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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (May 1, 1998)
I Fit to print
I Editor clears up misconceptions in final column
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PAULA LAVIGNE is a
major and the Daily
Unless your career will be cultivat
ing coconuts on a small remote island
with an unpronounceable name,
chances are that no matter where you
go, you’re going to live in a city with a
It could be as big as The New York
Times or as small as The York News
Times - or smaller.
Regardless of the size, the newspa
per industry has a lot of common traits
- many of which we espouse here at
the Daily Nebraskan.
One thing I’ve noticed as editor is
that many readers misunderstand how
a newspaper works.
A newspaper of any size can have
an impact on a community (or cam
pus). Before you leave for the summer
or for your career, I want to clear up a
few things before you go somewhere
where you actually have to PAY for
the local rag.
Plus, I'm sick of bitmg my tongue.
Lesson No. 1: The crossword puz
, . . . . .. *
The one criterion we do not use is
whether we agree with the letter. We
often run letters that criticize our
columns, articles or missing cross
word puzzles. We run letters that con
tradict other letters. However, we do
draw a line at profanity and vulgar
We run letters from administra
tors, politicians, organization presi
dents, greeks, alumni, community
leaders and students. And we give Joe
Student the same opportunity as we do
Letters come by e-mail, mail and
fax. To be honest, your chances of
being published are greater if you send
e-mail (because of its immediacy).
We also edit all letters. This does
n’t mean we go through and cut the
things out that we don’t agree with.
We find the main argument and pre
serve that within the space we have for
the letter. Some letters do run longer
than others. It just depends on how
much can be cut without taking away
the real “meat” of the message.
Remember, if your letter is longer
than the normal letter length you see
on the opinion pages, it will be cut.
If you are worried about your let
ter being cut, edit it before you send it.
The strongest letters are those that are
AND call the appropriate section edi
tor after you’ve sent it to give it a little
Lesson No. 4: When we just can’t.
There are some times when we
just can’t find a reporter to cover
something. Newspapers have limited
staffs, and they try to do the best they
can, but sometimes they’re short
staffed. Here, where reporters also are
students, they may not be able to cover
something because of a class.
Sometimes we’ll be able to have
someone cover an event, but we won’t
have room to run the story. Our news
papers’ sizes are based on how many
advertisements are sold. The size can
vary every day. If a story doesn’t fit in
the print version for that day, we may
hold it or run it on our online newspa
per at www.unl.edu/DailyNeb.
Lesson No. 5: Conspiracy theory.
Stories are run based on their
prominence, timeliness and interest.
We don’t have an “agenda” that
determines what stories we run. Most
of the time we’re ambivalent, really.
The Daily Nebraskan staff is made
up of conservatives, liberals, greeks,
non-greeks, undergraduates, graduate
students, country music fans, Afghan
Whigs fans. Spice Girl fans, people
who hate Spanish 202, people who are
I am scared and disappomted b"
fluent in three languages, Texans,
the people who stake the
entire integrity of the news
paper on whether or not the
crossword puzzle runs. But
many of you like it, so here's
The A&E section needs
one full page. The classifieds,
which vary almost every day,
cannot run onto that page. So,
if the classifieds are just a bit*
too long and might run onto
that page, we cut things such
as the cartoons and crossword
puzzles. We can’t cut ads
because people have paid for
Take it as a fact of life
that some days the puzzle
won't run. The only solution
for this is to go to the book
store and buy one of those
big crossword puzzle books.
I'm sftre you'll enjoy it, and it
won’t leave ink on your
Lesson No. 2: Letters to
This is a point of con
tention for many people.
When someone sends in a let
ter, and it doesn't run, an
angry phone call is sure to
follow. When someone sends
in a letter, and it’s been short
DAILY NEBRASKAN staff, from left; front, Dawn Dietrich, Nikki Fox; second row,
Lindsay Young, Lisa Vonnahme, Sarah Baker, Jamie Ziegler; third row, Diane
Broderick, Gregg Stearns, Heidi White, Tasha Kelter, Tony Toth, Ryan Soderlin;
fourth row, Jessica Fargen, Brad Davis, Jeff Randall, Ted McCaslin, Bret Schulte,
Jason Hardy, Ted Taylor, Chad Lorenz; fifth row, Anthony Colman, Todd Anderson,
leva Augstums, Paula Lavigne, Erin Schulte, Erin Gibson, Matt Miller, Brian
Carlson; sixth row, Josh Funk, Darren Ivy, Scott McClurg, David Wilson, James
Nicas, Lane Hickenbottom, Jon Frank, Andrew Strnad, Kasey Kerber, Bryce Glenn
ened there s another call
waiting in my voice mailbox.
On an average day, we get about
five letters to the editor.
We just can't print all five.
The larger the newspaper, the larg
er the volume of letters, the bigger the
The way we choose which letters
we're going to print is based on sever
al criteria, including:
■ How timely the letter is to
the issue it is addressing. This means
if you're responding to a column (or
article) that ran on Monday, and your
letter comes Tuesday, there's a greater
chance we'll run it than if it arrives
four days later.
■ How many letters we’ve
received regarding the same topic. If
one column receives 20 letters, and
many of the letters express the same
point of view, then there’s no need to
run 20 letters saymg the same thing.
■ How much editing the letter
requires. I’ll be honest, letters that are
three pages long will likely be held
until we can contact the writer and talk
about how to cut it to fit. If another,
similar letter comes in that is shorter,
it’ll probably run instead.
■ If the writer includes the
required identification (name, major,
hometown, phone number). We do not
run anonymous letters. Besides, iden
tification gives the letter validity.
clear, concise and to the point.
They should include your name,
major (for students), hometown (for
nonstudents), graduation year (for
alumni), title and organization affilia
tion (if any) and your phone number
so we can contact you to verify that
you are indeed the sender.
Now, if you don't think a letter is
long enough to get your point across,
you can submit a guest column or edi
torial. We rarely run these, but if your
point is strong enough then we might
consider it. To do this, call the opinion
pages editor in advance. Otherwise,
we might treat it as a letter and cut it to
OK, enough about the opmion
Lesson No. 3: Coverage.
We get a lot of calls from people
who complain because we didn't
cover their event. There could be many
reasons for this.
As much as we wish we were, we
are not telepathic. We try to stay on
top of things, but sometimes the infor
mation doesn’t get to us.
Jtf you want us to cover an event,
you must send us information about
the event including the date, time,
place, contact people and phone num
bers and cost (if any). And send it at
least three days ahead of time. And it
doesn’t hurt to send the information
Floridians, Coloradans and a lot of
Big Red-blooded Huskers.
If we even tried to set an agenda
we'd cause a civil war.
Lesson No. 6: OK, I lied.
We did have one agenda this year:
Diversity. Even though our staff has a
good gender balance, it's more than 90
percent white. The percentage of
minority coverage in our,newspaper.
though, is much higher.
1 don’t know if you’ve noticed, but
we've consciously bumped up our
diversity coverage of minority issues
That is an agenda - and a good
one. We actually have a diversity
reporter in charge of making sure we
do as much as we can to promote
awareness on campus. We're probably
the best vehicle to create awareness
because we reach 16,000 people -
mainly students - every day. 1 hope it
has worked this year and continues
working in the future.
Lesson No. 7: Play ball.
Because we are a campus newspa
per, our sports policy has been to pro
vide daily coverage of only varsity
(This is why you’ll see the
women’s varsity bowling team written
about more than the men’s team,
which, because of Title IX, is still a
Watch for DN workers
in a location near you
You might see some familiar names this
summer depending on where you go. Several
Daily Nebraskan staff members have jobs or
summer internships at newspapers or across the
nation. Some of them also are enrolling in pro
grams or occupations outside of daily newspa
Editor Paula Lavigne, summer reporting
intern at The Baltimore Sun
Managing Editor Chad Lorenz, summer
editing intern at the Milwaukee Journal
Associate News Editor Erin Schulte,
reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Associate News Editor Ted Taylor, reporter
at The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colo.
Assignment Editor Enn Gibson, summer
reporting intern at The Bakersfield (Calif.)
Sports Editor David Wilson, summer
sports reporting intern at the Post Register in
Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Senior Sports Reporter Shannon
Heffelfinger. summer reporting intern at the
Arlington (Texas) Morning News
Sports Reporter Sarah Dose, summer
sports reporting intern at The Cincinnati
Assignment News Reporter Jessica
Fargen, summer reporting intern at The Grand
Assignment News Reporter Lindsay
Young, summer reporting intern at The Norfolk
Senior News Reporter Brad Davis,
"Reporting in London" program through
Michigan State University
Senior News Reporter Brian Carlson.
Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown
University in Washington D.C.
Senior News Reporter Josh Funk, camp
counselor in Denmark through the European
Staff Camp Programme and the World Scout
Senior A&E Reporter Sarah Baker, mar
keting intern at HDR Architects in Omaha
Copy Desk Chief Bryce Glenn, plumbing
journeyman in Lincoln
Copy Editor Emily Wray, Dow Jones edit
ing intem at The Palm Beach Post, West Palm
Copy Editor Heidi White, Dow Jones edit
ing intem at Newsday in Long Island, N.Y.
Assistant Copy Desk Chief Rebecca Stone,
Dow Jones editing intem at the Traverse City
Assistant Copy Desk Chief Diane
Broderick, editing intem at The (Boise) Idaho
Copy Editor Tasha Keiter, editing intem at
The Plain Dealer, in Cleveland
Opinion Editor Kasey Kerber, summer
reporting intem at the Daily Sun in Lady Lake,
Photo Chief Ryan Soderlin, photo intem at
the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario,
Senior Photographer Matt Miller, photo
intem at The (Boise) Idaho Statesman
Photographer Lane Hickenbotton, photo
intern at The News-Record in Gillette, Wyo.
Photographer Dan Luedert, photo intem at
The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Photographer Jon Houghton, photo/report
ing intem at the Kearney Hub
Assistant Online Editor Amy Pemberton,
pre-press specialist at Specialty Finishing in
Co-Design Chief Jamie Ziegler, program
coordinator with marketing firm Spearl
Productions in Dallas
Co-Design Chief Tony Toth, canvassing
Europe for employment possibilities
Former Opinion Editor Joshua Gillin. page
designer at the Pittsburgh (Penn.) Tribune
Designer Jen Walker, Summer Daily
Sports Reporter Darren Ivy. Summer Daily
Summer Daily Nebraskan workers are
Jeff Randall, Anthony Colman, Matt Haney,
Melanie Falk, Jon Frank, Marni Speck, leva
Augstums. Tim Karstens. Nancy
Christensen. Sam McKewon, Jim Zavodnv
and Barb Churchill, among other new and
Every once in a while we’ll pro
vide coverage of non-varsity sports in
the sports section, but most of our
club sport coverage is actually in the
news (or sometimes A&E) sections.
We don't have the money to go to
every sporting event out of town, but
we try to go to as many tournaments
We also try to provide equal cover
age of men’s and women’s sports, and
we try to cover every sport from foot
ball to swimming.
The reality is, however, that we will
give more coverage to football than
other sports because from a
Nebraskan's day of conception, we
know that football is God. More people
want to read about football more often.
And that’s just the way it has to be.
Lesson No. 8: Balance.
Remember when I mentioned how
different our staff members are? Well,
because people have different prefer
ences and experiences - and belong to
different organizations - they will
have a bias when it comes to an issue.
This is true for almost every
reporter at every newspaper. It’s
human nature to have an opinion.
What should differentiate reporters is
their ability to prevent that opinion
from tipping the balance of a news
A reporter who has voted
Republican in every election since he
turned 18 should be able to write a
balanced story about a debate between
his favorite candidate and the oppos
A reporter who hates the greek
system should be able to write a good
story about a sorority’s philanthropy.
And good journalists should never
jump to conclusions.
Do we have good journalists? Yes,
we do. We also have reporters, photog
raphers, editors, designers and artists
who are learning.
And, yeah, they'll make mistakes
here at the Daily Nebraskan.
Sometimes, that’s what college is for.
They do learn from those mistakes
and become better journalists from
Maybe by the time you settle down
in a new town and buy a subscription
to the local newspaper, you’ll see a
name you recognize from the Daily
I hope it will be a name you trust.
DAILY NEBRASKAN advertising staff, from left; back row, Dustin Black,
Mike Fuller, Jared Holmes, Rebecca Dankleff; front row, Dan Thomas,
Jessikah Gilmore, Ann Miller, Andrea Oeltjen, Tara West, Daniel Lam
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