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"An Occasional Nice Phrase"

By Melissa Baumann Siebert ’76

Judith Crist terrified me. As a 21 year-old would-be novelist trying to be a reporter, I found the entire J-school experience quite traumatising, especially the trial-by-fire first assignment sending us solo into the various boroughs and ghettos of New York, in my case a very dicey South Bronx. Mrs. Crist was intimidating because of her high standards -- the same standards that made her such a great teacher (I was in her 3-hour weekly seminar on writing criticism), and with only a handful of us in her class, it was hard to avoid her penetrating gaze or opinion. 'Has an occasional nice phrase' one of my assignments came back, pencilled in red. 'An occasional nice phrase', as Mrs. Crist drummed into us, was not nearly good enough -- and I thank her for that, for elevating our standards and ultimately our writing, as well as our critical thinking. She's a huge loss to the J-school, a legend -- and I send condolences to her family and friends.

Posted by: AlumniAlumni August 2012

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