I was pleased to be a part of another productive afternoon shift. I have established a solid relationship with Tripp, Julian and Chris, which makes for a pleasant super desk experience.
Erica and her students rigorously edited Alex Parish’s gun story. I was glad the reporter was able to salvage the story after one of the sources asked to be removed following a call from a web producer in the INC. We must continue to reinforce to our editing students that they should always contact the reporter about story issues.
Parish also had the opportunity to come to discuss her story on the 6 p.m. news show. She had participated in the web segment before, and I felt it would be better for her to discuss her own story because she knows it best. In future semesters, I think the reporter who is responsible for the featured web story should be responsible for discussing his or her story on the air. These stories are chosen because they are especially newsworthy and important to those in North Central Florida. In future semesters, this might be able to serve as an extra credit opportunity.
One student stopped by to discuss her story that has not earned a grade, as well as questioning the grade she received for her newsroom shift. Erica and I both informed her that we do not have anything to do with their grades. While we place comments on their self-evaluations, we do not suggest a numerical score. Tripp or Dr. Lewis could likely address this confusion in an email.
Keith was helpful in performing the initial edits on several stories. In addition, he assisted in addressing story issues that are contained in the reporter questions category. We were able to spike two stories that are no longer timely because of his efforts. This task is definitely an effective way to utilize the skills of the web producers when there is a lull in story submissions.
There seems to be confusion in marking stories in the added “To Slot” category. This category should only be used when a story is ready for advanced editor edits. I opened up several stories today that were not even close to being ready for final tweaks and publication.
I also worked with several reporters to resolve questions in their stories during my shift. While I have no problem calling and emailing various students, it is often hard to get in contact with students. It is frustrating to leave a voicemail and an email without a response for several hours. We are all busy, but students should be encouraged to periodically check their emails, especially if they have submitted a story for publication.
In future semesters, I think it would be helpful for content creators to come in for a one-hour period when their stories are due. They already have the time set aside for editing in their schedules, and this would allow editors to work with the reporters on their stories. These communication struggles are one reason why articles are taking a while to be published.
During this semester, I have only edited one story dealing with arrests. In that article about Ruby Sheppard, we said “she was charged with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault with no bond.” As the AP rule says, we mentioned charges instead of saying arrested for attempted murder, etc.
I enjoyed reading Scott Libin’s article about the implications of using various words, including not guilty and acquitted. It is easy to assume someone is innocent if they are not found guilty, but this can never be assumed. Sometimes a lack of evidence or too strong of a charge can influence the verdict. As journalists, we must be extremely careful when reporting on arrests and court proceedings.
I want to give students credit for submitting ideas that are outside of the box. One student named Ashley sent in a pitch about Micanopy Maiden Kombucha. I had no idea what Kombucha was, so it was interesting to learn a little bit more about this fermented tea. In addition, it is always pleasant to hear about local companies succeeding. Even though Ashley still needs to answer some questions, as well as fine-tune her angle, I am excited about this story’s potential.
One of my favorite parts of serving as an editor is reading pitches and stories about topics I know little to nothing about. This included a story pitch about paper towns. These rare towns are placed on maps even though they do not actually exist. Many of these towns are being removed from maps, including one that is in Florida. Although it is slightly outside our coverage area, I think this unique story would interest many of our readers.
Unfortunately, I had to spike a story today. As soon as I began reading, I questioned what was newsworthy or timely.
Upon checking with the reporter, she informed me that changes had occurred this past Friday after she had already submitted the story. Ultimately, Marion County will gather feedback over the next nine months, so there is nothing the reporter could do to update the story.
However, why did it take until today to realize this story was no longer timely? Multiple editors have checked it over during the past few days. We need to encourage all the editors to think critically about what they are doing. Instead of solely focusing on AP style and grammar, we must focus on whether something is news and if there are any holes.
I wish I had the opportunity to update Friday’s editors in person because it is always helpful to talk with Erica about where stories stand. To make up for this, I send an email that delineates the status of various articles. I also make notes in the top of these stories that show when and how the reporter was contacted.
Links to Work
When I originally opened this story, the lede read “What do a web developer, a Gainesville high school teacher, an avid rock climber and a car salesman have in common?” While this may pique some people’s interest, it does not actually provide any information. People are constantly distracted, so why should they waste their time reading an article if they are confused from the start on what it is even about. In addition, the original story did not elaborate on what the Outdoor Adventure Recreation club is. I inserted a hyperlink and also provided a short description. During my initial edits, it mentioned how Andrea Gorder sold her bus to a person. Immediately, I was curious about who this person could be. Even though we did not need this person’s life story, I contacted the reporter for the name. Filling in these holes reflect positively on WUFT as a whole because it demonstrates our dedication to providing all the information.
This story was almost doomed after starting “A new behavioral development program.” I want to ask these reporters whether they would be interested in reading a story that began this way. I am guessing they would be bored. We need to continue stressing the power of active voice and placing the news at the start of the sentence. I also worked to add various hyperlinks into this story. As a web platform, we have the ability to link to resources, so I wish reporters would utilize this technological tool more often.