Today’s shift marked a bittersweet day because it was the final day with the current web producers. I have enjoyed getting to know Logan, and it has been a positive experience to see his editing skills develop during the past several weeks.
When I went over to his cubicle today, I smiled when I saw how he was utilizing the Accuracy Check that I gave him last week. He has matured in terms of recognizing AP style and grammatical errors. However, I think he needs to focus more on simplifying sentences and the active voice.
Logan chose a variety of interesting stories for “In the News,” and he was also instrumental in checking the story of Adam Harrington, one of the content creators. I will expand upon Adam’s work later on in this post.
When I came into my shift, I was pleased to see how Jennifer Hernandez’s story about the Lake Butler Children’s Splash Park got published yesterday. Jennifer pitched this story during my shift last week, and I was glad to see how great it turned out.
Today was a relatively good day for story pitches. I was particularly impressed with Alexandra Parrish. She answered the Intranet questions in great detail, which made my job as an advanced editor easier. I still asked her to clarify some information, including additional details about the fatalities and whether the entire $1.5 million is going to these curved roadways. However, I think she is well on her way to an awesome story.
While Cyanne also submitted a pitch that had potential, I felt like I was missing information because she did not answer the necessary questions. The questions that pertain to sources the reporter will talk to and the possibility for multimedia elements allow for us to better assess whether a story has potential.
I also had several other questions for Cyanne, including how long this program has been going on for and whether this partnership between Habitat for Humanity and a university is out of the ordinary. Sometimes, I think students are still struggling to determine what is newsworthy. Timeliness and uniqueness are two key factors, so I always try to communicate this to the editing students.
As I discussed during lecture last night, I have been put in an awkward situation at times because two members of my ethics group are currently serving as content creators. I want to be helpful to these classmates, but sometimes it is difficult when they message me personally on Facebook. I can provide my own opinion, but I should not be their go-to source for approval.
During my shift last week, Lauren Richardson sent in a pitch. I said there may be potential, but she needed to update WUFT after answering certain questions and completing some pre-reporting. My fellow advanced editors informed me last night that she claimed I had approved the topic. Tripp looked back in the email chain and responded accordingly.
I continue to follow the rule that Tripp or Matt must give a story pitch final approval. Neither of my group members will serve as web producers during my shift, so I am hoping this is no longer an issue when the switch occurs next week.
I was hoping more would get published today, but two articles in particular were not up to WUFT’s standards. After Logan and I both spent time addressing various issues, I hope the stories can be published tomorrow or early next week.
Keith Momberg, the writer of the following story, will be the web producer during my shift for the rest of the semester. I do not think he has had anything published yet, but I give him credit for continuing to try. Usually the first thing I do before editing a story is to check the email chain to see any correspondence. First and foremost, it is important to check whether a story has been formally approved. While technically the students do not have to receive approval, it makes it easier for all parties involved.
In addition, it is beneficial to see what the other advanced editors have said, including questions they want answered. If a pitch has not answered these questions, I know the story is not ready to be published.
Keith added some more detail about Betsy’s impact, but he only had two sources. Tripp went to discuss this problem with Professor Lewis. Ultimately, they decided that this was not acceptable. I was also disturbed because of the two sources, one source only provided one quote and the interview was done through email. Face-to-face or phone interviews are what is expected, and we need to continue to drive this point home.
Also, Keith’s original story mentioned how the north central Florida division included nine counties, but he did not name those counties. North central Florida is a large area, so these specifics need to be communicated. Logan called the March of Dimes office to clarify this information.
The lead is slightly cutesy, but it seems to fit with the overall tone of the story. This story has been edited by both Logan and me.
March of Dimes Executive Director Retiring
Betsy Trent will walk out of her office for the final time on March 1. After 25 years as a March of Dimes employee, including the last six years as the executive director of the north central Florida division, Trent is retiring.
The mission of the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization, is to help mothers have full-term pregnancies and to research the problems threatening infant health. Trent oversees one of the organization’s most successful regions, a nine-county area in north central Florida that covers Alachua, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Levy, Marion, Putnam and Suwannee counties.
“I inherited a great program in that my predecessor and the predecessor before her worked with a division that was recognized as one of the No. 1 divisions in the country,” she said. “We say that in March for Babies we raise more per capita than any place else in the country.”
The north central Florida division has raised nearly $10 million since Trent was appointed executive director in 2008. However, financial difficulties in recent years impacted donations.
“We began this right at the time of the recession that hit in the fall of 2008,” Trent said. “So, people and businesses really started doing business in new ways. There was always lots of emphasis and certainly commitment to do as much as they could for the March of Dimes and continue to support us as best they could, but people had to work harder to get contributions because of the checks written to our donors sometimes were less because people were making less and were not as sure of jobs.”
During these rough financial times, Trent focused her attention on hiring a staff of young professionals who had energy and the ability to network with younger potential donors.
Kyle Croft, the Alachua County community director for the March of Dimes, is one of those professionals. Croft has worked closely with Trent for the past five years.
“Betsy is a determined and persistent leader,” Croft said in an email. “When she sets a goal, there is almost nothing that will stop her from reaching it. She is always thinking of new ideas on how we can increase our fundraising efforts.”
After spending the first 18 years of her life growing up on a farm in Frankfurt, Ky., Trent pursued a degree in home economics from the University of Tennessee.
After graduation, she accepted a job in Atlanta with Armstrong Court Company where she worked as a marketing representative. While in Atlanta, Trent got married and had three children. She moved to Gainesville in 1987 and started with the March of Dimes in 1988.
“A March of Dimes board member in our Sunday school class knew that this area was looking for a part-time person to do the Mother’s March campaign, which was a door-to-door campaign and some other things, and then recommended me because she knew that I was sort of not working, but interested in getting to know people in the area,” Trent said.
Trent, who is known as “Pit Bull Betsy” around the office, is looking forward to staying busy in the coming months.
“In my retirement, I look forward to having more time to run and not having to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning or 5:30 if I’ve got an early morning meeting,” she said. “Being a grandmother is a new role that I’m looking forward to growing and developing in, and supporting the children and just being involved in other things in the community in a different aspect.”
Her successor has not been chosen yet. Trent believes the transition will be a challenge, but she is positive about the future of the organization.
“It’s been a great joy to work with the staff that I have and the volunteers, and I know they will continue the mission of the March of Dimes because they are committed to the cause and they are committed to our babies.”
Adam Harrington is a student whose skills I have mixed feelings about. Adam has come up with a lot of enterprising ideas, including the Williston gravesite story, but his writing has been extremely disappointing. After various errors in his last story, Tripp said we should print out the original article he submits before making changes.
Logan made some initial edits, and I prepared to perform the second edit toward the end of my shift. I was dismayed to find a fact error. He had said Paines Prairie instead of Paynes Prairie. A simple Google search would have cleared this issue up, which leads me to believe he did not carefully check over his story. This is especially annoying because his story was due this morning, but he did not submit it until the afternoon.
After reading through the story, it was evident that the story was still missing some important details. I sent him some questions last week, and I feel like the story did not answer one of my main questions: When will these markers officially be put in place? Hopefully, he can address these issues as soon as possible.
Gainesville Police Depart Marking Trees To Assist Homeless
Chip Conley, a resident of the homeless community Sweetwater Branch, will never forget the day he almost died in the woods in June of 2013.
What started as a shortness of breath quickly became something worse as infection spread throughout his lungs, causing a 102-degree fever and breathing difficulties.
Conley called 911 and was able to stumble to the front of the wooded plot while throwing up multi-colored phlegm along the path, finally reaching the ambulance that awaited him at the entrance of Sweetwater Branch.
Eight months later, the Gainesville Police Department has begun work on a new initiative to provide quicker law enforcement and medical personnel response times to homeless people who reside in the woods. This initiative resulted from an increase in emergency calls coming from the homeless in these areas.
“It is very possible that we’re going to have calls that will require us to come out into the woods, and we are going to need to know where we are,” said Amanda Rodonis, a Gainesville Police patrol officer who watches over the area.
The initiative, created by Rodonis and fellow patrol officer William Gough, involves color-coordinating segments of the tent communities to gain better recognition of the wooded plot. The goal is to locate a person in need or a suspect without confusion.
The colors yellow, orange and green are spray-painted on the trees to distinguish the particular segments. The size of these segments is determined by the orientation of the residential tents. (NEEDS CLARIFICATION)
Rodonis explained that the initiative was originally meant to cover both Sweetwater Branch and Tent City, the two predominant tent communities in Gainesville. However, complications arose when trying to pursue the initiative in the Tent City area.
“We were going to try Tent City, another area that is populated by the homeless, but the person who owns the property didn’t want us to do it there,” Rodonis said.”We may implement in other places, but right now it is just going to be here.”
Larry Calton, owner of Calton Dental Lab, owns one third of the property that contains Tent City. The entire property totals more than five acres and is located between the University of Florida and Paynes Prairie.
He said the initiative is a great idea for organizing the woods, but Calton is in the process of selling the property.
“When somebody comes that might have some interest in the property, and there are 180 homeless people on it in tents and trash everywhere, it just isn’t very appealing for sales,” Calton said.
Relocating the homeless out of a tent city is no easy task and must be done with time and consideration, Lieutenant Brian Helmerson said.
“The city understanding the dynamics of the large population that comes from that area would saturate the downtown area even more than it is in the downtown plaza,” Helmerson said. “That the oversaturation and lack of services that we could provide for these folks would be detrimental to everybody, not only for the homeless folks but it would be detrimental to visitors downtown and businesses downtown.” (QUOTE IS CONVOLUTED AND CONFUSING)
Police officials say that although Tent City may no longer serve as a viable area for the homeless, the zoning in Sweetwater Branch could be one step closer to making the wooded area a permanent residence for the homeless.
“By marking the tree areas with different colors, it will give first responders a chance to know pretty much exactly where they are,” said Ben Tobias, the spokesperson for the Gainesville Police Department. “We’re kind of creating a neighborhood, so to speak, in the tent camp area.”
A few residents of the Sweetwater community have their concerns about the initiative. Some have voiced concerns about the police involvement, but most believe it will help the community become a safer place.
“We’ve had guys have to go to the hospital. We’ve had people who had to be picked up for doing something wrong. We’ve had all kinds of stuff happen out here and for the ones having to do it– yes, it’s a good thing; I have no problem with it,” said Douglas Ashcraft, a resident of Sweetwater Branch.
I was talking with Tripp at the end of my shift, and I offered to send him a quick email that updates him about the status of various stories, so he is prepared for tomorrow. This could be something we do at the end of the afternoon/night shift. The advanced editor for the next shift, Tripp and Matt could all be included on the email. As an afternoon editor, I have the chance to talk with Erica before she leaves the INC. However, the people who come in the morning do not have the chance to talk with the person from the previous afternoon. A short email could address stories that are ready for edits or publishing, as well as tasks that need to be addressed.
Links to Work
Until arriving in the INC today, I was unaware of this video and this student. However, I am inspired that a fellow University of Florida student is taking an active role in this issue. After talking with Tripp, we thought it was important to add the fact that Andreina Nash was born in Venezuela. It was not originally included in the story, but I think our viewers would wonder why this particular student decided to create this video. The more questions we answer, the more likely our readers are to stay on WUFT.org instead of looking elsewhere for details. I also created the headline for this story. Although it is in passive voice, I thought the alliteration made it worth it. In addition, while it is interesting that a UF student made the video, what is happening in Venezuela must take center stage.
This story was a major focus today because it was the featured story for the “Web Q & A.” It is always positive to read a feel-good story like this one. I thought reporter Ana Krsmanovic did a great job of including details about the updates taking place, as well as the Sidney Lanier Center and Project Makeover. Here is the tweet I sent out about this story.
Writing quality cutlines is something I am still working on. I was appreciative of the examples you provided us with. As we talked about in ethics yesterday, I am loquacious in my writing. This can be problematic on the web, especially in captions. I noticed how these examples utilized active voice, so I focused on this. The cutline writing tips featured several questions I made sure were answered in the caption. Is it complete? Does it tell when and where the picture was shot? I think the caption describes exactly what is happening, including the fact that the photo was taken on Feb. 18 at the school. I think the caption is easy to read and makes sense because it explains how the person doing the pointing/explaining is the executive director.
I enjoyed discussing this story on the 6 p.m. news. After talking with Bridget last week, I knew it was important to be the main editor on the story I discussed. I also focused on pronunciation this week after my botching of aquifer last week. Lanier is pronounced like “Lin-EAR,” so I practiced saying this word at least 25 times. I hope these sessions continue to drive people to WUFT.org once they hear about the story on the nightly newscast.