Today was another hectic day in the INC. I arrived about 20 minutes early, so I could discuss how the day was progressing with Erica before her shift finished. She stayed late to help with the transition of a story between the editing students, which I greatly appreciated.
The Yankeetown mayor article was posted to WUFT right before I arrived. As was discussed last night, we should all work to use Twitter more. I sent out a tweet with a link to this interesting story. This was the first post to the WUFT account since Monday. Three people retweeted it, and one person favorited it.
I also edited the “In the News” for the day. When editing, I noticed how one of the chosen news items had been used in an earlier version. We need to make sure our editing students check out the previous posts because it does not reflect well on WUFT to publish the same information twice. In addition, there were several AP style errors. This included the reference to “spring 2015.” The student capitalized spring, something that she would not have done if she looked up seasons in the stylebook.
Also, I think we should encourage the inclusion of one national story in the “In the News.” News in our surrounding areas is important, but it is also beneficial to have a major national news story to augment the local coverage. This is one reason I added the link to the story about the new drug combination used in an Ohio prison. This decision could have reverberating effects for prisons in other states, including Florida.
I monitored the WUFT email account and responded to several story pitches. Before my shift, I reread the details on the Intranet, so I could better respond to people’s ideas. Unfortunately, I had to deny most of the pitches. One pitch was about a fluorescent art museum in Newberry. While this museum sounds like an interesting place to visit, I told her a story about the grand opening in February is not the kind of news we are interested in.
Another editing student submitted two potential pitches, including January being declared Human Trafficking Month by Mayor Ed Braddy and a new social media website being used in Gainesville. Instead of covering the commission meeting as an event, I encouraged her to attend the meeting to find out more details. What new policies are being put into place to address human trafficking? What benchmarks will be used to show progress in eliminating this practice? For her pitch about the website, I said we would not run a story about the use of the new site because these types of events occur on a regular basis. The site is supposed to connect people with their neighbors. I mentioned she could go out to the neighborhoods where the site is being utilized to see if any friendships or business ventures have been cultivated as a result of nextdoor.com. I also encouraged the different students to send updates on their progress and setbacks because we are there to help them during this process.
One of the best parts of my day occurred when an editing student came in to discuss a potential story idea. By using Craigslist, she found out about a family who found a goat on the side of the road. The family has been working to find the owners. She has already contacted several sources from Bradford County, where the animal was found. She plans on obtaining audio, photos and video. We looked into the recording rooms, so she could see what equipment we have available. When the advanced editors present to the editing students on Jan. 27, I hope to motivate more students to come into the newsroom for consultation.
Unfortunately, there was an issue during my shift that I think is part of a larger problem in the INC. When I arrived, I was told a story about a protest outside of Prioria Robotics was ready for a second round of editing. I gave Logan the opportunity to read it through before it was my turn.
During the first read, I focused on the caption for the photo that was very clunky, including extra information about the date and time that were unnecessary. In addition, I printed out the story. After looking at a computer screen for long periods, it helps to use the pen and paper method. The story featured quotes from the company’s CEO, as well as protest organizers from Occupy Gainesville and a supporter from the Students for a Democratic Society. I adjusted the flow of the story by making sure the various perspectives were heard on an overall equal basis.
After I made a round of final edits, I told Tripp it was ready. He completed his editing, and we were ready to publish it when I received an email from Erica. She told me that Adam Harrington, the author of the WUFT story, had contributed at least one photo to The Alligator’s coverage of the same story. I filled Matt in on what had happened, and he advised me to contact Adam. I called Adam and sent him an email.
After a short period, Adam returned my call. As a photojournalism student, he is working as a photo stringer for The Alligator. He said he mentioned to the paper how he was also writing a story for WUFT. I told him in the future he should never work on the same story for two different organizations because this is unethical. I also told him to talk with Dr. Lewis or Matt if he had additional questions about his role and responsibilities as a web producer.
Once this was addressed, we thought we were in good shape for publication. However, Dr. Lewis came in and spiked the story because it was no longer timely. The protest happened the day before, so he said it had no place online. He said this type of “breaking” story should not have been given the go ahead in the first place.
Stories that have not been approved are being placed in the WordPress, which is a major problem. I also read a flu story today that should never have been OK’d for publication. I changed its category on the WordPress and contacted the reporter about making some major changes if she wants this story to have a chance of getting published.
Advanced editors have been under the impression that once stories are in the WordPress, they are ready for editing, unless they are placed in the “reporter questions” or “spike” categories.
Going forward, I think stories should only be added once Matt or Dr. Lewis has approved them. At the end of each day, advanced editors could send an email to them with the story ideas we have already vetted. Our news judgment would be applied to the pitches, and only the best pitches would be sent for their final decision. This would eliminate the issue of working on stories that will be spiked at the last minute. Once they are in the WordPress, the only question should be when they will be published.
As Steve Buttry said in his article about the changing nature of copy editing, fewer and fewer people will be editing stories. At WUFT, we need to make sure editors are reading the material that will be sent to readers across our coverage area. At the same time, we must remind our radio and editing students to check their work for accuracy and style before submitting them. Many errors could be eliminated with simple editing techniques, including reading the story out loud. When I do this, I usually find parts of a story that are not flowing properly.
At the conclusion of my shift, I had the opportunity to go on the air with anchors Steven Gallo and Lauren Rautenkranz to discuss the Yankeetown story. After Matt mentioned last week that I used my hands too much while talking, I focused on keeping them on the desk. I also felt much more comfortable this week as compared to last week’s segment.
When I arrived home from my shift, I logged into the WUFT WordPress to leave notes for the editors tomorrow. This included a note about locating the full audio for a question and answer session with a CEO from a Gainesville nonprofit. I also left a message in the article about Sarkara Sweets because the reporter is still working on contacting an angered customer who was critical of the overpriced shipping fees on the company Facebook page.
Links to Work
On the 6 p.m. show, the news about the possibility of a medical marijuana amendment on the November ballot was discussed. We first addressed this with “In the News.” I also attempted to make the blurbs beneath the headlines informative and straight to the point. They should give a basic overview without getting bogged down in the details. The links are there for people who want to delve into the specifics. In our fast-paced world, sometimes people just want quick snippets. For example, the editing student had included specifics about the tomato taste, but it did not need to be highlighted in this section.
This is the story I discussed on the 6 p.m. news. I hope editing students will find more stories like this.
Here is the drone article that was spiked. All of the editing was complete, so I wanted to include it in my post. When I was working on editing this story, I used some editing tips, including circling words that repeated throughout the story. This was especially helpful in regard to Prioria because it is not recognized by the various platforms. The Elements of Writing and Editing post was also very helpful. I often have problems with overwriting everything, so I am working on how to eliminate wordiness and convoluted sentences. The original draft’s first two paragraphs basically said the same thing, so I kept the pertinent information and deleted the rest.
Local Organizations Protest Manufacturing Drones for Military Weaponry
Adam Harrington / WUFT News
Caption: Protesters assemble outside of Prioria Robotics on Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. to raise their objections to the manufacturing of drones for military weaponry. The protest was organized by Occupy Gainesville and supported by other organizations, including Veterans for Peace and the Porters Community.
Chants for peace and justice could be heard outside of Prioria Robotics on Wednesday morning as more than 40 people peacefully protested against the industrialization of drone technology for military use.
The Gainesville-based unmanned systems company signed a one-year, $4.5 million military contract in July of 2013. Prioria is among three of the five Gainesville-area drone manufacturers that have been awarded military contracts, according to the U.S. Department of Defense website. The other two are Altavian and Innovative Automation Technologies.
Occupy Gainesville helped organize the protest that was also supported by members of Veterans for Peace and the Porters Community.
“What we need to do is just keep hammering this idea that military use for drones is not right,” said John Fullerton, vice president of Veterans for Peace and member of Occupy Gainesville. “It’s not justified by any moral ethos, and we just want to bring that awareness.”
Bryan da Frota, Prioria CEO, said his company simply makes the technology, which is then sold to different industries for a variety of purposes. Due to the Federal Aviation Administration’s airspace restrictions, the largest segment of the drone market is currently the military, da Frota said.
“Being against drones is like being against a computer. It’s a technology. It’s a tool,” said da Frota. “These protesters are confusing technology and policy. When asked if they wanted to have a panel discussion to promote a community discussion on the topic, they declined.”
While Prioria focuses its production on surveillance drones, some protesters are concerned that the technology could be used for weapons.
“When they learn how to make better drones, that information that they have learned — technology — is not just applied to safe things, it is applied to weaponized drones,” said Scott Camil, president of Veterans for Peace Gainesville.
In addition, some protesters from the Porters Community in downtown Gainesville believe that the millions of dollars being funneled into drone technology can be better used to improve the local community.
“We have poor housing, we don’t have any sidewalks, we have bad drainage, and it’s tied into the city, as well as the federal government,” said Faye Williams, a community organizer from Porter Oaks, a neighborhood about a mile away from Prioria. “If we had that money we would be doing something different than making drones.”
Farah Khan, 19, a member of Students for a Democratic Society and vice president of Students for Justice in Palestine, is opposed to the military’s use of drones and their local production.
“Until Prioria decides that they are not going to use their funding for machines of war, I think we better be out here frequently,” Khan said. “I think we should be out here every week because this cannot continue.”