Three things: copy editing, food and community

I started this post last Sunday (by which I mean I selected the three topics and typed fragments of words), and then I got distracted by packing and moving two years’ worth of accumulated books. All of the parts in italics below are the original notes I typed (open source, blah blah blah).

1) Copy editing

I got to teach in Haines A82 today, which was kind of awesome. [being a professor]
article, getting distracted forest for the trees, trees, forest — whatever, look at both of them!

That sentence, the fragments, two hyperlinks and the block quote below. That’s as far as I got.

I’m teaching copy editing training for ASUCLA Student Media for the second time this month (the first time having been in January). The January classes felt slightly less professional, since I had about 20 people crammed into the tiny conference room in the Bruin and then scattered around the advertising side of the newsroom. Last week, I got to teach out of Haines — a building in which I took a bunch of English and French literature classes — so I felt all kinds of grown-up.* (I was part of this!)

As an editing exercise, I pulled an actual DB article and introduced errors into it, so we could discuss content, style and story structure. Here were two paragraphs:

Brown stressed the state’s responsibility to make public higher education available to California students of any background and said private wealth should contribute more to this goal.

“(We need to) get every kid in this school that can qualify,” Newom said. “Everyone. Whether they’re documented or not.”

We went through graf by graf, and when we got to this part, almost everyone chimed in “‘Newsom’ is spelled wrong,” except one observant young copy editor who asked, “Isn’t that introduction to the quote wrong?” Yes, gold star. That was when I demonstrated how articulate copy editors are by saying something along the lines of “Don’t get so distracted looking at the forest that you miss the trees, wait, trees, forest. Look at both of them!”

I’ve written (and talked and rapped) fairly often about how copy editors are essential, serving as internal ombudsmen for newspapers and doing their little part to save the world, so I won’t go into more detail here. But copy editing. It is important. It helps you think critically. It, like being an English major, gets you all the jobs. And this is what it looks like.

2) Building community, social impact networks
City Year, Thought-luck, StartingBloc

Last Friday, I spoke (very briefly) at City Year Los Angeles’ Opening Day, representing CYLA’s third corps. Four alumni described their service and one current corps member described the foundation laid by the 525 corps members** who came before him.

City Year ceremonies are unabashedly wholesome and cheesy.  Case in point: When our then-very pregnant ED took the stage at our graduation in June, one of our program directors played Justin Bieber’s “Baby” as her entrance music. Also this is what I said:

My name is Audrey Kuo and I proudly served in CYLA’s third corps. At John Liechty Middle School, 79% of our students passed math, up from just 30% at the beginning of the year.  I was one of 150. I gave a year and changed the world.

Cheesy, yes. And yet, right before the alumni+one spoke, CY played a clip from MLK’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon,*** and Dr. King intones:

You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.

The copy editor in me thinks about how nice it would be if making your subject and verb agree would be a great way to serve, but the hopeless idealist shushes her, and then we speak, and this year’s corps bursts forth (i.e. runs screaming and cheering from hiding spots behind and around the sides of City Hall), and it’s all a little bit wonderful. Working with youth in under-served communities is hard, and it burns people out. It is amazing to see 210 fresh faces (well, 190ish fresh faces, 20 or so faces having completed a year of service already) rushing in to serve the same students my co-workers and I have worked with over the past four years.

Continuity, circles, service, youth, yay.

3) Food: security, etc.
Originally meant to be the second section. Notes: “chloe chicken nuggets”

Sesame Street ran an hour-long prime-time special on food insecurity last Sunday, and it was one of the best-edited pieces of television I’ve ever seen. (I immediately went online to check for job openings, because I wanted to be part of the awesome.)

Eventually, I'll post images that aren't just screen caps of other social media.

I heard about the special through a Reuters link posted on Google+, which seems to bring me much cooler information than Facebook. (More speculation on how I set up social media networks later.) The program did a great job addressing food insecurity and different ways to increase access not just to food, but to produce: supporting food pantries and community gardens, taking back food deserts by sponsoring farmers markets and CSAs. I seem to have met a ton of people recently who are working with community gardens, urban gardening or nutrition classes tied to school gardens, and it’s great to see the message being spread at such a young age. (More links and fuller recap tk.)

Leave me comments. Talk about copy editing or food or community or all of them all at once.

* At one point (after discussing that block quote), I reiterated how important it is not to miss content issues in error-laden paragraphs, and a bunch of people stopped and took notes on what I was saying. One girl was clearly underlining for emphasis. What?!

** Speaking of copy editing: This number is technically inaccurate, since it double-counts corps members who returned as senior corps members the following year. From the third to the fourth year, that was just over 20 CMs. Not the point, but still. Also, while we’re nit-picking, I gave two years. I changed the world twice.

*** (The title of which, incidentally, was an answer to a question at AAJA LA’s Trivia Bowl on Friday — more on that here.)

2 responses

  1. You mentioned though-luck and said nothing about it! Also, enjoyed the comic… as an english minor, I was always expected to have terrible grammar and act like I could do what I ever wanted when I wrote. No one likes that. Have you heard of this out here on this coast?
    I do what I want!

    • You were expected to have terrible grammar as an English minor? That is not what happens here. At UCLA, people actually ran around stripping other people of their English badges.

      Thought-luck. It happened: We ate food, we talked about the translation of culture through immigration, we took leftovers home. It was wonderful.

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