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At least someone still teaches writing: students won't succeed without grammar.

Scene One:

A Creighton University junior was discussing her spring registration plans with me.

"I want to take editing next semester because I need to improve my grammar."

"Who did you have for freshman composition?"

"Dr. X."

"But he's one of the best on campus."

"He's the best for critical thinking, but he doesn't teach grammar."

Scene Two:

It's "Grammarama" day in Dr.

Carol Zuegner's editing class. Students are yelling out answers to questions about syntax, punctuation, and usage. They're excited.

They're learning. Prior to this course, some had never studied grammar.

Why We Need Journalism

Education: I rest my case.

During my first semester of teaching at Creighton, a Jesuit university with above-average students, I was breezing through a unit on grammar in an editing class, too inexperienced to realize how baffled some of my students were. Finally Robin raised her hand.

"What's a preposition?"

I hadn't realized that many elementary and secondary schools don't teach grammar. Apparently many college English teachers simply penalize students for poor grammar without believing it is their duty to teach remedial English in addition to literature or composition, I can't say I blame them. However, Reality 101 is that many bright and motivated students will never succeed in journalism unless we teach them the difference between complete sentences and sentence fragments, the correct use of pronouns, and the agreement of subjects and predicates. It's hard work, but someone has to do it. I don't see many other candidates on the horizon.

I support liberal education for journalists, but I believe that journalism education is important, too. I've benefited lifelong from a combination of the two. I was a double major in journalism and political science with minors in history and English. I have M.A.'s in political science and journalism, and my doctorate is in political science. At Creighton, we are part of the College of Arts and Sciences, and I wouldn't change that. Our students complete a sixty-seven-hour core that includes classes in philosophy, English, history, theology, the social sciences, foreign language, math, and natural science. Twelve hours of upper-level courses in a field other than their major also are required.

Our journalism major is only thirty-six hours, about a fourth of a student's total coursework. That's lower than some national journalism education standards, but I think it is about right. We introduce students to reporting, editing, photography, and graphic design. They can work on our newspaper, yearbook, or online newspaper, do internships, make professional contacts, and build portfolios.

They graduate both liberally and professionally educated.

Today's students face a brutal job market. Journalism always has been a word-of-mouth hiring field. Even as editorial writers are debating the merits of journalism education, city editors contact us for names of talented recruits. A good word from a respected journalism professor can open career doors just as a good class from that same professor can ensure that students are ready to walk through them.

I encourage students to get the best of both worlds--strong journalism and strong liberal arts. It's a recipe for success, especially in an era when the most rigorous writing instruction available may be in the journalism department.
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Title Annotation:Symposium to J or not to J? A question of career preparation
Author:Wirth, Eileen
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Previous Article:J-students have it both ways (sort of): don't make it an either/or question.
Next Article:Democracy requires a broad education: educators should adjust balance knowledge, skills.

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