December 3, 2008


So my dashboard lied to me and said I had 13 posts. I checked just to make sure. Only 12. So now it seems silly that I am writing a blog after my farewell blog, but let's just say it is an encore.

I guess for the finale I am just going to write about what I have learned in J420. I have learned the basics, again. And thankfully. I never realized how much grammar I had forgotten since 6th grade. I still confuse who and whom and still cannot really explain the subjective or objective case. It is funny how much I used grammar just because it sounded and looked right, without having a real reason why. I also learned that canceled is not spelled CANCELLED. I would say that 99 times out of 100 I would have bet my life it was spelled CANCELLED. Good thing no one bet my my life.

I really enjoyed going over photo editing. I loved going through photos and choosing which ones I would run and wouldn't. The picture assignment was probably my favorite day of lecture.

I feel so much more comfortable and confident editing these days. I feel I can cut a story if I have to and it will still be complete and concise. I feel I can write a good headline, a catchy headline. I know that I will check spellings of names EVERY TIME to make sure they match in the story and the cutline. I really always enjoyed going to lab as well. I actually liked rewriting stories and making headlines and choosing photos. I like picking which stories I would run in my newspaper.

I think I might have to stick myself in the editing world eventually.

Farewell to you, blog

Since everyone has had a sort of "goodbye blog", I thought I would follow suit. I guess what I have enjoyed most about blogging is that it really is a great way to put your ideas into writing, and it is ALWAYS beneficial to write as much as you can. Blogging forced me to write about things in my everyday life and connect it with editing and journalism, while also making me pay attention to grammar and spelling even though I was writing pretty informally. In my first couple weeks of blogging it took me FOREVER to figure out what I wanted to blog about. I would dread it every week and wait to the last minute. But as I rush to finish my 13 blogs, I realized I had a lot more ideas in my head than I thought. When I didn't feel obligated to do it, I really enjoyed it more. And although I am obligated to write 13, these last couple blogs have really been my favorite. They might not have connected to editing as much as my original ones, but I really felt a lot more comfortable writing about them.

Luck Goes to Those Who Deserve It

This doesn't really have much to do with editng...but it does have to do with journalism.

I am currently in Journ 480, Literary Feature Writing with Walt Harrington. In the midst of some undergraduates and graduates, there is one Iraqi exchange student in the class. The student is also a woman in her mid 20s.

While the rest of us found subjects for our ~3000 word pieces, she was using herself as her hers, writing a memoir of her transition from Iraq to America. We finally were able to read it yesterday in class, after knowing seemingly nothing of her writing process or even anything about herself.

Her memoir was eye-opening. She had worked for a radio station run by women in Iraq that lacked funding and respect. She had worked for Hussein's son, translating English movies and television shows into English. She had worked for an organization that helped disabled soldiers. She graduated from Baghdad University, majoring in English. She also suffered from polio as a child and had a severly misshapen spine.

Lynn Holley heard of the radio station she was working for and decided to raise enough money to bring one aspiring journlist over to the University of Illinois. She was chosen. Walt Harrington then met her and offered her the chance to receive a Master's degree in journalism here at the university.

Reading her memoir was completely eye-opening. While she does admit that American children are selfish and have no respect for their parents, she also is in awe of the genuine curiosity and care of the students here, the way the univeristy and the U.S. cares for disabled people, the way women have a chance here, and the concept of freedom. She even says that Iraqis are much more selfish than Americans when only caring about people are are strong. The sick, the disabled, the women...all are treated as nobodies.

She has felt tragedy and seen horrors most of us have and will never see. Her 16-year-old brother was kidnapped and never seen again. Her father warned her many times to not speak in public because she might be killed. Yet she still became not only a woman, but a disabled woman, who received an education, helped with the war efforts, worked as a journlist for a sort of underground radio station.

She had been so lucky to have the opportunity to come here. But she is so deserving.

December 2, 2008

Good 'Ol Spellcheck

So I was recently thinking about the origin and creation of spellcheck. Everyone knows what spellcheck is in our generation. It would be blasphemy to write a paper or essay or story without pressing the little abc check mark button before you print it.

But let me just say, I would highly doubt my father could find the button or think to use it. My dad can barely type. He has asked me before to find the R for him. That brings me to the investigation of spellcheck and what people possibly did before it was created.

The first spellcheck applications were available on computers in the 1970s after some Georgetown linguists created it for IBM. At this time the application was only for mainframe computers, but ten years later it appeared on personal computers. Spellcheck is barely over the hill.

Also, the first spellcheckers did not suggest any corrections for the misspelled word, it simply just told you it was wrong.

I spellcheck documents numerous times and STILL sometimes find a misspelled word in my documents. Editors back in the day must have needed an even finer eye since the only things looking over stories were just other people.

Computers nowadays even switch letters for you on their own if you make a mistake on a really common word. It works as another mind. In the future, who knows what will be the next editing application. A complete grammar check? A way of telling which "there" belongs in the sentence even if they are all spelled right? Could looking for grammar mistakes completely become a computer's job?

We can only wait and see.

December 1, 2008

Advice: Blog

It is actually pretty bizarre how similar me and my brother are, and not surprisingly, he came out to be a wannabe journalist/writer just as I did. Funny how neither of my parents have any interest in writing. My dad could be the worst speller on the face of the earth. My mom has the most annoying habit of pronouncing most words incorrectly. I love them dearly though.

My brother is a freshman at Marquette in journalism. He is all about wanting to be a sports writer and so he went to his advisor, who apparently was a journalist and author, and asked him what, if anything, he could be doing to help him.

The advisor responded, "Blog."

I thought that was quite odd, especially after all the talk we have had about whether blogging is even journalism or not. Who is going to read his blog? Who is going to find it? Is anyone that will be of any help to his career going to be sitting on

Regardless, my brother sits up on the computer blogging about his sports thoughts. And he has many. I think the title of his blog is "Windy Schmidty Sports." Oh my clever brother.

I guess the point is that blogging helps you practice writng. It helps you make your writing interesting to other people. It helps you get interested in what to blog about. Perhaps I should have been more into my blogging after all.

November 23, 2008

I'm not going to lie, I never have a clue what to post on my blog, which is why I have been MIA for quite some time. But coming home always brings up numerous questions from my family:

"How is school?"
"How are classes?"
"Have you been doing anything for your career?"
"What are you going to do with a journalism degree?"
"Are you actually going to be a writer?"
"What are you going to do?"

Chill out everyone. This is what I want to tell everyone. Sometimes, I do. But really, it is kind of daunting thinking about what is going to happen after college.

I have realized though, that I am comfortable having a degree in something that is nearly universally needed, even if, as they all say, "newspapers are dying" and what not. I commented on someone else's blog once that if you can write well, you are better off than 95% of the rest of the people in the world. (thanks Jeff Unger)

I believe that.

Whether we actually do become reporters and work for a newspaper and uncover scandals by being watchdogs of the government and corporations or whether we go into politics or public relations or editing or graphics and design or business...we will be needed because we have been educated in researching, asking questions, talking to people, getting answers, finding a story, finding the truth, being accurate, writing clearly, writing thoughtfully, writing enticingly...writing well. I can' tell you how many times I have been asked to proofread a friend's paper or help my brother with his stories.

I feel like I have become more interested in everything around me and more educated on topics I knew nothing about by being forced to be immersed in the news. Knowing about what goes on in the world, knowing how to explain it, and knowing how to follow it and further people's knowledge of it is something very little people know and know how to do.

While I am just as nervous as the next person about getting a job and making money, I am completely satisfied in what I have been educated in.

October 14, 2008

Dessert March Madness to Spelling Madness

So I work at the Olive Garden.

Some people love it, some people hate it, for food reasons. I just kind of hate it, for work reasons. It takes up too much of my time...although I am sure I would only be watching T.V. or laying around doing nothing (both better options than waiting on people for 7 hour shifts, burning myself on hot plates and scraping off people's dirty dishes, and coming home smelling of garlic breadsticks or other pungent odors).

But yesterday a new annoyance came up while I was at work, doing all of the above annoying things. The managers decided to start a friendly competition of which employee can sell the most desserts; they just needed more desserts sold for their own benefit so they tricked everyone by offering a Best Buy gift card for whoever sells the most. I don't care about selling desserts or a Best Buy gift card so I wasn't fooled. (FYI, I made it three rounds deep) But it must be because of my natural selling abilities and the fact that I just like beating other employees.

Anyways, as I am walking toward the bracket to see who is in the Final Four (oh yes, a little mini March Madness dessert bracket), I see a huge sign that reads: FINAL FOUR, ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT IN THE COMPITITION!

Um, what? The E and the I aren't even next to each other on the keyboard, so don't even try to play it off as a typo.

One of my managers, a person who runs the entire Olive Garden restaurant, spelled competition like this: COMPITITION. Disregarding the fact that you can't spell the word, um, hello, can you not use spell check before you put up a document for the entire place to see? Apparently they were so sure of their spelling expertise that spellcheck was below them. The other thing that got me was that not one other person noticed the error. Even after I pointed it out, still no one thought it was a big deal.

Moral of the story: I guess I must care a lot about correct spelling, thanks to, ahem, being a journalist, and now, an editor. But also, a whole lot of people either don't know how to spell, or just don't see the importance of it. Such a shame, because one letter changed how I now view my managers.