Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

A visual column

In Design, IDS on January 26, 2011 at 9:41 am

Larry Buchanan launched his new column, appropriately titled “A visual column,” in the IDS today. His inspiration was “How the Recession Changed Us” from The Atlantic.

Larry scoured the IU Fact Book for interesting information and translated what he found into graphs. Here’s what he came up with.
















Here’s a closer look at some of the graphs.













It’s a thing of beauty. This is a smart way to convey a lot of data in a digestible format. Readers can skim it to get an overall idea of how campus has changed or really stop to think about a specific fact. The sad truth is that college students (and probably most readers) want to skim. Just think about how you read the paper. If you’re like me, you skim the whole thing and read the stories that interest you. So why do we fear ASFs? Is it because we don’t get to showcase our writing? Maybe it’s because we think ASFs are less clip-worthy. Hopefully this column will inspire you to try something new. Let’s start thinking about data (and stories about data) in a new way.


Hearst: sports writing

In Hearst, IDS on January 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Another Hearst deadline is coming up. Sports reporters, I hope you’re scouring your clips. Last year IDS reporter Sean Morrison placed 15th in the Hearst sports writing category. Here is a short excerpt from “IU high jumper learns to fly.”


The high jumper stands at the top of the lane, motionless for 32 seconds.

He stares toward his nemesis, a bar balanced 2.17 meters above the track – a barrier he is determined to clear. His light blue eyes bore into it as he psyches himself up to run toward his lone obstacle here in Gladstein Fieldhouse, home of the IU track and field team. To him, the rest of the arena has fallen away. All that’s left is him and the bar.

“OK, this isn’t anything,” the young man silently tells himself. “I’m used to it. I’ve seen this height before. I can jump this.”

For the eternity of those 32 seconds, he focuses on one goal. To overcome. To ascend. To defy gravity.

The lane leading to the bar, roughly 15 yards away, is a runway. And Derek Drouin is ready to fly.

Stephanie Kuzydym also placed in the sports writing category. Her IDS story about Todd Yeagley placed 17th.


Earning three Big Ten titles and a 75-9-5 record with IU, Todd gave his father many memories. None stuck out more than his son’s first game as a Hoosier.

“When I looked out there and they announced him, he was lined up with the team,” Jerry said with pride. “They were playing the national anthem – and there was my son in an IU uniform.”

Entering the game with a 23-2 record, the Hoosiers deserved their spot on the sidelines of the 1994 title game against Virginia.

They believed victory was theirs.

But after the final second ticked off the clock, the Hoosiers saw the wrong team kissing the trophy.

Sixteen years later, Todd still has not watched the loss.

He still feels empty.

“You get there and you get a taste of it,” Todd recounted. “When you’re a senior, you know it’s over. There’s no chance to come back.”

ASF: Indiana teens more likely to use drugs

In Design, IDS on January 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

Thank you, Danielle Rindler and Jessica Contrera, for putting together the ASF on the front page of the IDS today.

I really liked the figures below the chart (6 percent and 10 percent) that sum up the findings. The whole package (including Michael Auslen’s story) gives readers some interesting information. Here’s a closer look at the chart.

One question: This story ran right below a story about a student death. The IDS hasn’t reported how this student died, but other sources (and people writing in the comments section) say it was from drugs. Was it appropriate to run this ASF/story package about drugs and alcohol below a story about a student death (likely from a drug overdose)?

What happens in the frat house, stays in the frat house

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2011 at 11:21 am

When the entire greek social calendar gets “postponed until further notice,” what do you report? The IDS posted the basic information on Saturday:

All greek social events have been postponed until further notice, said Interfraternity Council Vice President of Communications Josh Vollmer.

The decision was made by IFC and Panhellenic Association officers earlier today, Vollmer added.

IFC wouldn’t comment on the reason for the decision.

IFC and PHA serve as leaders of the fraternities and sororities within the greek community.

Continue checking idsnews.com for more information.

It seems like the entire greek community knows what’s going on, but no new information has been added to the story. Why? As ethical journalists, we’re always trying to get information confirmed by the best sources (in this case, IFC) before reporting it. It’s clear that IFC is trying to keep a tight lid on this information, but the rumor mill is already in full swing. Should the IDS quote members of the greek community? Does just being a member of  sorority or fraternity give a person enough credibility to confirm information? Should the IDS publish a rumor swirling through the greek community if it can’t be confirmed by IFC?

In the wake of the recent Arizona shooting (and the false reports that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died), we should think about how we report breaking news when the fact aren’t clear. Who is a credible source, and how many confirmations should it take for journalists to feel comfortable publishing information?

We’re back

In Design, IDS on January 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Sorry for the delay. I blame the senioritis. As always, send me stories/designs/photos you think I should post.

Here’s a collection of stuff we can talk about today.

Stephanie Kuzydym wrote a story about the IU Anthem boys releasing a new song. I thought she did a good job grabbing the reader (and also capturing the spirit of the story) in here lede:

“IU Anthem” stars seniors Brice Fox and Daniel Weber want to be more than frat bros that can sing or white boys that can’t dance. And they definitely want to be more than a pair of mustaches and an anthem.

They’ve made a career out of what Indiana is all about. And Indiana is where it all started.

I think I’ll also bring up a column by CJ Lotz. She wrote about the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Here are some of the tools we can learn from it.

  • Scene isn’t just for 1,000+ word stories. CJ used a few small moments to bring her story to life.

A mother gives birth to a screaming child, then stands up, sweating, and drags her IV across the floor to a chair. There is one bed for birth. She made room for the next woman in line.

  • Find a way to make it local. Why? It establishes a connection with the reader.

We grew tired of your brokenness. We grew tired of your crying because we only see what we gave you, not what you give us.

At IU, you give us The Creole Institute, the foremost research center on the Creole language in the world, led by Albert Valdman, a renowned linguistic scholar.

Haiti, you gave us Nick Andre, a former IU Creole professor and father of five who sang and performed at arts events around Bloomington before moving home to take care of his family.

You inspired our local organization, Bloomington for Haiti, to arrange a film festival at the end of this month to honor your people.

You sent us your children, adopted as babies into this community.

You gave us Solfils Telfort, a research assistant at the IU Creole Institute. He was born in Haiti and grew up there before attending IU in 2008.

What worked (or didn’t work) for you?

Finally, let’s talk about the Opinion front from Tuesday. It was a bold statement (literally), but did it work? Was it too much?

Hearst: Steps in her way

In Hearst, Inside on January 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I’m still posting old Hearst stories to get everyone pumped for world domination. Our next winning story comes from CJ Lotz. Last year she placed ninth in the In-Depth category for this story in Inside magazine.


Joannah Peterson pulls up to the curb in front of Goodbody Hall. A handicap tag hangs in her silver Honda Accord, but the reserved spaces are taken. She parks behind them illegally, along the curb. She’s already found six parking tickets tucked under her wiper this year, but she can argue her way out of another one.

This fall Friday morning, she’s running a little behind. She has office hours for an Asian history class and a few e-mails to send off.

She opens the car door, lifts out her wheelchair frame, attaches one wheel and then the next. After scooting herself onto the chair, she closes the car door and rolls up to the sloped entrance. She zig-zags along the ramp, lifting up her wheels slightly so she won’t get stuck in cracks. She reaches the big blue button with the image of a stick man in a wheelchair. Instead of pressing it, she opens the door herself and rolls inside.

The basement of Goodbody is stark white. It smells a little moldy. Sometimes Joannah calls it The Dungeon, sometimes The Belly of the Beast.

Inside, Joannah looks left. There’s a hallway and then a staircase. The East Asian Languages and Cultures department is on the second floor. There is no elevator. Thirty-five steps separate Joannah from her department.

She turns to the right and wheels silently down the hall and into room 003-6, the corner room that serves as her ground-level office.

Scour your clips. The deadline is coming up!