Steve Strauss: Why I Hire English Majors

Doing things correctly earns you points on an assignment, but English is one of those majors (I’d include the various arts on the shortlist) that encourages bold thinking, which leads to deeper learning. According to Steve Strauss, “Reading Chaucer, making sense of it, writing a term paper on it, and then being able to defend it, takes far more bravery than, say, analyzing the fall of the Soviet Union.” I…


The Physics Behind Traffic Jams

In between today’s various events, I dashed into the store for milk. As I was preparing to back out of my space, I saw a little old lady pushing her cart along, not realizing that my engine was running and I was about to back out. To make a long story short, I didn’t try to dash out in front of her, or honk to hurry her along, I just…


The Decline and Fall of the English Major

This essay is yet another reminder of how I must work harder to try to teach my students the long-term value of what they learn in my classes. Students are so focused on the present — this semester, this course, this assignment, this rubric, this grade — that an assignment that requires critical thinking skills can seem overwhelming. I once had a student who panicked when she learned the final…


Freelance Writing Online: What Are You Worth?

Freelance writers have to be entrepreneurial, sometimes taking jobs that don’t really interest them (but pay well, or offer good exposure). Noah Davis does the numbers, laying out what he does and how much he gets paid. I pitched and wrote constantly. I submitted invoices to between six and 12 outlets a month. But while I found consistent work, there were no massive payoffs. The most I made for a…


Why Study Humanities? What I Tell Engineering Freshmen

Wisdom from science writer John Horgan. [I]t is precisely because science is so powerful that we need the humanities now more than ever. In your science, mathematics and engineering classes, you’re given facts, answers, knowledge, truth. Your professors say, “This is how things are.” They give you certainty. The humanities, at least the way I teach them, give you uncertainty, doubt and skepticism. The humanities are subversive. They undermine the…

Italian journalist to be beatified for helping Jews escape persecution

Journalist who helped saved Jews from Holocaust is on the path to be named a saint. An Italian journalist and father of seven, who helped hundreds of Jews to escape Nazi persecution, will be beatified on June 15 in the Italian city of Carpri.Odoardo Focherini who died aged 37 in the Hersbrueck Nazi concentration camp will be beatified in recognition of the lives he saved and the people he helped.…

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How newsroom managers can invest more time developing their staff — and why it matters

One of my most consistently rewarding professional tasks is recruiting good writers and helping them develop the managerial skills they need in order to be good editors. It’s faster and easier, in the short term, for experienced student journos to do all the work themselves, but far better in the long run to train up a community of assistant editors and pinch-hitters and polymaths. My editor stood in my doorway.…


The Transformation of American Journalism Is Unavoidable

There will always be a public appetite for reporting on baseball, movie stars, gardening and cooking, but it’s of no great moment for the country if all of that work were taken over by amateurs or done by machine. What is of great moment is reporting on important and true stories that can change society. The reporting on the Catholic Church’s persistent harboring of child rapists, Enron’s fraudulent accounting and…