Say what you mean. Mean what you write.

I love words. Words impart the power to express yourself with nuance and clarity, but only if you use them correctly. Some words, as we know, sound similar to others but mean very different things. You might slip by in conversation, but if you write the wrong one, your ignorance glares out at the reader, possibly obscuring the meaning of a sentence and definitely causing the reader to pause and consider your writing ability, thinking:

Whenever I realize that I’ve been using words imprecisely, I take note, happy that I’ve discovered the error and a bit chagrined that I’ve likely made it several times. Below are four pairs of words I haven’t been using quite right, perhaps my confession will help you avoid the same mistake. Continue reading

All the world’s a stage, and all the people tweeters.

twitter-bird-blue-on-whiteI came to Twitter skeptically. The first day of my journalism master’s program a professor required us to sign up, so I did. As I claimed @emilyeggleston, I wondered if my future self would wistfully mark that moment as the start of an exponential rise in the amount of time I spent staring at my phone. If you’d handed me this New York Time’s op-ed, My case against Twitter, I probably would’ve yanked my fingers from the keyboard and remained account-less, class requirement or no.

But two years later, the only thing I regret about signing up is not choosing a shorter handle. Here’s why. Continue reading

Investigative journalism attacked by Wisconsin Republicans

As a recent graduate from UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication professional master’s program, I read the following GOP addition to the Wisconsin state budget with chagrin:

Center for Investigative Journalism. Prohibit the Board of Regents from permitting the Center for Investigative Journalism to occupy any facilities owned or leased by the Board of Regents. In addition, prohibit UW employees from doing any work related to the Center for Investigative Journalism as part of their duties as a UW employee.

The relationship between the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WCIJ) and UW-Madison’s J-School is an excellent resource for students. In the very small amount of discussion by the Joint Finance Committee of this provision, there was no mention of the value of hosting the award-winning WCIJ in a place where students can learn from both experienced reporters and advanced digital journalism techniques. It appeared that Wisconsin Republicans think WCIJ is benefitting unnecessarily from free office space provided by a state institution. This overlooks the reciprocal benefit to the J-School, a benefit that, as a journalism student, I found to provide one of the best learning opportunities on campus and in Madison.

WCIJ staff guest lectured during several of my classes and shared insight into how to do rigorous, top-quality reporting. For example, they taught both one of my classes and a student publication for which I write and edit how to execute their outstanding model for fact-checking stories.

I created a storify of the action and reaction today. This one goes out to the organization that showed me how to make my first Google Fusion Tables map, the Wisconsin Center for  Investigative Journalism. For WCIJ’s reaction, go directly here. To see my storify, which includes tweets and links to local, state, and national coverage, visit http://storify.com/EmilyEggleston/wisconsin-legislature-attacks-investigative-journa#

Sinkhole coverage: a fact free-for-all?

maginfyingA Florida sinkhole that claimed a man’s life on Feb. 28  drew ubiquitous media coverage. It was a story too horrifying too pass up. The floor of a man’s home opened to swallow him whole, leaving only grief and shock behind. Everybody from The New Yorker to CNN covered it.

When so many publications, channels, and websites offer coverage of the same issue, it provides an ideal moment to compare their styles and, as I found in this case, their accuracy. For instance, how old is the victim? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question and I’m not sure many of these media outlets could either: Continue reading

#AAASmtg Day 3 & 4: it’s about the (night) sessions

Besides following the jam-packed conference itinerary, the evening activities were on my #AAAS13 radar from the beginning. That was where I got to connect with other journalists, take in the city a bit more, and just have fun.

On the evening of Day Three, science writers gathered at Fenway Park for the Kavli Science Journalism Awards.

A snow-covered Fenway

A snow-covered Fenway

Continue reading

#AAASmtg Day 2: My inner agronomist + writing tips

Walking back into the Hynes Convention Center this morning, I felt prepared. I used the conference app to arrange my schedule for the day, I knew where to get free coffee, and I was wearing my most comfortable slacks. What I didn’t know was that career aspirations I had cultivated while studying agronomy at Iowa State University would come rushing back as Paul Ehrlich laid out his thoughts about the collapse our civilization. Yes, that is exactly what he did.

Thus, I spent my second day at AAAS swirling between science writers’ events and the global food security conversation at the meeting. I’ll spare you from the so-far-solutionless demise of the human race as articulated by Ehrlich and instead post a digest of advice from some of the best science journalists in the country. Below are highlights of luncheon panel discussion, including contributions by the likes of Carl Zimmer and Mariette DiChristina.

SCIENCE WRITING LUNCHEON:

photo

Advice from the winners: Continue reading

#AAASmtg Day 1: This thing is huge.

image

View from the 3rd floor of Hynes Convention Center in Boston

This is my first time going to THE science meeting. The American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, this year in Boston. I am blogging about each day of the conference from the first timer science journalist perspective.

photo

Ballroom A, place of action on the first afternoon

As soon as I got off the plane, I dropped my luggage and walk over to the Hynes Convention Center. I grabbed lunch on the way and only ate half so that I could hurry up and get to….what might be the most overwhelming gathering space ever built. The vaulted ceilings. The extra wide hallways. The huge, empty exhibition halls you pass to get to the very full ballrooms.

In the ongoing  session when I showed up, New York Times’ Erik Olsen (@olsentropy)  and others were speaking about how and why to make science more visual.

All I could think about, however, was how this was soooo not ScienceOnline Continue reading