Archive for the ‘News choices’ Category

News choices

January 28, 2008

We had many stories in today’s expanded Monday edition of the DEN. Glad to see that beat reporters are starting to cultivate more stories. We failed to elevate the main story today, though, which was the fact that a large shopping center and new hotel will be coming to town. I revamped today’s front page (below) to reflect some changes that would have helped — moving this story from page 6 to the cover and elevating the library’s opening by adding a photo. Overall, we covered a lot of news. Just consider where we place them.
Revised page

‘The Onion’ offers humorous, candid lessons about journalism

October 29, 2007

This story reveals how The Onion can teach journalists how to cover the news better. Uh, huh, we’re talking the newspaper that satirizes the news in a candid, irreverent style — the same newspaper that is growing by leaps (and, yes, by bounds).

But type “best practices for newspapers” into Google, and The Onion is nowhere to be found. Maybe it should be. At a time when traditional newspapers are frantic to divest themselves of their newsy, papery legacies, The Onion takes a surprisingly conservative approach to innovation. As much as it has used and benefited from the Web, it owes much of its success to low-tech attributes readily available to any paper but nonetheless in short supply: candor, irreverence, and a willingness to offend.

Readers of The Onion — and the Daily Show and Colbert Report — are among the most informed people in the country. We should all investigate and analyze the news as deeply as The Onion (although, we should not add the fictional elements in our stories.)

Some questions to consider when planning the section

October 22, 2007

Here are some questions to consider when planning the daily section and when proposing stories for the week. These comments were taken from an editor on the Innovation in College Media site. Click here to read the full posting.

**What’s the most helpful or informative piece we had in the paper?
**What’s the most distinctive story aimed at our college audience?
**Something I learned from today’s paper.
**A lede that really works.
**A risk with design, photography or writing.
**A photograph that tells a story in itself.
**Eye-catching design in the newspaper.
**A headline that grabs readers into a story.
**Mistakes to learn from and avoid next time.
**Other special praise.

We need to think harder on some news decisions

October 22, 2007

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We buried a major story in briefs this morning, the one where $1 million was donated to the university. That’s not chump change, folks. That’s a helluva endowment. This is a story worth at least the lead story on page 3. We received the press release Friday, meaning we could have spoken with key people through the weekend for a more fully developed story for this morning. The release had a pretty darned good angle (and a picture).

CHARLESTON – Harold and Lois Joseph’s decision to leave their estate to Eastern Illinois University was based primarily on their love for a woman who graduated from the institution more than a century ago.

Charleston resident Mary Coon Cottingham attended the opening of what was then Eastern Illinois State Normal School in 1899. A few years later, she began attending the teacher’s college, graduating in 1904.

Thirty-two years later, in 1936, Lois Cottingham – Mary’s daughter – also graduated from her mother’s alma mater.

Both women shared a fondness for writing. Although Lois was a math major, in training to teach, she worked on the staff of the student newspaper – the Eastern State News — where (according to the school’s yearbook) “her services (were) outstanding.”

We could have played off that angle or found another. Perhaps, that she was a DEN alum. (We also failed to cover Ted Gregory’s induction in to our journalism hall of fame, offering only a stand-alone picture and a short cutline.) We absolutely should have dug into the endowment story and given it the play it deserved.