As Steve Davis, Emilie Davis’s husband, explained his wife’s silent frustration when people misspell her name, he said, “it never hurts to just double check.”
Steve Davis, also a newspaper journalism professor, as well as chair of the newspaper department at the Newhouse School, is very familiar with spelling mistakes and factual errors when it comes to news writing. Before coming to Newhouse, Davis had been the executive editor for the Public Opinion, the Chambersburg, Pa., community newspaper, and both national editor and Washington editor at USA Today.
“It’s a miracle how few mistakes there are when you consider the hundreds and thousands of articles published every day,” Davis said.
But even though he knows about all the hard work put toward error-free articles, he has still come to understand how unforgiving people can be when a journalist does make a mistake.
When a person’s name is spelled wrong an article, “the reaction can be deadly,” Davis said. In a business where one must present his work to people who will examine it, and after one mistake deem it “crap,” Davis said, “it takes bravery to do that every day.”
This harsh reality of the news writing industry provoked the thought process behind the Newhouse School’s spelling/grammatical/factual error grading policy in news writing and editing classes.
In the first half of the introductory news ...
... middle of paper ...
...licy that reveals itself during the second half of the semester. Students no longer receive an F for one error, but rather one letter-grade less than they would have received for an article with no mistakes.
Students who have gotten two or three F’s on articles have still ended up getting an A in the course, Davis said, since the second half of the semester counts more than the first. “It’s all about learning,” Davis said. “If they show improvement, often the F’s from the beginning will get thrown out.”
Sometimes the professors come together and say, “Should we change the policy?” Davis said. But in the end, they always agree it’s for the best.
Since they won’t be changing the policy any time soon, Davis gives out a warning to students using someone’s name in an article. “Don’t take nametags for granted,” Davis said. “Remember, it never hurts to just double check.”
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