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

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