Becoming a More Effective Writer (Spring 2020)


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Becoming a More Effective Writer (Spring 2020)

Build the reporting and writing habits you need to organize your information better and write more clearly.

Teaching dates: Feb. 3 – Feb. 28


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SKU: NUOGS02-20 Category: Tag:


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Build the reporting and writing habits you need to organize your information better and write more clearly. You’ll also get one-on-one coaching and feedback on your work.

Whether you write breaking news alerts, meeting summaries, business plans or email, you’ll learn the tools you need to deliver what your readers need and want.


Live text chats

Wednesdays, Feb. 5, 12, 19 at 11 a.m. Eastern time

Tuesday, Feb 25 at 10 a.m. Eastern time

Live video sessions

Fridays, Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28 at 3 p.m. Eastern time

*If you’re unable to attend a live session, there will be a recording available.

Be prepared to analyze your own writing. We’ll provide plenty of short and long writing examples to understand the various writing tools taught in this seminar. But ultimately we want you to be able to apply them to your writing so please prepare some examples of your current work in advance.

Much like a traditional class, this online group seminar has readings, assignments, due dates and discussions. No formal evaluations or grades are given, but participants are provided detailed and individual feedback.

View the sample syllabus for this course.

Course learning outcomes

  • How to turn facts and data into stories that readers and viewers will love
  • Tools to help you write with clarity and power
  • Ways to zero in on potential problems that can lead to fuzzy writing
  • Strategies to identify pitfalls that keep you from writing concisely

Who should take this course

Writers who struggle with organizing their stories, especially on deadline, whether in print, online or for a broadcast audience. This course is for anyone who wants to tell powerful, clearly organized stories.


Merrill Perlman is a consultant who works with news organizations, private companies and journalism organizations, specializing in helping people better edit and communicate. She spent 25 years at The New York Times in jobs ranging from copy editor to director of copy desks, in charge of all 150-plus copy editors at The Times. (Both titles are, sadly, extinct at the Times.) She is an adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and writes the Language Corner column for the Columbia Journalism Review. Merrill is a member of the executive committee of ACES: The Society for Editing and of its Education Fund, She has received the Missouri Honor Medal from the Unversity of Missouri, the Glamann Award from ACES, and the Charles R. O’Malley Award for Excellence in teaching from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. She was a reporter for four years before becoming an editor.

About online group seminars

In an online group seminar, you will gather with other participants in a virtual space, logging in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several weeks. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides individual feedback.

Time estimate

The content of this course unfolds over several weeks. There are few scheduled live meeting times. Except for several live discussions, you’ll be able to learn on a schedule that works for you. The minimum time commitment each week is three to four hours.


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