Some research has been done on the question of “time span to acquire meaning” in news stories. In plain words, that means how quickly a typical reader at a particular time and place will understand and feel interested in a specific story. For example, if the story is about the Vatican, the reader who is Catholic or has visited Rome will probably be more likely to read at least the first few paragraphs of the story, while someone with neither characteristic/experience would skip it. Of course that’s why editors want to think about the audience they are serving with news and information. When you have a few minutes, you should look at a newspaper or web site and think about which stories interest you and why (and which do not).
In a podcast (“About the News”) I listened to while out for my morning walk today, Political writer Peter Hanby told interviewer Bob Schieffer that he got his start in journalism because as a high school student he used to send his local newspaper editor a daily critique of writing errors in found in the paper. The editor finally got tired of the emails and asked the young Hanby to come in and do copy and fact-checking as a member of the staff..
I thought about that again this afternoon when I started reading assignments contributed by students in my online journalism class and discovered some with errors in grammar (present instead of past tense) and style (abbreviated words that should have been spelled out).
There is a reason journalists are asked to use correct grammar and style in writing. If you don’t get it right, you will not find a post-graduation job, in journalism or another profession.
Newsprof.org is the web site of Dr. Richard Hendrickson, a journalism instructor based in Los Angeles. This is a limited site with a few articles and a bio of the instructor.
Students enrolled in Dr. Hendrickson’s classes at John Carroll University in Cleveland, UCLA Extension in Los Angeles and California State University at Northridge will find most of the class material in their respective campus electronic environments of Canvas or Moodle.