Good Copy, Bad Copy

Another report from ASBPE Kansas City's recent Magazine Boot Camp:

Ron Johnson, an assistant journalism professor at Kansas State University, took on the role of bad cop, grilling attendees with a grammar and style quiz. Johnson led the Boot Camp session “Brushing up on AP style and advanced editing techniques.”

Johnson inventoried some of his style pet peeves:
  • The words major, unique, reaction and impact -- all are overused.
  • Using parentheses inside quotes -- for three reasons:
    • The parenthetical detracts from the accuracy of quotes.
    • It’s weak writing.
    • It makes the source appear stupid.
He also recommended his favorite dictionary and gave advice to copy editors on working with writers.

For more on Johnson's session, see "Catch bad copy" from the ASBPE Kansas City blog.

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ASBPE National Conference Heads for New York;
Awards Program Adds Digital, Newsletter Categories

For the first time ever, ASBPE’s National Editorial Conference will be held in New York City. The conference and the national Azbee Awards of Excellence banquet will be held at The Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan on Aug. 2-3, 2007 (a Thursday and Friday). The national Azbee awards banquet will be held at the hotel the night of Aug. 2. For more details, see the ASBPE web site.

Speaking of the Azbees, the digital and newsletter categories have been greatly expanded. The most exciting new award is for General Excellence in Multi-Platform Journalism; it's the first time ASBPE is presenting a multi-platform award. There also are six new digital categories, five additional print newsletter categories, four new print magazine categories, and four category name changes. Details on the changes are here.

Update, Nov. 14, 2006: The entry form is now available on the ASBPE web site.

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Bali High?

Click image for video.

ASBPE associate director Robin Sherman is officially a media celebrity.

As Media Bistro's Fishbowl NY blog recently reported, Robin made a splash at the 2006 Folio:Show when he led audience members in a Balinese dance (see it on video).

Despite the antics, Sherman's purpose at the show was a serious one: To talk about ethics, and specifically the troubling results of ASBPE's exclusive research on ethics.

Among other findings, the 2003 survey found that 76% of ASBPE members had faced ad-related editorial demands — and as many as 30% of those who faced such pressure succumbed. Specific demands members confronted included:

  • providing advertorial space,
  • publishing special product sections,
  • printing corporate profiles of advertisers
  • killing stories or negative coverage,
  • softening a story objectionable story.

The research also examines the business case for strong ethical standards.

Related links:


ExCahns Yahoo Group Launched

Remember the old ExCahns e-mail newsletter (and later, web site) run by former Hotels editor Jim Carper?

Ex-Pollution Engineering * editor Cathy Hodson has taken over Jim's old subscriber list to start a Yahoo Group that will help former Cahners/Reed Business Information employees keep up with one another. Jim not only turned the list over to Cathy, but gave her "a great amount of help and support," that allowed her to start her new discussion group, she says. Hodson emphasizes that the group is strictly for staying in touch and networking with former employees of Cahners/Reed and will not cover current Reed Business Information activities.

If you sign up for the new Yahoo Group, you'll automatically get an e-newsletter that will be sent out whenever there is information to share. (As with all Yahoo Groups, you can set your group preferences so that you don't receive the e-mails and just read the news on the site instead.)

If you have questions, are looking for information about someone in particular, or have news about an exCahn to share, please email:

To sign up for the group, go to

*(Pollution Engineering magazine is now a property of BNP Media, but used to be owned by Cahners.)

From ASBPE Kansas City: A bit about blurbs

Former University of Missouri j-school professor Don Ranly argues that the writing of titles and captions should get much more attention than they often do. They are read five times more than body copy, yet are given short shrift, often added at the last minute.

Ranly made the comment at the session “Writing Brighter Headlines and Captions” at ASBPE Kansas City's Oct. 19 Magazine Boot Camp, a half-day workshop series that the chapter holds annually. Some of Ranly's tips, taken from Jody Shee's report on the Boot Camp:

  • Don’t be afraid to write creative headlines. They can even be a bit cryptic if you include a blurb or deck underneath that summarizes the article content.

  • Write photo captions as if no one is going to read the copy. Make them say something the photo does not say. Give useful information.

  • Write the most complete captions under the largest or dominant photo.

  • Give simple, consistent directions. “From left” works fine, written out and without adding, “to right.”

For more of Ranly's tips on writing headlines, blurbs and captions, see the full report from the ASBPE-KC blog.

A side note: ASBPE Boston is considering holding a similar half-day workshop in the spring, possibly on the topic of electronic media. Let us know if this idea interests you, and what aspects of electronic media you'd like to learn about, whether it be e-zines, podcasting, or something else. You can email me or any of the chapter officers listed at right.


Save the Date!
Dec. 7 State of the Industry Dinner Covers Digital Media

On the evening of Thursday, Dec. 7, the chapter will host its annual State of the Industry dinner. This year's theme is Digital Media: Transition or Transformation?

The move to the web by business publishing companies is at a crossroads. Every company is doing it to some extent, but different organizations are taking a different approach and pace. Our panel will address whether this is a transition that can be pursued in an orderly, business-as-usual fashion or whether more radical means are necessary. Specific topics that may be addressed include:
  • What are the risk and rewards and how can you leverage your existing strengths?
  • What end state should you aim for in terms of dividing assets and resources amongst print and web?
  • What digital products should you build?
  • How can you create value-based differentiation?
  • What will your staffing needs be?
  • What are appropriate success metrics?

The event will take place at the Holiday Inn Newton; panelists and other details to be announced.

Update, Nov. 8, 2006: Panelists, time, and other details have been finalized. Here's the info.


Media Bistro Offers Multiple Levels of
Online Copyediting Classes

Media Bistro has expanded its online copyediting classes to include introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels.

Media Bistro describes the different levels as follows:
  • The intro class is for anyone who wants to break into copyediting or just feel more confident dealing with copy.

  • The intermediate class is for anyone who has passed a copyediting test and wants a deeper knowledge of the craft.

  • The advanced class is for anyone with a firm grasp of the basics whowants to learn about finer points of grammar and style and bigger issues like creating an in-house style guide.
There's an intermediate class starting Nov. 2. (New intro and advanced sessions start tomorrow, Oct. 20; if there is space left, you might be able to sign up.)

Boston Blog Replaces Chapter Page,
Adds Functionality

As promised (albeit a little late), we've upgraded the Boston chapter blog, and it now is the official Boston chapter web site.

Besides looking a little jazzier (and, we hope, easier to scan), this new blog lets you sign up (at right) to receive the latest posts via email. That will include notices of upcoming events (more to come on that topic very soon), so sign up now. We promise your name and email address will not be shared with anyone, and you won't be sent anything other than updates from this blog.



Computerworld Steps Up to the Plate

Current ASBPE Magazine of the Year Computerworld recently discovered that some of the material in its Geek's Garden section had been lifted word for word from online sources. To their credit, they announced the lapse to readers on the front page of last week's issue. This week's editorial from editor-in-chief Don Tennant is devoted to the subject, offering a further apology to readers.

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