay overall.

Page 7 - Jaime did a good job of laying out this page. So, why am I not happy? Simple, we have the biggest sports staff in the state and, with the exception of Jaime's column, not a single story was written by our staff. Let's see we have Mark, Artie, Allen, Cody, Jaime, Dondi, Drew and assorted others on the staff. WHY THE HELL CAN'T WE WRITE A SPORTS STORY FROM OUR STAFF. WHY????? I read the Del Mar College paper. They have no sports, but they cover intramurals. They cover it well. They cover it better than we cover pinche baseball y softball. Why? Mark, por favor, make out assignments or just step down as sports editor. We need you to be a leader and we need you to cover stuff on your own or assign it to someone else. Please help us better. Please. And, I don't like to bet.

Page 8 - Perhaps our best page, but now we have a pinche cadet writing stuff for us, why? Why can't we report on stuff ourselves? Why? Claudia's story was good and we have another story by Edwin. Wow. Bueno, we move on.....I think we can do better. What do you think?

As for KUDOs, this is hard. We had some good things happen, and yet we had many mistakes. We had some good writing (oh, sorry, most of it wasn't ours). What I did find was five stories by Edwin and two stories by Claudia. Michael, Mary Beth and Katherine each had one story. Allen had a story and a column. Jaime had a column and a editorial. The rest was very, very weak. Amanda, you have to start writing at least two stories an issue for us to have quality coverage. We also need to spread out the news better.......

So, who gets KUDOs? It has to be Edwin and Claudia. Congrats guys for a job well done.

As for online, the award, it will go to our accounts manager, Jennifer Garcia. She has done an outstanding job of expanding our advertising to our online site. Way to go.

Bueno, we can do better. . . . . . .

Friday, March 5, 2010

Review of March 2 edition

The March 2 issue had plenty of good things and some minor mistakes that remain areas of concern for our staff. First, we had breaking news with the "prayer vigil" or "protest" by the Baptist Student Ministry of the production of
Dante's Inferno by the Language and Literature Department. Allen Fisher did a good job of covering a difficult story and was able to get a photo of the event. We had controversy here, also. The BSM members insist their action was not a protest. It simply "prayer." So, how does a reporter make a judgment about this issue? If one organization (like the one doing the presentation) feels it is a protest, it is a protest and the reporters says so in the story. However, the reporter must ask the "leader" of the prayer movement if, indeed, it is a protest and present both sides of the story. From my point of view, when you hold a gathering at a place that is not approved as an "open forum" for the university, it automatically becomes a protest. Open forums are determined by the university. They are places where students and organizations can congregate to state their opinion or views about any subject and, within reason and not causing violence, state their views. TAMUK has one area where "free speech" is allowed - ha. According to TAMUK policy: The mall on the north side of the Memorial Student Union Building has been designated as the primary Free Speech Area at Texas A&M-Kingsville. This area may be used on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be reserved following University procedures established by Event Planning in the Memorial Student Union Building. Amplified sound requires prior approval by the Director of Memorial Student Union/Student Activities or his/her designee. The free expression of views and opinions, whether by individuals or by groups, must not violate the rights of others or disrupt the normal functions of the University.
In addition, TAMUK has a Student Right of Expression policy that reads: Texas A&M-Kingsville, as an education institution, believes that the right of expression and inquiry is essential to both the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and truth. Students, both individually and collectively, are encouraged to take active roles in exercising the rights of expression, conscience, affiliation and peaceful assembly. At the same time, the University also recognizes its responsibility to protect the rights and freedom of those students who wish to pursue their educational interest without interference. The University is also obligated to protect its property and to prohibit disruption of scheduled activities of the students, faculty and staff and the campus community. So, was the BSM gathering legal? It was not held in the "free speech" area, right? But, the university encourages peaceful assembly of students, right? Essentially, BSM was within its rights to gather. The lesson here is for us as reporters to be aware of the options available for free expression.

On another note, our layout and design continues to be poor. And, we had several problems with "names." We did not give the full name of our Miss TAMUK. Also, we had the wrong name of the person we featured on the back page. Mistakes such as this make us seem as if we don't care about our readers. We will have to make corrections on both these stories.

Okay, now for a page-by-page review:

Page 1: This was a very newsy page. From the update on the status of the student who was involved in the car accident two weeks ago, to the enrollment increase story, the report on Dante's Inferno production and the SGA conference, these were solid news story. Well done. Storywise, we did not mention how many students were enrolled at TAMUK in Michael Bolman's story. We have to catch this. I suggest we fix this story and put it online with a graph showing growth. Layoutwise, the lead story on the 5% cut needed better design. Putting the graphic on the left side and starting the story there while the headline actually is more than 2 inches away from the story is not good. In addition, we have a "dog leg" on the first column. Dog legs are not attractive and make it hard for the reader to follow the story.

Page 2: This is our problem page. First, it keeps crashing and we have had to rebuild it. Second, since we lost Erika's column, the page just seem discombobulated. It's modular but it's not pretty. Can we work on this?

Page 3: This is a well designed page. Ironically, my main complaint here is that the ad for Javelina Station is too dark. When we have an ad, we must make sure it reproduces well. It's our main concern, 'cause we needs da money. Ha. Excellent stories by Edwin, Nndy and Michael.

Page 4: An interesting ed-ops page with good letters to the editor and a solid column and editorial. Our editorial cartoon is still weak, but Sabrina is developing her own style and getting better each week. Way to go Sabrina

Page 5: Sports page is so-so. Where are our action photos? Why don't we at least have an artist rendering of Rec Center? Come on guys, think. I still think we are just lazy or it could be we just lack news judgment and a sense of layout on this page. Also, too many sports staff stories, not enough features, etc. We can do much better.

Page 6: This page was disappointing. I know we did the layout at the last minute, but when in doubt go horizontal modular. And, we had a really big mistake. The last name of the person being featured is "Land" not "Lead." I said, "disappointing."

As for KUDOs for the print edition, we had plenty of competition this week. Edwin had three stories. Nndy stepped out of his shell and covered a news event and did a good job. Michael was again his usually prolific self as was Sabrina Reyna. So, Edwin, Nndy and Micheal get KUDOs. They are in the pot for the $100 award. Congrats.

As for the ONLINE award, much work was put in by Michael and Sabrina, so they both get the KUDOs nod. Congrats