Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, Newhouse School, Syracuse University. Editing for print and digital, new media journalism.

How to maximize your gratitude

By · Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 · Comments Off on How to maximize your gratitude

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Gratitude is all around us this Thanksgiving Day. In the spirit of thankfulness, we share a post that originally was published in April 2014 when this blog devoted that entire month to “polishing your professional skills.”

Here it is, again, intended for anyone and everyone.

Thanking someone with a formal note has already been a theme of our April tips. But here is an idea from a professional in the field who heard it and likes it: When you thank someone, use that opportunity to pitch yourself.

Isn’t that rude?

Not if you do it skillfully.

  1. Be sincere with your thanks. Truly mean what you say. Use your words to show gratitude for a favor, for an interview, for someone’s time, for a person’s talents or for someone’s counsel. Be specific. Share details of how you were helped.
  2. Be transparent about your pitch. Remind the person who you are and how you came together. Include key highlights of your interaction. This is where you start to pitch yourself: Let the person know how you, in turn, can be of help or assistance; how you can add value to that person’s operation; how you can make a difference in some way.
  3. Be thoughtful. Realize that you are one person in another person’s busy life. Be specific but be brief. Reread what you intend to send. Put yourself in the other person’s place. Rewrite your message until you reach just the right balance of gratitude and pitch. Market yourself thoughtfully.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, with gratitude to you for reading our blog, sharing our posts and interacting with us over the years.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

We can’t let people give up on the media

By · Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 · Comments Off on We can’t let people give up on the media

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Trust in the media. It is a topic we have written about numerous times in this blog. Today, we share a thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written piece by Sabrina Tavernise and Aidan Gardiner of The New York Times under the headline: ‘No One Believes Anything’: Voters Worn Out by a Fog of Political News.

We should all care — journalists and non-journalists alike — because people “are feeling less informed” and “they are also tuning out.”

Take the time to read the entire article about how people are reacting to and engaging with news about the impeachment inquiry. Here are a few key points quoted from the article to get you started.

People are alienated, and “the degree of alienation is new,” the writers say. One person is quoted as saying, “It was not that people believed wrong things that they saw online, but that they stopped believing right things — or anything at all. … How do you have a society without shared reference points.”

Again, take the time to read the entire New York Times article because it applies to all of us as members of the same society — whether we cover the news, share it or consume it.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

Not a journalist? You still have power

By · Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 · Comments Off on Not a journalist? You still have power

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Curiosity is that powerful trait that drives journalists. It can drive you — the audience — too.

Here’s how.

Now recognize that even though you might not be a journalist, you have the ability to turn your curiosity into a story and the power to make a good story better. You are so lucky.

That’s because today, you can reach journalists in all ways. You can communicate via social media of all kinds. You can share your curiosity in such a straightforward manner that your curiosity can be transformed into stories. Your stories.

Journalists are already sharing the power. They welcome your participation. They are waiting to hear from you.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

Check. Recheck. Check again.

By · Friday, November 8th, 2019 · Comments Off on Check. Recheck. Check again.

not teaching,
still THINKING …

One small change can make a big difference. As journalists, we want the difference to be a positive one. That’s why everyone needs an editor.

The following examples of published errors are worth repeating. The mistakes range from transposed numbers to wrong information from a source.

That’s how:

That’s how:

Checking facts when we write is routine.

Checking changes that we make to another person’s writing is a must.

We all need an editor.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

Don’t blink! This reminder is a short one

By · Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 · Comments Off on Don’t blink! This reminder is a short one

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Two words that commonly get misused because they get misspelled are “your” and “you’re.” Before you get scared off by this grammar reminder, read this short post to see how simple it is to keep these words in their proper places.

YOUR means “something that belongs to you.” Memory aid: We wiped our feet on your rug. Reasoning: “Our” is contained in the word “your” — neither takes an apostrophe.

YOU’RE means “you are.” Memory aid: Thank you for the takeout food. You’re welcome. Reasoning: In this aid about takeout food, we had to “take out” the “a” in “you are welcome” and replace it with an apostrophe to form the correct choice — “you’re.”

See? Short and simple.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

Right your wrongs with transparency

By · Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 · Comments Off on Right your wrongs with transparency

not teaching,
still THINKING …

Mistakes happen. An important thing to remember as journalists is that when errors occur, we must be transparent with our audience. The same is true when we update information in an already published story.

There is a difference between correcting something that is outright wrong and updating a story as new information is obtained. In either case, without transparency, the audience could think information is wrong when it is not, or they could spread misinformation, thinking it is correct.

We offer some models that could be helpful.

Information is in error. Here are two examples of transparency online in real time when information is in error.

  1. We reported that a man was rescued from his overturned boat on the Oneida River. He was rescued from the Seneca River.
  2. Concert tickets go on sale tomorrow at 9 a.m., not this morning, as we reported.

Information has been updated. Here are two examples of transparency online in real time to explain exactly what changed when stories were updated.

  1. Authorities now say three people, not four, died in the fire.
  2. The principal now says elementary students will not be dismissed this morning because of the water-main break. They are being sent by bus to the middle school for the rest of the day.

When information needs to be corrected or updated, follow a process and be transparent — no matter how often you must do it. Feel confident that you are doing the right thing.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)