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I'm Chels. I blog about science, art, tennis, and my adventures in journalism. Officially, I'm a Science Writer at Brookhaven National Lab and I blog for them, too. Unofficially, I'm pretty awesome.

Or, you know, owsome.

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Posts tagged medill

Listserv’d

I’m on this alumni listserv from grad school, which usually tends to discuss things like grammar or word usage, open jobs around the country, or the value of Twitter for journalists. I only pay attention with about half an eye to each email that comes across, mostly because conversations often devolve into a fight between the “old school” thinkers and the “new media” generation.

But last week, someone wrote in to ask how to explain the value of editing to a new blogger she’d just hired, and a story cropped up from an alum named Mel Bloom that was worth my attention. He said: 

My first job out of Medill was at what was then the combined newsroom of WBBM and WBBM-TV in Chicago. I was a rather young and inexperienced newswriter/editor/occasional reporter. It was 1960.
The late Walter Cronkite was in Chicago and doing his evening news from our studio that night. He also had a late afternoon five minute radio news show…a variety of CBS News personalities had these hourly gigs throughout the day. He had asked for some space and a typewriter and I was working at the next desk in the newsroom pretending to be unimpressed. Cronkite polished off his script, looked around, looked at me and asked, “Do you have a minute to look this over for me?”
And I, the insecure child J-school grad of hardly a year said something like, “You want ME to edit your copy?”
And Cronkite said, “Everyone needs an editor.”
I’d probably choke in a situation like that, but I love how straightforward Cronkite was about the whole thing. Even legends need someone to look over their stuff.

Something about this story really hit home. It’s about more than just being willing to have someone edit your writing. Producing good work, in my experience, almost always stems from a willingness to incorporate good ideas, no matter where they come from. 

Okay, so I know I look young, but evidently I’m an old lady who doesn’t know basic things like how-to-use-the-internet. I have been advised to open two browsers, and so I AM BACK, guys. (Whew. I know you were all worried.)

Anyway, the picture above is of the dictionary stand in our newsroom. I always crack up whenever I see it because it’s so oldey timey to have that thing in here. Especially when it’s surrounded by a bank of computers where we look up definitions to words when we have a question. 

The only use the dictionary gets is when we have some downtime between waiting for sources and writing and we end up playing that sort of Magic 8 Ball game with it. You know the one where you open it, put your finger down randomly, and see what the word you’ve picked says about you. Yeah, we’re profesh. 

SIX: Honor thy smart phone.

Jacqueline Klimas tells new journalists the 10 Commandments of Capitol Hill reporting (via medilldc)

Jacq wrote this great blog post for Medill today. It’s cute and quippy and completely true. I get a lot of questions from people asking me what they need to learn to be a journalist. This is a nice little starter.