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Journalism Students Sharpen Word Usage Skills in Editing Class

November 14, 2019

Olivet School of Media and Communication (OSMC) students are sharpening their word usage skills in the "Editing and News Judgement" class this Fall Quarter. The "Editing and News Judgment" course aims to help future journalists master grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Realizing the fact that meaning does not reside in words alone but also in the way words are organized, journalism students at OSMC are training themselves in the right vocabulary usage through the class.

During the lectures, the course instructor pointed out some of the most common grammar mistakes in American journalism such as the agreement of pronouns and antecedents, essential or nonessential clauses, verb tenses, misplaced modifiers, dangling participles as well as sentence fragments and run-ons. Even the most grammar-savvy writer may fall into these grammar traps until the copyeditor points them out.

In addition, a major part of the course is to have students familiarize themselves with the Associated Press (AP) Style writing - an international journalism standard required for reporters and editors. What journalists call "style" is a body of guidelines that ensures consistency in presenting information to the public. Style addresses spelling and punctuation. For instance, the AP Stylebook states that numbers one through nine should be spelled in the article but numerical figures should be used for 10 and above.

"After all, a good article is beyond grammar and styles. Bringing a concrete and specific image to the audience should be one of the most important goals for editors. Some of the practical tips for improving your writings include using strong active verbs instead of passive voice, tightening sentences by eliminating redundancy, adopting good quotes, cleaning up jargon, slangs and clichés," said the instructor.

Students have many opportunities to practice writing and editing in this course. They find it very useful and have gained much insight into the nature of an editor's work.