It’s the second quarter of the year. How are you doing with your goals and resolutions? Our picks for this week include a book review on how you can get yourself to develop habits that will help you with your goals, as well as readings on managing your schedule so you can leave work on time and prioritizing using psychological distance. Check out:
Writing that novel or article might have been on your list for the longest time. Can’t find time? Yes, you can.
Here is a report on what went wrong in the Rolling Stone magazine story about a rape at the University of Virginia that the magazine’s reporter later apologized for. The investigation commissioned by Rolling Stone itself was conducted by the Columbia University School of Journalism. Interviewees from Columbia include its Philippine-born dean of academic affairs Sheila Coronel.
If you’re an AP Stylebook user or watcher, read up on the latest revisions to what is considered a journalist’s style bible.
There seems to be a new craze – adults, coloring books, and crayons. A Scottish artist whose coloring books for adults have become an international hit says that an “analog” activity like coloring not only reignites creativity but also relieves adults of stress.
Ditto is a fortnightly collection of stories on publishing, media, communications, and topics that concern editorial professionals from the most credible sources on the Web. We hope to educate young professional writers and editors about industry standards, breakthroughs, and trends, among other things. Usually, you’ll find news and commentaries in here, but from time to time, we also feature tweets, visuals, games, freebies, and other fun but useful stuff that caught our eye.
This week: the parody Twitter account @NYTOnIt and the Times’ interesting attempt to shut it down, how the Gaza conflict is becoming a cyberwar with both Israel and Hamas leveraging social media to promote their respective agendas, things language lovers are thankful for and the etymology of “Black Friday.”
This week: how journalists covered Election Day, Nate Silver and understanding big data, Macmillan’s move to stop its print edition and go digital-only in 2013 and Day 9 of the National Novel Writing Month.
Two big announcements lead this week’s roundup. First, Hilary Mantel was named this year’s Man Booker Prize winner for Bring Up the Bodies, sequel to 2009’s Wolf Hall, which gave her her first Booker Prize. Second, Newsweek confirmed plans to go all-digital by 2013. Also in the lineup: tweets celebrating Mr. Webster’s birthday, a U.K. secretary’s 10-point grammar guide for his department staff, and bad habits that may hurt your grammar.
The first issue of News-Week (now Newsweek) dated February 17, 1933. Photo credit: News-Week magazine, Newsweek, Inc. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Residents of a Massachusetts town voted 183-50 to fine those who swear in public places. John McWhorter calls the move “plain backward” and writes, “Let’s face it: In 2012, an ordinance against public profanity is like fining people for burping.” What’s your take? h/t Copyediting.com
A debased thing can also signify nothing, and here we get to the swear-words: I don’t give a rat’s ass, He doesn’t know shit from Shinola, I don’t give a fuck. If these are common enough, they can start the road to full grammaticalisation, and shit is clearly a candidate here. We can say of a lazy colleague He isn’t gonna do shit. In black American English, this would come out He ain’t gonna do shit. And Lil Jon’ proves that standalone shit has come to be a plain old negative-polarity item by singing (again and again and again) …
Prepositions are tricky. Sometimes our copy editors read sentences or phrases with prepositions more than twice just to ensure that the correct one is used. (Is it “compare with” or “compare to”? Don’t even get us started on idioms!) Some prepositions are now “straying into new territory” by acquiring new usage.
True, new grammar words don’t burst onto the stage with all guns blazing, like some ‘lexical’ words do. So-called ‘open-class’ words – particularly nouns and adjectives – are often coined or dug up by journalists when the situation demands it, like omnishambles in the aftermath of the last UK budget. Omnishambles may make its way into the dictionary, or more probably it will sink into oblivion once the narrative that spawned it is forgotten. In general, new ‘lexical’ words and compounds are coined as and when needed, to name new objects and concepts. For example, not long ago we might have been mystified by this supermarket product description: fairly traded party size instant barbecue (printed without any hyphens), which now causes only fleeting puzzlement.
New uses of ‘grammar’ words enter the language more gradually and without attracting much attention. This may be because the words themselves are not newly-minted or revived; instead, the same familiar little items are being drafted into new areas, annexing part of the territory of other members of their set.
Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl, says the age of texting and social media isn’t killing writing. Rather, it’s “enhancing people’s ability to write.” She also shares the most common grammar mistake.