Unscheduled Disasters in Journalism: Learn to Deal

In school, we expect our professors to answer our questions, to return our emails, to invite us in for a consultation, to pay attention what we say and read carefully what we write. One of the important lessons of being a student journalist is learning how to deal with the unexpected. Unfair things happen in the real world, and part of being a professional is learning how to make the…


Updating Journalism Handouts

I’ve spent the afternoon touching up some older journalism handouts, seeing which are still in good shape, which need some work, and which new ones  I’ll need to create from scratch. I realize I’ve never actually written a handout on the inverted pyramid, writing leads, writing headlines, punctuating quotes from sources… of course there are textbook chapters on all those subjects, but when I have the time, I do like…

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Introduction to Twine (Tutorials by Vegetarian Zombie)

I will always love Inform 7, but I chose to develop a journalism training game in Twine (because it will be much easier to teach Twine to my students). To prepare for my game, I spent about 6 hours  (during my son’s last chess tournament) roughing out about 20 lexias. Since then, I’ve spent about 6 more hours turning them into a playable game. Slow going, because every path leads to…


Personal Essays: 7 Tips for Expressing Ideas in Words

Wondering how to write a personal essay? Is your personal essay due tomorrow morning? If so, here are some quick tips. Good luck! Your instructor is not going to grade you on how much you loved your deceased family member, how wonderfully you played in the big game, or how narrowly you escaped death. Your instructor wants to gauge your ability to focus on one specific incident — even a…

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That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket

What kind of boss hires a thwarted actress for a business-to-business software startup? Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s 42-year-old cofounder and CEO, whose estimated double-digit stake in the company could be worth $300 million or more. He’s the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria and a master’s degree from Cambridge in philosophy and the history of science.“Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting…


The Importance of Writing Skills in Tech-Related Fields

Good writing skills are valuable, even in the world of STEM. How is it that students interested in careers in technology don’t understand that writing skills are a crucial part of their future success? What’s more, in my life as a writing coach, I’ve noticed that this aversion sometimes extends well past the undergraduate years and into the master’s and Ph.D. levels. In an effort to underscore the importance of effective…

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The Better Angels of Our Writing

Copy editors are to the world of publishing what the stage manager is to the world of theater. I love copy editors and I love stage managers. When the copy editor for my latest book placed a little check mark over the name of a computer game, Snood, and then wrote in the margin (“snood.en.softonic.com”), I knew that her fact-checking was protecting me, and I felt grateful. When I dashed…