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National Day on Writing

NCTE, the National Writing Project, and The New York Times Learning Network invite you to celebrate writing in all its forms: through photos, film, and graphics; with pens, pencils, and computers; in graphs, etchings, and murals; on sidewalks, screens, and paper. This year we encourage you to focus your writing on your community in any way you see fit. Post your writing during the National Day on Writing Tweet-Up on October 20 with the…

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Harvard University says it can’t afford journal publishers’ prices

Robert Darnton, director of Harvard Library told the Guardian: “I hope that other universities will take similar action. We all face the same paradox. We faculty do the research, write the papers, referee papers by other researchers, serve on editorial boards, all of it for free … and then we buy back the results of our labour at outrageous prices. “The system is absurd, and it is inflicting terrible damage…

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Writing a Cutline (Caption): Three Examples

In journalism, the “cutline” is the text below a picture, explaining what the reader is looking at. It’s what most people call a caption, but to a journalist, a “caption” is more like a title, while the “cutline” first describes what is happening in the picture, and then explains the significance of the event depicted. Here, we see a dry, pointless cutline offers nothing at all that the reader can’t gather…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu
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When a Textbook Plagiarizes Your Student’s Work

In a few days I’ll be gearing up to teach my freshman writing students about plagiarism. Not the “terrify them and make them fear punishment from the authorities” speech, but the “why people who work in a community of minds take plagiarism so seriousy” speech. How interesting, then, that I found a textbook published in 2009 that includes whole passages from a handout that a student originally submitted as a…

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Sources tell Seton Hill University’s Dennis Jerz that TV news websites emphasize self-promotion over reporting the news

Sources tell Seton Hill University’s Dennis Jerz that online write-ups of TV news stories seldom miss the chance to self-promote. Sources tell Jerz that two of the first three paragraphs in the text version of this Miami CBS TV news story put the name of the TV reporter before any actual news allegedly spoken by some nameless source. Jerz, whose smiling headshot and mini-biography does not appear between the headline of the story…

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The magic of words opens a whole new world of fun

Emily Short’s work is always worth seeking out and exploring; she’s been a visionary in the world of text-based games for years and her personal blog is a masterclass in both reading and writing interactive fiction. I’d recommend starting with her short game, made with Liza Daly, The First Draft of the Revolution, in which your choices about how you edit letters between a husband and wife drive how the…

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BP Lawyers Cheat by Adjusting Line Spacing in a Legal Brief

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier was not amused. In his ruling Monday, Barbier issued an order and then reminded BP’s lawyers that their brief was supposed to be limited to 35 pages, double-spaced: “BP’s counsel filed a brief that, at first blush, appeared just within the 35-page limit. A closer study reveals that BP’s counsel abused the page limit by reducing the line spacing to slightly less than double-spaced.…