Editing and Design F’08

November 26, 2008

Recent AP Style update on presidents’ names

Filed under: Uncategorized — victoriagoldenberg @ 5:09 am
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Here’s a fresh update to AP Style that is useful for all of us. I found this Nov. 12 entry on the media’ professionals site mediabistro.com:

President will come new style rules for referring to Presidents and other heads of state. Per today’s release:
The Associated Press is adopting a universal style for referring to all heads of state, including the United States. Effective Thursday at 3 a.m. EST, the AP will use the title and first and family names on first reference: President George W. Bush, not just President Bush; President-elect Barack Obama, not just President-elect Obama; President Nicolas Sarkozy, not just President Sarkozy.

I think it’s a smart update, for consistency’s sake. I assume the old rule was based on the right assumption most readers know the president’s first name. But if you use first and last names the first time you reference people in an article, it looks strange if the president is the one exception , with just a last name. Besides, it’s not like omitting the president’s first name saves much space. What are your thoughts on the old and new rules, and their implications?


November 25, 2008

Editing errors–take heed

Filed under: Uncategorized — victoriagoldenberg @ 2:48 pm
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If you’re frustrated with your teacher(s) taking off points for errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation or communication, just remember that they’re training you not to make embarrassing mistakes. Just look at what it’s like when a typo makes it to publication (online, in this case):
Photobucket (Found here)

Here are some examples of confusing headlines:
Funny Newspaper Headlines
And here are two cutline and headline errors:
Worst Newspaper Error. Ever.

How do you think these errors make it to publication? If you were an editor at one of these news sources, how would you handle the error?

Victoria Goldenberg

November 23, 2008

Newspaper spoof pages

Filed under: Uncategorized — susankeith @ 3:15 am

fakenytimesHere’s an image of the fake New York Times mentioned in Jessica’s earlier post. If you’re a semi-geek about typography, you can spot some giveaways that this wasn’t the real paper. For one thing, the Times‘ all-caps headlines, like the one on the Treasury story in the middle of the page, aren’t centered. They start flush left, with each line indented slightly more than the next one, and they are usually just three lines long.

One of the most interesting things about this issue, as Jessica pointed out, is that three Times employees apparently participated in its production. My husband says he hasn’t heard anything around the office about the Times trying to find out who those employees were. But the report made me think about the time a bunch of my co-workers got in big trouble for producing a parody edition.

It’s a tradition at many newspapers to produce a few copies of a fake front page or section front when a popular employee leaves. The page usually spoofs the departing worker and the people he or she works with, especially senior managers. Friends of the person leaving usually write the copy and design the page, then distribute copies — produced on newspaper-sized copy paper — at the a going-away party. The best of these pages are brilliant works of satire. At many newspapers, managers know about the pages, thought they are funny and make no effort to stop their production as long as they are produced after work time, use only a little copy paper and were distributed only to insiders. I worked on several of these pages at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times and Florida Today in Melbourne. In fact, that’s how I taught myself QuarkXPress.

When I worked at the Birmingham (Ala.) Post-Herald, however, some of my co-workers got a little too ambitious with their spoof project for a beloved news editor who retired in the late 1980s. One copy editor asked the head pressroom supervisor to actually print copies of what had grown into a multi-page section — on newsprint and in color. (Simply starting a press, of course, is a significant financial commitment, as is using full color.) Unfortunately, no one told the head press supervisor that the print run had not been approved by the newspaper’s top editor, who apparently was unaware that there was a tradition of spoof pages at the paper. The press supervisor appeared in the newsroom on the news editor’s last day, handed a copy of the section to the executive editor and told him how nice it was that he had authorized production of the section for the departing news editor.

The executive editor,  a serious and somewhat portly fellow who was depicted in an artist’s illustration on the front page playing guitar and jumping in the air a la Chuck Berry, was not amused. He and the managing editor figured out who had helped produce the issue — I hadn’t — and a stream of editors and reporters was summoned to his office, one by one. The newspaper issued a statement noting that its nameplate was its intellectual property. Subsequent departures went unmarked by spoof pages.

Susan Keith

Altering photos.

Filed under: Uncategorized — lizettegesuden @ 2:01 am

Fox News airs altered photos of NY Times reporters

These photos were aired on Fox and Friends, retaliating against the New York Times, calling one of their reporters and one of their editors “attack dogs.” I would imagine this is Fox’s way of attacking back. I have no knowledge about the show, so I could imagine the argument for creating caricatures of people would be more acceptable on a talk show, if Fox and Friends IS a talk show. But on a network news channel, is it acceptable to alter and edit photos in a way that misrepresents a person, regardless of the type of show these photos appear on?

This issue raises several questions: is this an example of defamation of character, and if so, why is this allowed on a national news channel? Is it fair to alter photos in this way in the news as part of freedom of expression?

November 21, 2008

Janet Malcolm and the Ethics of Editing Quotes

Filed under: Uncategorized — victoriagoldenberg @ 5:06 am
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Journalist Janet Malcolm is infamous for pushing the boundaries of ethics in journalism, raising questions about them in the process. One of her most infamous deeds was writing a 1983 New Yorker article that used spliced and exaggerated statements by well-known psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, based off her from-memory interviews with him. Malcolm was ultimately found guilty of fabricating quotes and defaming Masson. You can read more about it here.

Quoting someone, even an egotistical public figure, as saying he was an intellectual gigolo when he hadn’t actually said that, would probably not fly with most people. But in her extremity, Malcolm raises good questions about the ethics of quoting, particularly in how quotes represent a person’s character. Are grammar corrections, if they misrepresent how a person talks, unethical? At what point do edits become fabrications? What is the maximum amount of time that can pass between quotes before it becomes wrong to put them side-by-side?

Victoria Goldenberg

November 19, 2008

“All the news we hope to print”

Filed under: Uncategorized — jesstobrazil @ 6:21 pm

I don’t know how many people have seen this, but I just read a copy in one of my other classes and found it compelling.

A group of media critics, advocacy groups and other watchgroups recently distributed a falsified edition of The New York Times dated for July 4, 2009.  It was filled with stories of what they think the news should say, holding the government accountable for its actions at home and overseas.  You can check out the website and PDF versions on the accompanying website, http://nytimes-se.com/.

As someone who feels strongly about many aspects of the media reform movement, I thought this was a really cool and well-executed plan to spread awareness about the role that media should play in a democracy.  I thought that the media coverage about the hoax was telling, affirming the mainstream views that media advocates are criticizing.  For example, Reuters called the activists “pranksters,” a word that has heavy implications of immaturity and a lack of seriousness about the issues.

Interestingly, some contributors to this fake copy were real New York Times reporters who also support media reform. Mainstream reporter and media consumers agree that this is the kind of change we need for a more informed electorate and more responsible government.

I thought that the fake copy was quite convincing, accurately imitating the Times’ design style.  Do you agree? Do you think this is an effective strategy for the media reform movement? Would news be more effective with such blatant coverage?

-Jessica Perry

November 13, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — victoriagoldenberg @ 5:06 am

Last class, we mentioned that the New York Times’ Nov. 5 headline read simply, “OBAMA.” (Click here if you haven’t seen it. Can you believe they’re charging $14.95 for the paper just a week later? That resealable plastic envelope better be amazing.) I thought it was a brilliant choice. As we’re all painfully aware, summarizing an entire story in one sentence is hard. Yet the New York Times managed to convey all the historic significance, happiness, shock, and sadness (for McCain supporters) of Barack Obama’s victory in one five-letter proper noun in huge type. The less catchy subheads broke down the individual aspects of the win’s significance.

At the very least, it stood out in a paper that usually carries wordier headlines, and on a day when many papers were just using Obama’s victory speech quotes.

What are your thoughts on this headline? What was your favorite Nov. 5 headline, if you have one?

Victoria Goldenberg

November 12, 2008

Twitter usage

Filed under: Uncategorized — stinetran @ 4:58 pm

Recently Dunkin’ Donuts became one of the first mainstream consumer brands to create an official page on Twitter. It seems like a great idea for consumer brands to actually inform consumers about new products, in Dunkin’ Donuts’ case, new flavors of coffee or special breakfast deals. Our class talked about the possible and probable trend of news becoming truly “live” by using these aggregated news outlets of blog-like mediums such as Twitter. I think there’s going to also be a trend of larger consumer brands using Twitter, where consumers could RSS and get information on the latest products or consumer feedback about specific products. This active dialogue using extremely accessible blogs-like Twitter where people can get information immediately texted or e-mailed to their phones could have a great influence on not only news consumption, but also consumer information about products. It will be interesting how will the actual information provided by the companies will be organized how they will be edited “live” and in what format – possibly really short aggregated news, headlines with links, or just really long headlines in themselves. News organizations will probably have to start writing “Twitter” headlines to be sent to PDAs. What will the standard be for that type of news and will they be reliable forms of immediate news?

Article about Dunkin’ Donuts and Twitter

Posted by Christine Tran

Ethical Editing and Design

Filed under: Uncategorized — eddieroaddogg @ 3:17 pm

So far in our class, we have talked about editing and design in the most part refering to grammar and punctuation problems, as well as information cutting and whether quotes or information written by reporters should get printed in their story. What we do not get into are ethical concerns. Worries of offending people swirl in the newsroom daily. For example, we discussed in class Monday the story of Iraqi/Palestinian bias as to who’s stories get printed on top ogf the other’s. But what occurs when offensive material or viewpoints make it through and cause backlash. One form of journalism that gets criticized for this is Sports Journalism. Le Anne Schreiber, an ombudsman for ESPN, wrote an article on her site about the lacks of judgment on the part of a few columnists that work for ESPN and the need for a guidance book on what these reporters should write and what the editors should be aware of. In this story it mentions how editors let slip-ups like these pass through their desks without notice. What do you all think of this article and can this apply to the hard news genre we mostly cover in our class?


Posted by Edward Figueroa

November 11, 2008

Tracking what’s happening in professional journalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — susankeith @ 4:41 am
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If you’re planning a career in the media (which will require you to find jobs) or envisioning a future in public relations (which will require you to keep up with what’s going on with media people), you need to be reading Jim Romensko’s blog, Romenesko. This compendium of stories on the business of journalism is posted on the Web site of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a school in St. Petersburg, Fla., where working journalists can learn to practice their craft better. (Full disclosure: The Poynter Institute owns the St. Petersburg Times, your professor’s last newspaper employer.) Some of what you’ll read on Romenesko in this economy is kind of gloomy. For example, today’s column includes a link to a report that all but two of the business writers at the Star-Ledger are taking buyouts and will leave the newspaper. That sort of information can be useful for those of you seeking jobs in two ways. First, media organizations shedding experienced people sometimes hire younger folks, who come cheaper, to fill some of the vacancies. Second, knowing just how bleak the job outlook is lets you know how much you’ll have to prepare to be competitive.

Susan Keith

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