Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2006.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

If this was the Daily Northwestern...

Posted 27 November 2006 in medill, newspaper, northwestern-university, satire, and writing

Jacob Lassner, the professor of a Jewish-Muslim Relations course, has a low tolerance for the writing style of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism students.

"Medill students write one, maybe two sentences for any given paragraph, tops," he said. "There's no way you can develop a thought with two sentences, let alone one."

"Don't hand me a paper with one sentence paragraphs," he said.

Medill writing quality has decreased over the years, as evidenced by the average student's inability to write more than one sentence at a time. Take, for example, a recent article entitled "NU: Early Applications Up By About 7 Percent":

About 47 percent of applicants used the NU online application and about 53 percent used the Common Application, Henkins said.

Visits to high schools and cities this summer and fall also were about double what they have been in the past, Mills said.

NU targeted predominantly low-income or predominantly black and Latino schools in its expanded recruiting efforts, Mills said.

Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations, said NU has been trying to increase economic diversity on campus through this increased recruiting.

NU will try to translate this increased exposure into increased enrollment of low-income students by offering them better financial aid packages, Cubbage said.

"The hope is that we'll be able - with low income students - to offer financial aid packages that do not include loans but include scholarships," he said.

But there is hope.

It is expected that, despite the school's preference for one-sentence paragraphs that begin with coordinating conjunctions, the students will go on to achieve greatness by writing for the likes of the New York Times, which is generally written at the level of a high school senior.

Kurt McKee, long a critic of the style, said that he didn't care if the narrow columns of newspapers necessitated shorter paragraphs.

"Sentences should end with periods, not newlines," he ~~quipped~~ said with a laugh.