to read the Spring 2011 issue of the Cal Corner.
By Frank Kolesha
The skill of editing is a complex one that requires patience, a keen knowledge of grammar, and a feel for the sense of what a reader wants to see, and where the person wants to see it. Learning to hone these abilities is vital to the success of a successful editor.
If I had any words of advice for those who are taking on the task of improving these abilities, it would be to always be willing to focus on things that you think you’ve mastered years ago. For instance, many of the grammar specifics that are vital to effective editing are things that I had thought were concepts conquered in elementary school. However, ingraining these specifics into my mind took a lot of practice and failure.
Also, make sure to deeply consider what readers could interpret as offensive and confusing. The issues are endless. If an article or headline is perceived as offensive, controversy erupts. Perhaps even worse, if a reader can’t understand your work, he may stop reading it.
So when learning the ins and outs of editing, make sure to stay humble and open to new and old information: It’s the key to storing it in your memory bank.
By Matt Warren
As far as my writing goes, I’ve never been a huge fan of journalism. It’s part of the reason I switched out of my Radio and TV major when I was a sophomore. However, I can say, with 100 percent certainty, that after taking the Independent Study for Journalism III/Publishing the Magazine, being a news editor is the absolutely last writing-related job I will ever want.
However, that’s just a personal belief, and it doesn’t mean that I dislike journalists and editors. Far from that, actually. I now have enormous amounts of respect for anyone who is a reporter, and especially, editors. It took a semester for me to accomplish what they have to accomplish several times a day, and that, in and of itself, was stressful. The hardest thing about editing was definitely my constant feud with the AP Stylebook because simply having correct grammar is rarely enough to satisfy that infuriating book.
I learned a lot of other things about layout, pictures, and infographics, besides the obvious different types of reporting and techniques for writing. I never noticed how things like ads and balance were set up with papers, and now that I know, I can’t stop analyzing it in papers that I read. It’s like when you get a thought in your head and then they tell you not to remember it but you can’t, and instead, it just gets stuck worse in your head. But still. Interesting, to say the least.
The final thing that I think I struggled with, and eventually overcame, was the style of writing, not only in terms of grammar, but in terms of everything. Comparing creative writing assignments and journalism assignments is akin to comparing apples to oranges. Whereas long, flowery writing with plenty of details, description, scene, and development is generally desired in creative writing, journalism wants everything to be super quick, to the point, and with absolutely no extra, wasted words. I tend to write in the former, so it took massive amounts of edits for me to even get my original story to come through as acceptable for print publication.
Oh, wait, the start of that last paragraph was a lie. The real, honest, absolutely final thing that I struggled with was my story topic. I wanted to do a piece that honored my work-study boss because I know there are times when she can feel underappreciated, but one of the issues that I ran into was that the story was … well … “too” happy. I hadn’t really considered that because I have a generally low opinion of the optimism of the media in general. I purposely wanted to make it happy and cheerful and say, “Hey, look, everyone! Someone actually enjoys her job and life!” But, as I feared, that’s not always appropriate as a feature story. Still, in the end, it worked out for the best, and, for once in my life, I’m really happy with a nonfiction piece that I managed to churn out.
So, all in all, what did I learn from this experience? I still don’t want to be a news reporter, but I do have increased respect for those in the field. I know that I want to focus almost exclusively on creative writing, as opposed to any form of nonfiction, in my future studies. I learned that there are better programs than Microsoft Word for creating newsletters, (which makes the coming week and the honors newsletter I have to work on a lot more appealing). Finally, I learned that independent studies can be just as difficult, if not more so, than an actual class. It was an experience I’m glad I had, but I’m not sure I would want to repeat it.