Monday, June 13, 2011

Around the Word

Juris-prudent writing tips: Most writers don't look to Supreme Court justices for linguistic precedents, but we often forget that those on the high court spend a lot of time putting pen to paper and therefore might have some wordly wisdom to impart. With that in mind, NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg pulls back the veil of the black robe today to offer an inside look at The Nine's writing processes, their disdain for "legalese," and the authors who inspire them. Among the more interesting revelations: Ruth Bader Ginsberg falls back on lessons from her European literature professor, Vladimir Nabokov (Yes, that Nabokov), for writing guidance; Clarence Thomas says a good legal brief reminds him of the show "24"; and Chief Justice Roberts sounds much like an editor-in-chief with this reminder: It can always be shorter.

All a-Twitter: Our peers in the media-sphere love to talk about Twitter. Most see the social media platform one of two ways: a twee and quirky means of conversation or as the pseudo-starter of revolutions and the nemesis of the traditional news narrative. These two perspectives love to battle it out on the web, but Neiman Journalism Lab editor Megan Garber argues that it all boils down to how you think about Twitter: is it speech or is it text? She delves deep into the semiotics of Twitter, asking important questions about how the 140-character messages function in our digital society. As Garber puts it, if you see Twitter "as text that also happens to be conversation" then you find the medium "understandably lacking." But if you see it "as conversation that also happens to be text," then you find it "understandably awesome." Which side of the Twitter-divide do you fall on?

From downsizing to hamsterizing: Between writing, blogging, commenting, tweeting and writing again, being a communicator in the digital age can feel like running in a hamster wheel. The Federal Communcations Commission recently issued a formal validation of that feeling, coining the cheeky term "hamsterization" to describe the multi-platform multi-tasking that more and more journalists are expected to perform to stay ahead of the news cycle -- often at the expense of shoe-leather reporting. We want to know: are you feeling the same digital drain? How are do get off the writing wheel?

No comments: