Tuesday, February 3, 2009


My name is Justin Hemenway, and this is my fourth attempt at blogging. Past efforts have always started off strong, but I've just found it difficult to stay focused during the busy semesters. I always assumed that my words would get lost in the sea of Blogspot, LiveJournal and WordPress pages. However, this editing exercise will be different; if I want to pass my required editing course, I will need to blog at least 12 times within the next four months. Plus, my peers and I are required to comment on each other's posts, so I'm guaranteed to attract at least a few readers.

Because this blog is for my editing class, I do hope that my readers will call me out on even the tiniest of errors. My posts will be rigorously edited to follow AP Style - no internet shorthand here! I plan to scrutinize every single sentence to ensure clarity and brevity. I'm currently a Journalism 200 teaching assistant, so it's especially important to me that I am able to talk about English grammar intricacies with authority.

I know that I've made this project sound like a bit of a chore, but I genuinely enjoy writing and discussing issues in journalism. I'm not the big fan of my own writing (to say the least), but the only way that will change is if I engage class material and outside readings on a regular basis. Hopefully, you'll check back in the weeks to come to see my progress.

A couple links you might enjoy (watch out for brief R-rated language):
  • "Flat N All That" - Matt Taibbi is probably a bit too snarky for his own good, but I do think he makes some valid points in this scathing attack on Tom Friedman and his bizarre analogies. Self-indulgent, complicated comparisons will only hurt your argument if your readers cannot follow along.
  • "Criticwatch 2008" - This roundup of last year's biggest *ahem* "quote whores" has also been on my mind for the past couple weeks. As someone interested in professional criticism, I'm astounded that so many writers could get away with such lazy writing. It's a shame that some are willing to abandon their integrity for a spot on a film poster. I will do my utmost to make sure you don't see these cliches on this page.


  1. Isn't the issue involving sloppy movie critics indicative of a larger, more problematic, concern with "professional criticism" as a whole? The few who truly practice that profession are drowned out by the many who give in to the natural incentives of their career. What I mean by that is, given that most media outlets are owned by the same parent corporations, is it any surprise that "critics" would give glowing and half-hearted recommendations? They are essentially being asked to "criticize" products manufactured by their own bosses.

    The sufficient condition to remedy this situation would be mainstream media factionalization. But considering that, since the 1970's, the trend has been decidedly opposite, i.e. increasing amalgamation, it's unlikely we'll see true "criticism" for awhile.

    Here's a chart showing the expansive reach of the few, powerful media moguls:



  2. Agreed. There is also a huge conflict of interest with the types of advertisements newspapers are willing to run. It's a bit suspect when I see a glowing review with dozens of little movie posters beneath it. Unfortunately, I think the only way you can avoid that completely is to go with scholarly journals.

    BRIEF NERD RANT: The video game enthusiast press is especially susceptible to advertiser interference. There have been a few attempts to break away from the 100% game-centric advertising model, but none have found a way to make it profitable. And when a magazine pans a game (EGM with Assassin's Creed two years ago) or removes numerical scores (Computer Gaming World), publishers immediately stop shipping reviewable copies. It's very frustrating to see good magazines fade away because they have some integrity. It's telling that the only one to turn a profit is the one published by colossal retailer GameStop.