M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

The Reader’s Guide to Journalists

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Rule No. 52: All suburbs are “leafy.” They always have “well-manicured lawns.”

Read all the rules.

Written by Alex

April 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Police Blotter of the Day: Utah woman tries to commit arson using bacon, police say

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IMAGE: Cameo Crispi mugshot

(Uintah County, Utah, Sheriff’s Office)

NAPLES, Uintah County — A Uintah County woman is accused of trying to set fire to her ex-boyfriend’s home with a pound of bacon left burning on a gas stove.

And here’s the best part:

Cameo Adawn Crispi, 31, was charged Wednesday in 8th District Court with arson, a third-degree felony.

Yes. Crispi. According to police, it was a Crispi bacon attack.

Full story (KSL-TV of Salt Lake City)

Written by Alex

March 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm

The Reader’s Guide to Journalists (Cont’d)

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Rule No. 43: A “wooded area” is any place with a tree. If there are two trees, it’s a “densely wooded area.”

Read all the rules.

Written by Alex

March 18, 2014 at 11:07 am

The Reader’s Guide to Journalists (Cont’d)

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Rule No. 41: All immigrants are “animated” or “vibrant.” Especially women.

Read all the rules.

Written by Alex

March 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm

The Reader’s Guide to Journalists (Cont’d.)

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Rule No. 34: Sources we like say “going to” and “want to.” Sources we don’t like say “gonna” and “wanna.”

Read all the rules.

Written by Alex

March 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Grammar Day: ‘I would advise that you comply with our language laws’

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It’s National Grammar Day. It’s also the 19th anniversary of the death of the great comedian John Candy. To celebrate, here’s a clip from “Canadian Bacon” that brings them together.

Written by Alex

March 4, 2013 at 11:37 am

#JournalismRules update: ‘exclusive’; ‘scoop’

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I’ve updated The Reader’s Guide to Journalists with two new entries. Check it out and pass along your proposed rules.

Written by Alex

September 27, 2012 at 11:18 am

Language curmudgeons: the next generation

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Over at msnbc.com, I recently chronicled the announcement that the Queen’s English Society is disbanding after 40 years of fighting to preserve the language in amber against the impurities of modern speech and Twitterese.

In the spirit of fairness, I wanted to point you to this gloriously dyspeptic objection in defense of the society and of “proper” English by Brendan O’Neill, the editor of Spiked, an author whom I admire.

I vigorously disagree with O’Neill here, but I get a big kick out of his precocious curmudgeonry. It’s worth a read.

And from the archives, here’s an explanation of why I write the way I write, for those of you who may wonder why I disagree when my own writing seems so formal.

Written by Alex

June 10, 2012 at 8:40 am

Every copy editor’s worst nightmare

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(Thanks to KXAN-TV of Austin, Texas)

Written by Alex

May 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Language

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The challenge of being a young journalist

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I envy the newly minted journalists entering our profession today. The tools at their disposal are so much more powerful that they were when I broke in 28 years ago at The Macon Telegraph in Georgia, which were: A notepad. And a pen.

But there’s one thing I wouldn’t trade from that era for all the avenues open to today’s younger journalists: the privilege of learning my craft in relative obscurity.

At The Telegraph, the circulation was a shade under 50,000. That was about the largest number of people I could reach. Today’s young journalist can immediately reach an audience that encompasses anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

That must be terrifying.

I’m reminded of this by the outrage that greeted the publication of a headline on ESPN.com over the weekend. It used an ethnic slur on a story about the New York Knicks’ out-of-nowhere star, Jeremy Lin, the first American-born player of Chinese descent to play in the NBA.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

February 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

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