So you are stuck. Is in fact two words or one? Is it its or it’s? Theirs or their’s?
Don’t worry all of us get into that jam. Like we did for a story on page 7 today, when nobody could properly spell physicist, and Bhanu who was sitting next to a dictionary couldn’t even lift it in time.
So, what’s the solution? Either we can pretend we know it all or you can try to hone your skills.
Check out www.newsroom101.com for a set of oneline grammar and usage tests. Why should you when you already have a job? Because Bhimsen Joshi still does riyaaz at 84.
Mark Potts who runs the wonderful blog Recovering Journalist, has a ten-point recipe for struggling newspapers. You can read the whole piece here. A couple of points are very interesting, especially the one about getting rid of the editorial page; hopefully we can have a debate on them here.
1. Make the web the primary product
2. Local, local, LOCAL!
3. If it’s widely available elsewhere, don’t waste time recreating it
4. Zero-base the news operation
5. Get the readers involved
6. Lose the editorial page
7. Expand the advertising base
8. Rethink the classifieds
9. Find new ways to serve advertisers
10. Take chances; innovate.
For those too lazy or uninterested in checking out RJ, here’s what Potts says on going local:
There are a zillion places to get national and international news, in real time. But newspapers are virtually the only source of truly local news. So why do so many newspapers splash national and international news on the front page and relegate local news to an inside section? Local news is the last unique franchise that newspapers own, and too many newspapers don’t seem to understand this. People are cancelling newspaper subscriptions because the product is irrelevant to their lives; local news and information is critical to their lives. That’s where the readership gains can be had. (Why do you think local community newspapers are thriving when big metro dailies are shedding circulation?) Every resource available should be thrown at local coverage, newsroom pay and promotions should be tied to excellence of local reporting, the front page of the paper and Web site should be entirely local, and national and international news should be relegated to an inside section. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to get truly serious about zoning, with editions that are solely devoted to local communities, not just paying them lip service or rearranging existing local content. I don’t care what’s going on two towns away from me; don’t waste newsprint or pixels on it in my edition.
There are plenty of red faces around here today.
Or at least there ought to be, if there aren’t any.
First the good news. Even on a slow news day, we have managed to put out an okay front page. There is a neat explainer on the Chinese president’s visit. There is a good exclusive on the PSU outfits losing people. And there is a nice “urban” story on children from elite school being more vulnerable to diabetes.
But the bad news is on pages 3 and 4, where we have missed the key city news of the day, the CAT exams.
It would have been okay if like the Belgaum affidavit which we missed a couple of months ago, the story wan’t around. But in the CAT case, there was not one or two but three stories in the system. And yet, wonder of wonders, the metro desk couldn’t put it in.
On the other hand, to see stories from Arsikere and Bagalkot on page 4 takes the breath away, but apparently there is an explanation for that. L K Advani’s story on the joint Indo-Pak anti-terror mechanism, which is on page 6 had been repeated on page 4. It had to be replaced in the middle of printing schedules. So, Shruthi who came back to the office from home went in with Arsikere and Bagalkot.
That still does not explain the misssing CAT. Are we desperately short of people or short of imagination?
Nobody will sue us for the miss, of course, but at a time when we are concentrating so heavily on the city—we have introduced three new columns in the past week, if you haven’t noticed, by Sudhakar, Nirad and Usha—it is a bad miss, because CAT is such a nice, urban story.
Can anybody believe a young man who says he went to see Casino Royal alone—yes, ALONE—yesterday? BTW, he avers it’s a darn good movie. That, too. Can anybody believe a young man who says he went alone to a movie to see the movie?
Over lunch at the almost-magnificent New Modern Home, under the benign gaze of Nehru and Gandhi and Anadurai, a certain somebody whose surname begins with M got a call on his cell.
The caller couldn’t latch on to the odd-sounding name. And the three of us in unison chipped in to make the lady understand: “H for Hitler, A for Arrogant, R for Rascal….”
And yes, I for you-know-what.