J-333 / News Editing

Frank E. Fee Jr.

Office Hours:
Scripps 104
T,Th 11:10 - noon, W 1:10 - 3 p.m. & by appointment
Drop-ins Always Welcome
593-9851 (o) 594-5251 (h)
Winter Quarter 2000
CN: 03620
T,Th 1:10 - 3 p.m.
Scripps 001
  • Assignments
  • Honor Code
  • Schedule
  • Grade Info
  • Lecture Recap
  • Texts
  • Useful Links
  • Rules of the Road
  • Chat with the Prof
  • Assignments

    Reading assignments are identified in the course schedule, and are due by the beginning of class on the day indicated. Besides the readings, you are responsible for seven topic papers, described below. The topic papers must be typed, double spaced. In addition, there will be several brief take-home exercises throughout the quarter. These will be announced in class.



    Editing 1


    Editing 2


    Design 1


    Grade Information

    Your grade in this course will be based on:
    Topic Papers (20 percent)
    Through a series of written Topic Papers, you will have the opportunity to analyze press performance in areas discussed in this course. These are important because they develop and reflect your critical analysis of news practices, and because what you learn in these papers can be applied directly to your own work.
    Quizzes (20 percent)
    The quizzes may cover fundamental newspaper style, grammar, spelling and punctuation, along with material from readings, lecture and class discussion, and current events. Some will be open book (e.g., stylebook questions), others will not.
    Graded In-Class Work (20 percent)
    Throughout the quarter there will be graded editing, headline and layout exercises.
    Midterm Exam (20 percent)
    The one-hour midterm exam will cover editing copy and writing headlines.
    Final Exam (20 percent)

    The final exam will include copy editing and writing headlines.
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    Honor Code

    Students in J-333 must adhere to the university Student Code of Conduct. Any act of plagiarism will mean automatic failure for the course.

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    Rules of the Road

    In addition to some specific points made elsewhere, these notes on what we'll be doing and how we'll be doing it are important.

    (1) Daily Format. The first part of each day's class will be devoted largely to lecture, to critiques of copy that you see in newspapers and to resolving any questions you have from homework reading. There will be no formal break but you may leave the room at any time. The second half of the class most often will be devoted to practical exercises, many of which will be turned in for grading.

    (2) Discussion Topics. You will be expected to put what you are learning into practice, both in classroom exercises and exams and in active discussion and critique of examples of good and bad editing that you see in newspapers and other media. Bring examples to each class and be prepared to lead the discussion about what you've found.

    (3) Attendance. You are expected to meet the attendance standards of professional journalists. That means be in class every day. No unexcused absences will be permitted. If an emergency arises and you cannot attend class, please try to call me before class or leave a message at my office or home. If it is impossible to do this beforehand, please get in touch with me sometime during the day of the class you miss. Bear in mind that the instructor is the arbiter of what absences will be excused. Because of the schedule, makeup tutoring is impracticable. Note: Anyone who misses more than two classes must drop the course and take it another quarter, no matter how late the third absence may be.

    (4) Back Papers, Handouts. If you are absent from class for any reason, it is your responsibility to obtain any graded assignments or handouts distributed by the instructor on the day you missed.

    (5) Collaboration. Newsrooms are social places and, as you'll hear, reporters and editors are encouraged to talk over their work in hopes that better things will result from such conversations. However, in this course you are expected to do your own work. That means: (a) No sharing results of your individual research efforts. (b) If, during an exercise, you have questions about the work, come to me, not your neighbor. (c) On tests, quizzes or graded exercises, any computer problems should be brought to me for resolution. At all times, the spirit and letter of the university honor code must be followed.

    (6) Quizzes and Graded Exercises. Expect a quiz or graded exercise every class period. There may be days when there is no graded work during class, but count on lots of quizzes and graded exercises throughout the quarter. Graded exercises, identified in the course schedule or announced in class the period before or both, will assess your editing, headline, graphics and layout skills after you've had a chance to practice them. Quizzes may cover fundamental style, grammar, spelling and punctuation along with material from readings, lecture, class discussion and current events. Some will be open book (i.e., Stylebook questions), others will not. Key quizzes are identified in the course schedule but, as noted, you should expect a quiz at any class period.

    (7) Assignment Preparation. All outside assignments must be typed, double-spaced, and all pages must be stapled -- not paper clipped. They are due at the beginning of the class for which they are assigned.

    (8) Missing Links, Reserve Material. It is your responsibility to report to me immediately reserve readings that cannot be found or Web links that do not work. If you alert me to a problem in a timely fashion, I can solve it in an appropriate manner. Don't wait until the day of the quiz to tell me you could not find a reserve book or a link. Hint: The phone works better than e-mail when time is critical.

    (9) Extra Credit. You have the opportunity to gain extra credit by joining the Copy Edit the World project. Basically, I give 4 points for an error (typo or other) found in a publication intended for general public circulation, and 2 points for an error found in a newspaper or magazine. The rationale is that newspaper and magazine errors are too easy to find, and that by expanding the scope of the 4-pointers you will see how errors creep into lots of other publications (menus, course syllabi, posters, fliers, church bulletins, etc.). You may hand in examples right up to the last day of class, and there is no maximum on points. The points are applied to the quiz grades. The instructor is the final arbiter on what counts as an acceptable submission in Copy Edit the World. Examples must be prepared in fashion similar to the topic papers (e.g., identify the error, say what's wrong, and show how you'd correct the error). It is expected that this will be your own work, and not the result of a collective enterprise. The instructor reserves the right to amend the rules as experience indicates.

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  • J-333 Editing Manual. This will be a growing compendium of material unavailable elsewhere, including handouts specific to this course, guides for editing on the computers of Scripps 001, and brief instructions and exercises using our headfit program and QuarkXPress. It's free. The main body of the manual will be handed out at the beginning of the quarter, with enhancements distributed throughout the term. Bring to class every day.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, (latest ed.). Bring to class every day.
  • Webster's New World Dictionary, 3rd College Edition. Bring to class every day.
  • Newspapers. Can't talk about them if we don't read them. For openers, The Post and another Ohio daily newspaper, but don't stop there.

  • On reserve at Alden Library:
  • Bowles & Borden. Creative Editing for Print Media, 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2000.  (Hereafter: "B&B")
  • Brooks & Pinson, Working With Words, 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000.
  • Friend, Challenger & McAdams, Contemporary Editing. Chicago: NTC/Contemporary Publishing, 2000. (Hereafter: "F,C&M")
  • Harrower, The Newspaper Designer's Handbook, 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
  • Strunk & White, The Elements of Style. You really should own a copy of this classic, and read it once a year.



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    Lecture Recap

    Shortly after each day's class, I'll post an outline or mini-essay on that day's lecture. This will include notes on what was going to be said in class, no doubt annotated by comment on what actually occurred. It will emphasize, amplify and, one hopes, clarify, important points.
    Day 1 Day 4 Day 7  Day 10 Day 13 Day 16 Day 19
    Day 2 Day 5 Day 8 Day 11 Day 14 Day 17 Day 20
    Day 3 Day 6  Day 9 Day 12 Day 15 Day 18 Day 21 Final Exam

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    Course Schedule

    Day 1 
    Jan. 4
    Introductions, syllabus, key course concepts, key questions. Intro to the editing computers.
  • Course outline and syllabus
  • "Perfect Copy Editor"
  • "Seven Deadly Sins"
  • "Personal Responsibility"
  • Day 2 
    Jan. 6
    Sources and reference material. Raising your accuracy quotient. Internet Searches.

    Quiz: Syllabus, current events, readings
  • J-333 Manual, pp. I/1-3, IV/8
  • "WED"
  • Search Engine Tutorial
  • Stylebuilder

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: Ch. 1,5 and pp. 95-97
  • F,C&M: Ch. 1 and pp. 73-89

  • Due:
  • Student Surveys
  • Sources & Facts Exercise
  • Day 3 
    Jan. 11
    News judgment and story selection

    Quiz: AP1 (A-F)
  • J-333 Manual, pp. II/1-10
  • "44 Tips for Greater Accuracy"
  • AP Stylebook, sections A-F
  • "Grambo" and "A Spelling Test"
  • Handouts

  • Recommended Readings:
  • F,C&M: Ch. 2

  • Due:
  • Internet Search Exercise
  • Day 4
    Jan. 13
    Fundamentals of editing

    Quiz: AP2 (G-L)
  • Strunk & White (complete)
  • Writer, Edit Thyself
  • J-333 Manual, pp. I/4-10, II/11-24
  • AP Stylebook, sections G-L

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: Ch. 2,3 and pp. 405-412
  • F,C&M: Ch. 3,4

  • Due:
  • Accuracy Topic Paper
  • Day 5

    Jan. 18

    Editing ledes, middles and endings.

    Quiz: "50 Common Writing Errors"

  • The tools of a writer
  • More Words on Words

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: Ch. 4
  • F,C&M: Ch. 5
  • Day 6
    Jan. 20
    Editing: Make it "tight and bright."

    Quiz: AP3 (M-R) 
  • Read:
  • AP Stylebook, sections M-R
  • We Are Not Bemused
  • High-Speed, High-Stakes Copy Editing

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: pp. 95-104
  • F,C&M: Ch. 8

  • Due:
  • Editing Topic Paper 1
  • Day 7 
    Jan. 25
    Editing for tight spaces

    Quiz: AP4 (S-Z)
  • Words Commonly Confused
  • AP Stylebook, sections S-Z

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: pp. 105-114
  • F,C&M: Ch. 7
  • Day 8
    Jan. 27
    Graded editing exercise.
  • Keys to Successful Editing

  • Due:
  • Headlines Topic Paper
  • Day 9 
    Feb. 1
    Law and ethics for copy editors.

    Quiz: "AP to Know" (This will be a closed-book quiz on common style rules that any employer would expect you to know cold. They will be identified well in advance.)
  • Handouts

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: Ch. 6,7
  • F,C&M: Ch. 11
  • Day 10 
    Feb. 3
    Headlines & Points of Entry
  • Handouts
  • "Display and Voice" 

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: Ch. 9
  • F,C&M: Ch. 12
  • Due:
  • Editing Topic Paper 2
  • Day 11 

    Feb. 8
  • Toward Headline Excellence
  • J-333 Manual, pp. III/1-10
  • Day 12
    Feb. 10
    Quiz: Headline basics
  • Handouts
  • Harrower, pp. 2-38.
  • "Rules of Engagement: Guide to Writing Headlines
  • Due:
  • Style Topic Paper
  • Day 13 
    Feb. 15
  • Handouts
  • Day 14
    Feb. 17
  • Design Topic Paper 1
  • Day 15 
    Feb. 22
    Graded In-class Exercise: Headlines
    Layout & Design: Basics and Beyond.
  • Harrower, Ch. 2,3

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: Ch. 8,11
  • F,C&M: Ch. 15
  • Day 16 
    Feb. 24
    Midterm Exam
    Writing cutlines, long and short. Editing, cropping and scaling photos.
  • Harrower, Ch. 4
  • Lab Manual, pp. IV/1-7
  • 10 Tips for Better Captions

  • Recommended Readings:
  • B&B: Ch. 10
  • F,C&M: Ch. 13,14
  • Day 17 
    Feb. 29
    Layout & Design: Designing an inside page.
    Graded editing exercise
  • Harrower, Ch. 5
  • SND Tips for Better Design

    Day 18 
    March 2
    Quiz: Design Theory
    Layout & Design practice
    Day 19 
    March 7
    Layout & Design practice
    Day 20
    March 9
    Graded exercise -- Layout & Design

    Wrapping up the loose ends, last-minute questions, etc.

  • Redesign Topic Paper
  • Thursday
    March 16
    Final Exam,  copy editing and headlines, due in my mailbox in Scripps Hall by 5 p.m. today.

    Useful Links for Copy Editors

    Copy Editing
    There aren't many publications devoted to copy editing but Copy Editor sets the pace. The publication isn't cheap but the site has some good things for folks of all incomes.

    A variety of interesting links -- from style tips to grammar texts to discussion groups -- can be found at Copy Editor's Links for Copy Editors.

    The home page of the American Copy Editors Society is an important, engaging, ever-expanding source of information about, by and for copy editors (and all other journalists, too). Its discussion lists put you in touch with a wide range of copy editors and an infinite number of topics.

    The Slot, Washington Post copy editor Bill Walsh's wide-ranging site should be in everybody's list of bookmarks.

    BONG Bull, the creation of Dayton's own Charley Stough, offers a wry slant on copy editing and journalism in general from the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild. Subscription information and archives available at the Web site.

    The Poynter Institute is a font of material for journalists. One gem is Roy Peter Clark's brief item, "If I were a carpenter: The tools of the writer."


    For the up side of headlines -- saluting good work around the country -- take a look at "Heads Up" in the Words On Words section of the American Copy Editors Society page.

    Journalism Internships, Jobs and Salaries

    A dynamite collection of job-hunting tips for journalists is to be found at the Jobs Page of the Detroit Free Press. Anyone considering an internship or full-time job in journalism will profit by spending some time at this page, the work of Joe Grimm, Free Press recruiting and development director.

    The Free Press site links you to the Knight Ridder job listings. Gannett listings are also on-line. A growing resource for copy-editing jobs is the American Copy Editors Society job board, searchable by state.

    A good, close-to-home page that can get you started in a lot of good directions is the Scripps Job Resources page. Among its several good links are American Journalism Review's JobLink for Journalists and Editor & Publisher magazine's classifieds and Copy Editor magazine's job board. The American Society of Newspaper Editors' Careers in Journalism site has some good information, including an up-to-date internship guide and information targeted to that first job at a small newspaper.

    Some good information is to be had at the National Diversity Newspaper Jobs Bank, including listings of minority job fairs. Sources of minority internships and fellowships are also available at the National Association of Black Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Native American Journalists Association sites. Likewise, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association has a jobs board at its site.

    Don't forget to check out Professor Stewart's interview tips site. The focus may seem to be on broadcasting but the tips will be useful in any endeavor..

    For internships, start by looking at the opportunities in the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund program.

    To help you prepare for internship and job tests, I've put together a small collection of links at Internship Prep. Some of the links duplicate items in the much-longer collection you see here, but some are unique to Internship Prep. Check it out.

    The Poynter Institute site has a wealth of material, including some good suggestions for St. Petersburg Times copy editor applicants as the paper searches for "the perfect copy editor." Don't be fooled by the focus on copy editing, these tips will work for anyone.

    The Cincinnati SPJ chapter has an interesting report on trends in journalism pay at the "Show Us the Money" site. The American Newspaper Guild's website includes reports on  top minimums and other salary data for U.S. and Canadian newspaper reporters, photographers and editors.

    Math for Journalists

    The Exhibits Collection of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Annenberg Foundation is a growing file of interesting material that includes Math in Everyday Life and a separate exhibit on Statistics, which you can find via the site's pull-down search menu. Topics in the stats exhibit include polls and polling, and the use of statistics in an election campaign, random sampling, margin of error, confidence in polling, effect of polls on elections. Some other sites, compiled by Deborah Potter and forwarded by Phil Meyer, are the free tools at Newsengin, which include a cost-of-living calculator and percent-change calculator; the Philadelphia Inquirer math-help page that includes how to adjust for inflation, annual growth rates and basics of percentage change; Statistics Every Writer Should Know, explaining percentages, per capita, margin of error, etc.; and a related page, Finding Data on the Internet -- A Journalist's Guide.

    Grammar & Language Skills

    Strunk and White without E.B. White. This site offers Will Strunk's The Elements of Style in its original.

    Jack Lynch's Grammar and Style Notes page.

    Know what a "solecism" is? A "tautology"? Want to brush up on spelling skills? Mindy McAdams' Words for Copy Editors has a lot, including the syllabus for a course she teaches in magazine copy editing.

    Stumped on spelling? Not sure of an acronym? Need a thesaurus? Looking for off-beat dictionaries? Robert Beard's, one-site shopping center, On-Line Dictionaries, links to more than 400 searchable references.

    Style Guides

    While not quite the AP Stylebook, Basic newswriting style guide and copy editor symbols for the journalism student, is, as its name implies, a selection of key AP rules. The page comes with a fun treatment of copy editing and proofing symbols.

    A thoughtful style guide is maintained by Bill Walsh of The Washington Post. It's The Curmudgeon's Stylebook.

    Layout & Design

    Ron Reason's Web site is a wealth of information on newspaper design topics.

    Online Courses, Syllabi, Texts

    You can check out some copy editing courses at the American Press Institute's Seminars Online page.

    For a look at what's being taught in editing courses in the United States, check out EditBank, an online collection of editing syllabi and links to editing syllabi created for the Newspaper Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

    Searches, Finding Stuff

    For openers, you can't do much better than the Information Gathering course's site full of good links to dictionaries, directories, search engines and data bases of all sorts.

    An excellent tutorial on search engine strategy is available at Bill Dedman's Power Reporting site.

    Internet Sources for Copy Editors offers a glimpse at how to use the Internet to get to some useful data bases.

    FACSNET is a valuable site created by The Foundation for American Communications, "to provide the knowledge and resources journalists and their sources need to effectively communicate information to the public through the news." Good source of background information, reporting tips, etc.

    Ethics & Editing

    The Society of Professional Journalists' ethics page offers a full discussion of SPJ's code of ethics and a discussion of applying them in everyday work, plus links to other sites.

    The E.W. Scripps Co. has a page that offers you a chance to wrestle with some real-world issues in ethics and editing. Put yourself in The Editor's Shoes.

    The Journal of Mass Media Ethics is indexed from Vol. 10 (1995) on.

    For a large collection of case studies in media ethics, check out this Indiana University site.

    Online Newspapers

    There are a number of sites that purport to list and link to newspapers online. Web Wombat Online Newspapers includes an extensive list (1,750, they claim, but who's counting?) of U.S. and foreign newspapers.

    Journalism from A to Z

    You really should spend a some time examining all the possibilities in Websites for Journalists, an annotated collection of links to other journalism sites. Not all the links you'd ever need, but pretty close.

    Another useful starter site is Moorhead State University's Writing and Editing Help, with links to a variety of important pages.


    Some of the top trade publications are online, too, including American Journalism Review's News Link, Columbia Journalism Review and Editor & Publisher.

    Professional Associations

    American Copy Editors Society.

    Associated Press Managing Editors Association.

    American Society of Newspaper Editors

    Society of Professional Journalists

    National Association of Black Journalists.

    Asian American Journalists Association.

    National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

    Native American Journalists Association.

    National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

    Last revised: Monday, Dec. 29, 1999

    Questions, comments: Frank E. Fee Jr.