Training New Staff

  • Think Visually
    • Sometimes stories can be developed greatly with the use of photos. Be thinking about them early and often
    • Communicate more with photographers from the beginning of stories. Instead of filling out a form and hoping the picture is taken, have a conversation with the photographer
    • In what ways could an infographic add to your story? How can you best display the information compared to a graphic
    • Develop relationships with people in visuals. Learn what they think about the stories you are writing and vice versa to get a better grasp on how you each want the final product to turn out
  • Separate Daytime and Weekly Stories
    • These two responsibilities should not be worked on in the same way. They should be written differently as well
    • We need more communication between editors here and reporters on shift. Maybe more assignment based than letting them get to pick what they work on
    • Daytime is communal, and must be talked about between reporters for the best stories. Interview times must be shared with the whole group
    • Don’t worry about writing very short pieces. The goal here is to get the information out in a timely manner, and not add unnecessary detail. If it is necessary, we can add it later in a full story
  • Time for edits
    • Deadlines might need to be shorter for certain stories to allow editors to make real changes in the work of the reporter. Allows editors to ask for extra interviews and information, rather than checking mostly for grammar
    • I’d like a closer relationship between editor and reporter when working on a story. Editor should be more involved with the day to day of stories

Print vs Online vs Social Media

Print

  • We need to use engaging pictures. If we do not have an interesting photo for an article that will draw readers’ attention, then we should forego the use of a picture for that article.
  • Make more use of infographics. Encourage reporters to get interviews and information early so that designers have a chance to create interesting and appealing infographics.
  • Don’t rely on standard news stories that feel more like obligations to write dominate the front page. Use whatever might be the most appealing to a reader, not just a Covid test site update.

Online

  • This is where much of the breaking news should happen. Updates and very short news should be encouraged here.
  • Illustrations could play a much bigger part here than in print. If there are no photos for a story in print, including an illustration at the top of an article online could add some life.
  • This could be a place for stories in progress because they can be continually updated. Instead of sitting on stories that might take weeks to write, they could be published here in installments or as updates to a story.
  • Online is a great place for interaction. I really like the idea of using sound from interviews, and it is totally feasible as we record all of our interviews anyway.
  • Other ways to engage readers could be through interactive diagrams. Might not be realistic to create an interactive infographic for weekly stories, but stories that take longer to write could be benefitted by this.

Social Media

  • A lot here is the same as online, but might work even better with breaking news.
  • Make use of extremely small window that users look at our posts while scrolling. Very short news updates are great here.
  • This is the worst possible place for a boring photo. Illustrations and infographics should be used here liberally if there is not an interesting photo
  • Could use this as a platform to get people interested in the DI by acting more energetic. A lot of our posts come off to me as a little boring and trying hard to be hyper-professional

Critique for 10/9

  1. The only story that might be unexpected for readers would be the story about test times. This is information that can help form their decisions in their daily lives. I think the protest coverage is interesting (I’m biased) but the story about encouraging mail-in voting seems like the preachy problem we had last week.
  2. I really like the protest picture because it shows an actual action and lots of people in the midst of a protest. It also shows the location and an idea of the route that a march took through campus. For mail-in voting, the picture shows some of the precautions that citizens can avoid by mailing in their votes. The picture for the test time doesn’t offer much useful information. Infographic in Thursday’s paper seems interesting.
  3. It seems like Monday’s had two interesting visuals in the top, but the testing center photos don’t really grab my attention. Doesn’t seem like any of the articles is really the main, most important one, aside from the protest coverage but I’m not sure if that should be. For Thursday the false positive header grabs my attention the most.
  4. Jewish organizations opposing ISG is very interesting to me because there is conflict. Maybe it didn’t make front page because there wasn’t a visual for it? Food insecurity story in Thursday might be more important because it could help people out to see that.
  5. Posting a meme on the front page of the paper would definitely increase the “talk factor”. I’m curious as to the attribution for the picture. Unless Kenyon created it, shouldn’t it be attributed to the reddit account that posted it? I don’t know, just curious. Ballot box is also interesting and the image provides information.
  6. I think most of the stories within the inside pages could have benefitted a lot from human faces, especially the Halloween one. Halloween is all about festivities and people doing fun things, there should be more about people and less about city ordinance.
  7. Maybe photos of people working out inside the arc because it looks much different now with all of the restrictions. Also maybe get a photographer into some of the apartment gyms where people usually aren’t following the guidelines by wearing masks, wiping all the machines down and standing six feet apart.
  8. The graphs that appeared seem simple and easy to read for me. I like them, but I really don’t know much about them. Additionally, yeah the fully blocked out ballot box looks much better.

Paper Critique

Front picture is too big and missing an action. I like that it shows real people and is at the testing site, but I think it would have looked better if the people were doing something with their hands instead of sitting/standing idly.

I don’t really like starting the headline with the word “about”. I think headlines should be more direct. Might just be a personal preference.

Center picture on the front page looks to be a good size and is interesting to me. Lots of people all doing something.

The picture of the TPUSA speaker looks kind of awkward to me but maybe that is the best we can do when all of the speakers give speeches over Zoom calls.

Packed bar on page 2 is interesting to me, as well as the overhead shot of KAMS to see their upper floor. 

Story on 3A is interesting, as well as the picture of the mask with the words wrapped around. The headshot of the professor seems pretty big and boring though. 

4A zoom call picture is interesting and goes with the story well, but I don’t like that the club’s graphic is so big and prominent. Comes off as kind of like PR, but might just be my opinion.

Graphics for the voting story look appealing.

I feel like i’ve seen the image of Chancellor Jones on 3B a bunch of times throughout the last couple months. 

Images for sports and opinions worked well and looked interesting, but maybe that just comes with sports having a lot of action shots and having to use archive pictures at the moment.

Data Idea

Tuition has increased by about $25,000 per person since 2010/11, but incoming freshmen class has also increased by about 5,000 students. If there are more freshmen coming in all paying tuition, then what is the need for the increased cost?

News Section Communication

As it stands, I think the majority of our news department’s communication works pretty well. The prime example of this being story ideas. Stemming from our discussion last week in class about this, I thought I might expand on the benefits.

  • Story Ideas
    • Our department relies a lot on the reporters for content. It gives them freedom in a way that I didn’t expect when I first joined. As we discussed last week, many newsrooms have a problem where story ideas are generated at the top and then sift down, but for us, there is a healthy mix of bubbling up and assigned stories.
      • All reporters must generate three story ideas each week. These then get reviewed by the heads of the news department. This helps generate a lot of ideas and the leaders get to assign the good ones

That being said, there are some issues in certain areas.

  • Technology
    • I like Slack, the service we use to communicate, but it has its issues. Sometimes I won’t receive notifications unless I am specifically @’d or I receive a dm even though I have my notifications turned on. This results in missing updates and possible breaking news
    • To fix this, I think specific text group chats might work better for important things like breaking news, giving updates or other non-immediate issues can be addressed over slack
  • Follow-up
    • A standard should be set that editors and assistant editors should check in with their reporters daily for story updates. It helps keep the reporters on track, while also keeping both parties engaged in their work process.
  • Photos
    • Improve the connection between news and photo departments. Make it easier for reporters to discuss with photographers what they want shown for the article
    • Perhaps make teams with certain photographers being paired with certain reporters. Closer relationships lead to more cohesive teams and better coordinated work in my experience
  • More time to debrief
    • In weekly meetings, I think giving reporters time to discuss what they did the previous week would be just as beneficial as what they plan on doing. Learning from mistakes can be helped this way, as well as helping new reporters learn tips for their own work

COVID-19 in Champaign

  • COVID-19 in Champaign-Urbana community
    • Energy
      • How has the change in campus behavior affected the school’s energy output?
        • Abbot Power Plant supplies our entire campus with energy
        • There has been a push for years to get Abbott off of coal and on to more sustainable energy sources
        • How has behavior since quarantine began affected the energy usage of our campus?
        • Has our usage gone up or down?
        • How have our needs changed?
      • A lack of students effects all businesses, but how has it specifically affected the community’s energy output as a whole?
        • Does an online University lead to a leaner carbon foot print in the area?
        • What has Mass Transit looked like over quarantine?
          • If people aren’t traveling as much (or there are just less people in the area) should buses be running on a different schedule?
          • Talk to bus drivers: are they driving empty buses?
    • Greek Life
      • Where do these organizations stand in the middle of their usual rush process?
      • Is it worth joining these organizations in the midst of a pandemic?
        • How limited are the activities that normally draw in rushes/pledges?
        • Many houses are fully canceling their rush process in fear of the virus/crackdown from the University
        • Number of rushes and accepted bids in fraternities on campus are way down compared to previous years
      • Talking to members of houses has been/will be difficult. It might be easier to try and speak with freshmen who were interested in rushing/did or have been rushing.
      • Dues for many houses, especially sororities, is expensive. Are members of these organizations still paying the same in dues even though many activities and events have been restricted?
      • Could be easier to talk to greek organizations if it is framed in a neutral sense, allowing them to tell their side of the story amidst accusations and pandemics, while also highlighting other students’ views of the organizations
    • Student Life
      • Interesting chance for profiles
      • Urbana used to have a lively music scene with many house/basement rock shows
        • Has COVID effectively killed the music scene for this side of campus?
        • Contact bands/band members that were previously active
          • Do they plan to continue playing shows or figure out how to play their music for others safely?
          • Has the culture changed at all?
          • Profile of a singular band might be interesting
      • What are students doing to pass the time?
      • Profile of a student who has been quarantined with COVID
      • What is it like to live with a roommate who has contracted the virus?