“I hate the passive voice.”

That’s the first thing I that haunted me when Dr. Goodrum (Abby) asked me to create a blog for this project: the voice of Suanne Kelman, my radio teacher. 

I was reading the abstract that Abby and I submitted for an academic conference, and getting ready to put it on the main page of the blog.  Abby wrote it, and we edited it together.  It’s written in the right style for that.  But for a blog that hopes to reach journalists too?  As I read the final draft, I had visions of Suanne going ballistic with a red pen. 

According to Suanne, all the two year journalism students at Ryerson (“JRADs”) come into the program with an addiction to the passive voice that’s customary in academia.

I asked Abby’s advice.  Who’s the blog’s audience?  If we keep the passive voice, people like Suanne or other journalists we hope to engage might be prone to slipping into a catatonic state.  But if we put away all academic language, will the academic types take it seriously? Will we lose the theoretical framework? 

Abby said issues like this are going to come up more and more at the j-school as it brings in more academics, so we may as well start experimenting now with the blog. We came up with the idea of posting both a plain description of the project and the academic abstract.   

February 23, 2006