Fielder’s Choice

Drilled on Stylebook

Thursday morning I stop­ped by Rust College to put newspapers in a rack.

In a room nearby, I noticed my good friend Debayo Moyo, chair of the Department of Communications, teaching a class.

I walked near the door and he saw me through the window.

I waved.

He started toward the door and asked me to come in.

I certainly didn’t mean to interrupt his class, but he introduced me to the students.

Come to find out, it was a reporting class.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting with Rust students in the classroom and in my office. Several over the years have written for The South Reporter for experience and to fulfill their internship requirements.

Working with the young people at Rust and walking into a reporting class always takes my mind back to my days at the University of North Alabama where I received my degree in journalism. That was 1984.

It was 34 years ago, but the things I learned then still stick with me today.

Often when we’re proofreading each week, a question will come up and I will respond, “that’s what my journalism teacher taught me.”

I learned a lot from Bobbie Hurt.

She was a great teacher after she worked as a reporter and editor. She taught from both knowledge and experience.

She pushed me to do my best.

She taught for 29 years at UNA, retiring in 1999. She passed away in 2006 at age 74, according to a tribute I read in The Decatur (Ala.) Daily.

In the early ’80s, the journalism department at UNA wasn’t a big one. Ms. Hurt taught it all – from basic reporting to editing.

We were drilled and drilled and drilled some more on the “AP Stylebook.” It offers a basic reference to grammar, punctuation and principles of reporting, including many definitions and rules for usage as well as styles for capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals.

At age 57, I can remember most everything from the “AP Stylebook.” I have one in my office. Our proofreader, Beth Breithaupt, has one on her desk.

Occasionally, on Monday and Tuesday during crunch time of getting the newspaper to press, we will have a question. If I can’t quickly recall the answer, I simply say, “Look in the Stylebook.” And we will always have one nearby.

The confusing thing back in my college days –  the same semester I was taking a reporting class, I was also taking creative writing. One of my minors was English.

I thought back then that it would be wonderful if there was just one main guide when it came to writing.

But writing a paper in my creative writing class was totally different than writing one for journalism class.

I adapted. And to be honest, I loved it.

After leaving Rust College on Thursday, I thought if I had one thing to say to those students in reporting class, it would be to simply soak in all the knowledge they can.

That’s because, whether it comes from reporting class or English class or a required basic math class, it will all be important on down the road.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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