OLD Media Moves

Biz journalists who grade college papers

January 3, 2010

Joe Weber, the former chief of correspondents at BusinessWeek who now teaches at the University of Nebraska, writes Sunday about how some of his former magazine colleagues — Rob Hof, Rick Melcher, Bill Symonds and Lauren Young — helped him grade papers.

Weber writes, “Sometimes, the real-world folks agree with our judgments. Often, they don’t. In either case, it’s good for us and the students. For me, the outside comments have been a bracing slap in the face, a helpful sense of how smart readers and editors will treat the student work.

“A few pieces I graded highly came in for some helpful heat. One, about the rise of homelessness among families in Lincoln, Neb., buried the nut graf atop page four, Rick Melcher said. And he complained that the story ‘loses focus’ despite the ‘great, moving examples.’ He rated it only satisfactory in reflecting news judgment and use of interviewing skills and said the writing needed improvement.

“Interestingly, Bill Symonds agreed that the piece would ‘benefit from a good editor.’ He said the writing ‘needs to be cleaned up.’ But Bill rated the news judgment as outstanding and gave satisfactory ratings on interviewing and writing. His summary: ‘I liked this story a lot.’ He said it was ‘well-researched and generally well-written.’

“So, even the outsiders will often view things differently. Smartly, it turns out, but differently.”

Read more here.

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