Dash it all: communication skills needed badly

And now some advice for college grads

And now some advice for college grads

I’m boning up on what employers say they need from new workers.

Turns out communication skills are high on the list.

As a communication professor I want to share my findings with students to give them an edge in the marketplace.

Daily I see typos in news copy and internet blasts.

One reason is shrinking infrastructure—fewer editors to give your copy the once-over.

Another reason is lack of skills.

My first editor made us triple-check the spelling of people’s names: getting a name wrong was a firing offense.

My second boss made us check names and copy by giving us 2 copies of a story: one of us read aloud while a co-worker eyeballed the copy.

Writing that confronts us today is rife with errors. Even the New York Times—the bastion of fact-checking—has fallen victim to sophomoric story-telling and poor editing.

Worst offenses I confront emerge from encounters on the internet.

Facebook announces your friend Herman “changed their profile picture.”

Herman is a he, not a they.

Your first impression of an organization may arise from the fingers of a novice hired for her skill in texting.

But there’s no editor to double-check her work.

Take, for example, the program Dashlane, a computer application that saves your usernames and passwords and credit card numbers.

There’s a certain trust you need to invest in a company that keeps your secrets.

Pity their communication needs an overhaul.

When you use the Dashlane program—say, securing a new password—you will get a message on your screen that says “data is secure!”

And the website copy reads, “All your data is encrypted with your master password, which only you know so no one, not even Dashlane, has access to your information…there’s a place for everything!”

I don’t need the exclamation points: I’m an adult.

And I certainly would have more confidence in a company that knows that data are plural.

Sure, it’s a tiny mistake. But folks whose business is data-management better know about data.

It’s kind of like going to a physician who mis-pronounces your disease: how well do you trust her judgment?

Maybe she missed class that day.

I’d rather have a doctor, a data-manager and a news-writer who didn’t skip class.

Give me accuracy over exclamation!

Maybe it’s just grammar—but attention to detail is a marker of someone who’s engaged.

And maybe a wee bit more skillful. Accurate. And smart.

Image from the US Department of Education http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/slsp/

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About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. She is enrolled with the Osage tribe.
This entry was posted in journalism, native press, Native Science, Portland, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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