The Masthead

Symposium of articles on the big issues, solutions, events, and news associated with journalism and media.

Articles from Vol. 56, No. 1, Spring

A Mother Lode of Ideas
The NCEW listserv (a shorthand term we still use for the critter even though we no longer use LIST-SERV[C] software) has changed the character of our organization--for the better, in my opinion. As recently as a decade ago, membership in NCEW could...
A Question of Ethics: Be Prepared to Criticize Friends in High Places
Friends enrich our lives in countless ways. But friends can unwittingly lead editorial writers into ethical pitfalls if we aren't careful. An editorial page editor with a major Midwestern daily watched with trepidation as a childhood friend contemplated...
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...
Democracy Requires a Broad Education: Educators Should Adjust Balance Knowledge, Skills
The journalism we teach is a craft of information more than a discipline of knowledge. Our curricula and instruction respond to professional conventions and practices designed to capture and hold public attention. As a consequence, we put democracy...
Diverse Field Needs a Mix of Backgrounds: Thousands of J-Majors Will Never Find Real Work
Journalism is not rocket science. So why require or even encourage college-level training or education in it? Well, we need a mix. First, people should be thankful that government requires specialized education, testing, and licensing for such...
Don't Miss the Excitement of Chicago
Chicago has been called the "city of the big shoulders," "hog butcher for the world, tool maker," "stacker of wheat," and that "toddlin' town even Billy Sunday couldn't shut down." But those monikers completely fail to capture the soaring beauty,...
Evaluating the Schwarzenegger Vote
"Why the recall is wrong" "Vote 'No' on recall" "No ... and nobody" These editorial page headlines, from three of the largest newspapers in California, exhorted readers to shun the recall of Governor Gray Davis. Many Golden State papers, large...
Four Lifetimes of Accomplishment
NCEW members said adieu in the final weeks of 2003 to four colleagues whose editorial achievements touched many aspects of American life and collectively elevated the profession of editorial writing. Death came to current or former NCEW members...
'I'd Pick J-School at a Strong University': Journalism Education Is Liberal Arts Education
In the time-honored tradition of editorial writers, let me bury the lead and speak out of both sides of my mouth. During my first career, after decades as a professional student (four degrees earned, not one journalism course taken), I could base...
J-Students Have It Both Ways (Sort Of): Don't Make It an Either/or Question
I served five summers as writing coach in the Pulliam Fellowship program, teaching and mentoring ten new college graduates each year. The Fellows worked as reporters at either The Arizona Republic or the Phoenix Gazette. We had "class" every Monday...
Knight Seminar Left Terrorism Questions
All thing are clearer in hindsight. Any writer will admit that. So it was ironic that on the same December day Knight Fellows were meeting on the campus of the University of Maryland, Viet Dinh was quoted in an article in The New York Times. Dinh...
New NCEW Members, July-December 2003
Acker, Justin, Plano, Texas, student, Texas A&M University Andersen, MJ., Providence, Rhode Island, editorial writer, Providence Journal Bergman, Randy, Neptune, New Jersey, editorial writer, Asbury Park Press Ceppos, Jerry, San Jose,...
Professionalism Can't Be Overemphasized: Teach Standards, Values, Ethics, and Skills
Are aspiring journalists better-served by majoring in journalism or by seeking a "more traditional liberal arts education" in college? The question asked last summer on the National Conference of Editorial Writers listserv sets up a false dichotomy....
Promote the Value of What We Do
On the first evening of the NCEW convention in Providence, I was near the door when a man with a blue dot on his name tag entered the room. As most convention-goers know, that blue dot denotes a first-timer to the convention. We invited him to join...
Should Public Officials Have Op-Ed Access? Pro: Fleshing out the Debate
Some editors are reluctant to offer public officials an opportunity to advocate their views on the op-ed page. They argue that officials have ample opportunity tO explain their views and proposals through news coverage, news releases, and newsletters....
Take a Stronger Stand against Bogus Letters
Probably every NCEW member knows by now the latter-day meaning of the term "astroturf." Lowercased, it denotes an artificial playing field that has nothing to do with fake grass. Instead, in our world, it has come to stand for letters to the editor...
Thanks, Tommy Denton
With the New Year, my automatic inclusion in The Masthead vanished, as it should. But I yearned for a chance to let our members know what a great debt we owe to Tommy Denton. Many of us are active in NCEW because we believe the organization provides...
The Day Violence Came to Highway 81
Twenty-eight and counting. That's the number of editorials relating to the September 26, 2002, murder of five people at a Norfolk, Nebraska, bank that since have been published in the Daily News. Too many? Too few? The specific number is significant...
What NCEW Members Said: From the NCEW Listerv Beginning August 4, 2003
ROD DREHER, Dallas Morning News: A friend is concerned about her daughter's journalism education. Her daughter is in a J-school program at a university, but my friend is not impressed by the content of what her child is learning. My friend's view is...