Misspelled names!! Quadruple check all spellings. Is it John or Jon? Last name hyphenated? Last name have a capital letter? Vanpelt? VanPelt? Van Pelt?
Also, if you re-organize your story before turning it in make sure that your first reference to sources is still complete. We never want “Tressel said” in graf 2, and then “Coach Jim Tressel” in graf 4.
Do the math!! Quadruple check all facts and figures from all your sources. Does the math add up? Do the percentages = 100? Is it the most current data? For example, a former federal banking official told a Lantern editor that about 200 banks had closed in the last year. Well, it was actually more than 250, so we double-checked and made the story more accurate!!
Don’t bury the lede!! First, identify the most newsworthy and interesting details/facts, then prioritize within them. Remember the 5 W’s and H, then decide which are the most important and construct your lede sentence/story accordingly.
Bad: On Thursday during a Rose Garden press conference, President Barack Obama said he will resign due to a heart condition. (The important stuff is there but at end of sentence, should be first thing reader reads)
Talk to more people!!! All of your stories must have at least 3 people. Well, that is a MINIMUM! Talk to as many folks as you can. You never know what the next person will say and if that will help you get a better story on that day…or give you an idea for another story that is even better than the original. And not all sources must be OSU people, seek “outside experts” from other schools, companies, trade groups, etc.
DO NOT RELY ON E-MAIL!! In-person interviews should ALWAYS be your first option. Then phone. E-mail is last! E-mail allows your sources to perfectly craft responses, avoid follow-up questions and avoid having to look you in the eye when they answer your questions. That is too much of an advantage for them in most cases….and your stories will suffer…and our audience suffers.