Tools for Grammarphobes and Grammarphiles— especially for journalists—was a session shared at the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association spring conference in Seattle April 14 by Babs Erickson, Martha Rothwell and Kay Windsor, all JEA mentors and retired teachers of journalism. Collectively, the three of us have spent nearly 100 years advising high school publications and teaching journalism. That’s not to say that we are always grammatically correct ourselves, but that we value clear, correct, credible communication as important—especially for the messengers who bring us all information and explanation about the news in our world.
One of my students once wrote on an exam that if everyone used correct grammar, we would have world peace. She hoped she was paraphrasing something I had said in class, but she may have overgeneralized a bit. I’m not so sure she was wrong though. We had been studying George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.” Here’s a link to that essay: http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit .
For student journalists, understanding some differences between writing style used for an English class and that for a journalism class can sometimes be confusing. Here’s a link to Candace Perkins Bowen’s Powerpoint for showing the differences: http://jea.org/journalistic-writing-and-english-class-writing/ .
Use Newsroom 101 for grammar and AP style quizzes that include explanations for errors within the quizzes at http://www.newsroom101.com/newsroom101/.
EditTeach.org at http://www.editteach.org/tools?tool_cat_id=11 includes Newsroom 101 and The Tongue Untied among the list of tools and resources on grammar.
The Tongue Untied: A guide to grammar, punctuation and style at http://www.grammaruntied.com/goals/clear.html offers this description of the need for grammar: “Clarity. As writers, our words are our tools. Therefore, with every word, phrase, clause and sentence we write, we should be asking, ‘Is this the right tool for the job?’ ”
Quick Tips and other Training Tips: Words on Words from the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) at http://www2.copydesk.org/hold/words/
From the Open Directory Project, a compendium of links including 11 Rules of Writing at Top: Arts: Writers Resources: Style Guides (126)
DailyWritingTips: Let the Word Do the Work
Look at this post to see 7 common mistakes: http://www.copyblogger.com/grammar-writing-mistakes/.
You might enjoy reading the blog, Red Pen, Inc., at http://www.grammarphile.com/.
To debunk some grammar myths, read http://www.grammarphobia.com/grammar.html.
See Rob Melton’s staff manual for grammar and style notes as they pertain particularly to student journalists: http://www.youblisher.com/p/8997-News-Writers-Handbook/ or http://jea.org/stylebook/. You can download it from the JEA link.
Grammar Girl’s Top ten grammar myths: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/top-ten-grammar-myths.aspx.
View William Safire’s fumblerules for grammar: http://grammar.about.com/od/writersonwriting/a/safirerules.htm.
A New York Times blog by Philip B. Corbett, “After Deadline: Notes from the newsroom on grammar, usage and style,” can be found here: http://topics.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/trouble-with-as-and-than/?emc=eta1.
A compendium, Language Sites on the Internet, posted by Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English and Get Thee to a Punnery, can be found at http://www.verbivore.com/rllink.htm; I did not test all of the links, but under the Grammar and Usage category, Grammar Bytes! and Guide to Grammar and Writing have been helpful. (Charles Darling, who began the Grammar and Writing site, used to answer emailed questions about grammar.) A link to Project Bartleby’s online 1918 edition of William Strunk Jr.’s The Elements of Style is offered. (That’s before E. B. White revised his teacher’s work and became a coauthor.)