Old reporting habits die hard, so why keep fighting them?

Over the course of the last two weeks’ interviews for my advanced reporting project and some unrelated reading and analyzing of studies for my economics class, I’ve realized two things:

1. I’ll never be as good at anything as I am at talking and school things (note-taking, answering questions, the like)

2. I’m really more of a “break-it-down” reporter than a “let-me-tell-your-story” reporter.

Which isn’t to say that I can’t do both, or that I shouldn’t learn the latter, because that’s definitely one of my goals this semester. But lately I’ve been getting so caught up in what I can’t do so well (find detail, write super descriptively, develop a master narrative) that I’ve forgotten what I can do well (make the undigestible digestible, wade through numbers and academia-speak, clarify, clarify, clarify).

I’m not sure if I’ll ever end up being a natural storyteller in the way some long form magazine reporters are. I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel comfortable giving lots of descriptive detail. I’ll do it, but it won’t come easy. But in the time I’ve reported so far, I have found some strengths that have floated to the top of my reporting repertoire. And I can’t forget to acknowledge them or try to ignore them, however much I might want to focus on storytelling.

Sometimes, it just feels good to do something you’re good at.

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Copy Editing in the Digital Age: Or, Why Mastering your Native Language is Still Important

First things first: I HATE the term grammar nazi (and really, all “blank-nazi” permutations).

I hate that it implies people who write poorly don’t deserve to be corrected. Anyone who had the good fortune to attend grammar school and high school should have at least a basic understanding of grammar. If European schoolchildren halfway across the world can manage to learn three languages, surely you and I can master one.

Of course, I also hate how it also seems to downplay the actual horrors and crimes the Nazis committed against humanity. If all the Nazis did was sternly reprimand people for word usage and punctuation, I’d feel differently. But that’s for another post.

The more often I copy edit, the more I feel like grammar is only a small, small part of what I do. Sure, I look for typos, stray commas and sentence structure errors, but if that was everything, any well-educated person with a relatively competent grasp of the English language could edit. As I have learned, that simply isn’t the case.

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Party in the MIZ-USA: Covering the reactions to bin Laden’s death at Mizzou

This has certainly been quite a week for me journalistically-speaking.

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Stop trying to teach the teachers.

It entertains me how suddenly the rest of the nation, who has not gone to school and majored in education, can suddenly tell teachers how to do their jobs. I may be a college student, but even I can see how frightening that is.

The situation in Madison, Wis., is troubling to me. If a government can decide it is okay to end the collective bargaining rights of a union, what’s to stop them from taking away other labor or civil rights? Continue reading