Sunday, July 23, 2006

Blogger Q&A: No. 11 'Heads Up' Fred

Heads Up provides practical, smart commentary on journalism, going beyond simple criticism to suggest improvements. This is part of the continuing language/journalism blogger interviews.

Q. When did you start blogging?
A. April '05.

Q. What's your purpose or motivation to blogging? What do you hope to

A. I started an e-mail critique of desk work for the editing classes here
several years ago, and the blog was supposed to be an online complement to that. It's come to look more at stuff from other papers and less at particularly local stuff. I still try to concentrate on things copy editors do or things they can do something about.

Q. Where do you get your topics?

A. Newspapers and their Web sites.

Q. What has provoked the most response from readers?

A. Comments on language columns, especially the ones that start out on the order of "You kids are going to Destroy The English Language if you don't turn your baseball caps around." I've gotten some appreciative comments for being unkind to news reports about social-science research.

Again, I like to look for stuff that helps copy editors win arguments, and
if that's "Gee, here's the abstract from that study, and it looks like
it completely contradicts our lede," that'd be great.

Q. Do you know who your readers are and if so, do you have much
interaction with them? Anything interesting to say about them?/If you know, are your readers language or journalism experts or just regular folks?

A. I know a good number of them, mostly journalism people. Some language experts check in every now and then. A couple of civilians have found their way in. On the whole, everyone seems pretty polite. That may be atypical, but I like it.

Q. Do you try to post on a regular schedule or as topics arise?

A. I'm pretty much ad hoc, though I try not to let the thing stay dark too

Q. Do you think we should think about linking in some fashion to deliver language or other advice by e-mail or share content more regularly? (This is completely off the top of my head and did not inspire this Q&A.)

A. The more links the better. I'm not as good at it as most folks -- Doug in particular is really good at identifying kindred sites and pointing us toward them -- but I'm all for it.

Q. Do you consider yourself web savvy or up to date on technology? Will
we still be blogging in five years or will technology completely
replace this method of communication?

A. Jeez, no. (Brushing pterodactyl from keyboard.) I'm still using dial-up at home. I hope we're still at this in five years. I might have it figured out by then.

Q. How much time do you spend each week on your blog?
A. My dissertation director is going to have me kneecapped if I comment on that.

Q. What are your favorite language web sites or blogs?
A. The Language Brothers, Hat and Log. The TCEs discussion. Lots of the folks who move words for a living and still have some time to appreciate them.

Q. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A. ? ? ?

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