I caught myself editing an LA Times headline this morning. Not the first time either. The only journalism classes I ever had were in high school. I was, of course, on the paper and thought that’s what I’d be, the next Nellie Bly. You know, the kind of woman played by Rosalind Russell. But alas I didn’t pick my college–I won’t go into that–and it turned out NOT to have a journalism department. Back in the day, it never occurred to me that there was such a thing as J-schools for college grads. Actually, was there? I wouldn’t have gone anyway. I wasn’t into clear thinking or assertive behavior in those days.
Anyway, I learned all the basics in Mr. Ritche’s class. (I can’t remember how to spell it, that’s how long ago it was). I understood how the inverted pyramid worked and why. I searched out words like “very,” “just,” “pretty,” and eradicated them. I tried to avoid the prepositional phrase in favor of strong adjectives and the occasional, even stronger verb. I probably forgot a lot, but when I see unnecessary words, it bugs the **** out of me.