Monday, October 15, 2012

Students blogging on politics

My Reporting Contemporary Issues students are covering Greeley City Council and the election. It should be an exciting semester. I don't think they're enamored with City Council yet, but then again, who is? They are blogging about Council already. Check out the blogs in the list to the right. On election night, each student will report live from a different venue. It should be fun. Check back in a couple of weeks for a look at what's happening in Greeley and surrounding areas on the big night.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Editing for the gold

I love the Olympics, but I can't stand the announcers. They use such bad language. Here are the most glaring examples I've come across so far in this year's games:

1. A record for stupidity. Olympic athletes set lots of records. World records. Olympic records. National records. The United States' women's 4x100-meter relay team broke a world record that had stood since 1985. But when the announcer said the women "set a new world record," he dropped the stick and lost any chance at a medal. According to Associated Press style, you cannot set a "new record"
because it's redundant. If you set a record, it's automatically new, right? I mean, you can't set an old record, can you? So when somebody sets a record, leave out the "new."

2. Height rhymes with might. The pole vault is always fun to watch. But when NBC held tryouts for announcers, somebody should have made them pronounce the word "height." The announcer pronounced it "hithe" (long i followed by a -th sound) over and over. The word is pronounced "hite" (rhymes with might). It's similar to "weight." Many people mispronounce it. They must be confusing it with "depth" and "width." You'd only pronounce it "hithe" if it were spelled "heighth." See the extra h?

3. A team is singular. For some reason, American TV networks like to use British announcers for soccer. They always make teams into plural nouns. They say "Japan are doing well" instead of "Japan is doing well." Japan is one team, so it's singular. Therefore, it takes a singular verb -- is. This is true even when you say "United States is." Even though "States" is plural, it's still one country. And I am  proud to say that the United States women's team is the gold medal winner in soccer.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New book looks at Native Americans in the media

A bit of shameless self-promotion. My chapter on the Native American mascot issue has been published in the new book American Indians in the Mass Media, by Meta G. Carstarphen and John P. Sanchez. My chapter looks at the issues that arise when an intramural basketball team called the Fighting Whites takes the media by storm. Read an article about the book in The Oklahoma Daily.

Reporters need to be editors now

The Denver Post is laying off up to two-thirds of its copy editors, according to Westword. In a memo to staff, editor Greg Moore says that much of the paper's copy editing will be done "at the content-generating level." That means reporters will need to  be proficient at copy editing.  As news and PR move more and more to the online-first model of delivery, all journalists must adapt. That means developing an eye for details like AP style, grammar, punctuation and spelling, as well as an eye for the bigger picture in terms of content, libel, ethics and structure. Another key is fact-checking. It seems like a lot of times, in the rush to get the copy online quickly, fact-checking is forgotten.  These are some of the reasons all news-editorial and PR/advertising students in our program take the News Editing and Layout class.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Using active verbs

I recently read an interesting column on verbs by Constance Hale. It's a good read for anyone interested in a career in writing.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that good journalists use active verbs. I tell students to avoid what I refer to as "weak" verbs like "was" and "are." For instance, instead of saying "There are about 13,000 students who attend UNC," I would say "About 13,000 students attend UNC." The verb "there are" is boring. The verb "attend" is active.

Active verbs bring stories to life. Boring verbs bog stories down.