Friday, October 31, 2014

A Great Lead Is All It Takes To Get Me Hooked!

Sex-trafficking survivor: ‘God put the best Mormons in my path for me to change’
By PEGGY FLETCHER STACK | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Oct 28 2014 06:21PM    

Three weeks ago, Laurin Crosson got word that yet another "client" had slit the throat of yet another sex-trafficked woman. Crosson — who spent two decades in that dark, violent world — has seen the scenario painfully play out over and over.

The No. 1 cause of death for women in the sex trade is murder, she says. Many either have no families or have been isolated by pimps. Their bodies often remain unclaimed in morgues.

Lost. Forgotten. Abandoned.

This is a great narrative lead.  It brings the reader immediately in on what is obviously a very sad world that many might not be aware of.  There is some suspense, some anticipation about what you are going to read next and great descriptive words.  It isn't a very fun subject, but this article goes on to educate people about some scary things that go on in the real world.  Also with narrative storytelling, it really reconstructs the event and puts the reader right into the scene.

When writing a narrative lead, it is very effective to be dramatic and put the reader on the scene as the action occurs.  It is important to use techniques of fiction, dialogue, scene setting and foreshadowing. 

This article's lead has some foreshadowing of knowing that "yet another sex-trafficked woman has had her throat slit."

For my editing mistake, I found one that took me a few seconds to figure out what was wrong. 

I thought this was a great example because some might not even pick up on the fact that as it reads, it sounds like the "free can of soft drink" is $9.  It should probably be written as, "Order any of our pasta meals for $9 and receive a free can of soda."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blog Post #8- Show and Tell

The chapter says “Show, don’t tell.”
This is sage advice.
Which sounds better…
My day was ruined.
The day started as any other day. Tea at the usual goddess-forsaken hour of the morning, a quick shower, and breakfast while Olli played with my toes. Then, things went south. No sugar for the oatmeal, my boots had who-knows-what all over them, and I suddenly remembered I was supposed to be early for work. Sigh. Things went to all-out purgatory the minute I opened my door.
I think we can agree the second paragraph is better. The second part illustrates step-by-step how things went from bad to worse, without the oh-so-descriptive bit “My day was ruined”, which doesn't tell us what actually happened.
Sometimes, though, showing and telling go hand in hand.
Ugh. This wasn't how I wanted to spend my Friday. I did a double take when I saw Ollie try and get the guy’s attention. If he pet Olli, he’d stink for days.
“Don’t you touch my cat.”
“Not going to,” the man grunted. “I’m allergic.”
“That’s doesn't apply anymore,” I said, clenching my teeth. Stomping towards the kitchen, I snagged a bowl off the counter and the box of Lucky Charms I kept for just such emergencies. I plunked them down in front of him.
“So,” I said, trying to be conversational, “how long have you been dead?”
“Two hours. Got any milk?” He asked, wading into in my fridge. “I prefer skim.”
Goddess, how I hated being a reaper.
See what I mean? The characters let YOU, the reader, know the man was dead without actually saying “The dead man leaned against the planter.”

Editing tip of the week:
At my niece’s show-and-tell thing for school, a student brought in a picture she drew over the weekend. The picture portrayed her whole family, but the caption read “My Whore Family”. One little misplaced letter can derail the entire meaning of the sentence. I realize she was very young, but I still had to clap my hand over my mouth to keep from snorting. J

Blog Post #7- Repetition, repetition, repetition

They say repetition is the key to learning, but can it also be a key to effective writing?
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”- Robert Frost (1923)
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Frost uses many words to let us know it’s snowing- flake, frozen, snow. He also repeats the last line of the poem in its entirety, suggesting he still has a long journey before reaching his destination. I think he repeats the last line not just to let us know it’s the end of his poem, but the end of his minute to himself in the woods.

Editing mistake of the week: a facebook status update made a splash @ by posting “...OMG can it get anymore hotter. This day has just confirmed that hell has came. I wounder if I can used that excuse not to go to work tomorrow??? Hhmmmmm…”

Pretty sure this sentence broke every grammar rule I know.

Blog Post #6- There Vs. They’re vs. Their

This mistake is my pet peeve, mostly because I’m 26 and still struggle with it something fierce. All the others (two vs. to. vs. too, your vs. you’re, etc)  never seem to even make it on my radar, yet the which-their-do-I-use-this-time argument is on repeat in my head.
There is for a place, as in “here or there.”
They’re is short for “They are.”
 Their means it belongs to them (i.e- Their feet are stinky.)

Editing mistake of the week- Boss lady wrote a mass email to everyone suggesting “Freetime is metime! (Meaning stay out of my office during lunchtime.)”

I’m not sure about everyone else, but my lunch hour is me time, not “metime.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

A friend and an enemy, AP Stylebook.

The AP Style book reminds me a lot of my older brother due to the fact that just went I feel that I get something right, he beats me back down again. I have learned a lot of things from my brother and not all of them have been bad. But just like the AP Style book, he has taught me how to do things the right way. Because if you do them the wrong way, you are going to look like a fool and have to go back and fix them.
Numbers have always been something that I have struggled with as a reporter, especially with sports and press releases. Is it 4 home runs or four? I would always choose 4 because I felt that it would be easier for the reader but boy was I wrong. Until you get to 10, you have to spell it out and now I think it looks better.
It has also taught me that I need to do it the right way and not my way. Because my way isn’t going to look as good and may drive my editors crazy. There are rules for a reason and those rules are to help me become a better writer and editor. From the feedback that I received from writers that I have talked to is just how important following the AP Style book is. Most readers can tell when you do something wrong and they may never read your stuff again because of that.

I hope I can bail this man out of jail so he can bale my hay.

When we are writing and reading, we need to understand that meaning of the words that we are putting out there. Whether it be accept the invitation or except for the fact. I think the one word that I struggled most was when I was a kid would have been bail and bale. That is due to the fact that I helped my brothers retrieving the hay for our horses. I would write stories in school about it all the time. I remember getting it wrong every time during the whole story, that made me feel really dumb.
The rest of the reading was very helpful as well because my use of past tense for a lot of words has been pretty bad. The one word that really sticks out to me is hang because I always felt that it was “hung” in every instance. I don’t think it once ever crossed my mind that it could be hanged, but now I know.
My Mistakes:
This comes from the example that was just given because I was teaching a class at my church this past Sunday. One of the kids said that he had seen a movie were a man had been hung. I was about to tell him that it was hanged when another kid said that he had said it wrong. He explained to the other kid it was hanged and that he had learned that in the fourth grade. That made me feel really dumb.

Choose your style wisely.

Use your words wisely was something that my grandfather always taught me when I got myself into an argument or sticky situation. He would always tell me about instances in his life where he would say something and mean something else. He said it caused him a lot of problems in his life. So as I read through chapter 9, I just had feelings of all the things that he had said to me. I don’t have that great of a vocabulary, I try to stay away from big words with big meanings because I have a fear that someone may ask me what the word means. I think this chapter does a great job about teaching us about wordiness and cleaning up our writing. Just as we love to hear ourselves talk, I think we have that same issue with writing as well. Sometimes we use words that aren’t necessary but we use them anyway because it may make us look good. The examples on page 131 was like a list of all the things that I do wrong and it made me feel bad for my editors that had to put up with that stuff issue after issue.
I really like how chapter 11 defines style because I have never really thought about what it means to others. The book’s definition is that style is a writer’s unique vision. I don’t think there are two people that have the same style in their writing even though they may have the same ideas. Each person wants to portray the story differently and put their stamp on that piece. Using intensifiers sparingly is something that I struggle with a lot, because I have fallen in love with really, extremely, and truly too many times. As I continued with that section, it really helped me realize that is something that I need to eliminate from my writing.
Mistake this week:
I found this while searching through my Facebook the other day. It is a word that I have misspelled my fair share of times. 

Sexism is a real thing.

Although I have written my fair share of stories about both sexes, I can guarantee that I used a lot of sexist language. Even though I am fully aware that women are just as equal as men, I don’t think that has translated into my writing.
They Myth of the Generic He
The example of a doctor really caught my attention especially that questions. No, doctors and children are not all male. But if we just use he or him than we are making the generalization that they are. After doing the assignment, I realized that I need to use his or her more because I feel that it fits my style of writing better.
The reading in the AP Stylebook took me back to Comm Law and all of the cases that we covered in the reading. Defamation is something that really confused me for such a long time but after doing the reading, I feel that I understand it a lot better. Just because we get an audio clip that we feel is newsworthy, we have to be careful to make sure that it isn’t going to make someone want to come back and sue you.
Mistake of the week:
I don't have the exact picture from what I saw but I found something similar on the internet. One of my brothers good friends got a tattoo this past week. It was a quote and had the word loyalty spelled wrong. It was spelt loyatly.

Sexist Writing and Libel

So this week is all about sexist writing and libel.  In this day and age we want to put sexist writing to bed.  Throughout history there's always been this misogynist tone in many societies.  The only thing that's good for is division of people, and it's time to get over it.  I do have a couple questions though.  On our assignment "Eliminating Sexist Language" this week there were a couple terms that I didn't think held any sexist weight at all, but apparently do.  The first is janitor.  I thought that "janitor" was just a universal term used for anyone that cleans places.  The second was waiter.  I racked my brain over this one for FAR too long because I had always thought that waiter was the unisex word for someone on the wait staff.  I can see how waitress holds a sexist connotation because of the -ess at the end of it.  But just as someone who operates something is an operator, or someone who drafts something is a drafter, I would dare say that someone who waits on people are waiters regardless of sex.  Just like the term actress is sexist, but actor is not.  I don't quite get that one.

Another question that i have pertains to a copywriting class that I'm currently taking.  The other day I learned that using the male connotation for any non-described single person is actually correct, and to remedy this would be to rewrite the sentence in a plural fashion so that it applies to everybody.  This is probably an old rule of thumb, but regardless, there are a lot of rules in today's grammar game and I just wonder if it's possible that some could be inconsistent from others.

This has been a tremendously crazy week for me, but i've been keeping an eye out to try and find a grammar fail that has to do with sexist language or libel in my travels but to no avail.  I think that these rules in particular are are getting a lot of correction before print or broadcast.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Guardians of the -isms

(week 9)

Due to my immensely hectic schedule I haven’t been able to get out much. So, to the chagrin of my mountains of homework I took my family to see a movie which my kids had been begging me to see, “Guardians of the Galaxy”. This movie is perhaps the most popular blockbuster film in recent memory and there’s a reason; incredible graphics mixed with funny dialogue and high-impact action. But the film had another, not-so-pleasant feature to it. Beneath the dialogue were all four -isms in full effect.

As Holywood always seems to do, they’ve cast jacked-up black men to play the role of the prisoners. At no point throughout this movie did they have a black person cast in a role of true intelligence. This perpetuates stereotypes and showcases how black men are typically viewed in film-- as criminals.
Although the film did have women in position-of-power roles, there were still issues of sexism. A woman on her knees cleaning as she slaves for her male master. The lead female antagonist played the role of assistant to the main villain.

There were two jokes made which may have rubbed me a bit wrong. There was a point where one of the main protagonists, Rocket asks one of his allies, Quill, to retrieve an amputee man’s fake leg. When the task is accomplished Quill gives Rocket the leg and says something like, “I didn’t think you’d really do it! What did he look like hopping around?” Rocket pulls a similar stunt directed at a one-eyed man later in the film.

Week 9

The -isms were very interesting this week.  It made me realize that there are some things that I say or write all the time that I need to eliminate.  One area is consistent treatment of the sexes.  This section of the reading made me realize that I do describe and categorize women differently than men.  I have never meant anything by it, it is just something I have done without realizing how wrong or unnecessary it really is.  The example in the book that made me laugh discussed a sports story about a new female coach described as a "curly-headed blonde."  I thought that was funny because if you said that about a male coach it would sound totally ridiculous.  The sad part is that if I heard a woman described like that I would never think anything of it.  This is something that I need to change and it is something that I am going to work on.

Another section that really opened my eyes is the "Don't Reinforce Stereotypes by "Exceptions."  The book states that doing this is pretty much just as bad as using the stereotype itself.  I have never thought about it in that light but it is totally true.  The book states that "writing that a Mexican-American is hardworking and even-tempered implies that Mexican-Americans in general are indolent and volatile."  If we act as if something like that is an exception or a surprise we are actually reinforcing a stereotype.

I have a six-year-old, African-American, adopted brother.  Ever since he has come into our family I have been more sensitive to racist comments and stereotypes.  I try hard to treat everybody equally because I really hope my brother will receive the same treatment as he grows up.  This chapter has helped me realize that there is even more I can and should be working on, and that I still have a lot of room to improve.

Editing Mistake of the Week

I have been thinking about getting a BMX bike.  I ride a lot with my kids so I want something that I can just throw around and not worry about.  Because of this I have been looking at the KSL Classifieds.  There are so many editing mistakes throughout the ads.  Here is one of them.

Mongoose bmx
Kearns, UT   84119   |   Oct 26, 2014

I have a very nice mongoose bmx it is nice it rides good and it has no damage only a little scratch nothing serious the bike is in good condition if you have any question please contact me thanks

 This ad doesn't use a single punctuation mark in the entire description.  Plus he said it rides good when he should have said it rides well.  I think it would be safe to say that there might be some run-ons happening in this ad!

Rampant sexism

Allow me to apologize for exposing you all to this absolutely terrible website. I encourage none of you to waste any time perusing it, as the content has no place in civilized society.  I find it disheartening that this kind of hateful material is published regularly. Thankfully, this website not part of a respected news organization. is a blog for "heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine."
The material in the posts they publish is sexist and often racist. Here are just a few titles to illustrate this point:
They are also heterosexist, as you can see in their "About" page, where they have the following statement:
"Women and homosexuals are discouraged from commenting here."
In "When Words Collide," Kessler and MacDonald warn against labeling people according to their sexual orientation. 

I like that the book touched on the topic of "political correctness." In truth, I have often thought someone was going overboard. On the other hand, I've been offended by some things I've seen in print, making me wish the reporter or editor had been a tad more sensitive. Bottom line: better safe than sorry. 


Sexism: My example of sexism came from a conversation on Facebook with my friend. She posted on her status about how she doesn't think that it's right that grants are given to her strictly for her gender. She argued that it should be given only based on academic performance. She had a valid point but I couldn't help but retort that we need to try and achieve more diversity in academia. With more diversity, education can go even further.

Racism: I saw a very clear example of this in my Intercultural communication class. We watched the primetime television special called "True Colors." It was about two friends who went separately to live in society. One was white and the other black. It should how differently they were treated when trying to rent a house, buy a car, go shopping, and applying for jobs. It was an eye opening experience to see how prevalent racism is in our society still to this day.

Ageism: I wanted to give a personal example of this. I attended drill for the National Guard this weekend and conducted a PT (Physical Training) test. The rubric for grading the test is based on gender and the age of the solider. It's a fair and easy enough scale but many soldiers judge others based on their ages for their PT scores. If a 40 year old scores a high score on a test, it's not because they are in shape. It's because they don't have to do the same requirements as the younger soldiers. This works both ways too. If a 20 year old fails the test, the older soldiers give them a hard time. You should be expected to do well if you're young. The expectations are the ageism not the rubric.

Heterosexism: I wasn't as aware of this problem until I took a gender communication class. I never realized just how prevalent it was in society until then. An example I thought of was when the professor taught the class about CIS gender. A CIS gender is someone who identifies with the gender they were born with. Almost everyone in the class asked questions like, "So you mean like normal?" How does that make everyone who isn't CIS gender feel? Are they not normal?

My grammar mistake for the week is a funny one. I couldn't help but crack a smile at the improper use of their. 

'The 4 Isms!

The four isms have been a recurring issue since the beginning of time. Sometimes, it can be ridiculously difficult to avoid using words that are sexists, ageist, hetaerist, and racist in our writing. Some words we use everyday such as “congressman” and “mailman” have been in our vocabulary since we were youngsters and sound so natural to us. The media is one source that has used words, phrases or pictures for advertising that often fall into the isms category.


This ad is highly sexist because it implies that for a woman, the only job the really matters is cleaning. 


Apparently a law suit was filed toward Pepperidge Farms for the human figures on the right side and the use of the words "dark chocolate" and "light golden" to reference people's skin tones.


This ad is clearly ageist because it is singling out younger girls and implying that they are better looking and more fun. 

Almost all of the premium brands advertise that good looking men and women belong together; as if a homosexual couple couldn't represent Dolce & Gabbana. 

Editing Mistake of the Week:

This is an interesting editing mistake I noticed while watching Netflix this weekend. Technically in the episode description where it says the relationships between the staff of Sacred Heart Hospital the correct word should be "among" instead of "between" because between is comparing two things. In the description, it is concerning a group of people; not just two, therefore it should say among the staff.