Diary Week 8

After hearing from the various web producers about students forgetting about their shifts, I was nervous about my INC shift today. Erica spoke to Dr. Dodd’s students, so I came in a few minutes early.  I was greatly impressed by her two web producers. They asked me some great questions, including WUFT’s best practices for hyperlinks and tags.

I was pleased when my new web producer arrived a few minutes early. Even though he has had issues getting his stories published, he came in with a positive attitude. I began by giving him the background to In the News. I also showed him where the tutorial is located on the Intranet. The first week usually takes a little longer, but I was impressed with his selections. He chose important stories, and his descriptions required very little editing.

Today’s shift was odd in terms of story submissions because it served as a bonus week. I smiled when I saw how Logan, my web producer from the first half of the course, had already submitted an article.

I have been noticing some issues with stories placed in the WordPress. Major holes and issues with transitions seem to be commonplace. However, I am worried that this is not always the reporter’s fault. I contacted one reporter, Hannah Morse, about her story pertaining to development in Hawthorne because I was so confused after initially reading it over.

She answered various questions that Erica sent to her during the morning shift, but I was still having trouble following the story. When I asked her to make her edits based on a new draft I copied and pasted from the WordPress, she was concerned about segments that had been cut. I hope the web producer protocol will help with this issue. While we want web producers to make adjustments, critical aspects of the story should NEVER be cut without consulting the reporter. This creates a chaotic situation that wastes time.

Making major edits, including cutting large sections, should be done in consultation with the reporter and super desk...ALWAYS

Making major edits, including cutting large sections, should be done in consultation with the reporter and super desk…ALWAYS

I am excited about upcoming changes that are coming for the WUFT 6 p.m. show. I ran into Julian and Wade before ethics yesterday, and we discussed the vision Bridget has for the show, which will include five to six in-depth sections instead of a rundown of 15 or more short blurbs.

As part of this venture, they are looking for people to do research and background for these in-depth pieces. I feel like this would be a perfect job for editing students. Content creators or web producing students could sign up for a story topic and perform research for a story. Extra credit could possibly be used as an incentive. We discussed how it could be a great collaboration to match up the journalism students with the telecommunication students.

Today, I discussed the flood-tracking story on the 6 p.m. news show. With the announcement this week about the inclusion of reporting in the telecommunication curriculum, I look forward to these two programs working together on more projects in the future.

Tweet I sent out about flood tracking chart. In the future, could we mention how a particular article will be featured on 6 p.m. show?

Tweet I sent out about flood tracking chart. In the future, could we mention how a particular article will be featured on 6 p.m. show?

It was aggravating that stories came in from people toward the end of my shift. I hate leaving anything undone, which contributed to Tripp and I being at the INC until 9 p.m. two weeks ago. However, I always make an effort to leave everything in the best possible shape before I leave. This is why I leave helpful notes on the top of each story that is nearing the publishing stage, as well as sending a summary email to Tripp and Haley.

Helpful comments put on the top of Hannah's story

Helpful comments put on the top of Hannah’s story

I like seeing notes from other editors because it allows us to keep track of progress made on a particular story

I like seeing notes from other editors because it allows us to keep track of progress made on a particular story

Marisa has been coming into the INC, but she has experienced some issues with deadline. This story has been in the works for several weeks, so I hope it turns into something

Marisa has been coming into the INC, but she has experienced some issues with deadline. This story has been in the works for several weeks, so I hope it turns into something

I wish we could have edited this story during my shift, but Keith is my web producer. How would you have approached this?

I wish we could have edited this story during my shift, but Keith is my web producer. How would you have approached this?

I hope this email update makes the jobs of Friday's editors a little easier

I hope this email update makes the jobs of Friday’s editors a little easier

Ocala National Forest Experiencing Tree Cover Loss

It was awesome to see Logan getting ahead. You always emphasize how we should start with the news. His story originally began by saying “Over the past 14 years…” In order to get to the point, I changed it to active voice that highlighted how this loss was occurring at Ocala National Forest.  In addition, I edited out some contractions, including “Standard replacement fires don’t burn” to “Standard replacement fires do not burn.” In addition, his original story mentioned the understory of the forest. As I read through the story, I immediately questioned what that meant. I figured this would be an issue for readers of WUFT.org, so I added some context. After discussing the attribution fusion rule in class last night, I am making sure to focus on this during my editing. This is why I made sure we introduced Ludie Bond at the start of the paragraph instead of later on. During my initial edits I came across the following phrase: “The northern half of Florida will not have as many wildfires as the southern half through the end of March 2014.” We have been talking about the importance of thinking critically. While AP style and grammar are important, missing information that results in confusion for our readers should be our focus. I called Logan, and he shared with me the information and source he learned these facts from. The northern part of the state has received more rain than the southern areas of Florida. Adding in these contextual details will hopefully keep readers from venturing away from WUFT.org to Google for more information.

City Of Live Oak Plans To Create City Manager Position

I enjoyed editing this article, and the main reason is the professionalism of the reporter, Shannon Kaestle. Upon reading this story, I had two major questions. The reference to micromanaging stood out to me because I feel like it has a negative connotation. When I called Shannon, she explained how she had also double-checked with the source about this being what he meant. It was refreshing to hear about a reporter going the extra mile. In addition, the story mentioned how a councilman was one of two members who voted no. Immediately, I wondered who was the other person who voted it down? Each week, I am beginning to develop my editing skills to catch these holes. The reporter provided me with the answer to this question. After numerous articles about various Florida cities, I used the control function on my computer to make sure I did not capitalize the “City of Live Oak” in any references. One issue I noticed in this story is someone originally spelled Shannon’s last name wrong as part of the photo credit. This simply requires comparing the name from the bottom of the screen to the top. This is a fact error, and we must continue to train our editors to look at these details closely. While few people may have noticed, errors of this nature detract from our credibility as a news organization.

Diary Week 7

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.

It is always positive to work with students who follow directions

It is always positive to work with students who follow directions

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.

Even though she did not answer all the questions, I like reading interesting pitches

Even though she did not answer all the questions, I like reading interesting pitches

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.

Emails from Lauren pertaining to her pitch

Emails from Lauren pertaining to her pitch

I am glad email allows us to have a record of whatever is said

I am glad email allows us to have a record of whatever is said

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.

Elly and Danielle asked a lot of great questions to help guide Keith

Elly and Danielle asked a lot of great questions to help guide Keith

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.

Follow-up

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.

By sending this email, I hope I have helped prepare those working in subsequent shifts

By sending this email, I hope I have helped prepare those working in subsequent shifts

 

Links to Work

Viral Video About Venezuelan Protests Created By UF Student

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.

Transformation Taking Place at Sidney Lanier Center

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.

As we all continue to use Twitter more, hopefully we will see an increase in the number of followers

As we all continue to use Twitter more, hopefully we will see an increase in the number of followers

 

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.

 

Photo and caption that accompanies the Sidney Lanier/Project Makeover story

Photo and caption that accompanies the Sidney Lanier/Project Makeover story

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.

Diary Week 6

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.

As an advanced editor, I love seeing all the detail in this story pitch

As an advanced editor, I love seeing all the detail in this story pitch

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.

I look forward to seeing how this story develops

I look forward to seeing how this story develops

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.

It is always nice to post some positive news about people making a difference in our community

It is always nice to post some positive news about people making a difference in our community

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.

Professionalism is an important quality for journalists to have

Professionalism is an important quality for journalists to have

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.

If these students want careers in journalism, they must understand the importance of deadlines

If these students want careers in journalism, they must understand the importance of deadlines

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

Valentine’s Day Blood Drive Takes On New Meaning For Gainesville Residents

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.

Old Williston Gravesite Complicates New Middle/High School Construction

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.

“Big Max,” Sister Sculpture to French Fries Piece, Installed At Harn

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.

Diary Week 5

It was an especially crazy day in the INC today because of the developments in the Tiffany Sessions case. As we worked on our coverage at WUFT, it was unbelievable to simultaneously see the CNN coverage on the overhead televisions.

Erica’s editing student, Andrew Kays, had a large role in the coverage of the Sessions case. He wrote the story after attending the press conference. When Logan first arrived for the day, Andrew was putting the finishing touches on the article. Logan edited the story, followed by Erica.

Once the story was complete, I sent out a tweet. I liked seeing people re-tweeting the breaking news about the case.

Breaking news tweet

Keeping our followers informed, one tweet at a time

I received your email about the hyperlink and AP style issues in the Sessions story. Updated screenshots are below

Shortened hyperlink

I shortened the lengthy hyperlink from Andrew’s story

AP Style

The addresses were also placed in proper AP style form

I worked on some research for Mark Leeps to see if I could find more details about the 1994 kidnapping Paul Rowles was involved in. In this particular incident, the girl was able to escape. Unfortunately, I could not find any more details apart from the same few facts that every publication was discussing. This was likely because the kidnapping and sexual assault victim was a minor.

Story pitches are still arriving at a sluggish pace. In addition, students are continuing to pitch stories that are missing an appropriate angle. For example, one student submitted a story about how the Levy County School District is preparing to build a new middle/high school. While this is interesting, Erica had to inform him about an even more newsworthy angle. The school is planning on building the school on an existing cemetery plot. How did she figure this out? By looking at the school board meeting minutes. Sometimes, these students want to finish to move onto the next story without allowing their current story to live up to its potential. Erica and I both emailed him at different times, so I am hoping to see an updated version on WUFT.org soon.

Another student has been working on a story about a local author who has gotten a book published through Penguin Books. This story had such potential, but instead of focusing on the author, the reporter was focusing on a book reading the author took part in on Feb. 1. When I looked through the email chain, I saw how multiple editors have tried to work with her on this. Yesterday, there was an email from Dr. Lewis and Danielle. Also, Erica contacted her earlier this morning.

When I received her edited version this afternoon, I was disappointed with the results because it still placed an emphasis on an event that occurred last week. As a web platform, we cannot be posting articles for events that occurred last Saturday. In this fast-paced world, a story can go stale in a few hours. I have included her copy, in addition to the email I sent her.

Local author Joe Haldeman gives reading of new book

Email sent to Ana on 2/6 with follow-up questions

Gainesville based author Joe Haldeman has released his latest book, a thriller loosely inspired by his own experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War.

“Work Done For Hire”, made in collaboration with the Penguin Group, is a tale of a war veteran turned struggling author whose past comes to haunt him when mysterious enemies threaten him with a fate worse than death if he does not kill for them.

A critically acclaimed author and recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, Haldeman usually speaks in front of large crowds of faithful followers, but on Feb.1, he spoke to a room of about 30 people at Wild Iris Bookstore and Civic Media Center.

Haldeman authored more than 30 books, “The Forever War” and “Forever Peace” being some of his most well-known. His books have won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula and the Italian “Futuro Remoto” Award, according to his biography.

As an American man, and by extension an American boy, he was always fascinated by weapons, he says. He even brought a visual aid to the reading at Wild Iris.

The aid is a small target into which he shot a couple of rounds, for practice. Approving murmurs trickled through the crowd. Some of the audience members are themselves veterans and instantly connected to Haldeman’s tale.

A man from the back of the room commended his abilities, talked of his own aim and the battle in which he “really learned to fire.”

Haldeman spoke of pacifism and being involuntarily drafted to Vietnam. As a young boy, he was unable to throw ball, which later turned into his inability to throw a grenade.

He tells the story of throwing a grenade in the trenches and watching it fly straight up.

John Then, a local artist, is entranced by this recollection. Then, who “lucked out of the draft” because of high blood pressure, says these stories resonate with his generation.

After Haldeman read an excerpt from “Work Done for Hire,” he opened the conversation to questions.

The audience was curious about war, politics and writing.

Zot Lynn Szurgot, member of the Gainesville Coalition for Peace, came to the reading because she was interested in hearing his view on war.  

“It was really great to hear about his transformation from soldier to pacifist,” she said.

Haldeman’s wife, Gay, occasionally reminds him to direct the conversation back to the book.

“Writers can sometimes be difficult people,” she says with a loving smile.

It takes him a year or so to finish a book, he says.

“When I start, I haven’t got an idea in my head, but I’ve got a fountain pen and the will to destroy blank paper.”

For many attendees hearing Haldeman talk personally about his relationship with some of the biggest names in science fiction was a great experience.

“Hearing him talk about Isaac Asimov and other ‘Masters’, that was really neat,” says Keith E. McInnis, a local aikido instructor.

“You know, there are places Joe Haldeman can give readings where the lines would be so long you could never get in,” he says.  “So we are really privileged here.”

Gay, who has been married to Haldeman for 48 years and seen all of the pleasures and challenges of being married to an author, says that he immediately accepted the invitation to speak locally.

Haldeman moved to Florida in order to care for his ailing mother and split time between here and Cambridge, Mass., where for decades, he taught science fiction writing at MIT.

He and Gay chose to move inland to Gainesville to be “equal distance from both coasts,” Haldeman says.

Gainesville for him is the place where he bikes to a coffee shop each morning to handwrite new lines for his next book.

As “Work Done for Hire” appears set out for mixed reviews from readers, Haldeman is happy to make time to share it with Gainesville locals.

When asked why he accepts to speak at such a small venue in town he says that Gainesville is now home, and so he says “Why should I refuse?”

what is news?

Trying to coach student as she continues to develop a newsworthy angle

Today, Dr. Lewis stopped in the INC on several occasions. He continues to provide us with helpful clarifications. Today, he informed us that start-ups unique to Gainesville should be looked at differently from stories about new businesses, namely restaurants and stores. Overall, I think we have all been doing a great job of spotting the difference, but I was glad he addressed this directly.

I received another story pitch today about a two-year-old girl who drowned in a septic tank in Fruitland Park yesterday. I was a little wary about this idea because while this is a tragedy, how does this impact reach beyond her family and friends? I advised her to do some pre-reporting about how common this is in North Central Florida, as well as ways to prevent this type of accident. She said she wants to pursue this story from the code enforcement angle. I look forward to seeing what this story blossoms into.

After our discussion in class last night, I started using the Tasks function in Gmail. One student’s story has been published, but we want to include a better audio clip. As you mentioned, tasks can be linked to emails pertaining to the particular subject matter. Editors working tomorrow will be aware that this task needs to be completed. In addition, I added another task for a story about juvenile sentencing that Matt mentioned has localization potential. By maintaining this task bar, I think we can eliminate lulls during the various shifts.

task bar

Using the Task Bar Function should be a helpful asset as we transition between shifts

Throughout today’s shift, Logan was helpful with various projects. He completed this week’s In the News. His story selection was much better this week. I only replaced one article because I thought the Lockheed Martin story was more important for our readership.

Logan also completed the initial edits on a submitted story that was received at the start of our shift. Upon looking at the email chain, it was evident that this student was having some issues finding what was newsworthy about the inclusion program at Newberry Elementary. He has been emailing back and forth with editors for the past eight days. This program has been in place for seven years, but he was encouraged to focus on how technology has impacted the program and how families have been moving into the area, so their children can attend the school.

Logan read it, made some notes and told me that the story was still missing the point. As I read it, I felt as if there were many pieces missing. In one part of his story, he explains what a “Big Mac” is, but he failed to explain what other terms meant. As someone not affiliated with special education, I have no idea what a slant board is. I am guessing many of our readers would be curious about what these are.

In addition, while I have not seen anything that resembles “patchwriting,” I am worried about students relying on email and other impersonal communication instead of meeting with sources face to face. In the following story, red flags went up in my head because one of his quotes was followed by “Hickox said in an email.” While I appreciate the honesty, I emailed him about getting audio, but he said he did not have any. How is this possible if he interviewed several sources?

Also, his story is from Newberry Elementary, a school not too far from the University of Florida campus. He submitted a photo provided by someone else, which leads me to believe he did not travel to the school. While this is not the end of the world, I am concerned about how much effort went into this story.

Newberry Elementary’s Inclusion Program Attracts Parents

Email sent to Keith on 2/6 with follow-up questions

Pam Hickox’s son is a third-grade student who is in his first year at Newberry Elementary School. Prior to this school year, she spent a year and a half trying to get him enrolled in Newberry for one reason: the school’s inclusive education model.

Hickox’s son has Down syndrome, but as part of Newberry’s inclusion model, all of the school’s special-needs students take classes with non-disabled students, instead of being put into separate special-education programs, or what is known as the pull-out model.

According to principal Lacy Redd, students in kindergarten through fourth grade are served in a co-teach model. The special-education teachers push into the regular education classroom and provide support and accommodations.

“I was aware of the inclusion program, and had checked on my son attending about a year and a half ago,” Hickox said in an email. “At the time, I was told from the District Office it was not likely any students from outside of Alachua County would receive McKay scholarships to attend from another county.”

McKay scholarships offer parents of special-needs students the choice of transferring the student to another school.

“Ultimately, I was able to get a job in Newberry, which allowed my son to come to school with me and attend Newberry Elementary School,” she said.

Hickox’s child is just one example. Students come from all over Gainesville, or in Hickox’s case, move to the area to for the inclusion program.

”We have had families move to Newberry for the inclusion model for sure,” said Redd. “But, you have to live in our zone to go to our school. So it does require a family to move to our zone.”

Redd founded the inclusion model at Newberry seven years ago. Through the work of the school’s three special-education teachers and the use of assistive technology, the inclusion model is constantly changing and improving to best fit the needs of its students.

“Every year I take into consideration our budget and our school improvement plans to try and provide those extra tools that students need,” said Redd. “We’re always looking for new things, things that we can incorporate into our education plan that help meet those kids needs.”

The school recently started using iPads with some of its special-needs students, but the assistive technology can range from something as simple as a special grip on a pencil, to a slant board, to a device called a Big Mac. The Big Mac is two buttons, one red and one green, that can be set to say anything the teacher or student may want.

“When I was first told that I would be working with this I was like, ‘The only Big Mac I know comes from McDonald’s and I have no clue what you’re talking about,’” said first-grade teacher Morgan Martin.

Martin has a quadriplegic student in her class, and the Big Mac, along with the iPad help to give the student a voice.

“It gives him a voice since he can’t communicate,” said Martin. “This way he can speak out like the other kids do. He does like having a voice.”

Having the special-needs students in the classroom full-time is a good thing for those students without disabilities too.

“It is good though because then all the other kids don’t see him as just this person who floats in our room and leaves,” said Martin. “They see him as their friend.”

Regardless of the impact of the technology, the true measure of success of any model is test scores. In Florida, all students, whether they have a disability or not, are expected to pass the FCAT. Except FCAT is getting phased out for Common Core… or whatever ends up replacing it. According to Redd, Newberry has seen a remarkable change in their data since the inception of its inclusion model.

“We are always looking at data to try and drive our instruction,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of success with kids being able to pass the state assessment and show remarked improvement in achievement scores since we’ve started the co-teach model.”

Redd believes a big part of the success is that the special-needs students are exposed to on-grade level material with the inclusion model.

“Before, in the pull-out model, they were not receiving the on-grade level instruction. They were going to a smaller group setting, but you saw the skill level drop,” she said.

Hickox has been very pleased with the progress of her son under the inclusion model.

“I have seen a change in my child,” she said. “He has always loved school, but as the curriculum was getting harder, he was frustrated.  I feel with the inclusion program and assistive technology, he is able to be as successful as he can.”

Editor Comments: Only one parent makes this seem anecdotal. Nothing changed to prompt the story; this is just a nice feel-good fluff piece. If we do run it, we’ll need some more tags and probably a better headline.

On another story, Logan demonstrated his attention to detail. The story involved an arrest pertaining to the production and sale of methamphetamines. The arrests took place in the same household, but Logan was concerned because the ages did not seem to match up. As Dr. Rodgers has pointed out, we should always do the math. I told Logan to see what he could find, and he was able to locate their ages from the Levy County Sheriff’s Office. Even though the ages ended up being correct, I applauded Logan for thinking critically during the editing process. After the Ruby Sheppard story, I am also trying to pay particular attention to numbers and statistics.

However, this story illustrated a wider problem I have noticed. Erica’s students had performed initial edits on this methamphetamine arrest story. This included one of her students contacting the reporter about coming in to answer various questions.

After speaking with the reporter, the story was ready. I began to check it over, but Matt told me to spike the story because the arrests had taken place last Friday without any changes occurring since then. I wrongly assumed that we were moving forward with the story based on the work that went into this story all morning.

To address this problem, I think at the beginning of each morning shift or the end of the afternoon shifts, we need to go through and spike the stories that are no longer timely. If there is a way to update them, the reporter should be contacted about doing this immediately. In addition, the stories should no longer be labeled in the WordPress as “Ready for First Edit,” “Ready for Second Edit” or “Ready to Publish.” They should be marked as “Reporter Questions.”  This should eliminate a lot of wasted effort on stories that we are no longer able to publish.

Monitoring these stories will be even more essential after the weekend because, as Jesse has mentioned in class, a lot of stories go untouched from Friday to Monday. We could set up a system where we check the WordPress on Sundays at 5 p.m. for what is no longer publishable, as well as contact reporters about issues they need to address. While I do not want to bother reporters constantly, this effort may allow them to answer any questions in a timely manner as a new story cycle begins.

As another suggestion, I think content creators should also have to submit excerpts for their stories. These excerpts are the small blurbs that appear below their headlines on the main WUFT website. I think this will force them to figure out the central point of their story, something we must all continue to work on.

excerpt

These excerpts are used to entice readers from the WUFT homepage

In preparation for the 6 p.m. news show, I had the opportunity to work a little more behind the scenes. Andrew discussed the Sessions story, and Dana Edwards discussed her story about concussion research being pursued in our area. As fellow journalists and not telecommunication students, they were nervous. I encouraged them and told them how accommodating Steven and Lauren had been to me during the past few weeks. I gave them some tips for working on their scripts and also practiced some lines with Dana. I love seeing the continued collaboration between our various entities during each and every shift.

Links to Work

Record Exonerations Reported in 2013; Only One In Florida

This short brief was written by one of the web producers earlier this week. I am still confused about why this article was not published several days ago, especially because it is not excessively long. While this article is newsworthy, I also wish she had contacted more sources. Cheydrick Britt could have been an incredible source for this article. Could we do a follow-up article on him? What is it like to be an exonerated man? How did the Florida judicial system fail him? I felt it was important to publish the article today, while considering potential future articles, because the report was released this week. The writer had not linked to the report released by the National Register of Exonerations, so I added a hyperlink, in addition to a hyperlink to the Innocence Project of Florida website. While web stories can provide the main points, we need to enable our readers who want to know more about a particular topic.  Tripp and I discussed linking this story to the description of allegations. However, they were sexually graphic and very detailed. In addition, the focus of this story is on his exoneration, not what he was falsely accused of.

Girl, 11, Gives Love To Orphans One Pair Of Shoes At A Time

This story is from Fleming Island, which is a little outside of WUFT’s coverage, so I was skeptical at first. However, I discussed this story with Dr. Lewis. He said he had talked to Megan about how she must focus on the young girl orchestrating this project and not on the collection of shoes. The story was well done and included many descriptive quotes. I removed a small section that included a quote from her swim coach. I felt like it was just added in to provide unnecessary padding that reiterated points already made by several other sources. In addition, I moved a couple of paragraphs around to try to keep various blocks of quotes together. It can be confusing when speakers switch after each paragraph. This is a story that Chris is interested in discussing on WUFT’s 6 p.m. show tomorrow, so I contacted Megan about seeing whether she is interested. I think giving students exposure to various platforms is one of the highlights of the INC.

Diary Week 4

As we finish our fourth full week in the INC, I am beginning to feel more comfortable with my position as an advanced editor. While I still get frazzled, I feel better about giving certain responsibilities to Logan, as well as addressing one task at a time.

My first task of the day involved getting the story about the police user fee in Wildwood published. Matt was in meetings for most of the afternoon, but he was available through Google chat. Matt was heavily involved in the editing of this particular story because it involves a legal issue.

He was concerned because the story talked about a class-action lawsuit, which can only be determined by a judge. I called the reporter, and she was able to inform me that the hearing to address this determination was postponed from Jan. 22 to May 29. I was also having trouble inserting audio into this story, but Matt told me how the system has changed. I placed a note in the Google Drive, so other advanced editors will not run into the same problem.

Once this story was published, I posted a Tweet. During each of my shifts, I try to Tweet on at least one occasion because followers are likely to stop following WUFT if we do not post on a regular basis.

WUFT Tweet about illegal user fee in Wildwood

WUFT Tweet about illegal user fee in Wildwood

This is the story the news producer wanted to discuss on the 6 p.m. show. Matt said he wanted to approve the script because of the potential legal ramifications. I created a script, and Matt made some edits. Usually for the web question and answer session, we speak “off the cuff,” but I had the opportunity to use the teleprompter today. It was an interesting experience, and I look forward to getting better at reading and speaking without tripping over any words.

Part of the script I wrote for 6 p.m. "Web Q & A"

Part of the script I wrote for 6 p.m. “Web Q & A”

Later on in my shift, I also sent a Tweet out about a story that Erica edited earlier in the day. I do not want to overdo it with the Tweeting, but I hope these efforts will continue to drive people to WUFT.org.

WUFT Tweet about effects of weather on strawberry business

WUFT Tweet about effects of weather on strawberry business

I was greatly impressed by Logan during most of his shift. He began by following up with school districts that had been closed today because of the inclement weather. While some districts did not answer their phones, he was resourceful about utilizing their websites to see if there would be any issues with school opening tomorrow. One district provided the cell phone and home phone number for the superintendent, which he proceeded to call.

He also worked on the “In the News.” This is an area where I think he could improve. He was choosing stories that did not have great impact. While accidents and shootings are tragedies, these are not the types of stories we try to highlight in this section. In addition, he included a story about Justin Bieber. Bieber’s face has been plastered over every news platform for the last week, so we do not need to waste any space on this troubled pop star.

This section may not be the most important piece we publish, but this exercise allows us to evaluate the web producer’s news judgment. However, as Tom Huang said, I made my critique about the work, not the person. I thanked him for his diligence in the short descriptions, while also recommending he focus on stories that impact more people. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next week.

I did not receive many story pitches today through the email. When I first arrived, there was one pitch from a content creator. He submitted three separate pitches, but it was obvious he did not put much thought or effort into it. In response, I provided a link to the Intranet, as well as copying and pasting what each story pitch should address, points that mirror what Huang’s article said about the questions journalists should be able to answer before pitching a story. I also encouraged him to stop by the INC with any questions.

These students have all these resources available to them, and I am hoping more students take advantage. One student named Angela Skane has impressed me on several occasions. She is the writer of the goat story. She discovered this idea by looking on Craigslist. This has inspired me to keep this source as an idea for future story ideas because even though it features many wacky posts, it can also be a gateway to a great story.

She came into the INC today to pitch another story about a young woman from Lake City who has auditioned for “American Idol.” At first, I was a little skeptical, so I asked her to send the pitch in writing to see if it addressed all the questions. As we discussed in class last night, this is also an efficient way to prevent stories from either falling through the cracks or being approved when they should not be.

An example of an editing student dedicated to her craft

An example of an editing student dedicated to her craft

Angela addressed what piqued her curiosity, what is newsworthy and why readers will care about this story. She even described how she will bring the story to the next level by including different multimedia elements. When Dr. Lewis came into the INC, I discussed the idea with him. He was excited about its potential. As advanced editors, we are the first lines of defense to evaluate ideas based on our news judgment. I am also glad to have a second line of defense through Tripp, Matt and Dr. Lewis. Story ideas are getting better, and I think this system is beginning to work like a well-oiled machine.

Logan was also helpful in following up on stories that were marked for having reporter questions. These stories tend to fall to the bottom of the WordPress, which means they are often forgotten. During each shift, I think we could address this problem by having advanced editors look at two or more of these articles. It may simply mean calling the reporter or sending an email to follow up. Some of these stories are no longer timely, but we discovered a story today that is going to be a great piece for WRUF.

During my shift, I also worked on a story about a tax assistance program for qualified residents in North Central Florida. The reporter stopped by the INC, but her edits did not address all of the issues. I discussed the story with Tripp, as well as the issues I was having. Based on our discussion, I sent Monica an email before leaving my shift.

I have copied and pasted what the story currently looks like in the WordPress. It is extremely timely, considering tax season starts tomorrow, but it would not be appropriate to lower our standards to publish this article. I put a note in the top of the article saying the reporter was contacted.

North Central Florida Offers Tax Assistance For Qualified Residents

With tax season starting Jan. 31, the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax help to taxpayers who qualify.

People who make $52,000 or less may qualify for the program offered by IRS-certified volunteers at the United Way of North Central Florida. Required items needed to file are listed on the IRS website.

The IRS funds 11 VITA sites in North Central Florida and trains its volunteers to be certified tax consultants, according to the United Way of North Central Florida website.

VITA estimates a return in seven to 14 days. The program accepts walk-ins, but customers can make appointments by dialing 2-1-1 or logging into its website.

“A lot of those programs online try to make it as simple as possible, but if there’s a misunderstanding of questions, you can miss credits,” said Josh Giancarlo, the site coordinator for VITA at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Florida does not collect a state income tax. As a result many Floridians who do not have other equitable assets file simple federal tax returns. If the customer is filing a simple federal tax return, many companies give them a second look or file the 1040EZ at little to no cost.  

The IRS introduced the 1040EZ form in 2011 for anyone that is dependent or independent, married or single, and made less than $100,000 in 2012. One can fill out a 1040EZ form with a W-2 form. However, people without access to a computer may have difficulty filing because they will have to print or pick one up.

According to Sarah Coulson, the communications specialist for the United Way of North Central Florida, VITA filed 1,489 returns and refunded a combined $1,686,007 to those participants last year. 

“People are quick to file their taxes and sometimes miss something,” Coulson said.

Nancy Strampello, a certified accountant and the general manager of a H&R Block located at 3228 SW 35th Blvd., said it is important that taxpayers make sure a professional looks over the forms because identity theft occurs more frequently with first-time filers. Strampello said the IRS estimated that identity theft rose 331 percent last year. 

“People come to our clinics out of comfort to know they get the money that they deserve in their return,” Coulson said. “Also, it only takes 30 minutes, so it’s really fast.”

Here is a screenshot of the email I sent Monica. I was confused because even though she referenced 11 VITA locations, the emphasis was placed on the United Way. In addition, I am trying to pay careful attention to any mention of numbers, dates or amounts. There seems to be a discrepancy in her reference to 2011 and 2012, so I want to make sure this information is accurate before moving forward.

By keeping the lines of communication open, I hope we can publish stories that no longer contain holes

By keeping the lines of communication open, I hope we can publish stories that no longer contain holes

Links to Work

In the News: Commissioner Not Pursuing Re-election, Marion County Deputy Recognized, State Lawmaker Taking Action, Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect

Whenever working on “In the News,” I always try to include three Florida stories and one national story. Susan Baird deciding not to run for re-election was big news out of Gainesville. I also attempt to include stories from various locations in our coverage area. A deputy from Marion County being honored as the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year is something that should receive recognition. The power plant issue is of concern to Florida residents, so viewers care about whether this state law gets repealed. In addition, news organizations from across the nation revealed that federal prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. While this headline was a little long, I wanted to provide small snippets from each story.

UF Researchers Help Citrus Growers Predict Early Crop Yields

Two radio students prepared this story. The story addresses various questions, but I wish it had more depth, including more quotes. How can we address this issue with stories submitted by radio students? I would love the chance to talk with them about getting three sources and linking to other resources in their stories. A large amount of this story was based on a UF press release, but the students had not linked to it. The web platform allows us to provide our audience with access to supporting documents. This is why I located the press release and the published journal article. As editors we can add all of this information, but the reporters should also be concerned with making sure their stories are up to our reporting and publishing standards.

Diary Week 3

I had another busy day in the INC, but I am beginning to establish a routine for various duties, such as preparing “In the News” and monitoring the Tweet Deck. When I arrived, I discussed how the day was progressing with Erica. 

During my shift, I was pleased to hear all the positive feedback about the goat story from earlier this week. Angela Skane, the writer of the story, came in during my shift last Thursday to discuss this pitch. As soon as I heard her describe the situation, I could not wait to see how the story turned out. 

I think it made a difference that she came into the INC because we were able to talk about potential photo ideas and certain information she should ask about. This is why I hope to encourage other students to come into the INC.  Email communication cannot compare to a face-to-face discussion. The coaching advice has also emphasized having contact with reporters during the editing process.

Logan had his first opportunity to do the “In the News” section today. I gave him an overview of what this job entailed, as well as showing him where he could find step-by-step directions on the Intranet. 

He found a couple quality stories from various sources, including the Gainesville Sun and Tampa Bay Times. After reading the article by Chip Scanlan, I wanted to foster Logan’s independence. I told him I was available if he had any questions, but I also did not want to hover and critique him as he worked.

With “In the News,” I like how the editing students are able to get byline credit. He had to use his news judgments to answer questions, including “What’s the news?” as he searched the various websites, as well as “What’s the story?” to write the short descriptions.

The Quick Coaching tips encouraged coaching briefly and often. While Logan performs various tasks, I periodically ask how the work is progressing, but I also give him space. Every shift, he seems to become more assertive in what he is doing. Today, I noticed him coming out of his shell and voicing more of his opinion about whether ideas were newsworthy or if they needed more work. This included his input that a story about a college readiness program in Bronson contained no actual news. We discussed these views with Matt and chose to not publish the story.

I only spiked one of his links because it had been published by the news organization two days earlier. His descriptions were concise, but I made several edits to the sentence flow. Active voice is something we all struggle with, so I continue to look for where it can be used. For the Marco Rubio story, I chose to place the subject, Sen. Rubio, at the start of the sentence to allow for easier reading.

One of the web producers wrote a short story about a Lake City woman who turned herself in after an altercation with her husband turned violent Monday evening. In our discussion last night, we talked about the importance of attribution, especially in stories that are about accusations and arrests. The reporter originally did not link to the press release, but I thought it was important to show where we were getting our information.

I also monitored the email for story pitches. One student emailed me about the endangered Key Largo woodrat. At first, I responded that this did not seem like a good pitch for WUFT because it is outside our coverage area. However, when I returned to my apartment, I went back to the email and asked her several questions. If these woodrats have a role in the ecosystem, it could impact the entire state. Before writing off this story, I want to find out more details.

In addition, I worked with a reporter who had submitted a story about Ocala revamping its image to bring in more visitors. It had a good foundation, but it needed some additions. Tom Huang gave some good advice for editors critiquing a reporter’s work. I asked her a variety of questions and encouraged her to get another Ocala business source. Instead of telling her specific sources to contact, I told her to consider businesses that have a stake in attracting new customers from outside Ocala, such as area restaurants.   

After making suggestions, I said she could make the changes to her story before sending in another draft. By allowing her to make the corrections, I hope she will learn what details to include in future stories she writes for WUFT and other publications.

Links to Work

Lake City Shooting Suspect Turns Herself In

Upon editing this story, I caught several silly AP style errors. This included a reference to “6 o’clock in the evening.” We have learned about how to write time in AP style since our first journalism courses, so I am disappointed that people are still making this error. In addition, the writer had inserted a comma in Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is another error that could have been avoided by looking at a stylebook.

 Behavioral Health Center To Open In February

When I arrived for my shift, Jennifer was in the process of pitching this story. She had to leave the INC for class, but she returned to finish working. I was impressed by her tenacity, an important characteristic of any quality journalist, and her work ethic. She worked for a couple hours on answering various questions, including the number of beds at other area hospitals and statistics related to the Baker Act.

This is the story we discussed on the 6 p.m. news for the “Web Q&A.” This story fit well into the newscast because it also featured a segment about Florida’s trauma centers. I sent a Tweet out to bring this story to the attention of our followers.

Tweet about new addition at NFRMC

WUFT Tweet about Behavioral Health Center opening

 

 

Diary Week 2

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.

Tweet about search for the next mayor of Yankeetown

Tweet about search for the next mayor of Yankeetown

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

In the News: Florida Medical Marijuana Signatures, Two Tomato Hybrids, Increased Speed Limit Bill, New Execution Protocol

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.

After Two Years Without, Yankeetown May Be Closer to Finding a Mayor

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.”