03 February 2009

How much do you read?

Instead of jumping right into work today, the people who make up the copy desk sat down and watched a "webinar" podcast created by Poynter Institute and News University. First of all, I had no idea that "webinar" was a word now. When will we stop making up words? How long until the entire English language is nothing but a monstrous conglomeration of compounded words?

Not that it isn't already, I mean. I suppose it's just the natural course of a language: Rise, fall, flounder, renaissance. At least, it's probably something like that. A girl in my International Communication class was complaining today about the French, and how American students are taught French, but it really isn't French, since we're taught to say "Je suis" but they actually say "[shwie]"......

It was a lovely rant, and I just want to point out, it had nothing to do with the topic of the degeneration of language, because, as other French-speakers might want to point out, "[shwie]" is pretty much like saying "I'm" in place of "I am".

Back to the webinar. Poynter did a study on people's reading habits and the most interesting piece of information was that people read more text online as opposed to in print. I think it has something to do with speed, like it takes longer to read something in print, especially if the story involves a jump. I know that is one of the reasons I stopped reading print things, at least, it's why I stopped reading the longer stories. I hated searching for the correct page to continue the article. Once I do find the page, the story is never in a similar place.

Does that make sense? If the story has to jump to a separate page, isn't it just common courtesy to start the story again on a similar area of the page? Maybe it just has to do with whoever did the designing. I know that so far, at the Tribune, I don't really see a rhyme, or even a logical rule of syllable counts, to which copy editor does which page. It's more like, "Who wants this one?" "I do." "OK."

This probably means I'm missing something. I'm sure people have their regular pages to edit.

The more I see of newspapers, the more I realize how much DOESN'T get into the paper. I've edited a lot that doesn't appear for a while, or that doesn't appear at all. Maybe they're just testing my editing style. I don't know. But papers are really quite small, in spite of the enormous amount of information that's out there to read. And then when I start thinking about how many different ways there are to spread that information, I'm amazed.

Just think about all of the different front pages that were created for Obama's inauguration. The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky put together a page of historic front pages from around the world. It's a strange feeling to remember that day, it was my first day working here, and I placed a couple of the pictures that made up the Tribune's front page. And now it's on page A7 of the Courier-Journal, under The Washington Post, and next to Le Journal de Montreal and The Jerusalem Post.

I worked on that page, even if it really was only adjusting a couple photo boundaries and using Google to find some clearer images. But still.....it's there. It's permanent. People will look up front pages from January 2009 and find something that I touched with my fingertips before anyone else did.

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