Welcome to our first online lecture for CMAT 240, Introduction to Journalism & PR.
Today we will begin with the basics of media writing and a refresher on grammar. For this lecture, you will want to have your AP stylebook handy, as you will be learning to use the book rather than memorizing concepts. You will also find two worksheets posted to the class website that you will need to complete and email to me by 5 p.m. tomorrow. Those worksheets will count toward your participation grade for the week.
First, let’s go over some of the most common grammar obstacles I see when grading papers for this class. Capitalization…
First, let’s discuss proper capitalization. Remember, common nouns do not get capitalized, like writer, teacher, and beagle. Proper nouns, like specific people’s names, the names of places, and specific items, get capitalized. Take a few seconds and look at the list provided here for examples…
This is one of the most confusing aspects to capitalization: Make sure you only capitalize a title if it comes before a proper noun. In the first example, professor should not be capitalized because it comes after my name. The second example demonstrates the correct capitalization of professor after the name, but the third example is the best because it shortens and simplifies the sentence by putting the common noun as a title before the proper noun.
Another grammar obstacle is subject/verb agreement. You want to make sure that the number of items in the subject agree with the number of items in the verb. For example, you wouldn’t say “this class are great.” You would either say “this class is great,” or “these classes are great.” Let’s look at a couple of tricky examples.
The word data is a plural word, so even though it might sound awkward, the sentence should read “the data ARE collected,” not “the data is collected.
The same is true about the word media. Media refer to a group of journalists or organizations rather than an individual. Therefore, the sentence should read “the media ARE great,” rather than “the media is great.”
One last tricky one: the team refers to a singular team rather than the individuals that make up the team, so the sentence should read “the team must win its game.”
When a possessive word ends in s, such as the name James, and the word that follows it also begins with an s, you should use an apostrophe s. When the word following the possessive noun ending in s does not also begin with s, as in most cases, you would use the s apostrophe.
Next, we’ll focus on using your AP stylebook. The stylebook is a grammatical guide used by all U.S. journalists to keep the writing of certain words the same no matter what you are reading. AP style is used for all kinds of journalistic writing, as well as in public relations writing. PR practitioners must master AP style because much of their work involves writing emails, press releases, media kits and other materials to send to the press.
The AP stylebook instructs you how to write commonly used words and items that can be tricky. But rather than tell you about it, I would like to show you. Take out your AP stylebook and follow along with me. First, let’s look up some proper nouns. You’ll see that the book is laid out like a dictionary in alphabetical order. Turn to the Ns and look up NASA. Like a dictionary, you will see a heading in bold. Generally, the emboldened heading is either the only correct use of the word or one of the correct uses. You will see that NASA is listed as National Aeronautics and Space Administration. But when you read on to get more information, you will see that the acronym NASA is acceptable in all references, meaning you never need to spell out the word. Where students get into the most trouble with this is when they don’t read the text after the bold. Please make sure you do so you are able to understand all uses of the words.Let’s try another one. To learn how we would write President Barrack Obama, flip to the word “president.” You will see that president before a name is capitalized, as in the case of President Barrack Obama, President Jimmy Carter, etc. However, when you read on, you will see that the word president on its own does not get capitalized, as it is a common noun. For example, if you were to write “He is running for president,” you would not capitalize the word president. Some can be a bit trickier to find. For example, if you want to know how to write titles commonly found in crime stories, you would turn to the military titles section in your stylebook. There, you’ll find directions for how and when to capitalize and abbreviate words like sergeant, lieutenant and captain.You can also find out how and when to appropriately abbreviate states. Please turn to the entry for “states” now. You’ll notice two types of abbreviations for states. The one with two capital letters is a postal code. You will never use this abbreviation for journalism stories. In fact, their only use is for addresses at the top of press releases, which we will go over in a couple of weeks. The other featuring only one capital letter and abbreviation is the correct AP style. Please note that you will only abbreviate states when a city is included. A state written on its own does not get capitalized.
Take a minute to look up the heading dimensions now. Under that heading, you will find the proper way to write out items like height, weight, length and width. Notice that adjectives that modify a noun get hyphens and those that don’t modify a noun don’t as in the examples shown here. He is 6 feet tall does not get hyphenated, whereas he is a 6-foot-tall baseball player does. The same rules apply for ages. As with dimensions, you will always use a numeral. Please take a few minutes to review these sections yourself.
Certain technology terms change every year, so it will be a good idea to have these handy in case your stylebook is older than the most recent version. Take a few minutes to look over these terms and look up any other technology terms you might come across.
A couple more AP style notes to remember:
Lecture 1: Grammar & AP Style
• Refresher on grammar
• Learn to use the AP Stylebook
• Two worksheets to complete after viewing the
2. AP style
• Proper nouns:
• Noun – people, places & things
• Proper noun – specific people, places, & things
• Titles & sentence ordering:
• Only capitalize the title if it comes before a name
This class is great, said Jennifer Cox, a Professor.
This class is great, said Jennifer Cox, a professor.
This class is great, Professor Cox said.
• A verb must agree with the intended number of its subject
This class [singular subject] are [plural verb] great.
This class [singular subject] is [singular verb] great.
These classes [plural subject] are [plural verb] great.
The data is collected
The data are collected
The media is great.
The media are great.
The team must win their game.
The team must win its game.
• You’re & Your
• It’s & Its
• They’re & Their
• Who’s & Whose
• The governor’s bill & The governors’ bill
• James’s shirt & James’ bike
• Turning the object of a sentence into the subject of a
• Weakens the impact of your writing
• Makes the reader work harder than he or she should
Why was the road crossed by the chicken?
Why did the chicken cross the road?
The books were juggled by the accounting firm.
The accounting firm juggled the books.
• Punctuation ALWAYS goes inside the quotation marks!
• “said” comes after the name…
• unless there is attributing information attached to it
“This class is great,” said Jennifer Cox, a professor at Salisbury
“This class is great,” Professor Cox said.
“This class is great,” said Professor Cox.
Commas - handout
• Commas in a series
• Independent clauses
• Introductory clauses
• Nonessential clauses
• Commas within quotes or paraphrases
What is ap style?
• Used by newspaper journalists in the United States
as a grammatical guide
• Makes words and items generalizable in all locations
• Used by journalists in all types of writing (print and
• Used by PR practitioners to communicate with the
• Press releases
• Media kits
Ap style – look up
• Proper nouns
• Organizations (NASA, CIA, the Y/YMCA)
• Peoples’ titles (president, military titles, academic titles)
• Places (states, cities without states [datelines])
• Company names
• Always use numerals
• He is 6 feet tall.
• He is a 6-foot-tall baseball player.
• She is 16 years old.
• She is a 16-year-old hockey player.
• Technology words:
• the Web & Web page
Ap style - Memorize
• Numbers zero through nine- written out; 10 and up
• Weird ones:
• Dumpster & Realtor
• Toward versus towards
• More than versus over
• Fewer versus less than (individual versus bulk
• Under way
• Reading for tomorrow: Chapter 1 – Changing
• Two worksheets due by 11:59 p.m. Monday
• I will post the answers online after that so you can
check your work
• Please tune in for tomorrow’s lecture about hard
• First AP style quiz tomorrow in MyClasses – you
must take it by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday