Axios journalism style delivers traditional news content in scannable format

In addition to the fact that it’s good news that a federal judge is responding rationally to science, logic, and our basic human obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of our society, I’m also interested in the way Axios labels each paragraph of this news story and supplies details with bullet points. It’s an interesting blend of journalism and writing scannable text for busy online readers. Copying and…

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Simulations are powerful tools for understanding our world. Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death explores the surprising intersection between craft and forensic science. It also tells the story of how a woman co-opted traditionally feminine crafts to advance the male-dominated field of police investigation and to establish herself as one of its leading voices. Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell…

Loki’s Loop Escape Room

Great  concept for a virtual escape room devoted to debunking fake information online. For years a supplement called “Euphorigen” has been used by the very wealthy to boost brain activity and productivity. Now the Government wants to make the benefits of Euphorigen available to everyone by introducing it into the public water supply. The company that makes Euphorigen claims to have completed successful trials, and an announcement of the deal…

Lies about history in Texas can be traced to the Lone Star State’s own Big Lie: The Alamo

Yet many Texans feel they need the Alamo story. As one of the authors of Forget the Alamo stated, the myth speaks to what many Texans desperately want to believe about their state: that it arose from heroic circumstances, and that there’s a reason Texas is special. This includes the current crop of Republican Texas legislators. Instead of allowing critical thinking and a serious examination of the historical record, Abbott and his allies decided to…

I’m really enjoying seeing how my students are responding to Hamlet.

As part of a class assignment, one student took some friends to see the Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park all-female production of Hamlet. One of her friends is from Vietnam, and my student was very proud that she could answer his questions about what was going on. Many students, even the English majors, confess that in high school they never tried to read Shakespeare’s language, but instead depended totally on…

Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website • Missouri Independent

I’m shocked… shocked that a reporter published a newsworthy story about a rookie cyber-blunder made by a powerful government agency. A reporter viewed the HTML code (a one-click process on many web browsers) and noticed that the social security numbers of school teachers and administrators were embedded in web pages served up by Missouri’s department of education. The reporter contacted the agency, and held the story until the problem was…

Trying to Tame Huck Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most frequently banned books in America. I regularly teach it in my American Lit class. I never use “the n-word” in lectures, and I remind my (mostly white) students of the power of the word, but the version of the text I assign doesn’t edit that word out. I also have students listen to an audio interpretation of Pap’s tirade, in order…

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“We hate math,” says 4 in 10 – a majority of Americans

If 30% love math, and 30% are neutral about math, then the 40% that hate it could be the largest group, hence the majority. If so, then the headline might actually be brilliant. EDIT: Or not. A “majority” means “more than half.” The word I was thinking of is “plurality.” For the record, editors often write their own headlines to fit the available space, or to generate more traffic. Here’s…

Students who grew up with search engines might change STEM education forever

The headline is oddly STEM-specific, but yes, it used to be that if you worked with computers at all, you had to understand your computer’s file directory structure, so all college instructors could expect that their STEM majors had probably learned this concept as part of their earliest computer training. But the “search” function on individual computers (and also the list of recently saved files that almost every software tool…

Why I Left Academe to Become a Science Communicator: The pursuit of academic research was too narrow for me.

From explaining the effectiveness of social distancing for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to communicating earthquake preparedness plans to the public, scicomm efforts are vital for helping turn research into action. Yet despite scicomm’s importance, it remains a hugely overlooked, underdeveloped and unknown area in academia. Academics are trained to communicate with other academics, and jargon-filled research papers prevent broad audiences from engaging with and understanding impactful scientific discoveries.

In-person classes heighten age-related hearing problems (opinion)

My family tells me I’m starting to speak louder than I need to around the house. On my campus, all students are required to be vaccinated or masked. I can hear my students much better than last term, when everyone was masked and practicing social distance. Today I got several emails alerting me that students are in quarantine or isolation, and that they should contact me about how to make…

Delightful interview with a former Setonian editor-in-chief who’s now doing SEO

As a student journalist, Jessie totally revamped the print publications and the website, unifying them with design elements from the Sisters of Charity (the religious order that founded our school) and rounded rectangles that echoed the interface of the iPads (which were at the time a brand new part of SHU’s student technology plan). The way she blended tradition and high-tech is a product of the flexibility of a liberal…

What Is Newsworthy? (10m animated lecture)

How do journalists determine what events are worth covering? “Dog bites man” is routine, but “man bites dog” is unusual, so it’s more newsworthy. Unusual events are more newsworthy than ordinary events. Important people, and ordinary people who do important/unusual things are more newsworthy than ordinary people who do ordinary things. Events with a significant impact are more newsworthy than events with a trivial impact. Events that affect many people…

Tell-all crime reporting is a peculiarly American practice. Now U.S. news outlets are rethinking it

Journalists should balance the public’s “right to know” with the public’s “need to know,” mindful of the potential harm caused to people named in stories — including people who have been charged with a crime. In America, we are all presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but American culture often focuses on the punitive aspect of the justice system, while in some other countries, citizens perceive…

I studied philosophy and engineering at university: Here’s my verdict on ‘job relevant’ education

She double-majored in engineering and philosophy. Fifteen years later, which degree is more relevant to her success? She says that even with an engineering degree, she was criticized for not knowing specific skills that she never actually used (such as drafting by hand) or that she learned quickly on the job (such as the specific CAD software her company used). And after 15 years, most of those specific job-ready skills…

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Elizabethan Theater

Somewhere during my education I picked upon the meme that “Shakespeare’s contemporaries referred to ‘hearing’ a play, not ‘seeing’ a play,” and I regularly trot it out to emphasize how growing up in an auditory culture meant that the average Elizabethan probably got a lot more out of casually attending a Shakespeare play than the average student gets from studying an annotated script. Practically speaking, I encourage students to listen…