Letters from the Issue of July 14, 2005

Dying newspapers, ATV defenders, and tough-talking college deans

Second, blame the help and suggest (without exactly saying it, because it too wouldn't be true) that the messenger was complicit in the wrongdoing. In defending the FIU administration against charges of censorship, Kopenhaver says an instructor (who, by the way, was later named chair of journalism) pulled the student articles. She says he did it "after consultation with faculty members including Kevin Hall." That statement is a disturbing breach of journalistic standards because it was deliberately crafted to convey an untrue message -- that I supported the decision on censorship. I was not even informed about the censorship until students met with me to complain after it occurred.

Third, and this is truly Talibanesque for the head of a journalism school, wag a condemning finger at the newspaper for publishing the story: Kopenhaver says in her letter that New Times was "trying to undermine" the school and that the proper role of the newspaper would have been to "join with us in our efforts."

That's the role of journalism? In what country?

Kevin Hall

Plantation

Who would have guessed there was a tweetle involved? Reporters should strive for a fair and balanced story. Unfortunately Edmund Newton's article "Newsroom or Classroom" never addressed the real victims: the journalism students at FIU.

In the fall 2003 semester I was a student in Kevin Hall's "Writing Strategies," also known as writing boot camp. To be admitted to the class you had to achieve a 65 score on the infamous grammar test on "The Word Association" Website. The way students and faculty spoke about the test, I felt I had to genuflect after I dared to breathe the name. (I was admitted with a 65 but I failed twice to achieve a higher score required to exit the class.)

I was told specifically to not look at other grammar books but to study from the Website only. I questioned why I had to rely on Hall as the only grammar expert. That was the first hint of trouble. Some of the test questions were bizarre while others had changing answers. Here is one of the stranger questions:

Choose the answer that best describes the [BRACKETED] words: "When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles and the bottle's on a poodle and [the poodle's eating noodles], they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle."

Reference: Dr. Seuss

Answers:

1. Dependent clause

2. Independent clause

3. Independent phrase

4. Dependent phrase

I soon found out that the only way to pass the test was to take private tutoring lessons from the lab assistant who monitored the test. The lessons were more about how to take the test than grammar.

So far no one has asked me anything about poodles in a muddle, noodles with a tweetle, or beetles battling the bottle. But thanks to Kevin Hall, I am ready for that question when I land my first job at a newspaper.

Helen Berggren

Miami

Erratum

Owing to an editing error, the photograph of the group Secret P.E. Club, which accompanied Jessica Sick's article "Pop Punk Balanced" (July 7), was not properly credited. The photograph was taken by Challen Berg.

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