John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sometimes they just make it up

When some university finds a donor with more cash than sense to underwrite a Jayson Blair Chair of Journalism, qualified candidates will not be hard to find, but Renee Petrina, who teaches journalism at Ball State, has found a student whose career shows real promise:

Student whining today that my class is hard also points out that “I just make up my sources for my other classes and no one cares” and that she wants to keep her GPA up. Other students note to her that it's probably not the best plan to tell the prof that you cheat.

The student in question, she says, is a 21-year-old junior or senior.

A previous note illustrated Ms. Petrina’s standards of classroom decorum:

Answered a student's cell phone that rang in my class today. Next time I will offer to text their friends.

Not entirely surprising that some students are less than enthusiastic:

Got student evaluations of my teaching back (from last semester). A lot were good. The best, though, said I needed therapy and that all my assignments come from “a dark place.”

I wish I got evaluations like that.

Ms. Petrina was a Penn Stater who got away before I could get a chance to try to hire her at The Sun — which would have been a decidedly mixed blessing for her. As it was, there was a certain bumpiness in her career before her arrival in Muncie:

The person who laid me off from my old job just saw my nice, big office. With my name on the window.

Living well remains the most satisfactory revenge.

3 comments:

  1. First, thank you, John, for the recognition. I'm honored to make the blog.

    Second, I must point out that I am blessed to have some incredibly talented students in the mix. Most of my negative comments come from the 100-level classes, when students without the chops for journalism haven't yet quit the major.

    I hope to introduce some of my top-notch editing students to their idols at ACES in a few months.

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  2. Re: Student who makes up sources: That level of arrogance and laziness baffles me. And while I wouldn't bet good money that the esteemed owner of the blog wouldn't accuse me of the same when I was his student, I would bet that the cheater tallies her admission up as "honesty." Which, in the warped view of the self-involved, counts in the end towards their eventual development of journalistic integrity.

    Which reminds me, at the student paper we were constantly on the lookout for people just interviewing their roommates. It happened less often that you would think.

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  3. As some once said of Penn State: Penn State not only produces good linebackers, but also good copy editors. Glad to see we've also turned out some good college-level teachers.

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