Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How news editing has made me dislike stupid people

OK, so maybe the title is a little harsh.

The semester is winding down now and we have learned a lot. But what I have noticed through the semester is that people make mistakes in their writing and in their speech often. And now that I know the mistakes, I have become much more aware of them when I see people making them.
These are some of my biggest pet peeves:
- 'toward,' instead of towards
- 'more than,' instead of using 'over'
- 'farther' is used for distance, not 'further'
- 'compliment' is for saying nice things, not 'complement'
- misusing 'than' when 'from' is correct

I know this list is just a sample of commonly misused words, but these are some that really bother me when I hear or read them. I'm sure that this list is going to grow as I continue to write and edit in my career. Still, I'm very thankful for this class because hopefully I will not make a common mistake in front of a knowledgeable editor.

What are some of your biggest editing pet peeves?

Monday, December 1, 2008

OK, what's with CNN?

I've been trying to catch up with the blogs tonight, and I kept noticing a common theme that many of the posts come from CNN.com.

Admittedly, I go to CNN.com for my news too. I find it easy to use and it is the national news Web site I have used during my time in college. The site always has a lead story and then a list of other top stories that is easy to read through. There are the 'most popular' lists and multimedia that accompanies many of the stories.

But what about sites like the Drudge Report? No multimedia, no most popular lists, nothing fancy ... only a few photos with links to other stories. But it does have a lot of news on it.

So I've just been wondering, why do you choose the news Web sites you do? Can you explain why or is it just a habit?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pirates in the 21st century

When you hear the word "pirate," what image pops into your head? Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom? Eye patches and bottles of rum in the 18th century? Sitting on a slow moving boat through a ride in Disney World?

I know when I first heard about the Somalian piracy problem, that's what I thought of. When you are not educated about a story, you might think it's a joke, or a "bright" for the page. Disney has taught us that pirates are fun and entertaining. People dress up as them for Halloween. Video games are made about them.

But these modern-day pirates are serious.

They are hijacking ships with oil, taking hostages and asking for ransom money. If ships have to be rerouted, the cost of oil is going to increase because the cost to deliver the oil will increase. They are living lavish lives and costing countries a lot of money.

As editors, we need to think about the effect one word can have on a reader. We need to make sure headlines are clear and written to convey how serious the story is. We need to make sure stories are edited so that the point of the story is transparent.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Online news judgment

Yesterday in class, we talked about what stories we would put on our A1. We had to weigh what the most important stories were for our readers. But when looking at news Web sites this afternoon, it got me to thinking: How do editors choose what should be at the top of their Web sites?

News judgment for online has many of the same aspects of newspaper judgment. One must consider what the reader must know. But since the Internet is so much more fluid, editors can choose to put lighter stories up for just a little while, and take them down if something more important breaks. Newspaper editors must consider what the most important news will be when the paper is printed, but online editors get to tell readers what the most important news is at that exact moment. And that is a large benefit to be able to tell readers what they need to know when they need to know it.

But do editors put certain items higher on their sites because they know they are going to get a lot of clicks? CNN.com ranks their stories in one section of their site by the 10 most popular. At the time I am writing this, the top story is about Obama reversing Bush's policies, Gun sales spiking after the election gets second place, and the 10 healthiest grocery stores gets first. It's interesting that the top two deal with politics and the third is a lighter story. So how do we learn proper news judgment for online journalism?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

gchat for journalists

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone when I say that when I log on to any computer, I immediately go to gmail.com. I check to see if I have any new messages and then create a new tab for whatever other Web site I go to.

In the past two years that I've had gmail, it's become a minor obsession. I can easily see when I have a new message. And the best part of gmail? Gchat.

For anyone who doesn't have a gmail account, gchat is very much like AOL instant messenger. The difference is that once you e-mail someone with a gmail account from your gmail account, their name shows up in a "chat" box on the left side of the screen. One can then message any of their contacts when online. In AIM, one has to ask for a screen name and add the person manually. But gchat does it automatically and you talk to 'Joe Smith' instead of joeysmithdawg35 on AIM.

So how does this relate to journalism? E-mail is of course used to stay in touch with sources. And when both the reporter and the source have gmail, they are in each other's contact boxes. This summer, I had a source gchat me with something he forgot to tell me during the interview (I just saw his name in my chat box, which made me think of the idea for this post). It caught me off guard. But it was helpful.

I think it is OK for a source to tell me something quickly on gchat, or set up an interview if I was somewhere quiet and I had met the source previously. But if this is a trend and it continues, I think gchat might become a sort of crutch for journalists, just like some people like to use e-mail instead of picking up a phone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The heart of journalism <3

It's hard to go a day without hearing about media bias, corrupted journalists, the shrinking market and how our jobs will be unnecessary in a matter of years.


People can say these things, but the truth is, the public will always need what is at the heart of journalism. Reading this article tonight on cnn.com reaffirmed that thing I have always believed about (and initially drew me to) journalism, but I often forget when I worry about when I'm working to build my resume. Journalism is about the people and for the people, and nothing will ever change that.

This article is about a photographer who, in 1984, began a project to take photos of all 676 residents in Oxford, Iowa. These photos are now in a book called "The Oxford Project," with photos of as many of the same people as possible 20 years later. In his second time around, he brought a journalism professor to get their life stories. The following quotes really stood out when I was reading the story:

Bloom says journalists these days too often talk to the nation's power players and too few times to working-class people.

"The idea was not to talk to the decision makers, but talk to the people whose lives are affected by the decision makers," he says. "My job in Oxford was to talk to the voiceless, to people who don't have any voice who are the backbone of America."

"People will talk if you're willing to listen," Kristi Somerville says. "They're not small-town stories. They're human stories."

Her mother adds of Bloom's at-ease style. "He said, 'Tell me about your life.' How often does somebody ask you that: Tell me about your life?"

"I walked away from this knowing that life turns on a dime," Bloom says. "I realized that life is really dependent on moments, and you don't know when those moments are going to take place when you wake up. And sometimes when you go to sleep at night, you don't realize those moments have taken place."

We forget that journalism is about people, and when we write about real people, we make a connection. And that's the coolest job in the world. Maybe this post is a little cheesy, but I guess I needed an article like this to remind me why I decided to major in journalism in the first place.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In case you missed it in class...

So when is it OK to use an 'AMer' story?

In case you missed my part of our discussion in class, it is appropriate to use an 'AMer' story when it is the only information you have and an update is intended for later in the day with more context in a 'PMer' story.