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.…

Joan Rivers

4 writing lessons from the comedy of Joan Rivers

All writers can learn from studying the work of great comics — especially in the age of Twitter, where economy and a sharp point matter. It is said that humor does not lend itself to analysis, that you either get it or you don’t. But I don’t buy that. I believe there are patterns to Rivers’ most interesting work that can be traced, not to imitate her voice or style,…