What you need to know for the midterm: A review

Rescheduled for Monday, Oct. 11
Editing for content (textual and visual), writing headlines, demonstrating skill with Quark and PhotoShop
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Content editing : In addition to sentences, you'll be editing a short (about 8-10 inches) story for style, grammar, punctuation, spelling and factual accuracy. In addition, you must make sure the story is structurally sound. And you need to know correct editing marks. You will be putting this story into a story package with art. Here's what's meant by:

•  AP style is our guide. At this point, if an angry mob were to approach you on the street and demand that you abbreviate the word “road” in an address, you should be around the point where you would reply definitively and with no small amount of passion, “No! You cannot make me! AP says it's WRONG!” The midterm will focus on style points we've covered in the exams, but don't forget that there's a whole book to digest. There will be both an open- and closed-book portion of the test. Know what's in there so you know what to look up. When is underway used as one word, and when as two? If you don't want to memorize those kinds of rules, at least know which ones exist. The point of advanced editing is to get you past having to deal with these small, albeit important, points. Remember that style includes spelling, punctuation, capitalization, popular use, information…

•  You know the basics. Focus on things other people – the people you will be editing – are likely to get wrong. For example: Pronoun objects. What's direct, what's indirect? I'll give you a handout on some of the sticky grammar points, but if you're in advanced editing, this is review for you. Drag out your favorite handouts from semesters past. Check the AP grammar section. Warning: If you're really good at this, you will find yourself grinding your teeth in exasperation at the low grammatical level of many of the people quoted in copy you're editing and which you cannot alter. It will make you love the noble paraphrase. And it will mean that many news broadcasters will give you ulcers when you have to listen to them. Nobody who was trained at ASU, of course.

•  Most of the problems you'll see in copy have to do with comma placement, quotation marks, possessive apostrophes, hyphens and colon/semicolon issues. Review the AP guide.

•  I will give you a list of commonly misspelled words, but you've undoubtedly seen such lists before, maybe even own a few. They don't go away. Sigh. Advice: Write down the five or six that are gremlins for you. Tape the piece of paper (tree bark, whatever) on which they are written to your bathroom mirror or other place you'll see them a lot. Make up a song to remember them. Whatever works. As a journalist, prepare in advance for the hard or new ones. When a topic becomes news, jot down the key words and practice them. Al-qaida. Hussein. Condoleezza. For the midterm, watch for the misspellings that are typos, common errors, and a lack of consistency in spellings of names. You will not be responsible for current-topic words, per se.
Click HERE for the list, which is an interactive exercise as well. Another helpful list is HERE.

•  When were the Middle Ages? If a reporter says they ended in the 17th century, you should be wary enough of the statement to check that. It's in the stylebook. Chances are you're not a walking encyclopedia. Doubt everything. Check everything. Correct everything you can. Go back to the handout of resources from the first day of class. There are links in there that will help you when you need to know something fast. You need to be the reporter's best friend.

•  Is there a good lede? Nut graf (a place high up in the story where the point of the story is placed in context for the reader)? Does the report proceed logically and clearly? Can you tell who is speaking and when? Are sources properly identified? Are there holes in the story? You need to be able to fix them or suggest how they should be fixed with additional information. Has reportorial bias crept into the story?

•  See the back of the stylebook. Remember that the corrections are written ABOVE the words corrected, not below. Clarity and exactness are everything. Write the correction EXACTLY as it is to be published. 'Nuf said.

Headlines : You'll be asked to write at least one, and to critique several. Review Harrower and notes from class.
•  Know the shorthand. 1-36-3 means what?
•  Know how AP style varies for heds

Visual Editing: You'll be asked to critique several one- or two-story packages with art. Again, see Harrower and notes from class. You'll be asked to create a balanced, journalistically sound layout for a one- or two- story package with art and appropriate elements (heds, cutlines, credits, etc.).

•  Quark : Be able to import text and art into a new document, create a border, create the elements of a story package (callout, byline, cutline, heds, etc.) and work with a photograph or other art. Be able to format the text when given criteria (Times Roman, 10 on 11, justified, for example).
•  Photoshop : Be able to open a photograph, resize it, crop it and save it.


You'll be graded on your ability to follow directions, attention to detail (are those gutters consistent?), accuracy and quality of work. Neatness does, indeed, count.

Advice: Practice with Quark and Photoshop to build up speed. You don't want to be wondering how to do something when you're on deadline.


 !    Your new best friend

The Society for News Design, better known as SND, recently lauded the publication of Tim Harrower's handbook as one of the top 25 influential moments in news design.

"Has any textbook educated so many students in design and graphics? Has any book so effectively stretched from the basic to the advanced? Has any book saved more rookie designers from their demise?" So asks Ron Johnson in SND's Fall 2004 Design Journal.

I was about to say it wasn't exactly bedtime reading, but I realized that for me, that's exactly what it has been for years and years. It's great for reviewing a point or brainstorming, or just for looking at pretty pictures and reassuring yourself there is order and reason in the world.

You'll have a chance to meet him, by the way. He's coming to ASU for a workshop on Oct. 23. Check it all out at the SND.org site linked above.