Wick Communications

A war on errors

In Planning on August 28, 2014 at 2:06 pm

designer budget

Last Friday, as I posted my piece in The Kicker on the difficulty of catching your own typos, Arizona readers were poking fun at the Daily Star. On the front page, in 72-point type, the Tucson paper miscalculated the payment due to local schools from the state by a factor of 10. Instead of the $317,000 in the headline, the local school district is really getting $317 million.

As Sierra Vista Herald Managing Editor Eric Petermann noted in a comment on my blog post, there but for the grace of god go I…

Actually the Herald staff is actively working to avoid a mistake like that. The Herald happens to be in the midst of an extraordinary effort to catch more of its typos by using something Wick Production Director Scott Green calls a design budget. He likens it to the story budget on the editorial side.

The heart of it is a white board that notes who is designing a page and who is proofing it. It also has a space to check when each page is complete, and importantly, space for writers and designers to communicate on story placement.

“Sounds simple, but it’s surprising how little reporters and photographers talk to the people doing the actual design of the product,” Eric says in his comment.

True that. …

Here it comes on the calendar

In Ideas on August 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm

school

In Wahpeton, N.D., reporter Matthew Liedke reported on a parent-led initiative to change the starting time for the school year. He quotes parent Linda Striebel: “We know that there are a lot of rural schools that don’t have air conditioning. They are ready for the winter months but not for August.”

In Pierre, S.D., writer David Rookhuyzen reported from McKinley and Washington elementary schools. “… This wasn’t just the first day back at school. It was the last first day. Both schools are being closed at the end of the year to make way for a new school being built in northeast Pierre.”

In both locations, reporters accepted the considerable challenge of presenting a cyclical story in a new way. Reporting on annual events can seem like a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day.” Street fairs, back-to-school days, holiday coverage … it can be maddeningly difficult to come up with a fresh angle from year to year. Congratulations to both David and Matthew for finding their innovative ways to approach the new school year. …

Do you need a new title?

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

o-BEST-JOB-TITLE-570

Does your job title matter?

Perhaps. Traditionally it mattered. The pay scales at many businesses reflect titles and descriptors like “senior” and “vice president” and “director.” Bank loan officers surely treated CEOs with more respect than fry cooks. Now, of course, the tech savants spend days trying to outdo themselves with stupid, meaningless titles that can only lead to confusion in corporate halls. Microsoft has an “Innovation Sherpa.” There is a “Digital Prophet” at AOL. Chances are, if you don’t know what the title means, there ain’t much real work attached. (If you have too much time on your hands, generate your own title...)

What about journalism titles? Does it really matter whether you are called “managing editor” or “editor?” About the names of beat? Do they matter?

I ask because of this collection of thoughts from Ken Doctor at the Nieman site. It riffs off Gannett’s “newsroom of the future” idea.

I offer two thoughts:

First, I think some journalism titles are stifling. A “cops reporter” is only going to write breaking news about crime. There is a place for that, but what if you called her “health and safety reporter” instead? If that was her title, would she have a wider understanding of her role and perhaps offer stories that hadn’t already been tweeted before she picks up the phone to find out what happened at the crime scene? I like relatively open-ended beat titles – community, education, family, safety – rather than cops and courts and government. I think it leads to fewer process stories and more stories about people. …

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