Dr. Gerald Grow began developing Newsroom 101 during the 24 years he was a professor of journalism at Florida A&M University when he discovered that students were arriving with less knowledge of grammar than they needed — a situation now widespread in colleges everywhere.
For several years, he maintained a prototype of Newsroom 101 on the Web for free, where visitors completed more than 6 million exercises. This site was based in part on delightful exercises contributed by Ron Hartung, who was then, among other things, newsroom coach at the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.
After retiring in 2009, Gerald drew on his earlier experience with both grammar and computers to revise Newsroom 101, make it more widely available, enlarge it to more than three times the size of the original version, mount it on the Moodle platform and incorporate the conditional logic that requires students to attain certain scores before they can continue.
Gerald’s published article “When Journalism Majors Don’t Know Grammar” (available as a PDF download) analyzes the factors that led to the present need for Newsroom 101. Since that article was published, a focus on required testing has further reduced grammar instruction in many schools.
Many college professors find that there is not enough time to teach the grammar, usage, spelling and style that students need in order to succeed in college and in the workplace.
Newsroom 101 was created to help with that problem.
Gerald Grow, a native of a small town in south Georgia, graduated from Harvard, has a Ph.D. from Yale and studied at Cambridge University — all in English literature and drama. He taught at San Francisco State, St. Mary’s College of California, Florida State University, the Berkeley Holistic Health Center, SAIL High School, and, in addition to a year working in construction, he served as an award-winning professor of magazine journalism during his 24 years at Florida A&M University.
For a decade, he was editor and writer for ENFO, one of Florida’s leading environmental publications. He has worked on many editing projects, written articles both popular and academic, served as publisher of a small press, was associate managing editor of the Journal of Instructional Design. He is the author of the book Florida Parks: A Guide to Camping and Nature, creator of Newsroom 101 and an internationally unrecognized cartoonist. In recent years, he has been exhibiting his innovative photographs.
He and his wife -- who together raised two sons -- live in a tree-lined, multicultural neighborhood in Tallahassee, Florida.
Photo: C.K. Grow