Today, I worked in the INC from 12:30 to 9 p.m. While this was my longest day so far, I am proud of all of the stories that got published.
I dealt with several editing students today. Some interactions were positive, but the behavior of some editors disappointed me. I will begin with one of the day’s highlights, which included a discussion with Jennifer Hernandez. Her positive energy is infectious, and she is one of the most prepared students I have worked with.
She came into the newsroom with two fully developed story pitches. In addition, she had already completed pre-reporting to see what sort of sources she could get in contact with. She talked to me about pursuing a story about a new water park opening up in Lake Butler. This is not a new business, but a venture being developed by the community. One of her sources already discussed putting Jennifer in contact with the mayor and members of the city council. After our discussion, she talked with Tripp. I included a snapshot of her email pitch submitted after Tripp and I worked with her. Matt has also approved this story.
Another positive interaction occurred with Adam Harrington. While Adam still needs to work on self-editing his own work, something I will go into more detail about later, he sent in an awesome story pitch about new markers for the homeless being used in Gainesville’s tent cities. I had several questions for him because I was concerned about the timeliness of this story. Are these markers new? When will they be put in? He answered each of my questions in a timely manner, and it sounds like he could have a great scoop on a story that is not on the radar of other news organizations.
Unfortunately, there are still editing students who are not treating the INC as a professional newsroom. One student, Rachel Kurland, had written a story about Gainesville residents who are hosting a blood drive in honor of their grandson who will receive a bone marrow transplant in Boston on Valentine’s Day. This story is extremely timely. However, today’s other priorities included updates about the Juan Carlos Chavez execution, involving coordination of Wade Millward’s in-depth story and an execution day timeline prepared by one of Erica’s editing students. In addition, we also wanted to publish the story about “Big Max” and developments in the Williston middle school/high school construction story.
Rachel proceeded to call the INC on multiple occasions, as well as send emails. While I know she was concerned about getting the story published on time, I never planned on finishing my shift without publishing the story. Tripp and I were editing this story until about 8 p.m. As a result of the timely nature of this day, I also sent a tweet out.
I am in favor of sending a quick email to content producers when their stories are published, and it is nice to see someone following up. However, I thought it was inappropriate for her to label an email URGENT and demand a response. During Thursday afternoons, it is only Logan and me. As the weeks progress, more content is coming in, and we are working at full capacity from when we enter the INC to when we leave. I do not think of myself as a “boss” of these students. However, I think they should be reminded about how to deal with others in a professional manner because they will not be able to treat their colleagues like this in their future careers.
Marisa Ross was another content creator who disappointed me with her attitude and work ethic. Her deadline is tomorrow, so it was disheartening that she submitted several pitches on Tuesday and Wednesday. Two or three days is not enough time to do the type of in-depth reporting our standards require, especially when she could not even come up with a quality pitch. In addition, I looked back at the email chain. Earlier on Tuesday, she submitted a list of seven pitches that featured little to no detail. Katie asked her to narrow down the list and to provide more information, to which Marisa responded that she had other deadlines for other courses. We all acknowledge that this class is challenging, but these students have 12 hours built into their schedules to complete their coursework. I do not have sympathy for those who wait until the last minute and claim to have no time.
Marisa did come into the INC, but most of her time was spent complaining to Tripp about how she was running out of time. She was basically begging Tripp to give her an idea. She also claimed she had no idea about how to contact the newsroom. I showed her on the Intranet where the newsroom phone number is listed. In addition, I said students are always welcome to come in. She spent at least an hour whining to Tripp. Many of the stories I performed second edits on were not able to progress to publishing until much later because Tripp was not able to give them a final read until after she left. We may be students, but the INC provides experience in a real newsroom. Apparently, some students are not willing to accept this challenge.
I am thankful for all of Logan’s hard work today. He performed the first edits on almost every story that was published by the end of the day. I printed out a copy of the Accuracy Check – 8 Quick Tips for Logan and me because I think it is a systematic check that allows for more thorough editing. He did a great job on creating today’s In the News.
In addition, he was essential in following up on a story about Peaceful Paths. While the story could have been classified as complete, the story was weak in terms of quotes. Logan contacted the reporter about hearing more from different sources that were cited in the article. The reporter came back with more quotes and an audio component. This story should be published early on Friday. After seeing Logan work with the content creators, I look forward to seeing what he submits during the second half of the semester.
When I arrive for the day, the news producer usually tells me the story he wants to feature as part of the “Web Q & A.” Julian wanted to discuss the new plan being proposed by several Florida senators. The story was ready to publish, but because of various circumstances Tripp was not able to look it over until about 4:45 p.m. This is problematic for a 6 p.m. news show. The anchors were questioning me about a story I had not even had the chance to read because Erica and her students had performed the necessary edits this morning. The segment went smoothly apart from me mispronouncing aquifer. I must give major kudos to telecommunication professionals who speak flawlessly each day.
After completing my “Web Q & A,” I had a short discussion with Bridget. She said she hopes to feature more involved conversations in this section. I suggested that I should choose the story, in coordination with Matt and Tripp, around 3 p.m. each Thursday. This would give the anchors and me enough time to learn the necessary details instead of barely scratching the surface on a topic. I plan to not only pick an important story, but one I have learned about through the editing process.
Links to Work
I enjoyed reading about the various tips for writing headlines. I particularly enjoyed the Poynter article because it featured a comprehensive list. I thought this headline answered the third and ninth questions well. This headline promises to tell you the special meaning this blood drive will take on for these Gainesville residents. Upon reading the story, you will find out how these two grandparents from Gainesville, who have worked at LifeSouth for more than a decade, are honoring their grandson who is battling leukemia. In addition, this headline references an event and its implication. Personally, it makes me want to dive into the story. Upon receiving this article, I was relatively pleased with the length. However, students sometimes include material that adds nothing to the story. She had a random sentence about how Mason was a chubby baby. As a web platform, we need to make sure we do not overwhelm our readers with superfluous text. Although Rachel was not the easiest person to deal with, this feel good story is timely for tomorrow’s holiday.
This story has been in discussion for more than a week now, so I was glad to see that it finally got published. When Adam first pitched this story about the construction of the new school, he ignored the fact that it was on a gravesite. With guidance from Dr. Lewis and other editors, he finally got a newsworthy angle. This story is extremely detailed with many sources. It is evident that Adam did his homework. However, Logan noticed many careless mistakes in his original copy. This included the spelling of descendants in four different ways and the improper use of were and we are. We talked to Dr. Lewis about how we should approach issues like this. As editors, we are responsible for preparing a story for publishing, but how much responsibility lies with the reporter? As we have continually discussed, copy editing needs to change, and reporters need to take ownership. We need to make note of these issues on their rubrics, so this can be taken into consideration when their story is graded. While little errors are not a major problem, glaring grammatical errors make me question whether any proofreading was completed before the story was turned in.
While we are only supposed to include two links, I really wanted to share this story because it allowed me to learn about properly embedding videos on WUFT.org. As we continue to include more multimedia elements on our website, I think this is all something we could learn more about. I recently created a document in Google Drive for embedding audio, and I plan to do the same for embedding video. I also enjoyed reading about search engine optimization this week. With this headline, people searching for “Big Max” and Harn will be drawn to WUFT’s coverage. I think this headline is much better than the Gainesville Sun’s Creator of French Fries has a new work of art on campus. This headline does not feature the name of the new statue or specific details about the location. Hopefully, our story will receive more hits because of our SEO-tailored title.