Aug. 27, 2018, critique


This was a wonderful first paper. Praises go to the entire staff. No, it wasn’t perfect, but this is a great start. The design shows an execution of fundamentals. Not only do you know the basics of page design, you can put these ideas to use. The writing was solid throughout. I didn’t find myself zoning out from boredom in any of the stories. Lots of editing feedback on the paper critique, so make sure you give that a look.


Best photo

The entire photo report was strong: lots of faces and action shots, file photos were used appropriately. However, one photo stands out — a real showstopper from Tim Risden. I’ll save this one for a contest entry. Way to go, Tim. The lighting and composition are beautiful.

Best lead

None stands out.


Best headline

Ginger’s “Fun on the cob” is the best headline and quite good. This is clever and suits the story perfectly. Far from a groaner, this headline is artful and in good taste.


  • No jump: The Big Ten story is supposed to continue on Page 14, but the jump’s not there. If you use a checklist that has you checking every jump, this shouldn’t happen. This is a big error.
  • The Safe Streets: The graphic is stretched and looks weird. Make sure those percentages for horizontal and vertical are the same. Also, it doesn’t fill the frame.
  • Cutline fonts/sizes: They didn’t match throughout the paper. If you are doing a page, you need to know what the style is and make sure you’ve got it correct on your page.
  • Speaking of cutlines: The photo page has cutlines without complete information, most noticeably the day and the place. It would have been slightly better if the copy block contained that information, but it didn’t.


  • Speaking of the photo page: When we do creative layouts, it doesn’t mean we get to throw out the grid. To the contrary, the grid becomes even more important. It might be in the background or not that noticeable, but it still serves as a structure to have fun with, not dispose of. Just a reminder that the pica rule applies to vertical spaces as well as horizontal. Our photo page has more than a pica vertically between each photo. What happens is that the negative space (empty space) is highlighted and that vertical white space jumps out and is distracting and jarring.


Commas are needed after cities and states. We missed the comma after the state in a few places. From AP:

  • NAMES OF STATES AND NATIONS USED WITH CITY NAMES: His journey will take him from Dublin, Ireland, to Fargo, North Dakota, and back. The Selma, Alabama, group saw the governor.

Remember to include time, date and place in this order (TDP = Totally Drunk People). It might sound strange at first, but it’s important for consistency and will help you avoid the strange construction of days of the week next to proper nouns. For example:

NO: The smell of barbecue and the sound of corn sizzling on the grill filled downtown DeKalb Friday as the community came together to attend the 41st annual Corn Fest.

YES: The smell of barbecue and the sound of corn sizzling on the grill Friday filled downtown DeKalb as the community came together to attend the 41st annual Corn Fest.

NO: Police arrive on the scene of the Jacksonville shooting Sunday, which was later deemed the result of the gunman’s anger after losing a video game competition.*

YES: Police arrive on the scene Sunday of the Jacksonville, Florida, shooting, which police believe was the result of the gunman’s anger after losing a video game competition.

(How do we know this? Did we just add it because we heard it somewhere? It wasn’t in the story. Generally, you’ll want to only include information in the story as part of a cutline unless the photog does original reporting. This is actually a problem because we don’t know if there’s a cause and effect yet. We don’t know because it hasn’t be adjudicated in court. I added a qualifier that police believe this to be the case, but it’s not ideal.)

I found the original cutline from AP, which reads: Police investigate the scene of a multiple shooting Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, at the Jacksonville Landing in Jacksonville, Fla., during a Madden Championship Series video game tournament. A gunman opened fire Sunday during an online video game tournament that was being livestreamed, killing multiple people and sending many others to hospitals, authorities said.

Nowhere does AP state the gunman’s motive. We state something as fact that we can’t prove is true. This is how we libel people, so be really careful, guys.

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