What a great experience in Reno.
I got to play photographer/videographer for the day. Because we didn’t have print product, I wasn’t able to complain about the play my photos got. That kind of bummed me out. Heck, I even shot a vertical photo that didn’t get on the website.
After the exercise I was gently chastised for using the term “photog.” I’m curious what others think. Is that a derogatory term? I know I’ve certainly called them worse.
We heard a nice presentation from Grammar Girl, also known as Mignon Fogarty. She’s a Reno entrepreneur whose Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network is worth checking out.
I also learned that iPhones take horrible photos indoors.
Update: 6:46 p.m.
If you’re interested you can watch my video clip about how Grammar Girl got her start and listen to her vision for Quick and Dirty Tips. A few of my classmates have videos there, too.
Here is some of what she had to say:
On her site’s quick rise in popularity: “Part of it is because writers love to see that a grammar podcast is doing well.”
On readers who point out her mistakes: “Probably for the first couple of years I … was not extremely confident. If someone would write in to tell me I was wrong … I would be like, oh no, and I would go get my books.”
On her early podcasts: “When I started I was not an expert. I was a writer and an editor. I wasn’t a copy editor. … I was very sympathetic to the people who didn’t know.”
Sona Patel, the associate producer for social media at seattletimes.com, is teaching us about social media tools. This morning’s lesson is about storify, a great tool for curating information from several social media streams. I really hope we can use it at the Idaho Statesman. What a great resource for breaking news.
Anybody know how to make the time of a blog post adhere to local time? Evidently all my posts are on Boise time.
More copy editing tips I lifted from my notes from yesterday’s afternoon session with Merrill Perlman:
• We rarely get the central facts wrong. Mistakes generally happen in the periphery. For example, we get it right that a tornado hit Joplin. What we miss is direction from which it came. The lesson? It’s our job to pay attention to the little things.
• Editing is about thoughts and ideas, not just words.
• On keeping a writer’s voice intact: We want to renovate stories, not rebuild them. When you renovate a house you pull off a brick, clean it and put it back. When you rebuild a house you pull off a brick and replace it with a new one. An editor’s goal is to replace as few bricks as possible.
We’re learning great stuff today from Merrill Perlman, the former director of copy desks at the New York Times. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have copy desks, plural? Here are some of her proofreading tips. Feel free to clip and save. The typos and grammatical errors are mine, not hers. Between sessions I did a quick copy and paste job from my notes, so don’t judge me. (I’m looking at you, Gump. And yes, I meant to have this in parenthesis.)
• Just read it, don’t look for specific things. Pretend you’re the reader.
• Read it aloud to yourself.
• If you’re reading on a screen, make a notation. For example, put three brackets at a point in the copy when you have a question or a concern. Just mark it. Don’t break your train of thought.
• Change something. Move to a different chair, location or medium, such as reading it on paper vs. a screen. Another tip: Make the font size bigger and change the style. This will change line breaks and trick your brain into thinking you haven’t read it before.
• Always check the first sentence and the last paragraph. A lot of errors hide there.
• Conjunctions and articles are the words most commonly duplicated or misspelled.
• Errors often travel in pairs. When you find one mistake, look around. Don’t look for something specific, just read it the way a reader would.
• If you have a spell checker, use it, but use it last, after you’ve done all the above. .
• Know your gremlins. What are teh mistakes you commonly make? (See what I did there?) Make a checklist of things you know you need to check.
• When you make a change, pay attention to the change. We make a lot of errors when we fix things because our brains tell us we’ve already read it.
Our instructor today is Charles Apple, a freelance visual journalist and teacher. The biggest takeaway so far: Our goal is to tell good stories. We should pick the platform — slideshow, video, audio or print — that best helps us tell that story. We shouldn’t use these fancy new tools we’re learning just because we can. That seems pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how often we choose decoration over information.
More later, hopefully including Apple’s critique of the Idaho Statesman.
Update: In a nutshell, here are Apple’s thoughts on the May 19 edition of the Idaho Statesman. Bear in mind, he had about five minutes per paper.
• He’s had his eye on us for a while (specifically, he knows Tony Briggmin). Overall, the Statesman is a well-designed paper.
• We have great photography and we play it well. Apple said that’s where great print design begins. “Better ingredients make a better pizza.”
• We have good control of our color and typography palettes.
• He wasn’t a fan of the multiple colors of breakout boxes on 1A (the green talker was sitting next to a brown breakout box). Keep it consistent. His advice was to label the talker box or to take off the green tint.