Saturday, April 25, 2015

10 interesting — and relevant — articles to inspire media professionals, especially young journalists and journalism aspirants

1. "The best farewell address by a journalist":

‘At The [NY] Times, you can imagine yourself making journalism that changes the world’
  • "This so inspiring," wrote Commitscion Barkha Joshi (Class of 2016) on my Facebook wall soon after I posted this link yesterday.
2. Taking magazine cover design to new heights:

How they did it: "Behind the Making of Our Walking New York Cover"

3. An essay adapted from Tales from the Great Disruption: Insights and Lessons from Journalism’s Technological Transformation, by Michael Shapiro, Anna Hiatt, and Mike Hoyt:

"The Value of News"

An excerpt:
... I can think of no better distillation of what exists at the heart of the relationship between journalism and its audiences than the phrase that Lisa Gubernick, a wonderful journalist at Forbes and the Journal, used to open every single conversation, professional and personal. She would ask, “What’s new and interesting?”

4. Journalists talk about what is perhaps their greatest fear:

"Fear of screwing up"

An excerpt:
To be a journalist, you have to be afraid. Fear makes you triple-check your work. It makes you sharper, faster, more focused. It wakes you up in the middle of the night, or drops in unexpectedly at that party or dinner. Fear demands that you be absolutely sure you want to say every little thing you’re saying. 

"I have enough fear to do my job well. Brilliant article," wrote Commitscion Abira Banerjee (Class of 2015) on my Facebook wall the day after I posted this link.

5. Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron on journalism’s transition from print to digital:


6. Rolling Stone magazine and the controversial university rape article:

Do scandals like Rolling Stone’s do lasting damage to journalism?

An excerpt:
While many agreed Rolling Stone’s failure harmed the media’s reputation, they also said it and the industry could repair the damage. The larger threats to journalism, many of them added, are more gradual systemic changes, from the implosion of business models to false balance in public “controversies.”

7. "A year after the firings of two top women editors, four journalism leaders discuss the challenges of editing while female."

"Can you think about rising?"

8. "Many writers are fond of semicolons; we use them a lot; even when we shouldn’t; and we often don’t know how to use them. (One clue: not the way we just did.)"

"To semicolon, or not to semicolon"

9. A well-deserved tribute to veteran journalist P. Sainath and his team:

"Documenting India's Villages Before They Vanish"

An excerpt:
So far, Sainath has recruited more than 1,000 volunteers for the archive project, ranging from 30-year veterans of the journalism business to software engineers who’ve written nary a word. They’ve documented some fascinating characters. One of them is a 73-year-old librarian who manages a trove of 170 classics, mostly translations of Russian masters, in a tiny forest village frequented by wild elephants.

Also read: A savvy, must-watch documentary on the peerless P. Sainath

10. "Copy-editing can be a great job. I’ve always been grateful for the work and especially for the people I’ve met, copy editors, fact checkers, editors, and writers alike."

"Workers of the word, unite"

Friday, April 10, 2015

All hail the Comma Queen!

When a copy editor of the Salon e-zine chats up the copy editor of New Yorker magazine who also happens to have published a book about her profession, what results is an interview that puts the spotlight on a vital job: editing.

Here is a sample Q&A: 

Q: Schools are teaching grammar a lot less and relying on technology and word processing programmes to “teach” it by default, pointing out grammar mistakes. Do you think this, not to mention texting and tweeting, will have a significant effect on the grammar and spelling of future adults? 

A: That’s not a very nice way to learn, just by having your mistakes pointed out. But there are fun ways to do it: “Schoolhouse Rock,” for instance, and pop music. Lately, Weird Al Yankovic has been singing about grammar and usage. Texting and tweeting shouldn’t really affect grammar, though spell-check programmes and autocorrect will have an effect on spelling. I believe that the only way to learn English grammar is to study a foreign language.


Q: Your profanity chapter is full of hilarious examples of language writers are competing to get into the magazine. One piece by Ben McGrath debuted “bros before hos” in the New Yorker, creating a spelling dilemma with “hos”—hmm, I see that Webster’s gives the plural of “ho” as either “hos” or “hoes.” Where do you turn if it’s not in the dictionaries of record? 

A: When a word is not in Webster’s or Random House, I will look online. There are many dictionaries of slang, but you have to choose your source carefully. One of our sources is the New York Times, but of course it’s no good for profanity! One feels so silly looking up “jism,” say (though there are variant spellings), and even sillier querying it. You try to find a respectable source for the profanity, and it is a bit of a challenge. Rap lyrics, especially.

Read this fascinating feature in its entirety here: New Yorker copyeditor dishes on the wacky side of her (quite dignified) job: “One feels so silly looking up [profanity]” 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Make social media work for you (not against you)"

What I have been telling my students for many years now: "Recruiters are looking at your social media posts."

Here, writing in Mint, Infancia Cardozo explains how you can ensure that potential employers like what they see and how to improve your hireability.

 Read this instructive and enlightening article in its entirety here.