I spent the fall semester as a copyeditor for The University Daily Kansan and as an editor for Jayplay, KU’s weekly student magazine. At first, the transition from editing magazine copy to newspaper challenged me. Eventually, I broke myself of suggesting punny alliterations for nearly every headline, among other things. Simultaneously working with both publications gave me a better grasp on what makes each one unique in terms of structure, language, voice, packaging, etc.
LEAD — In this news feature, the reporter had some structural issues, especially evident in the first few paragraphs. She made the same point twice in getting to the story’s main idea, which consequently buried the nutgraph. Also — something I’ve seen a lot in magazine writing — in an effort to grab the reader, the reporter opens a story with unattributed generalizations. It’s easy to resort to a supposed common and relatable idea, but it’s not credible. In the lead specifically, I worked with the reporter to condense the first two paragraphs into one, all-encompassing sentence, giving the nutgraph its necessary breathing room.
REVISION & STRUCTURE — This column sought to shed light on the life and legacy of the late Joe Fraizer, a world-renowned boxing champ who died in November from liver cancer. The columnist, a relatively new sports reporter , got bogged down by biographical information and failed to make much of a point. I asked the writer what his argument was and from there, cut any irrelevant information. This also required a great deal of restructuring, choosing the most supportive facts and points, and working them into the right sequence. Overall, it was a matter of deconstructing the original column to build a stronger article. I also found that my utter lack of boxing knowledge allowed me to, even more so, look at the column from fresh perspective.
HEADLINE — This news story covered KU Dining Service’s introduction of two new meal plans this fall. They both offer students unlimited meals — no cap on daily or semesterly redemption. Student reaction seems positive as more than half of meal-plan holders have opted for unlimited dining. Any chance for a playful hed and I’m all over it.
SELL LINES & DECKS — Similar to a newspaper’s front-page headlines, a magazine’s cover has to be informative and attention-grabbing; it’s the initial interest-peaking opportunity. This issue of Jayplay featured a photo spread of a local Bon Iver concert. When the gist of the spread was simply that Bon Iver recently played a sold-out show, it made it difficult to come up with a short, punchy description. I like to think of decks as headline redemption. Decks make it possible to run heds like the three above because they provide a brief, to-the-point summary of what that story or item will tell the reader. They answer questions that the headlines raise, and I think this cover nicely exemplifies that dynamic.