Monthly Archives: September 2012

What your staff doesn’t know about quotes could hurt you

David Carr of The New York Times shared a dirty little secret about quotes last week: Reporters often get them wrong.

That should frighten you as a student media leader, and here’s another little goblin I’ll trot out way too early for Halloween: Not everyone on your staff even agrees how “right” a quote has to be in the first place.

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Tipsheet: College eds idea roundup 09/24/2012

Rounding up a week of story idea tweets, beginning with politics:

Who are the undecided voters on your campus? A new Pew survey says only 22 percent of registered voters aren’t certain of their presidential choice. Pew also finds young voters seem to be paying less attention to the 2012 campaign than was the case in 2008.

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Never lose a good idea

A pop quiz for student media leaders: How many really good ideas did you hear last week? Are you sure you remember all of them? Now a harder question: What happened to those ideas?

And what about all the ideas that got floated in, say, the last month?

There are two things you can do quickly to bring more of those good ideas into reality. One is a simple system; the other is a simple attitude that seems to elude too many editors.

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Tipsheet: College eds story idea roundup 09/17/2012

Rounding up a week of tweets: yes, student media really can help prevent suicide and sexual assault; evaluating Newsweek’s knock on the value of college; and smoking, thinking and reading on campus.

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Daily discipline in the digital world

If you don’t publish a print newspaper every day, what must you accomplish every day? Most college papers aren’t daily, so their traditional news-producing structures weren’t built for daily production. But we live now in a digital world with daily demands. Every strong newsroom has digital daily ambitions, but do you have digital daily discipline? Are there daily tasks which must be accomplished with as much certainty as the delivery of a daily newspaper?

I was thinking about those questions last week after an exciting visit with the staff at TNJN, a student-run digital-only news organization in the University of Tennessee’s journalism school. Editor-in-Chief Sarah Waldrip told me she and TNJN’s other editors are looking for ways to ensure timely daily copy. The next day, I came across this:

“The difficult task is to marry relentless discipline with creativity, neither letting discipline inhibit creativity nor letting creativity erode discipline.”

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An urgent request to cover rape awareness NOW

“College students are the most vulnerable to rape during the first few weeks of the freshman and sophomore years.”

Even though that quote comes from a 2003 Department of Justice report, it gave me a jolt when I was pointed to it today by a Youthradio.org piece reprinted at Huff Post College. I hope it jolts you if you’re a college media leader. Some of you are more than a “few weeks” into the school year, but you still would do an important service for your audience by providing whatever coverage you can of rape awareness — quickly.

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Tipsheet: College eds story idea roundup 09/09/2012

Rounding up recent tweets: the politics of student loans, poverty and drugs; textbook costs; and yet another link to get you thinking about cheating.

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Writing with voice — or, observation vs. opinion

Sometimes we call it “voice.” Sometimes we call it “writing with authority.” It’s hard to define, but the basic idea is that sometimes a storyteller puts aside attribution and standard journalese and just speaks directly to the audience. If you want great storytelling in your student media operation, you’re going to wind up wrestling with it. So let’s go to the mat, shall we?

“Biden pauses and takes a breath. You think he’s finished. Foolish you.” 

With that line in a New York magazine profile of Vice President Joe Biden, writer John Heilemann signals that he’s telling you a story, not an executive summary. Would you allow this at your college newspaper? I suspect most of you would.

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Tipsheet: College eds story idea roundup 09/04/2012

Rounding up recently tweeted story ideas: The gender gap in college achievement; the sleep gap for everybody; and why don’t I carry on a little more about cheating?

Not only are women outnumbering men at graduation, they’re more likely to aspire to college in the first place. I dare you to spend 10 minutes in a cafeteria asking people about this without finding a good story.

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