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Another passing: the NYT copy desk

The copy desk saved me — more than once. In old-times newspaper terms, the copy desk in a newspaper’s newsroom was a horseshoe shaped table around which sat a number of editors who read what reporters wrote. On the other side of the table in the “slot” was the chief copy editor who handed out […]

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Author: I didn’t want to resort to self-publishing, but it’s an exhilarating change

Louise Walters: My debut novel did very well with conventional publishers, but they weren’t interested in the ‘difficult second’ – so I’m going it alone Source: I didn’t want to resort to self-publishing, but it’s an exhilarating change Louise Walters describes what it’s like to have a second novel turned down after success with a […]

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FDR, the editor: A date which will live in infamy

The nation had just endured a bitter debate about whether or not it should go to war. The Japanese ended the debate on Dec. 7, 1941, but the attack on Pearl Harbor had not cleared away the bitterness. Franklin Roosevelt had to weigh his words carefully.

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Headline writing for the web

Some of the most important words a journalist will write for the web are the headline. A headline has always been very important for print media. It is vitally important for the web. Because headlines appear in lists as links rather than with the body of the story, they are the reader’s first introduction to […]

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Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation and Diction study guide

When I taught at the University of Alabama, I would give a 100-question grammar, spelling, punctuation and diction exam to beginning writing students. The test was a difficult one, but students had to make at least a 75 on the exam to pass the beginning writing course offered by the College of Communication and Information […]

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Discussion: the key to good editing

While no one should be cocky or uncivil, a good copyeditor must have the confidence not only to spot errors but also to change the copy to make it better.

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Dates for the journalist

Even if history teachers have stopped making students memorize dates, journalism teachers shouldn’t. Dates are important for a full understanding of events, and students should have precise knowledge of the important events in American and world history. The list of dates on this web site, adapted from The Complete Editor, is a good place for […]

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Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses by Mark Twain

The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer stand at the head of Cooper’s novels as artistic creations. There are others of his works which contain parts as perfect as are to be found in these, and scenes even more thrilling. Not one can be compared with either of them as a finished whole.

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Mark Twain takes aim

In a famous 1895 essay, Mark Twain delivered a stinging critique of one of America’s 19th century literary icons, James Fennimore Cooper. Twain was very much a modern writer, advocating active, descriptive verbs and short rather than long words. His essay is worth reading, not necessarily for what it says about Cooper, but for what […]

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Editor dilemmas

George Daniels, my friend and colleague at the University of Alabama, has developed an excellent exercise on some of the management dilemmas that editors face in dealing with reporters. The exercise is based on some of the guidelines that editors should use in building their relationships with reporters that are outlined in Chapter 12 of […]

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Discussion notes: accuracy

The first lesson that beginning journalism students should learn is they are obligated to present accurate information to their audience. Many of the procedures of journalism are directed toward achieving accuracy. Editing students need to be reminded of this goal, too. It is the editor’s job to ensure accuracy. This web site contains a set […]

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Discussion notes: attacking wordiness

Most of the editing students I have taught over the last three decades share this trait: they are reluctant to change anything in an editing exercise, even when it is obviously wrong. Getting them to where they will correct grammar, spelling and style errors in the first step. But to be good editors, of course, […]

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Discussion notes: Responsibilities of the editor

Getting your editing students in the right frame of mind to become editors is a challenge for any editing teacher. JPROF.com has a set of discussion notes that contain many of the points you might want to make with your students at the beginning of an editing class. Above all, students should be taught that […]

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The death of the clever headline?

Writing a good headline is also one of the most important tasks of journalism.

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Editing for the web: example 1 illustration

This page shows a version of editing assignment 1 where the editor has tried to follow the instructions in the assignment. What are some of the obvious differences that you can spot immediately between the original and edited versions? What are some of the less obvious differences? Is there anything else or different that the […]

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Editing for the web: example 1

Let’s say you’ve decided that the web is a different medium than print (you’re right, it is!) and that you want to do more than simply shovel stories written for print onto your web site.

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Discussion notes: editing for the web

Do you need to talk with your editing students about the special considerations of editing for the web? Do you need to get your online journalism students up to speed as editors? JPROF.com has put together some discussion notes that you can use to introduce your editors to some of the things they will need […]

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New York Times coverage of Obama’s speech – a different reporting form

The New York Times used the tools of the web to bring the story of Barack Obama’s speech to Congress last week in a different and innovative way. The web offers journalists many opportunities to report on events in ways that we never could have done with another medium. Witness the New York Times coverage […]

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Editing for the web: discussion notes for journalism instructors

These notes are designed for editing instructors who want to conduct a section on editing for the web or online journalism instructors who want to teach their students about the special considerations for editing for a news web site. An example of taking a “for print” story and making it into a “for the web” […]

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All editors want the same things — and they’re not getting them

Lynn Worsham writes a brief, excellent article in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education on the main complaints scholarly journal editors have about working with authors. Worsham is editor of JAC, a quarterly journal of rhetoric, writing, culture and politics. Many of the complaints she describes are echoed by editors in other realms: Inappropriate submissions […]

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