It was nice to return to the INC today following a short break. After receiving Matt’s email last night, I was ready to assist with story updates, as well as new ideas and submissions. I am also excited about the inclusion of a new category. The “Ready to Publish” category has been an issue in the past, and I think the “To Slot” category will help ensure that stories are edited properly.
It was unfortunate to hear about the passing of Reubin Askew this morning. Adam, one of Erica’s editing students began transcribing material from radio. When Keith arrived, he took over. Keith worked with some of the radio students to prepare a short article about Askew’s death. It is always refreshing to see collaboration among our various platforms.
I think we should continue using the tabs Matt created in the Gmail. It is helpful to see whether an email includes an “Approved” tag or “Maybe” tag because it saves us from wasting time opening up each email to get the gist about what the email contains.
Erica mentioned how it was a slow morning, but the afternoon was quite hectic. Story pitches were flowing in. While some pitches were less than satisfactory, including one student who wanted to do an article about a DUI checkpoint this weekend, I enjoy seeing well-developed pitches.
Alexandra Parish continues to come up with great stories. She reported about the curvy roads in Citrus County, and I applaud her for coming into the INC to discuss her pitches in person. She came in this morning and began working on her pitch before sending an email to the WUFT account. Tripp suggested she talk with Wade Millward, who is also pursuing a larger project about guns. I look forward to seeing how this next story develops.
Many of these students are still struggling to determine what is newsworthy. They seem to particularly have issues identifying whether something is timely. One student named Lawrence came in twice today to discuss a story he wanted to pursue. He was interested in doing an article about medical marijuana and a group that is being formed in our community about this topic. Erica and I gave him some potential avenues to pursue this morning.
He came in again several hours later. He told me how the issue will not be on the ballot until November, and he said the group is just being formed. I said it did not seem like he had a story. I encouraged him to call around to offices throughout our coverage area and to check Craigslist, etc. for potential story ideas.
I was disturbed when he mentioned how he was looking to The Alligator for story topics. Also, I attempted to dissuade him from doing stories about groups forming. This happens every day, and our readers will likely not be interested in reading this type of story, unless there is something out of the ordinary.
Stories falling through the cracks is one issue that is not going away. I had two reporters call the newsroom and send emails about the status of their stories. Both reporters mentioned how they had answered some questions on Tuesday, but they had been told their stories would get published either that day or on Wednesday.
Ultimately, I do not think we should make promises to reporters about when their stories will get published. When it does not happen on this timeline, they tend to send multiple emails, including sending messages to Matt and Dr. Lewis. I think it would be helpful to send an email to the reporter once the story is published, but promises should not be made in advance because we never know what may come up.
Another issue I have noticed is stories no longer resembling their original form. Many of these stories have been looked at so many times, they no longer resemble what the reporter originally wrote. While editing should strengthen a story, it should not change everything about it. I continue to encourage my web producer to contact the reporter about major changes, particularly lede edits, as per the developed protocol.
Tripp had a good idea about how we can potentially eliminate this problem. For small changes, the web producers should make edits. However, if there are major questions or holes, the reporter should be contacted immediately. I think the best possible scenario would entail the web producer notifying the advanced editor about the issues. The advanced editor could then send the email, as well as encourage the reporter to come in for consultation.
The advanced editors could also make a note on the top of the article in the WordPress for those in subsequent shifts. I think we can all do a better job of addressing the reporter questions category. If we all looked at two or three each shift, the section would not get jammed with material. Before leaving my shift today, I made several notes and sent emails to students who can address issues with their stories.
This can also be a great task for web producers. However, I still think advanced editors need to monitor their progress. I found an article today with notes, but I searched the email and discovered how no one had contacted the reporter. Questions cannot be answered if the reporter does not know of the issues. We must be diligent about sending out emails in as timely a manner as possible.
Links to Work
After hearing about this story during our discussion last night, I was curious about it. Even though multiple web producers had gone through the story, I found various ways to strengthen the writing. Claudia was one of the reporters who called the newsroom regarding this story. She sounded very frustrated about dealing with various editors over the course of several days. I apologized for the delay and confusion. However, these students must realize that we have individual shifts, just like they have specific shifts or times when assignments are due. You have been critical of cutesy headlines and ledes, so I am trying to watch for this during my editing. The original headline on this story was “Citrus Greening Has Florida Honey Bees Feeling Not-So-Sweet.” I was befuddled by what this even meant, so I changed it. I also corrected several errors throughout the article, including a reference to “said Jakob,” instead of “Jakob said.” In addition, the draft originally said “Jakob’s land, which is registered with the Florida Apiary/Citrus Link, has been in the family for over 30 years.” I switched the over to more than. Before my shift today, I reviewed the “A Bunch of Editing Rules” section on the course blog. The Always Do the Math Rule came into play in this article. During my initial edit, it said there were “over 26,000 beekeepers registered in Florida.” While the use of over is incorrect, that number seemed exceedingly high. When I looked at the records, I counted the number of rows, which equated to 15. With 182 pages, I multiplied 15 by 182. Ultimately, the story should have said more than 2,600, not more than 26,000. I also sent out a Tweet about this story. WUFT had not sent out a Tweet since the election on Tuesday night, which is problematic. I open TweetDeck at the start of my shift to make sure I do not forget to post to social media.
When I first opened this story, I was dismayed to read a lede that began with “A new state bill….” We could have lost many readers because of these first four words. I changed the lede to emphasize what the bill is aiming to do. This story featured a lot of quotes, so I paid careful attention to the attribution fusion rule. I had the opportunity to experience a teaching moment today when I taught Keith about this rule. I look forward to seeing how he addresses this issue in upcoming weeks.
I had an incredible experience covering Tuesday’s elections. I greatly enjoyed working with Erica, Haley and Katie. With the four of us, we established a sophisticated system. I worked on Tweeting updates as the votes came in, Haley focused on collecting photos and Erica and Katie collected quotes. When we came back to the INC, we worked together on transcribing quotes, as well as collaborating on a story. This is my second time covering elections at WUFT, and I am so happy to have had these experiences!