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So you’re taking your first editing course, or you’ve signed on to be an editor on your student newspaper or website. Congratulations. Editing is obviously a very different skill from reporting or writing, but these are complimentary skills. Being a good writer makes you a better editor, and vice versa. You probably think of editing as fixing things like grammar, spelling and Associated Press style. You’d be party right. Editing can actually be broken down into two broad categories, what I call macro and micro editing. Take a look at the graphic above. This is the organizational structure of a typical newsroom. On the leftRead More →

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I’ve slogged away in many newsrooms over the years but the very first one I ever worked in was at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where, in the early 1980s, students published a plucky little weekly paper punningly titled the Parkside Ranger. It was there that I met Rick Luehr. Rick was a gangly and bespectacled young man who would have been quite tall had he not had a perpetual stoop, this due to the fact that he had lost the use of his legs at a young age and was left to make his way through the world on crutches or, later, a wheelchair. TheRead More →

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A professor from another college recently sought my advice about how to rejuvenate his school’s journalism program. He asked me two questions, one easy, the other not so much. First, the easy one: What skills will be the most critical for a student who hopes to enter the journalism job market in the next five years? I’m old-school. I still believe the most important skills to teach journalism students are solid, dogged reporting and clear, lucid writing. That’s the primary focus of the classes I teach. So how do we make this exciting for students born in the 21st century? Well, we have this old-schoolRead More →

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For aspiring journalists, the news about the news business can be pretty depressing. Each week seems to bring fresh stories about print or online news outlets laying off reporters and editors in order to cut costs. This was brought home to me recently when the New York Daily News, the once-mighty Big Apple tabloid where I toiled as a reporter and editor years ago, cut its newsroom staff in half, leaving a skeleton crew to cover the nation’s largest city. Statistics tell the story. The Pew Research Center recently reported that at least 36 percent of the largest newspapers in the U.S. – as wellRead More →

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As a journalism professor at a community college where the student newspaper is still just that – a paper – people sometimes ask me why we haven’t followed the lead of some other colleges by eliminating our print edition and going all-digital. The answers to this question are key to understanding how the news business really works, as opposed to how some would like us to think it works. Needless to say, it has a lot to do with money. What do I mean? Well, a group of people whom I call the digital zealots have been telling everyone for the better part of twoRead More →