Tuesday, November 4, 2008

brought to you by Chinese news agency

I follow the news from Zambia a bit. The nation in southern Africa doesn't get a great deal of press. But the people there did just elect a president. Given the coverage of Zimbabwe, the neighbor to the south, and Congo, the neighbor to the north, you'd think, perhaps, that the peaceful transfer of power in Zambia might get a little of the world's attention. 

It did.

I read about the new president of Zambia as covered by Xinhua News Agency in China. That was the story linked by Google News. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reading student blogs

When students post live to blogs, what responsibility do I have to correct their mistakes? I require the blog posts, but I allow students to limit their reach to just the class if they desire. Some leave their blogs for all the world to see, complete with writing mishaps of the kind I am teaching them to avoid in class. The best editors don't correct people in front of the entire world. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Breaking News On Line

Last spring as I taught Introduction to Journalism, I decided to put the New York Times on the big screen because Eliot Spitzer was expected to resign as governor. As we waited, we watch Spitzer's car wind through the streets of New York. I was reminded of O.J. Simpson's Bronco on the freeways of California. Spitzer did finally appear and make his announcement before the bell rang. Now the Online News Association has chosen that coverage for an award:

Breaking News, Large Sites: NYTimes.com, Eliot Spitzer's resignation "The winner 'hit it out of the park.' The winner could have held the story but chose
not to. They broke the story on the Web and used the Web to keep it going. They
used the tools. For almost an entire news cycle nobody else had anything. It was
a remarkable story remarkably handled."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Headlines for Print, Newspapers, Online, Web

The Web opens some doors for creativity in journalism. But it closes others. Take headlines, for example. On a printed page a headline has to be accurate, same as for the Web. But a print headline also has the context of pictures and related stories, so it can use word play to get a point across and entice the reader to stick around. But on the Web, a headline has to be specific to the Who, What, Where, or it may never be discovered by a search engine. It anticipates the synonyms people might use in searching. Spelling matters more than ever because computers look for exact matches and don't match the brain for fuzzy logic. I could say more, but other bloggers have beaten me to it.

My headline on this post doesn't even have a verb, but in print I'd write the following with a deck:

Web needs headlines you can find
In print, they're right under your nose

Friday, August 29, 2008

one reason I love teaching: student blogs

Students teach me things all of the time. Like today. While reviewing newly created blogs, I discovered at least one student had created a blog for JOUR420 but hadn't written a post yet. Her features in the side rail caught my eye, though, and I learned from her BBC link that Palin was to be McCain's choice for a running mate. I learned something, and the student didn't even have to post anything! Here are the student blogs created so far.
http://ninedaysfromtuesday.blogspot.com/ Erika Strebel
http://kaejournalism420editing.blogspot.com/ Karlie Elliott
http://thefabulousworldofwords.blogspot.com/ Colleen Loggins
http://claireditingclass.blogspot.com/ Clair McInnis
http://nicolenejati.blogspot.com/ Nicole Nejati
http://shopper603.blogspot.com/ Laura Hettiger
http://journ420newsediting.blogspot.com/ Katie O’Connell
http://mresmusings.blogspot.com/ Eric Heisig
http://editediteditedit.blogspot.com/ Trisha Ruiz
http://skantor2.blogspot.com/ Susan Kantor
http://www.margueriteday.blogspot.com/ Marguerite Day
http://abetcha.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth Lardizabal
http://nutmeg0331.blogspot.com/ Meghan Montemurro
http://mustreadgood.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Poquette
http://eschmidteditingblog.blogspot.com/ Elyse Schmidt
http://jon-ski.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Abdnor

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

But I don't want to mix advertising in the news section!

Editors strive for consistency, but doing so can bug us for other reasons. The Democrats are holding their convention in a building named the Pepsi Center. Editors use formal names of places -- even if they'd rather not offer free advertising to the corporate sponsor of the venue. Al Tompkins at Poynter has rounded up perspectives in his blog post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Holding the Bag of Bread

I just completed an amazing two weeks in Zambia. One afternoon our group stopped at a market in Ndola to buy snacks and drinks. I kept my seat in the back of the van while several others entered the store. Five boys approached seeking food or money. One man from our group came out of the store with a big bag of bread rolls to give to the boys. He handed the bag to the tallest boy, expecting him to pass the rolls around. The boy held the bag by the neck, tight in his fist.

"He won't share those," our driver told us. The driver got out of the van and divided the rolls among the boys.

"I'm that boy," I thought. "I'm holding tight to my bag of rolls. My spot at the table. My money. My American passport."

Now what will I do with that awareness?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Clearly ambiguous

We editors love clarity. And brevity. And just as soon as we have them, along comes life with its ambiguity. My blog name is amgibuous on purpose. When I look at it, I say LIVE, long "I," adjective, rhymes with JIVE. You might say LiVE, or short "I," verb, rhymes with GIVE.

Whatever, as long as you read Live-Edit from time to time. I can live with some ambiguity -- but I had to have a hyphen between the double "EE."

Expanding the Question

In Media academic advising conversations, students sometimes ask very specific questions, which I could answer quickly and correctly, but I sometimes sense that what they are asking isn’t what they really need to know. Here's an example.

Student This Week majors in another area and called to ask if she could get a dual degree from our college. My short answer to her was, “No, I'm sorry. Our college offers only the first bachelor’s degree.” I could have hung up then. Instead, I stayed on the line and followed with, “Tell me about what you are hoping to accomplish.” Turns out, she is unclear about her career path but has no internship or work experience. I recommended work in student media for the fall. She thought that sounded good. Then I suggested she consider a master’s degree if she found out she likes media work.

By the end of the phone call, she had mentioned media studies, advertising and journalism interests. She also didn’t understand about the 30 extra hours of coursework a dual degree requires and she was not interested in an extra year of school. She thanked me several times. All she really needed was for someone to listen to her talk about her plans and goals – so that she could listen to herself. That’s often our best help – making an environment for students to talk through their situations so that they start to see possibilities. That sometimes happen when we broaden the question.

That’s all. Thanks for listening.