Common Sense Journalism
An extension of the Common Sense Journalism monthly column by Doug Fisher, former broadcaster, newspaper reporter and wire service editor. From new media to old, much of journalism is just plain common sense.
"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Unknown (often improperly attributed to Thomas Jefferson)
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair
"Common sense is not so common" - Voltaire "Common sense is instinct; enough of it is genius" - George Bernard Shaw
Monday, December 09, 2013
Friday, December 06, 2013
AP Style - death to euphemisms for death
It's kind of sad, really, that AP had to put out this update to its stylebook this week:
death, die: Don't use euphemisms like passed on or passed away except in a direct quote.
Maybe we can now work on that phrase that's become trendy among a lot of TV reporters: We reached out to xxxxx for comment ...
I guess "asked" is too complicated.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Burying the lede on the Connor Shaw story
Here's today's victory lap from The State after yesterday's South Carolina victory over Clemson:
So if you are going to headline that the coach calls Connor Shaw the best quarterback in school history, shouldn't that be somewhere near the top, not several hundred words down in the third leg - past even a graf on a trick pass play?
(This kind of stuff appears all the time in Testy Copy Editors. It's a shame that journalists seem to think that all kinds of meanderings at the top of a story are high art when we are in a mobile age when people tend to want the info fast and to the point - and when tight editing is becoming less and less common.)
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Headline Oops: Home, home on the range - without a dictionary
Yeah, what can you say about heds like this?
Update 11/24: As might be expected, when this showed up on my Facebook feed, some folks started getting upset about the state of the media business. I agree. I empathize. But I also wrote this:
Let's be honest. Risk assessment as part of the cost-benefit analysis has always been part of business, and a media company is a business. Please don't read this as an endorsement, but please understand if I don't get all weepy about this kind of stuff.
The managers of these businesses have made an obvious assessment that they can diminish product quality and still make a dime or two - maybe more than before (though most of this is a stem, not stop, the bleeding strategy). Most newspapers and broadcasters have never been in the Audi or BMW line of business - they've been a higher-end Ford or Chevy at best (maybe occasionally a Buick).
It's business, folks; get used to it or start your own and prove that quality sells.
These are not public utilities (whether they should be is another debate). As I used to tell ACES, if you want to make the quality argument, you've got to monetize it -- and the only ones who will do that for you are the libel insurers (or, perhaps eventually, the customers, but I'm not holding my breath on that). Until then, we get to make fun, but don't get all exercised about it beyond that.
Because ... just because
Before you go all ballistic over grammar and usage, please remember that language changes -- and that in the Internet age it changes at light speed.
Today's grammar grenade: because as a preposition
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Not wrong, but confusing as hell
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Really sweet video project out of Chicago
Oops, needed a hyphen here
This from a recent ad:
“Join Dell, Microsoft and a guest expert for an in depth look at how OS migration can enhance security and end user productivity.”
That's either Freudian, or "end user" should be "end-user." ("In depth" can use a hyphen too.)
HT to WorldWideWords, a fantastic newsletter you should get in your email each week.
AP story: Coast Guard investigator seizes journo's notes
This is just plain scary to me. The overreaching of law enforcement is becoming brazen:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Teaching Video: Nice graphic from Poynter
If you are teaching video, especially to your reporting students, this graphic from Poynter will come in handy.
Also, I'd recommend one of my longtime favorite sites, Video 101. It breaks it down nicely with video illustrations.
For instance, how many of us have struggled through student projects loaded with jump cuts. Video 101 has a module on that.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Read it and weep - the SAT and "bullshit on demand."
Yep, everything in here is true, from what I hear from a friend who is an SAT essay grader.
From Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2013/10/sat_essay_section_problems_with_grading_instruction_and_prompts.html
Google Maps Engine issue
If you use Google's new maps engine, you need to be aware of a problem in using the "share" button.
When you do, it produces a link like this:
https://mapsengine.google.com/map/viewer?mid=zPZH3TAj6XZQ.knDBdB (That's not a complete link because it goes to a student's work in progress.)
The problem is that "viewer" in the URL. If you click on it and are not signed into Google, you get nothing. Not very good for sharing stuff with the general public - or with your professor for grading (grin).
The solution is to substitute "embed" for "viewer."
You'll find more details here:
Let's hope Google recodes that button.