Critiques (oh, critiques)

By Michael Bodley

I’ve been to three different College Media conferences now, and (counting website and newspaper) I’ve had six very different experiences with critiques. That’s mostly been a bad thing.

A disclaimer: A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to organize these critiques. And that’s a thankless process that the majority of complaining students don’t take into account. There are also logistical suggestions later that may not be feasible (though I think they are, but then again, I’m not in your shoes.) So, sincerely, thank you.

Critiquing a publication in less than an hour when seeing it for the first time simply does’t work, whether it’s a newspaper of a website. The comments are either simply superficial, or else design-oriented. It’s possible to make smart design suggestions in that time-frame, and we had one critique which did just that. He (names omitted to protect both innocent and guilty) came with real experience, and he was able to offer us advice on re-designing our paper that was both helpful and welcome.

Then, there was the other critique (again, name omitted). Our person showed up late, and she sat down and asked for a copy of the newspaper. This was for a website critique. Taken aback, we gave her one. The next 30-ish minutes (she left early) were full of pointless suggestions, painfully poor comments and assertions that were simply concerning.

Point being, the critiques at these conferences are subject each year to criticism from this blog and from our fellow attendees. A lot of work goes into setting them up, and I’m grateful for the idea. But to really make them worthwhile, critiquers need access to the publication beforehand. It’s as simple as a website link submitted with the signup form, or else a PDF or link to ISSUU for a print product.

We’re begging, College Media.

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