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The Iraq war is like . . . a comma

Once again, commas are in the news. Well, make that once in a blue moon. In a speech the other day, George W. Bush said that eventually the war in Iraq would be seen as “just a comma” in the history books. He didn’t offer any explanation for what he meant, and his detractors have […]

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Redundancies in the air

If you’re a collector in the word game (as I am), keeping your redundancy box full is a fairly easy matter. All you have to do is pay attention occasionally. That’s what I was doing when I was driving along yesterday, listening to story on National Public Radio. The story was on the opening of […]

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Editing for the web

The web is a different medium. Then why do we keep seeing so much shovelware — articles that were written for print — on news web sites. One reason, of course, is that news organizations (particularly newspapers) do not invest in enough people who can change print stories into web-friendly packages. Another is that editors […]

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Another Football Saturday . . .

And another offering from First Inning Artworks Check out the offering on EBay.

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Today’s Word on Journalism

“In order to enjoy the inestimable benefits that the liberty of the press ensures, it is necessary to submit to the inevitable evils that it creates.” —Alexis de Tocqueville, French commentator on the American experiment, 1835 That quotation comes from Ted Pease’s Today’s Word on Journalism, a daily email that contains a quotation about some […]

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Couric takes over

In the long history of the CBS Evening News, there had been only three permanent anchors: Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. Now there is a fourth. Katie Couric CBS biography) debuted as the newscast’s latest anchor last night. Couric is a legitimate journalist who was part of NBC’s news team covering the Pentagon […]

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The iconic image

Few of us get to leave the impression that Joe Rosenthal did. Rosenthal was the 33-year-old Associated Press photographer who took the picture of Marines raising the flag during the fierce battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific in 1945. That image struck an instant chord with viewers, and it has been stuck in our […]

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News orgs discover web’s immediacy

A couple of stories from Romenesko’s blog on today show that big time news organizations are discovering the immediacy of the web. One comes from Westworld, which reports that when the Denver Post stumbled onto a scoop last month about beer magnate Peter Coors being arrested for drunk driving, the Post nailed the story and […]

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An expensive comma

Sometimes punctuation can be expensive. That was certainly the case for Rogers Communications of Canada, which recently found that its misreading of a contract — not recognizing the meaning of the placement of a comma in a particular sentence of a contract — will cost the company a couple of million dollars. All this is […]

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Plagiarism: Unconscious and unintentional?

Writing is one of the most conscious and intentional acts a human can undertake. Constructing a phrase or sentence is a high-level mental activity (akin, I tell my students, to doing a complex math problem). That’s why Kaavya Viswanathan’s excuse – or, at least, explanation – for the plagiarism in her novel How Opal Mehta […]

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Finding links

An important part of becoming a web journalist/editor is finding good links to include with the stories and web packages that you are in charge of. This is a skill that requires experience and judgment as well as knowledge about how to establish links on a web page. A journalist skilled in linking recognizes the […]

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The writing life, Gay Talese style

For more than 40 years, there has been intense interest in the writing style exemplified by Gay Talese – and in Gay Talese (web site) himself. But that emphasis, particularly in Talese himself, may have been misplaced. Talese is certainly a writer of utmost grace. He works at his profession with an intensity that is […]

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The death of the clever headline?

Headline writing is one of the most difficult tasks in journalism and certainly one of the most difficult things to teach for the journalism professor. Now — as if accuracy, clarity and a bit of wite weren’t enough — there is a new challenge: search engines. Steve Lohr writes this week in the New York […]

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The Newspaper Problem, in a nutshell

The sports editor of my local newspaper wrote a column this weekend that, inadvertently, summed up much of what is wrong with American newspapers. (He and the newspaper will remain un-named and un-linked.) The column must have been in reaction to some criticism the sports department had received from high school sports partisans. The newspaper […]

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60 Minutes and Tiger Woods

CBS’s “60 Minutes” is being roundly criticized for a segment that aired a couple of weeks ago on golfing phenom Tiger Woods. The piece asked no tough or searching questions of Woods, who rarely gives interviews and has carefully honed his image throughout his career. Defending the show’s approach to Woods, producer Jeff Fagin asked, […]

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The New York Times redesigns its site

The New York Times has redesigned its web site, a move that is likely to draw plenty of attention and comment. There seems to be little new or innovative about the design. It gives the site a cleaner look because of its increased use of white space. What is most disappointing, however, is that the […]

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SJMercuryNews

Writing summaries

The summary has developed into one of the major forms of writing of the Web. A concise, well-written summary allows the reader to gain information and understanding that is found more deeply in the site. Summaries are commonly located on the front page or the section front pages of a site, but they may also […]

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Barry Bonds: hoisted on his own Louisville slugger

Call me crazy, but if I were Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, I wouldn’t be all that anxious to get a judge to dismiss the suit that Barry Bonds had filed trying stop the collection of profits for the book Game of Shadows (web site). A judge in San Francisco almost did that this week. […]

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Driving the message home

A Federal court has ruled that Tennessee (my home state and where I will soon be a resident again) can issue a license tag that contains the words “Choose Life.” A legal fight about the state legislature’s power to do this has been going on since 2002, and in the news story about the ruling, […]

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Getting a job in web journalism

Anthony Moor, associate managing editor/online at the Orlando Sentinel and editor of OrlandoSentinel.com, has written an interesting and encouraging piece about getting a job in web journalism. The article appears on the Online Journalism Review web site and emphasizes that web journalists need to develop the basic skills of the journalist – particularly editing and […]

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