Journalists and English professors are divided over the effects of social networking websites on the way people use written English.
A popular misconception about social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter is that they are detrimental to how people use written English.
“Social networking and texting has had a huge impact on the way people write, and it has all been negative,” said David Taffet, a journalist with the Dallas Voice.
The debate regarding social networking websites typically centers on the perception that they negatively affect people’s communication skills.
“The majority opinion is not always correct. Social networking sites have not been detrimental to English grammar,” Charlotte Hogg, associate professor of English at TCU, said. “People are writing for genres, so it seems that people are aware of certain conventions being acceptable on Facebook that aren’t as appropriate for a paper for a college course. Studies haven’t indicated that grammar skills have declined over the last decade.”
“For many, proper or conventional grammar is a sign that the person is taking care with their message for their audience, and so it’s important to know when to write more casually for social networking and when to follow the traditional conventions of Standard English,” Hogg said.
“Students should be able to write traditional academic essays,” Hogg said. “I would much rather a student write an essay in my class that isn’t perfectly correct but is brimming with ideas.”
I believe students applying to universities should already be able to write according to the expected standard.
This is where the Electronic Grammar Usage Mechanics Proficiency Program (EGUMPP) steps in. Have you experienced EGUMPP yet? You will if you are one of the more recent students to join the TCU College of Communication.
I believe high school juniors and seniors should use EGUMPP to prepare themselves for the standards of higher education. Students should ideally already know how to write grammatically correct academic papers.
As it is, all students majoring or minoring in journalism are required to take Media Writing & Editing. The only significant difference this semester is that students enrolled in this course now have to pass EGUMPP in order to take the course final.
EGUMPP is divided into four highly-intensive modules. Students have to complete all four modules before they are able to take the Media Writing & Editing final. Not doing so will prevent students from taking the final and could potentially cause a student to fail the course completely.
“The standard of grammar used in newspapers by professional writers has been consistent for decades,” Taffet said. “More than anything, readers expect very short articles. If I e-mail questions to someone for use in a story, the responses I get are unusable half of the time.”
Students will not like having EGMUPP as a mandatory component of Media Editing & Writing. It isn’t an easy A. Students are going to have to work at all four levels to pass EGMUPP and the class itself; however, the rewards gained from using EGUMPP outweigh any discomfort endured.
Shain E. Thomas is a FTDM major from Scotland.