Tabloid Project

Tabloid

For this project, I condensed two stories I wrote separately: one about Millersville’s Archives and Special Collections and the other about a classmate. The rest of the stories are condensed short essays that I wrote throughout the semester, all having to do with journalism and/or publication in some way.

For a larger picture, view here: Olweiler News (1)

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The Treasures in Millersville’s Archives

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[Photo Courtesy of Millersville’s Archives and Special Collections]

There is a story behind every university just as there is behind every picture. Millersville certainly has a story, and every student plays a part in it. They have done so since Millersville’s establishment in 1855 as the first normal school of Pennsylvania. The Archives and Special Collections are evidence of this. Rare books, oral histories, manuscripts of notebooks, diaries, ledgers, etc., yearbooks, catalogs, alumni publications, letters and more are available to any student who is interested in Millersville’s story.

Marilyn Parrish, special collections librarian and university archivist, shared that Millersville has “unusually rich collections,” worth at least $500,000. They are particularly strong in education history and Pennsylvania German history (most of which was printed locally or belonged to Millersville’s co-founders), but students often find “the funny things” to be the most interesting. These commonly include rules of behavior and wacky, outdated medical books.

Library Technician Janet Dotterer explained that Millersville’s early days often attract the most curiosity, when the dorms for boys and girls were at opposite ends of the campus. The student body then was quite varied, ranging from age 15 to late 20s. The majority came from teaching in one-room schoolhouses with the desire to become better teachers. There was also the Model School for first through sixth-graders. With such a diverse age group, detailed rules of conduct were a big deal. The course catalogs laid them out clearly; for example, conversations between students of opposite sexes were forbidden in certain rooms. Meals were at set times and being tardy resulted in firm consequences. Slippers were required to aid in silent walking through dorm halls (Millersville University Catalog, 1860-1861, Pages 32-33). Good behavior was further spelled out in the series entitled Perfect Manhood and Perfect Womanhood.

“The autograph books have always been fascinating to me,” Dotterer continued. The first yearbook was only printed in 1889. Before then, students received “autograph books”—rather like the pages in modern yearbooks that are meant for sign­atures and messages. “It’s fun to read what they had to say to one another,” confided Dotterer. The penmanship of the notes, the language, and the messages all profess their being written in a different century.

Students are repeatedly surprised when they examine many of the archives. “It’s fun to watch their reactions,” Parrish said with a smile.

Both Parrish and Dotterer emphasized how studying the archives often leads students to realize that they live within a certain context. “There’s a lot of cultural assumptions broken when students look at some of the materials,” Parrish said.

Students may take certain courses that require extensive use of the archives. Some of these courses are in history, English, sociology, and education. These are courses in which “students learn how to use primary sources in doing research,” explained Dotterer. But there is something for just about every class in the archives. Students not enrolled in such courses often use the archives on their own for research projects—over 200 researchers did so in March alone. A recently graduated math major, according to Dotterer, used old math textbooks in order to write her senior thesis on the evolution of a mathematical formula.

Because the primary focus of Millersville’s Archives and Special Collections is to be of use to students, the materials are kept in the best condition possible. They are stored in climate-controlled, secure spaces and some have been rebound. “When new materials come in, we inspect them pretty closely,” said Parrish. Much of the material has also been digitalized so that students may access it easily online.

There are a number of exceptional photographs that have been archived, as well, and that serve as helpful glimpses into the past that sometimes written archives cannot provide. The photograph of the women’s basketball team is a good example. The team is quite small compared to those of today. Their hair is different, too: it’s in poufs, swept back into large bows. Their uniforms are roomy dresses with sleeves reaching the elbows. Their surroundings suggest an attic-like room, not a gym. These serious-faced girls look nothing like modern basketball players and yet, in their day, they were very modern. Women’s sports were not exceedingly popular then.

At that time, when the world was on the brink of a new century, the faculty of Millersville sensed the rising of a new culture. Taken from page one of the August 1876 issue of The Normal Monthly (an educational outreach publication) are the words of faculty member Charles H. Harding: “As young people in this country, ‘our hour has come.’ Our grandsires stamped their image and superscription upon the century just closing. They who shall call the next halt 100 years hence will look back to us as their grandsires.”

Today, we have more or less called that “halt.” We are Millersville’s next century of students. Parrish and Dotterer are well acquainted with the changes that occur from one century to the next, having studied the archives created in 1855 up through recent material. Yet both have observed that much of the initial spirit of Millersville has endured, especially in the excellence and affordability of education.

Parrish and Dotterer particularly expounded on the excellence of faculty members, beginning with men such as James P. Wickersham, John Fair Stoddard, and Edward Brooks, who influenced not only their own school but numerous others. As faculty members of the first normal school in Pennsylvania, they wrote textbooks and curriculums that schools all over the country utilized. They were considered experts. Millersville, even in the 19th century, attracted foreign students from France, Wales, and even the Caribbean.

The atmosphere of the campus grounds themselves has not changed much, either. The abiding charm of “beautiful fountains and gardens,” according to Parrish, has remained.

Currently, there is an exhibit organized by Dotterer on the eight floor of McNairy Library, home to Millersville’s Archives and Special Collections. It collaborates with the slideshow exhibit in the library’s atrium, entitled President’s Commission on the Status of Women: 25th Anniversary. Students are encouraged to visit and gain an impression of the many types of treasures Millersville has to offer within its archives.

The Role of the Editor in Print and on the Web

According to Royal Roads University, the role and responsibilities of an editor generally include checking written works for a variety of mistakes before they can be published. These mistakes may include typographical and grammatical errors, punctuation, capitalization, or spelling errors, redundancy, sloppy transitions, obscure vocabulary, unsuitable jargon, and inaccurate facts. An editor may also review the format and technical aspects of a work (such as graph and table styles, the use of underlines, italics, and boldface, or labels and captions). Usually editors are focused in a certain type of editing, like acquisitions editing, developmental editing, copyediting, fact-checking, page design, proofreading, information design, etc. (editorsforum.org). Some editors work for book publishing companies, others for newspapers, magazines, or other print media companies.

Writers and Artists, a self-publishing company located in London, addresses book editors in particular. As quoted from the website, “Book editors face the difficulty that if well done, their job is absolutely invisible; the author’s meaning shines through and the reader is never exposed to the stylistic problems that got in the way in the original manuscript.” An editor’s job, then—especially a book editor’s job—is to help the author present his or her writing properly. The editor’s job is not to change the content or purpose of the written work; rather, it is simply to make it as appropriate, understandable, and natural to read as possible.

As for magazine editors, there are many different levels of editing positions. The editor-in-chief is the leading editor and overseer, handling final decisions about what is actually published and ultimately responsible for “the magazine’s voice and focus.” The managing editor leads “the production of the magazine,” managing the editors beneath him or her, assigning duties, frequently writing a bit for each issue, and completing “tasks such as researching and interviewing.” Managing editors report to their editor-in-chief. The associate editor is an “entry-level” magazine editor who completes more prosaic tasks such as “fact-checking, minor editing, and suggesting article ideas.” The contributing editor, or editor-at-large, is commonly a freelance or staff writer who writes articles but is responsible for some editing. Of course, the number of editors depends upon the size and type of magazine (wisegeek.org).

There are also web editors. “The Web Editor is responsible for the ongoing management of a web site and for maintaining its editorial style and tone, its quality and consistency, and its navigation structure” (creativeskillset.org). Web editors are responsible for all aspects of the site, including “technical, creative, and editorial,” and for this reason often work with web developers and designers.

Overall, a good editor is detailed, motivated, organized, and enthusiastic. He or she must be able to work well under pressure, meet deadlines, prioritize, communicate well verbally and in written form, and be able “to combine creative and technical thinking” (creativeskillset.org). The role of an editor varies somewhat depending on that editor’s specific position or field, but in general, an editor audits written material, so that the finished product is the best it can be when published.

 

Works Cited

Royal Roads University webpage

https://student.myrru.royalroads.ca/student-services/role-and-responsibilities-editor

Editor’s Forum, Editorial Services Guide

http://www.editorsforum.org/what_do_sub_pages/definitions.php

Writers and Artists article

https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/self-publishing/articles/151/considering-self-publishing/the-role-of-an-editor

Wise Geek webpage

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-does-a-magazine-editor-do.htm

Creative Skillset Interactive Media webpage

http://www.creativeskillset.org/interactive/careers/article_4758_1.asp

Editing for Factual Accuracy and Grammar

Accuracy is not a “glamorous” skill in the world of publication, but without accuracy, other reporting and writing skills are “worthless,” according to Steve Buttry, Digital Transformation Editor of Digital First Media. “Accuracy is the foundation upon which journalists must build all other skills,” he explains. Media Helping Media goes so far as to say that a “media organization will be judged on the accuracy and reliability of the journalism it produces.” Clear and tested evidence is critical when presenting information as truth to the public. Misleading or incorrect material is extremely detrimental to a publication’s reputation. As Steve Buttry points out, if a journalist’s information is wrong it is the journalist’s fault, not the source’s fault.

Media Helping Media shares numerous ways to accomplish and ensure accuracy in one’s writing. First of all, while it is important to complete a story promptly, accuracy comes first. Reliability is more crucial than being first with information. Facts should be double-checked, support should be found for any claims made, and sources should confirm the information they provided before anything is published. These processes take time and time is valuable, but once a story is published it cannot be unpublished.

All sources should be first-hand. No writer or reporter should simply count on those used by others; he should find his own. Additionally, it is usually too dangerous to use information published elsewhere, online or otherwise, especially repeating it word-for-word, unless one is well acquainted with and trusts the person(s) who published it. If such information is used, then the audience must be told that it is from a different source, and that source must be named. Eventually, a writer should build a “network of trusted contacts” that he may consult. To avert possible confusion or forgetfulness later, a writer should be sure to keep any correspondence between him and a source.

The Internet should generally not be trusted. “Digital manipulation is rife,” meaning the Internet provides a lot of material that appears professional and authentic while being untrue. Also, archival or “library material” should be avoided. Such material is quickly outdated.

Serious notes ought to be taken when gathering information and any research done should be clearly recorded. If reporting on a certain incident, a writer’s notes should be “contemporaneous,” meaning based on information received at the time of the incident rather than based on a source’s memory later. These precautions are meant to ensure that one’s information will be able to stand up in court, if need be.

Steve Buttry advises some simple rules to follow in order to maintain factual accuracy. Among them are having any mentioned character spell out his name and/or title to prevent misspelling, asking sources where they got their facts (in other words, getting “to the original source”), differentiating between information and quotes (good quotes and valuable facts are often stronger apart from one another), “[seeking] verification” on what a source has revealed, and checking numbers, names, quotes, etc. multiple times.

Accuracy is an issue not only for nonfiction publications, however, but for fiction, as well. Rebekah Hunt of Ooligan Press, a publishing company located in Portland, states that as a book editor, “to let errors get into print is to do your author a great disservice.” Inaccuracies may appear in fictionalized works as well as any other, because fiction “relies heavily on a world of actual facts to make the story real to the reader.” Part of a book editor’s job is to make sure that a work is consistent with reality; that it is believable to readers.

Grammar is another aspect of any writing that requires editing because it is so important. As quoted from fiction editor Beth Hill, “grammar and punctuation are not the meat of your stories, but they are the framework that makes your story stand.” In order to communicate, a writer needs to be clear. Words and sentences must be ordered in particular ways to convey what the writer intends them to convey. Readers may easily be misled if the writing does not adhere to the consistent, dependable rules of grammar. The need for clarity is essentially what generated grammar.

There is a time and a place, however, for breaking the rules. This may be done only if, according to Hill, it “serves the story,” and a writer should always be able to explain why he is breaking the rules. Accordingly, Merill Perlman of the Columbia Journalism Review, encourages writers to be less up-tight about correctness and criticizes those who are. Perlman illustrates that poor grammar may sometimes be deliberate and even helpful. But to return to Hill’s cautioning advice, a writer ought to have a good reason to not abide by the rules. An audience always deserves “well-written, well-crafted” stories. Grammar is a tool of writing, she says, and it is there to “serve you.”

It isn’t difficult to see how crucial both factual accuracy and grammar are in any field of writing. After all, certain editors’ jobs revolve around fact and grammar checking—they are that important.

 

Works Cited

Steve Buttry’s Blog:

http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/tips-on-verifying-facts-and-ensuring-accuracy/

Media Helping Media webpage:

http://www.mediahelpingmedia.org/training-resources/editorial-ethics/237-the-importance-of-accuracy-in-journalism

Article by Rebekah Hunt, Ooligan Press:

http://ooligan.pdx.edu/the-truth-is-out-there-fact-checking-in-editing/

Article by Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog:

http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/05/30/on-grammar-and-punctuation/

Article by Merill Perlman, Columbia Journalism Review:

http://www.cjr.org/language_corner/grammar_police.php

Libel and Slander and How to Avoid Them

According to the Reporter’s Committee, “[libel] occurs when a false and defamatory statement about an identifiable person [or organization] is published to a third party, causing injury to the subject’s reputation.” Merill Perlman of the Columbia Journalism Review explains that the primary difference between libel and slander is that generally libel is printed defamation and slander is spoken defamation (in the world of journalism, spoken is also “printed” in that it is something transcribed). Both are legal terms, however, so using them without a legal accusation is unwise—they’re not terms to be thrown about (Columbia Journalism Review). When a writer is sued over something he’s written, he faces six different legal components present in all libel cases: the work’s “defamatory nature, how it was published, the truth or falsity of the claims, whether it is ‘of and concerning’ an individual, reputational harm caused and the degree of fault” (Reporter’s Committee). Clearly, libel and slander face serious consequences and must be avoided at all costs.

The first step to preventing these defamations from occurring is obviously to be sure one’s facts are correct right up front. Claims or accusations that cannot be proven should not be printed. Even if a writer believes he has proof, he should still be careful, as proving claims in court can be quite challenging. In addition, the writer will have to prove his claim is right, as opposed to the accused proving it’s wrong. Also, a writer should refrain from exaggerating in his claims, writing possible innuendos, and offering improvable conclusions. A writer must be wary when writing about past events—suggesting in any way that someone is still guilty of a preceding fault, for example, may bring about a libel. Publishing quotes that are defamatory places the writer in just as dangerous a position as the speaker. Rumors ought never be repeated in print, unless one can prove their legitimacy. Even when contradicting a rumor, a writer should keep from repeating it; adding “‘allegedly’ is not enough to get you out of libel difficulties” (BBC).

The Reporter’s Committee offers further advice. They suggest checking one’s sources thoroughly, being sure one understands the terminology and/or procedures involved with one’s subject, ensuring that “news promos or teasers used to stir audience” do not make defamatory suggestions, and withholding one’s personal opinion as a writer.

According to BBC (in Britain libel laws are quite similar to those in the U.S.) a writer is libeled if his publication exposes individuals or organizations to “hatred, ridicule or contempt,” if it “[causes] them to be shunned or avoided,” or if it “[discredits] them in their trade, business or profession.” Knowing this, again heed the fact that the accuser must prove his information; the accused does not need to prove that the information is false. If threatened with a libel suit, the Reporter’s Committee recommends that a writer be polite, but not immediately admit to a fault.

“Talk the case over with your editor, supervisor or attorney immediately, and follow procedures established by your news organization.”

Journalists also need to have adequate material should they be falsely accused of libel or slander. Socialbrite, an online social media consulting organization, states that a journalist’s notes are vastly important because even sources may sue journalists for putting words in their mouths. In a journalist’s notes, he must include quotation marks if he is not recording the conversation. He has to have means to protect himself.

In other words, a writer must do his very, very best to avoid libeling and slandering, but if he should be suspected or even sued, he must proceed cautiously.

 

Works Cited

Reporter’s Committee: “Libel”

http://www.rcfp.org/digital-journalists-legal-guide/libel

Article by Merrill Perlman, Columbia Journalism Review

http://www.cjr.org/language_corner/language_corner_111813.php

BBC article

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/A1183394

Reporter’s Committee: “Advice for avoiding libel suits”

http://www.rcfp.org/first-amendment-handbook/advice-avoiding-libel-suits

Socialbrite article

http://www.socialbrite.org/2009/08/08/preventing-against-online-libel-and-defamation/

How to Write Strong Headlines

A headline is the “primary tool to grab and hold the reader” (University of North Carolina). Headlines, unfortunately, are often written last and therefore hurried because of an upcoming deadline, but headlines are “where readers start” (Columbia University). A reader scans the page looking for something of interest—and it is the headline that first attracts his attention and invites him to read on. This is why the most important thing to consider when writing a headline is whether it cleanly and accurately tells what the story is about. The headline’s purpose should never be to trick the reader into continuing to the story, because he will be disappointed and unsatisfied.

There are a variety of general rules concerning headlines. According to the University of Kansas, “[effective] headlines usually involve logical sentence structure, active voice and strong presence-tense verbs… good headlines are driven by good verbs.” The University of North Carolina specifies that headlines must be abstract, usually between five and ten words, and state a complete thought. Abbreviations, unidentified pronouns, and ambiguous or not widely known names should all be avoided. Headlines may never begin with verbs. Punctuation should be used infrequently. For example, the University of Kansas shares that periods should only be used for abbreviations and single quotes should be used where double quotes would generally be used. Most words in a headline are not capitalized, save the first word, proper nouns, and usually the first word following a colon (some publications differ). When using numbers, a writer may sometimes break AP style guidelines. For example, if the headline begins with a number below ten, spelling it out will likely look better than the numeral. Breaks in headlines are also very important. A writer needs to make sure that if there is a break, it does not cause the message to be confusing or too choppy. If it does, the writer may need to revise the original wording.

Matt Thompson of Poynter Institue offers a list of questions for writers to contemplate while coming up with a headline. “Is it accurate?” is his first question, quite expectedly. Some of his following questions concern “how compelling a promise” the headline makes, whether it is straightforward or too embellished, if it’s made up of too many words, whether it obeys the “name the known, omit the obscure” rule (only naming individuals who are well-known and using the titles or descriptions of others), and whether it focuses on what an event means rather than the event itself. In the end, “you want to make your headlines sing.”

Additionally, in a world where everything is rapidly becoming digitized, headlines may need to cater to readers using online search engines to find material. David Marsh of The Guardian addresses this. He claims that keywords are critical in online headlines—more so than when in print—because they help readers find specific material. He also considers it even more imperative for online stories to have snappy headlines, as every click earns money. “[Headlines] are increasingly used as clickbait,” he wrote. Evidently, thinking up headlines is “harder than it looks” and ought to be given a good deal of consideration.

There are certainly a lot of rules involved in the process of writing a headline. But the most important thing to remember is that its primary job is to summarize the story accurately, or convey the central idea. Secondly, it must be an easy, smooth read for the audience. Any story, whether printed in a newspaper or a magazine, “must connect to ordinary readers” (Columbia University). Other rules (like the ones discussed above) are crucial as well, but they should not be a writer’s first concern.

 

Works Cited

University of North Carolina at Pembroke webpage

http://www2.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/Courses/ResourcesForCourses/WritingHeadlines.html

Columbia University webpage

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/journalism/isaacs/client_edit/Headlines.html

University of Kansas webpage

http://web.ku.edu/~edit/heads.html

Article by Matt Thompson, Poynter Institute

http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/140675/10-questions-to-help-you-write-better-headlines/

Article by David Marsh, The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/09/secrets-great-headline-writing

The Importance of Typography and Page Design

Both typography and page design in general “strongly affect how people react to a document,” according to Julia Barrick Douglas of Fortis College. Firstly, typography, the layout and setting of type on a printed page, is important because it can help to convey an essential idea, stimulate a certain feeling or emotion, or simply “[command] the attention of your desired audience.” Typography is important for legibility reasons—meaning, the audience must be able to read the print without “eye fatigue” or “eye strain”—but also for much more artistic reasons. Different fonts will match the content or purpose of different stories better than others. When a font or style matches a story, the effect is pleasing. Certain fonts and styling can also “influence” one’s readers, though they may not realize it.

Typeface, font size, line length, line, character, and column spacing, indents, subheads, and margins are the particulars of typography (Itkonen). Generally speaking, there are two common typeface groups: Sans Serif and Serif. This is because there is not a lot of thickness variation in their characters, keeping the text from appearing “blurred.” “Unusual shapes” or those not distinguishable enough from each other are difficult to read. Font size is most easily read when it is between 9 and 12 points. 55 to 60 characters per line is commonly accepted as a good line length—lines shorter than this would force the reader’s eyes to jump to a new line too often. The same idea applies to spacing between lines. Spacing, in general, must be wide enough to clearly separate words or columns, and narrow enough not to confuse readers and waste space. Most importantly, spacing must always be consistent. “Readability” and “visual appearance” are crucial. Indents, which are used solely to signify a new paragraph, should be between 3.5 and 5 millimeters. Subheads must “be clearly distinguished from the body text, but they shouldn’t be excessively highlighted either.” Margins, like spacing, must not be too wide or too narrow. Without a doubt, typography is quite important to the appearance of a printed page.

The overall design of a page is equally important. This includes every element on the page (body copy, headlines, decks, infographics, bylines, liftout quotes, captions, etc.) and how they are positioned and arranged. The “cover image” of a magazine or newspaper is highly significant—it grabs the reader’s attention and determines whether or not he or she will be interested enough to open it (incredibleart.org). The cover may often indicate whether a publication will be successful or unsuccessful.

A headline, for example, is the “most important textual element on a page” (magazinedesigning.com). It should be larger than any other textual element and near the top of the page so that a reader’s eyes are drawn to it. Different column widths should be used to give the body copy character and variety and to prevent the readers from losing their place or growing bored. Images, liftout quotes, infographics, or logos break up the body copy, make it interesting, and emphasize an especially good part of a story.

According to the Illinois Valley Community College, good page design (and typography as well) should smoothly communicate information, allow readers to easily find that information, and highlight the most valuable content. The visual element of a publication is just as important as the content itself.

 

Works Cited

Article from Fortis College website

http://www.fortis.edu/blog/online-degrees/the-importance-of-typography-in-graphic-design/

Itkonen, Markus: “Typography and Readability”—PDF document from The Finnish Centre for Easy to Read

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCYQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpapunet.net%2Fselkokeskus%2Ffileadmin%2Ftiedostot%2Fmuut%2FItkonen.pdf&ei=edsLU8OUHqbEsATSr4CICg&usg=AFQjCNEJsQDOqg7SQlCdaqoD_-CCxsejJw&bvm=bv.61725948,d.cWc

Incredible Art Department webpage

http://www.incredibleart.org/files/mag.htm

Magazine Designing webpage

http://www.magazinedesigning.com/magazine-page-elements/

Illinois Valley Community College PDF

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CE0QFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffiler.case.edu%2Ftvo2%2Fdocs%2Fchapter12Notes.doc&ei=aPMLU-b9DZegsASkooDIAg&usg=AFQjCNH37IFHVa1Y8YXeiwn_Xn2sFBeGQw&bvm=bv.61725948,d.cWc

One-Page Magazine

One-Page Magazine

The articles I used for this project are from The New York Times (Nov 13, 2011 issue), the March 2008 issue of Oprah Magazine (I condensed the article), and the Winter 2014 issue of Compassion Magazine (also condensed). All images were found via Google Images.