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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
Considerate words matterPosted Friday, August 19, 2011, at 3:19 PM
Freshly sharpened crayons, thick reams of paper and fall clothes are filling the carts of shoppers everywhere as back-to-school time draws closer.
For college students, it means many trips from the car and up and down several flights of stairs during the move-in process and fighting your way through the bookstore for overpriced textbooks.
Coming back to college for another year also means being reunited with friends and favorite professors.
For journalism majors, the decision was mutual.
Witty Doug, communications department chair and journalism department extraordinaire, was always our favorite.
It was a common freshman mistake to address him as Professor Trouten; that salutation would be accompanied by a gentle reminder to refer to him as Doug.
Whether it was learning what the acronym "TP-PINCH" stood for, listening to a daily Adrian Plass reading or watching tape-recorded "Jaywalking" clips from Jay Leno before taking our weekly current events quiz, class with him was always enjoyable.
As I entered my upperclassmen years, the number of students in the journalism program began to dwindle. Upper level classes had only five or six students, but that was to our advantage on Fridays when we were treated to homemade goodies from his wife Lis.
During opinion writing class, he passed around a bulging file folder of "fan mail" he had collected throughout the years, including a "worst journalist award," instructions/investment requests for a dating club and and a 20-page handwritten letter.
Two special evening classes were hosted at his house, where we were enjoyed dinner and a movie---"Shattered Glass" or "All the President's Men."
There were also field trips to The Cambridge Star, where we saw a printing press in action as it produced our campus paper, and to the Minnesota State Capitol during a rally to practice crowd-counting skills.
When "the controversy" began regarding the demotation of two faculty members by the college president, he was there to offer guidance as we tackled providing coverage of a pertinent, real-life issue.
We must have been successful because we nabbed the attention of the Star Tribune and garnered another award to hang on the wall.
He also pushed us to write outside our comfort zones. Somehow, I ended up as sports editor for a semester, even though I knew nothing about sports writing; however, most of my time was spent dealing with an unruly writer who refused to meet deadlines and another who repeatedly plagiarized. An important lesson was learned: management skills can be just as important as writing skills.
When work was submitted, it was always returned with a thoughtful, page-long letter of comments.
Considerate words and a little extra time can make all the difference.
* Ashley Miller is a member of the Pilot-Tribune news staff. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org