The Pushy Editor

By Alyssa Gauss

Photo by Freephotos.com

           I think there are probably some people out there that believe that spell-check and grammar-check are a writer’s best friend.  And, for some intents and purposes, I would have to agree with them.  There are just some things that the human eye cannot pick up on.  Just as with many other innovations, however, there just might be a point where this technology has gone too far… and we might have reached it.

            This technology has gone from being a helpful back-up for the watchful eye of an editor to being the primary editing tool of many writers.  It is true that this tool is getting extraordinarily competent, but, just as the naked eye can miss mistakes that spell-check catches, the spell-check cannot always comprehend mistakes that the human brain can, no matter how advanced it gets.  It’s getting to the point of being a recipe for lazy writers.

            There’s also the problem with encroachment on a writer’s creativity.  According to “The Editing and Rewriting Process” on grammar.ccc.commnet.edu, word processors are becoming increasingly more able to detect improper grammar and sentence structures, including, but not limited to, run-ons and tense issues.  Again, for the most part, this advancement is helpful and perhaps even necessary.  But in a lot of cases, the sentences being corrected are not run-ons, but merely long sentences.  The major concern here is that this feature is promoting the cookie cutter sentence structure, but one size really doesn’t fit all in the world of journalism and writing, in general.

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What Makes Twitter Powerful?

Every day, we are inspired by people using Twitter in unexpected ways to make the world a better place. Powerful Tweets have impact, relevance and resonance. In just 140 characters, you can change the game, make a difference in someone’s life, offer perspective, or bring aid to people in need.

Information at the Touch of a Button

With social networking sites such as Twitter, information can be in your hands in a matter of seconds. This is one of the main reasons why Twitter can be considered such a powerful news outlet. With less and less people receiving a daily newspaper, there has been a major increase in internet news. Especially, with the convenience of Twitter’s fast, and concise news updates. More than 25 billion Tweets were sent in 2010. These include Tweets from everyday people, celebrities, athletes, political figures and high profile businessmen and women.

Twitter is an outlet for people to discuss anything that is going on in their lives, ranging from an array of different topics. Although Twitter is generally a collection of opinions about issues, many credible sources, such as news networks, use Twitter as a 24hr news update. Today Journalists use this factual information in their stories or use Tweets to generate ideas and add credibility to their stories. Today National Archives has singed on to twitter taking  factual info and documenting it.

So next time you are writing an article for school be sure to look through Twitter! This news outlet will help you gain information about a topic, and also can give you insight from credible sources. News personnel, news networks and other journalists can be quoted as well. How many of you already use Twitter as a form of obtaining news?

http://twitter.com/search/users?q=journalism&category=people&source=find_on_twitter

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Information Influx

The internet has allowed people like you and me to access any type of information at any given time. Living in the “Information Age” a person can do stuff such as looking up a recipe to bake online, learning how to play the trumpet, and even befriend people virtually by playing multiplayer games online at 3 in the morning.

With the advancements of technology, anyone can report news or be considered a journalist. Anyone can speak their mind in a blog and get famous (some even make money with the help of advertisement). Bloggers, like Perez Hilton, have been successful in getting a large fan base, thus resulting in world-wide recognition. This allows people to publicize whatever they want!

What does this mean? Because of technology, we’re able to send information in a blink of an eye! We can learn about certain news before it’s published! For example, I was looking at Facebook and I saw a friend post the news of North Korea’s bombing on South Korea before Yahoo! and CNN had updated their website. Social media allows anyone to post anything at anytime. Isn’t that crazy?

With the information going all over in such a fast pace, it has definitely started to change our society and how we live. Some have argued that technology has allowed us to become advance in our way of living. Others have argued that we’re relying on technology so much that it’s making us stupid. Will all this information influx change our lives for the better or for the worse? Post your thoughts!

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A Writer’s Friend: WordCounter

Avoidance of repetition when writing is something to be considered to ensure that one’s message gets across to his or her readers. As frequent story developers of the written word, journalists,  bloggers, and even students must take into consideration the words they use and avoid redundancy.

The use of the online program WordCounter shows a writer just how many times a word is used in something they have written. Redundancy can be helped if one knows what word is being used too often.

According to the University of Houston-Victoria, “Redundancy happens when the repetition of a word or idea does not add anything to the previous usage; it just restates what has already been said, takes up space, and gets in the way without adding meaning.”

The following is a look at the WordCounter web site.



Once text has been pasted into the box, the frequency of words is calculated and the results are given on a new page. Also, notice above that there is a pull-down menu where writers can decide if they want the “Small Words” to be included such as “the” and “it”.

The results for this article when it was placed into WordCounter are in the picture to the right. The results are excluding the “Small Words.”

When writers have the WordCounter results available for them, the use of a thesaurus may help in providing alternatives for over-used words. However, one must be careful to not replace an understandable word with one that does not fit the context of the text or one whose meaning may be completely different.

According to the book, “Word Smart: Building an Educated Vocabulary” by author Adam Robinson and the staff of The Princeton Review, the use of a thesaurus to find a better word is abused by writers, especially students.

It reads, “Students very often try to make their vocabularies seem bigger than they actually are by using a thesaurus to beef up the papers they write.” The book then continued with the meaning of the same sentence using major thesaurus abuse, “(Neophytes chronically endeavor to induce their parlance to portend more magisterially by employing a lexicon of synonyms to amplify the theses they inscribe.)”

As a writer, one must be watchful of redundancy but also beware of thesaurus abuse as well. With WordCounter, a thesaurus and a thoughtful mind, creating an understandable article, blog or story may not be too hard to attain.

The utilization of tools to assist one in writing may be essential toward a great article or blog, and WordCounter is just one of many that can be found on the World Wide Web.

The program code of WordCounter was developed by Steven Morgan Friedman, president of Diseño Porteño, a rapid application development firm in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was also a senior technology analyst and vice president at a company named Basex and a webmaster at University of Pennsylvania.

Friedman has developed many programs and applications. To see his other website creations, please click here. Also, please take a moment to visit Friedman’s resume, which not only showcases what he does but also highlights his awards and appearances in the media.

*Photos were screen shots of the site www.wordcounter.com taken by the author
* The passage from "Word Smart" came from page 20. The book can be found here on Scribd


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How to Become More Employable as a Journalist

These days breaking into the cut throat world of journalism can be tough but I have a few tips if you are or have ever considered pursuing a career in journalism.

1. Learn photography. Carrying a camera around with you can help you out immensely in the field.  You never know what situation you may end up in and that photo could mean money.  It might help to take a simple photography class to learn the basic fundamentals if you have never done photography before. These days it pays to be a one man show.

2. Learn a language.  Especially in the diverse state we live in even knowing basic phrases and words can become the difference in being turned away from a covering a story or being let in.  People feel much more comfortable when they know you speak their language, even if it is a simple “Hello, how you doing today?”

3. Network.  This is probably the most important aspect in breaking into the business.  Unfortunately that degree you have will only get you so far.  In this industry it is not always what you know, but WHO you know.  Make friends and meet people, get yourself out there!

4. Intern.  Taking lower positions are a great way to learn and meet people.  Rarely will you get a job by simply walking into a place.  If you can prove yourself and show that you are a hard worker they are more likely to hire and promote you later down the line. Voila! Job!

5.  Make a business card.  Put your contact information on a stylist business card that reflects your personality.  When you meet people it is that easier to exchange contact information.  This is a cheap and professional way to get out there.

6. Research and read.  It is important to look into possible publications you would like to write for.  This will give you an idea of what type of stories they have run int he past and may even give you ideas on stories you would like to write in the future.

7. Be a news junkie.  Keeping up with what’s going on in the world is your job.  Instead of listening to those songs on the rock station, turn on news radio.  You do not even have to open a paper to know what is going on.  The internet is a great tool, so use it!

8. Apply, apply, apply! Don’t just apply for one job and sit around waiting for them to call.  Apply for many jobs! Odds are the more resumes you send out, the more interviews you will get!  Also, you may want to consider relocating for a career in journalism.  There are many opportunities all over the world.  If you limit yourself, you may find it harder to get a position.

9. Join or write for your local papers.  Even joining your school newspaper can be rewarding and can look good on resumes.

10.  Get a mentor.  People with real life experience are usually willing to help.  Learning from someone who has been there done that will get you valuable advice and information.

11. Last, don’t take rejection personally.  If you get down on yourself every time you hear a “no” or a see a door slam consider that the motivation to show the next person you CAN do the job!

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So you want to be a freelance writer?

So you are a great writer but where should you find work? 

If you are thinking this way about freelance writing perhaps this website can help.  DemandStudios.com is a website that gives freelancers something to write about. 

This is how it works:  First you must apply to be a writer.  All you will need to apply is your resume and some writing samples of yours.  Once you get approved you may search through categories and choose titles that you would like to write about.  You will have seven days to submit your story once you choose the title.  After it is reviewed by the copy editor it will then be published and you will then get paid.  Demand Studies can help you create a portfolio while getting paid and it’s a great way to receive feed back and improve your skills.  The website also features a writer forum, training materials, and samples to keep you on the right track.

Laura Spencer, a Demand Studio writer, posted a great review of the website which thoroughly talks about the pros and cons with her experience.  She mentions in her review that Demand Studios is good for writers who are getting started.  So what are you waiting for? Apply today.

To read the full review follow the link.—->http://www.writingthoughts.com/?p=606

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Is Any Press Really Good Press?

It has been said that any press is good press, but can that honestly be true? Looking at the paparazzi, we can learn a lot about our society and what we value today. A photograph of a popular celebrity may be great press for a certain magazine or website, but it is really good press for that person? In the past the paparazzi has gotten a bad reputation for that great lengths they will take in order to get that “money” shot. Some of these actions taken not only endanger the life of the celebrity, but also the life of the photographer as well.

The most common case that gets brought up is the paparazzi not following the proper driving laws. Some will go way over the speed limit, swerve through lanes and drive extremely close to the celebrity’s car in order to get a better shot. When has this been taken too far? Well since this has been an issue being brought up for many years now, actions are finally being taken. Governor Schwarzenegger, has brought forth a bill that will aim to stop the reckless behavior that celebrity photographers engage in when it come to driving, this will be an anti-paparazzi law. Laws have also recently been passed which help to protect privacy and in turn will cause photographers fines when they are not willing to follow the rules. Will this new law really put an end to this reckless behavior, or will the paparazzi find another way to get the shots they need in order to make an income for themselves. Cant magazines and online websites find a way to get the pictured they need without having to break any laws or endanger lives in the process?

Doesnt seem like she is enjoying this does she?

We all know that celebrities and paparazzi have a cant live with them, cant live without them relationship. Lets face it, without the paparazzi what would happen to magazines like US Weekly, Intouch and People? They would no longer exist, and the millions of customers that buy them on a weekly basis would have to go elsewhere for their celebrity gossip. Also, these photographers would be out of work and not getting big paychecks from magazines for the “money” shots!

There needs to be an agreement made between the celebrities who are trying to live their lives and the paparazzi trying to do there jobs. A line needs to be made which give the celebrity and the magazine positive press from the pictures being sold to them. Hopefully with this new bill, a stop will be placed upon the reckless behavior that has occurred in the past. The lives of the celebrities, paparazzi and the civilians will all be unharmed. Would this boost the relationship between the magazine and photographer? Would the celebrities be more willing to give paparazzi the shots they need? I guess we will have to wait and see what the future has in store.

 

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Is Design a match for Content?

by Jennifer Chung

Web design has been in the forefront of what seemed like the most promising careers of the current era. It’s now imperative for companies to put their businesses on the world wide web, and there has to have be someone skilled enough to know how to do it seamlessly and thoughtfully.

It’s been over 15 years since Clifford Stoll wrote for Newsweek a piece he called “The Internet? Bah!” in which he shot down many of the Internet’s looming features and how they’d revolutionize the way we live.

“Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.”

Oh Clifford, if you only knew.

The Internet works in mysterious ways. Changes in the world wide web are growing at an exponential rate, and now, people are questioning whether something as crucial as web design is really all that important anymore.

The insurgence of smart phones has completely turned the way we access the internet on its head. We literally have the world available on our fingertips. Companies are aware of this, and have shifted their funding from web design to content and data displayed in the most straightforward way possible. When one is in a hurry and needs to acquire information quickly, the last thing they need is pretty CSS-driven bells and whistles getting in their way.

I am a web design major and a freelance web designer, so this harsh reality worries me. Still, I have hope for my career path. The beauty of this occupation is that we are 100% comfortable and ever-ready to adapt to new technologies. I firmly believe we will simply transition into new trends, and possibly even learn how to design from a more web development perspective.

As Oscar Wilde has once said, “All art is quite useless”. But can art ever become obsolete? Doubt it.

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Journalists Going the Extra Mile – Literally

Journalists can be very busy, reporting on several different stories a week. The stories they report on can stretch journalist’s knowledge of particular subjects. For example, a journalist may report on a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game and may have played basketball in high school and has been following the team’s summer transactions. But the following day they are asked to report on a fashion runway event and unfortunately this specific journalist doesn’t know much about the fashion industry. He may be able to do some research and get some quotes from the models or judges, but anyone who reads Perez Hilton regularly will know that the journalists did not know the difference from a ruffled blouse to a flared top.  This blog post is focused on the journalists that take the time to not only research, but try to get involved in some way.

I had the opportunity this weekend to go to Florida for a skateboard competition. It was a 26 mile race on longboards and the $17,500 purse attracted the best longboard skaters all over the world.  Craig Davis, a reporter from the Sun Sentinel, interviewed me shortly before the race about how I expected the race to go and similar questions. But Craig wasn’t just at the event to report, he signed up to race along with us! I turned the interview around and asked “How long have you been longboarding?” He answered , “Just a few months”, Craig wanted to get a closer look at his story and to actually see what the athletes had to go through and to get the feel of the race. I remember seeing him on my second lap as I was going back out into the city and he was coming into the park. Although Craig didn’t finish the full 26.2 miles, he now fully appreciated the winning time of 1:40:58 by Jeff Vyain from New York who left with $10,000. Here’s his article from the Sun Sentinel: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-11-06/sports/fl-skateboard-marathon-1107-20101106_1_new-yorkers-show-skateboard-shop-prize-money/2

Here’s a video from the race with permission from Adrenalina. 

If you took the time to read the article you may notice Craig’s insight on the race. It was heartfelt and insightful, and to a fellow competitor it was appreciated. He didn’t use the skate vernacular or the slang you may here some skaters use, and that’s not what’s important. But you could tell he was a believer of the event and knew how impressive some of the winning times were. Wouldn’t you want to read reports and articles from journalists that actually know what they are writing about. Especially with such articles that have specific target audiences like a fashion show, basketball game or skateboard race. What do you think? Do you ever read articles and feel like you know more about the subject then the journalist does? Does that make you stop reading that magazine or article? Do you think it is important for journalists to invest more time into their stories?

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Fed Up With Publishers? Print It Yourself!

Getting published is no easy task. But it’s quite the double edged sword because if it was easy, it wouldn’t be as rewarding, right? Imagine how exciting it will be when that call of acceptance comes through from the one out of one hundred publishers you originally queried. In this day and age though, we no longer have to wait. We have the benefit of something that authors never had before us: options. Were in the midst’s of a publishing war as we speak and not too many people are aware of it. There’s a new form of weaponry out there and it’s called Print on Demand.

Print on demand (POD) basically rids the industry of the traditional “batch printing” method used by publishers to print thousands of books at a time. POD enables a book to be printed one time, literally “on-demand.” The book, including the cover, is set up as a digital file. When the order comes through, the right file is selected by the computer which then gives the instruction for the print on demand machine to start producing that piece of material. There is a set up cost which consists of setting up the file in the system, an annual fee for the storage of the file and the cost of producing each individual book is rather more than producing it in batch quantities but your money is saved elsewhere.

The largest advantage is the fact that you don’t have to gamble your savings away in hopes that your book will be a best seller. You can create a small quantity and try to create a buzz with what you have until your book sees a greater demand.

Agents and traditional publishers are being thrown a grenade and authors are getting closer and closer to pulling the pin. Most authors will admit that they might want to hold out for a publisher seeing as how historically being welcomed into an agents circle is the definition of “making it.” But traditional publishers should be scared right now. As I’ve written about before with the lack of periodicals and everyone moving toward a digital media for their content, people publishing their own content is the next step in the demise of the publisher.

Maybe we should be looking forward into time when each book can be produced to order for the customer in the book store. But the high cost for both batch printing and the POD machines makes this seem like a possibility left to be looked at in the distance. Technology though can bring pretty rapid change as we’ve seen recently so who knows where it will take us.

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