Tuesday, April 28, 2009

M is for Making Mistakes

Isn’t that the essence of editing – to catch mistakes, to fix them and to prevent them? Yet that is just one part of editing, when I started this course I thought that that was pretty much an editors job. Though I have had several fabulous editors during my internships and jobs at several publications, I knew they had to make tough decisions, but I guess I never thought about all of the different aspects of this career pathway. I certainly have a newfound respect for editors and the amazing work they do. I don’t know if I am cut out for such a position, it takes a special kind of person, but I know that I will never take them for granted.

It’s so funny how I hear all of us in this class joke about how we are so much more attuned to catching grammar errors and such. It’s like we’ve been reprogrammed for accuracy – which is great! Though others can find this annoying, I hope that they secretly appreciate it.

There is such an emotional response to editing. When you catch an error it can feel like a small victory, and when you make a mistake it can tear at you all day. I know I made an error on my last assignment, and it still bothers me because I knew that was improper styling, but it just slipped past me. Good thing we have such a great editor and teacher to catch those things for us.

Thank you Prof. Follis and to all of my fellow classmates, we have become better journalists together. :o)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

L is for Languishing Languages

LOL! This poist is going 2 b gr8! B4 IMing, it would b hard 2 read this. This butchered lingo is standard issue 4 texting & is crossing age boundaries. I don't even have 2 use words, I can use emoticons to get my point across:

:o) = I'm happy
:o( = I'm sad
:oO = I'm shocked
:oD = I'm grinning like a hyena
:oP = I'm sticking my tongue out
>:oO = I'm angry
:o? = I'm confused
:o[ = I'm a vampire
Xo( = I'm knocked out

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (thank you Yul Brynner)

I know that grammarians are probably >:o/ over such replacements for language, but let's look at the postives. For journalists, texting can teach conciseness, because it can be difficult to punch out all those letters on such a small platform.

Here's Amanda's challenge for today: go to notepad and type out a paragraph about anything, then paste that puppy into Word and see how well you did. Alas spellcheck, you make us accurate and lazy at the same time :o{> (this one has a mustache and beard...just because).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

K is for Kamikaze Kankles

What on earth? Got your attention, right? Did you laugh? According to a study I found online, people think that words with a K sound in them are funnier than other words. So what does this have to do with anything? Well, in lab we have been practicing cutlines and we all need a clever edge to get Follis laughing and in turn get a good grade.

So a quick trip to the slang dictionary online produced my title this week. I know that the word “kankles” is technically not a proper word and would be unsuitable for use in a cutline or headline, unless it were set off by quotation marks. I love how as I am writing this, Microsoft Word is frightened by the word and has it underlined in red with spelling suggestions that include: ankles, rankles, and kindles. Apparently Word is rankled by the notion of kankles and that is funny.

In conclusion, I’ve kept this brief, because brief is not a funny word, but is a desirable trait in a funny joke. So next time you are at a loss for words or need to be clever throw in a “k” – it’s a quick way to get to a happy day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

J is for Judging Journalism

In editing we have been discussing news packages. Sometimes I stop and think about the power of the press. We are charged with the decision to choose the news, how to present and what photos to run with it. That’s a lot of judgment calls, but judgment in journalism also comes from ethical decisions and legal battles as well.

News judgment is potentially the greatest job an editor has. Today in my Issues in Journalism class, we discussed news judgment as it pertains to the future of newspapers. This brief article on CJR really sums up what we discussed in class today.

As a grad student, I have been taught by “old school” journalists who have instilled the core values of journalism within me. So I can understand how hard it is to transition to the new way of journalism that seems to be spreading across the Internet. Still our guest speaker said something that was quite troubling in regards to this phenomenon. She said that older journalists, who choose not to embrace the Internet and learn how to use it, will lose their jobs.

As nice as technology is, I think it is very unfair to lose the reporters who have spent their lives dedicated to public service without the Internet. Judging their journalism should be of higher rank than judging how to get it out. This is where the business model becomes more important than serving the public and that is where journalism should be judged.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I is for Integer Inconsistencies

Inconsistency is one of the troubles when working with numbers. In both lab and lecture we have been learning about how easily stories are printed and they may contain a variable amount of discrepancies.

So what’s up with that? Various reasons could include: laziness, lack of understanding and/or even little time to check. Yet all of these reasons are not excuses for journalists and they need to be honest and accurate with all of their facts and figures. In lecture we discussed how one of the most often errors is a multiple of ten, where 10,000 becomes 100,000 and also when millions become billions and vice versa.

In lab we learned to ALWAYS check the numbers (sorry I am not a fan of all caps, but I needed to make an important point). Numbers can be misleading – as we also learned in lecture. The ketchup vs. salsa debate depended on how the public relations for each spun the data.

I know I used to be someone who saw a chunk of numbers and my eyes glazed over like a Krispy Kreme doughnut. This was also how I felt about all those crazy stock market numbers. It wasn’t until I took business journalism and started dating my fiancĂ© that the numbers all started to make sense.

The Readership Institute at Northwestern University has a delightful article online about the importance of numbers to journalism.

So I guess the old excuse of getting into journalism because one hates math…is no longer valid.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

H is for Humorous Headlines

The other day at the bookstore I purchased a quaint little book that had a menagerie of jokes, funny stories and…you guessed it…humorous headlines. I couldn’t help but muse about the strange images the headlines conjured up in my mind. Here’s an example: “British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands”.

I had to think about this one a moment and then break it down to get the true meaning. Okay – the British Left (liberals), Waffles (waver) on Falkland Islands. And I thought they hired Eggo to make a deposit. Alas no syrup is needed, but maybe some punctuation or a word change or two.

Here’s a few more:

“Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Axe”
“Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft”
“Lansing Residents Can Drop Off Trees”

And the list goes on…if you really want to read more, you can buy this charming little book here. Even more recently I looked at my local newspapers webpage for the ever so slight chance of breaking news. My curiosity was compounded when lo and behold there was breaking news and the headline read like this “Naked boy with giant poodle assaults Hart woman”. She’s okay I’d like to mention, but what a zinger of a headline. I see that once the story ran in the paper the headline was altered to match the most current state of these unusual events.

As for me, headline writing is not my forte, but I will do my best to avoid such blaring errors of comical proportions. And now for some parting advice from that little book: “Include your Children when Baking Cookies”. Yum…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

G is for Grammatical Goofs

I have really enjoyed writing my column over the past month or so. Yet I heard nary a word from my editor, leaving me to think that maybe they weren’t up to her standards. Well her standards or not, she sent me a rather humorous and informative one line e-mail last week. It seems that a reader informed her that the past tense of drag is dragged not drug.

Her “virtual” tone was rather jovial, but I began wracking my brain to remember using “drug” for dragged in one of my columns. After a quick scan through my word documents, I found it…thank goodness for the “find” command…or maybe not. I’m just glad they didn’t write a letter to the editor about it. Oh goodness, I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again. Here is the sentence from my third column about being a shopaholic:

“I drug my fiancĂ© David to this movie on Valentine’s Day, I assured him it would be a learning experience, mostly for me.”

Oops, after a quick check online it seems that I was in error. “Drug” is apparently only to be used when discussing medical substances. I don’t think I had to drug David to go to the movie…maybe that dinner I bought him…nah.