Comma drama

comma dramaA Portland, Maine dairy company will have to shell out $10 million because of an overtime pay statute and a comma, a court has ruled.

The ruling, according to a March report by The New York Times, is resulting from ambiguity caused by the Oxford comma–or in this case, a lack thereof.

And all the Oxford comma zealots chimed into the discussion with a collective “I told you so.”

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A few of my favorite puns from Bob’s Burgers

I love a good pun. Good, bad or ugly, none is master of the pun more than the animated franchise, Bob’s Burgers.

It’s a lovable show about a burger joint owner and his family, which is constantly (lovingly?) sabotaging his business.

bobsburgers

Image source–giphy.com

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The lede–a story’s heartbeat

buried lede

Make your point clear in the first sentence

Everybody knows the cardinal rule of journalism–don’t bury the lede.

Well, almost everybody.

Today I picked up a local newspaper bearing a headline stating the Richland County Sheriff’s Department will get funding for body cameras. But I couldn’t tell what the story was supposed to be about until the third paragraph.

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Lowering your bounce rate, from one non-web guru to another

tablet screenI don’t check in on my website analytics quite like I’m supposed to.

One particular post at The Carolina Ledger performed well on social media last week. My interest in my website’s analytics is usually piqued when that happens.

When I checked my report, I noticed something I’ve notice before–a high bounce rate. (Cue dramatic music.)

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A “difficult, agonizing, dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had minor dental surgery a few weeks ago.

And recovery from a concurrent dental infection has taken longer than I had expected.

I’ve had to reach down deep–deeper than usual–to find the energy to do my work.

It’s in these moments in life that writers need a reason from which to pivot. Slow your work down if you must. But find the reason to keep working, or else you’ll quit.

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Your five favorite posts of 2015 revisited

As we close the books on this year, I rounded up a few of your favorite posts according to a combination of likes, comments, social networking shares and page views. See the countdown below to revisit your favorite tips and stories of 2015.

5) Four tips to build credibility in your writing

Carry these four tips into the new year to help you perfect your blog and business writing.

Congaree River flooding

The water level recedes from under the Blossom St. bridge after SCE&G releases water from the Lake Murray Dam on Sunday.

4) Diary from a 1,000-year flood—after the rain

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Putting the worldwide refugee crisis in context

Somalian family adapts to two worlds

My story about a Somali family’s journey

I pulled a box full of newspapers out of our guest room closet last night to find a 2009 story I wrote about a family of Somali refugees living in Columbia.

This was the second family I had interviewed for two stories I wrote for The Columbia Star.

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Misspelling, a love story

Good thing someone is inforcing that no parking rule. Photo by Matt Foster-- http://bit.ly/1Ntt8Xt.

Good thing someone is inforcing that no parking rule. Photo by Matt Foster– http://bit.ly/1Ntt8Xt.

I’m not a perfect speller. I consult my dictionary often. But I have a confession–and a bit of a mean streak. I feel a shudder of joy when I catch a spelling error in print.

And if the mistake is in a published book, even better! A classic? Oh boy!

It’s like my sweetheart whispered a secret in my ear that only I get to know. The author missed it. And the editor (or proofreader) missed it. But I was just sharp enough to catch it.

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A sensitive awareness–honoring the grieving after the Charleston church massacre

It’s been eight days since nine people were shot to death in a Charleston church. The past week has been a sad one for my home state of South Carolina, but seeing people from all sorts of backgrounds join together to mourn and to show support for the families of the nine has been encouraging.

Political operatives have also taken the opportunity to capitalize on the events surrounding those deaths, trumpeting their positions on race and gun rights. I’ve worked in and around politics—taking advantage of an event to advance a particular agenda is to be expected. I’d hoped that would come later.

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How to put color to work for your marketing

Color wheel--public domain

Color wheel–public domain

When I’ve written for clients in the past, I’ve focused my communications skills on the writing portion of mailers, newsletters and other written communications. My strengths involve organizing information and writing clearly. But did you know communicating with design elements is just as important as the words used?

The starting point for your message is what your audience sees, not what they read. If you use visual elements that are distracting, a reader may miss your message altogether.

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