How you can help editors write better headlines

The national conference of the American Copy Editors Society is only a few weeks away. This year’s gathering is in Portland, Oregon, from March 31 to April 2.

I am organizing and moderating a discussion on headline writing. For this session, we are inviting everyday people to give spontaneous feedback on a set of headlines and tweets. There will be no right or wrong answers. We’re just curious what real readers think of real headlines.

It’s a reprise of a session at the 2014 ACES conference in Las Vegas. Alex Cruden, a former editor at the Detroit Free Press and winner of the ACES Glamann Award, came up with the concept years ago. He hoped a dialog between editors and readers might result in better headlines.

If you know someone in Portland who would like to serve on this reader panel, please contact me. I am also taking requests for headlines to include in the session, which will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 1.

For more about the ACES conference and a full list of sessions and events, check out the official site. I’d love to see you there.

Let’s get digital at #ACES2016

portland

The national conference of the American Copy Editors Society will take place March 31-April 2 in Portland, Oregon. This is the 20th ACES conference. Congratulations and happy anniversary!

This year’s conference will have something new: a day devoted to digital editing. This “bootcamp” on March 30 will cover these topics:

  • writing and editing for digital media
  • using alternative story forms
  • writing headlines for search engine optimization and social media
  • understanding data analytics
  • curating and creating an email newsletter

I’m one of the instructors along with ACES President Teresa Schmedding and Sue Burzynski Bullard of the University of Nebraska. This is a hands-on session, so you need to bring a laptop.

You can learn more about the bootcamp and sign up for it at the ACES site. Separate registration is required. We’d love to see you in Portland.

If you’re going to San Francisco

Journalism educators from around the world will meet in San Francisco from Aug. 6-9, 2015. (Creative Commons photo)
Journalism educators from around the world will meet in San Francisco from Aug. 6-9, 2015. (Creative Commons photo)

I’ll be on the road next week for the annual AEJMC conference, which takes place in San Francisco this year. Here are the main items on my agenda:

  • On Wednesday, I’ll be one of four presenters at an “editing bootcamp” sponsored by the American Copy Editors. It’s the fourth time I’ve participated in this workshop, and it’s always fun.
  • On Friday, I’ll play host to the Breakfast of Editing Champions, a gathering of instructors who teach editing and writing. We’ll talk about trends in journalism education and exchange teaching ideas.

I’ll also attend various panels and presentations, and perhaps do some sightseeing. But I probably won’t wear any flowers in my hair.

UPDATE: Both events went well. About 35 editors, mostly from public relations, attended the ACES bootcamp. And my final Breakfast of Editing Champions was fun and informative. Kirstie Hettinga, who teaches at Cal Lutheran, will take over as the event’s organizer and host in 2016.

Editors of steel at ACES 2015

Later this week, the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

About 500 full-time, part-time and freelance editors are registered for this year’s three-day gathering. That would make it the best-attended ACES conference in 10 years. They will come from news, academia, government, book publishing and the corporate world.

Sadly, I will not be among them. I cannot attend this year’s conference because of a family issue. I’ll miss out on great sessions and won’t be able to cheer on winners of the headline contest or congratulate students who have won scholarships. I will, of course, follow the news from the conference on the ACES website and via Twitter.

Best wishes to everyone going to Pittsburgh. I know that you will share a lot of knowledge as well as a few laughs. I hope to see you in Portland, Oregon, for the 2016 conference.

Blog break

This blog will be quiet for the next two weeks as I will be busy with other tasks. While taking a break from blogging, I plan to stay active on Twitter.

Next week, I will be in Montreal for the national conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. There, I will be an instructor at an “editing bootcamp” sponsored by the American Copy Editors Society, and I will serve as host for the Breakfast of Editing Champions.

The following week, I will be back on campus to get ready for the fall semester, which starts Aug. 20. That includes making final touches on syllabuses and assignments. I’ll also attend a faculty retreat as well as student orientations for our MATC and certificate programs.

Thanks, as always, for reading. See you in mid-August.

Writing and editing with Weird Al

“Weird Al” Yankovic is back. The song parodist who lampooned Michael Jackson and “Star Wars” back in the day has a new album called “Mandatory Fun.” Each day this week, Yankovic is posting a music video from the album on his website.

Two of the songs from “Mandatory Fun” share a “wordy” theme. “Mission Statement” takes aim at those jargon-filled declarations from corporations, government and academia. “Word Crimes” offers advice on grammar, word choice and punctuation, all to the tune of “Blurred Lines.”

“Word Crimes” has generated chatter on Twitter among writers, editors, linguists and lexicographers. Here is a sampling:

  • I think ACES has found its new theme song.
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Word Crimes” is fun but reinforces stereotype of editors as cranks who need to get a life.
  • I always take peeves as a sign that the person truly cares about language. Which is a start.

I see some truth in each of these statements. As an editor, I like grammar and have my own peeves, but I’m also more flexible on matters of language than I used to be. And I don’t edit personal email and text messages that I receive, as Al apparently does. Calling a lapse in grammar or bending of a style rule a “word crime” makes me uncomfortable, as does the song’s scolding tone.

But this is Weird Al. It’s all in good fun. His song uses a slinky beat and clever lyrics to share a lot of solid tips for writers and editors. If “Word Crimes” helps someone remember the difference between its and it’s, then I am willing to smile and sing along.

UPDATE: More reaction on “Word Crimes” from Grammar Girl and ACES blogger Pam Nelson.

Viva ACES

This blog will be quiet this week as I finish grading midterms and teach classes.

I am also preparing to go to Las Vegas for the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society. I will be part of two sessions at this year’s gathering, which starts Thursday, March 20.

I’d love to see you at the conference, but if you can’t be there, you can follow the fun on Twitter with the hashtag #ACES2014. Viva Las Vegas, and viva ACES!