Tag Archives: education

What I wish they taught in J-school

University of Kansas Journalism School, Stauffer-Flint Hall
University of Kansas Journalism School, Stauffer-Flint Hall

“Didn’t anybody ever tell them … ?”

“Why don’t they know … ?”

“What are they teaching them these days?”

Spend enough time in a newsroom and you’ll hear some variation of these questions, or other criticism of what Those Kids Today are learning (or not) in journalism school. Some of it, of course, is typical grumbling – as if anyone arrives in a newsroom for the first time knowing everything. Others, though, are valid points.

Now that I’m on the other side – teaching – I see how complicated it is: making sure the students get all the fundamentals while making sure they have a good understanding of new media technologies, and that they generally know How Things Work in the news business (which, these days, is sort of a moving target anyway). But I’ve tried to cover all the bases, plus give them a good idea of what to expect in their first internship or job, and that includes the valid points raised by working journalists.

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Welcome to Madam Grammar!

I’ve started this blog to have a place to put stuff too big for Twitter and too opinionated, tangential or snarky for my official work website. You can read the “About” page to see more about me.

Come on in!
(Crystal Leigh Shearin/stock.xchng)

My goal for this blog is to have a place to share thoughts and tips about grammar, language, words and editing, and teaching all of those, in journalism particularly; to point out egregious errors in the hopes that they will help others avoid such mistakes (or give some folks a laugh for the day); and to explore different and changing usages in English.

As an editor, I know that “standard” language is important in professional writing, and that certain rules need to be followed for a writer to be taken seriously. As a teacher, I know that students need to have a good command of the rules to understand how language works and how to write clearly, then to know when they can successfully break or ignore these rules. But as a linguist, I know that “rules” are a moving target — only dead languages never change. It’s not impossible to reconcile these three aspects, and I strive to be a “reasonable prescriptivist.”