Should reporters consult a dictionary?

My first news editor didn't like to see his reporters consulting the newsroom dictionary. "If you're having to look a word up," he'd growl, "then it's too complicated for the readers. Use a simpler one."

I always felt uneasy about the reductive nature of his argument. If everybody followed his logic, wouldn't the English language contract and ultimately disappear? And didn't we owe it to our readers to make sure we were being precise in our usage? Not that I ever managed to pluck up the courage to take him on; he was far too scary. But I wonder what he'd have made of the New York Times's online system that allows readers to click on any word they're not sure of to obtain a dictionary definition.

Help to develop this site

As promised, I've set up a development version of this web site so that students (and staff if they feel the urge) can have a play with Drupal and try out any ideas they might have for improving the main Centre for Journalism site.

Fraudgate: Luckhurst speaks out

At the Association for Journalism Education conference last week, Tim Luckhurst spoke about something we have discussed many times at the Centre for Journalism: the number of journalism degrees on offer in this country that offer their students little or no chance of getting a job within the industry. There is, he told the conference, an "element of fraud" in a system that allows such courses to proliferate.

Unsurprisingly, his views - reported here by, not necessarily with perfect precision - have sparked vigorous debate around the blogosphere.

Night Jack: the end of the anonymous blogger?

The anonymous columnist has a long and distinguished tradition in newspaper and magazine history. Recent practitioners like the londonpaper's City Boy and the ghastly Julie Myerson (who thrice denied being the author of the Guardian's Living With Teenagers column before fessing up) were treading in the foosteps of far more illustrious journalists such as William Connor, who wrote the Daily Mirror's legendary Cassandra column for many years and ended up with a knighthood.


Ian Reeves's blog