Archive for the 'essays' Category

Getting press coverage part 2: the editor’s desk

June 29, 2007

I promised over a month ago to write a guide to getting your work into print. Before we start, though, a disclaimer:

If you are serious about starting a writing career, there are books and web sites galore that will give you more than enough information about the process of writing query letters, the right way to pitch ideas, and so on.

But say you just want to get press coverage for an issue you care about or an event you’re running. You don’t really have the time or interest to become a professional freelancer, but you have to learn the basics or no newspaper is going to give you a second glance. That’s where this might help you.

Why do I think I’m at all qualified to write this little guide? I’ve seen both sides. I’ve freelanced for local publications, and before I graduated I spent three semesters as managing editor of my school’s student newspaper. I may not be the most experienced, most rugged freelancer, but I think these tips could help anyone just starting out in the biz.

Read more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Do You Speak American?

June 5, 2007

After finding PBS’s web site for Do You Speak American? I intended to have a long post on this topic, but I’ve been browsing through the material for days and have still found no end to it.

It looks as if there was a documentary broadcast on TV back in 2005, and the producers organized all their notes and chucked them up on the ‘net. This is how journalism should be done. It is an amazing wealth of knowledge and I wish I’d known about it before. Dorks like me could spend months on a site like this.

There is too much to go into in much depth, but the site contains essays and research papers from linguists on everything from the “decline” of English to detailed analyses of American dialects. (I was especially fascinated by the section on the Lumbee, a group of 40,000 Native Americans in Robeson County, NC who use words like “mommuck” and “ellick” and are still struggling for official formal recognition from the US federal government.)  You can also read about human perception of computerized voices (high-end BMW drivers, apparently, prefer their cars to “speak” like males) and how Buffy the Vampire Slayer relates to slang. There are quizzes (What is “blue sky” and where is it played?), videos, audio clips, and a “verb conjugation machine,” where you can create verb sequences like “glide, glode, glidden” just for the fun of it.

This is really an amazing collection of information. Enjoy!

First with all the answers, but still feeling testy

April 13, 2007

A professor of mine e-mailed me her congratulations for a piece published in Newsday. I had no idea what she meant until I remembered an essay I’d submitted to them ages ago for their “New Voices” section. Apparently they liked it.