Wil yu stilll luv me when Im sixtyfour?

Jeff South | Virginia Commonwealth University

We introduce copyediting and AP style in our Newswriting course, MASC 203, which is taken by all Mass Comm students. To appeal to advertising and other non-journalism students, I have my classes edit a variety of text documents: not just news stories but advertisements, press releases, product packaging and even song lyrics. This teaches them a lot about paying attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, consistency and other details.

I keep a file of newspaper, magazine and direct-mail ads with serious bloopers – such as a full-color flier about the “Princess of Whales Rose.” I also have folders with the poorly worded backs of cereal boxes and confusing instructions for installing software.

A favorite activity is to grab popular song lyrics from the Internet, doctor them a bit to include (more) misspellings and other mistakes, then have students edit them into proper English. Here are some examples:

1. i'm only happy when it rains i'm only happy wehn it's complicated though I know you Can't appreciate it i'm onlyhappy when it it rains

2. i wish that i could fly into the sky so very high just like a dragonfly i'd fyl above the treees over the seas in all degrees to, Anywhere I please i want to get away

3. i dreamed about ray charles last night and he could see just fine i asked him for a lullaby and he said "honey, I don't sing no more".

4. i think its getting to thepoint where i be can myself again i think its getting the to point where we have almost made amends i think it's the getting to the point that is the Hardest part

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