• Noting ‘non-standard’ English troubles some readers

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    Kansas City Star readers prefer the newspaper avoid slang, jargon, abbreviations and improper English. Readers’ Representative Derek Donovan adds to that list neologism and terminology unique to certain professions. And when it comes to slang and dialects, things get more complex.

    Informal language can enliven dull writing, but it should fit the situation appropriately. As Donovan notes, “There’s a good counter-argument that these informal usages are an undeniable part of everyone’s daily life, and journalism shouldn’t always shy away from them. But here, you have to pick and choose where it’s appropriate.”

  • Scanning the source

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    A recent segment on the PBS NewsHour examined efforts to improve the safety of air travel, focusing especially on body-scan screening machines at airports. Among those interviewed was the former Department of Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff. Althought Chertoff was introduced as a consultant for one company that manufacturers body scanners, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler wonders why Chertoff was interviewed for the segment. “There are lots of people who can discuss this controversial topic who do not have a clear self-interest or financial interest and who will not leave viewers suspicious.”

  • A valediction: Going quietly

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    In her final column, Siobhain Butterworth, reflects on the past three years as the readers’ editor of the Guardian. “Poring over the work of your fellow writers and subjecting it to public scrutiny can be an uncomfortable experience for everyone involved. Occasionally it is painful, but if there is resistance to the idea of an internal ombudsman (or woman) here at the Guardian I’ve seen little evidence of it.” A successor will be named in a few weeks.

  • Seal the brown envelope for good

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    Journalists often report on the wrong-doings of others, but the reporting is not always sufficient when it comes to questionable actions within their own ranks. News organisations have often been accused of maintaining a kind of professional solidarity when dealing with problems such as plagiarism and payoffs.
    According to Franz Kruger, ombudsman at the Mail & Guardian, accusations of some journalists accepting money to spin reporting in favor of a political group may be a “Jayson Blair” moment for South African media.

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