Breanna Denney /Nevada Sagebrush

On Monday, Sept. 8, Fogarty’s class engages in a presentation over a video call. During her interactive publishing class, Fogarty spends the hours between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. with her students,
evaluating various forms of journalism in a newsroom environment.

UNR welcomes ‘Grammar Girl’ as media entrepreneurship chair

By Maddison Cervantes

When is it necessary to use a comma? How can you be sure which form of “there” to use? What is the correct arrangement for a quote? The answers to these questions are the specialty of a new faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Reynolds School of Journalism.

Mignon Fogarty, also known as “Grammar Girl,” began her employment at the university this semester as the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Media Entrepreneurship at the RSJ and the Center for Advanced Media Studies.

Fogarty is the producer of the Grammar Girl podcast, which she began eight years ago; the Grammar Girl website; an online game called “Grammar Pop;” a card game called “Peeve Wars” and the author of seven successful books on writing.

Fogarty moved from Arizona to Reno about seven years prior to her employment at UNR and was offered the job while giving a guest lecture in journalism professor Nico Colombant’s radio class
last year.

The class was creating podcasts and Fogarty helped the students brainstorm different possible ways to turn their podcasts into businesses.

Colombant offered her the job on short notice and after realizing that Grammar Girl was sustainable enough for her to begin something new, Fogarty applied.
Fogarty stated she was not in search of a job, since Grammar Girl was already fulltime, and never thought another would be necessary.

“The media entrepreneurship chair job description was such a good fit that it felt as if it had been written for me personally, so it was terribly enticing,” Fogarty said.

During her employment with the RSJ, Fogarty stated that she will be teaching classes in the department, organizing events in the community and likely serving in some way to help judge business plan and entrepreneurial competitions around town.

Donica Mensing, an associate professor and academic chair for the RSJ, believes that Fogarty will be a wonderful addition to the school, being that she is an extremely successful entrepreneur who can both teach and model a range of skills and professional practices.

“Her contacts and experience bring greater visibility an breadth to the school,” Mensing said. “And she’s great fun to work with.”

Paul Mitchell, an associate professor and recruiting and retention coordinator for the RSJ, agrees that Fogarty’s new employment will be a great addition. He believes that she raises the profile of the RSJ because of her entrepreneurial experience.

“She loves words, which the entire faculty can relate to, and hopefully, students will gain a greater appreciation of,” Mitchell said. “But when you watch her videos and/or follow her on Twitter, you can see that she has a great sense of humor and, at the same time, knows how to make learning fun.”

Fogarty is held to the standard of a celebrity not only in the Reynolds School, but around the university as well.

“What’s really cool, and this happened just last night while walking to the parking garage,” Mitchell said, “I met this guy through a mutual friend and he said, ‘you work with Grammar Girl?’”

Along with Mensing and Mitchell, Todd Felts, a colleague and associate professor at the RSJ, said that Fogarty is a perfect addition to the faculty with her contagious spirit of entrepreneurship.

“She epitomizes the future of journalism,” Felts said.

During her employment with the RSJ, Fogarty’s entrepreneurial experience will allow students to get a better grip on the business side of things, both at the university and in the community.
While warming up to her new position and introducing the Reynolds School to the business side of journalism, Fogarty will maintain custody of her title as Grammar Girl.

She will continue with her weekly podcasts on writing, weekly e-mail newsletters and regular updates to her “Quick and Dirty Tips” website.

As Felts stated, the Reynolds School’s newfound celebrity, with her area of expertise and ideas, is the perfect example for the future of the journalism community at the UNR.

Maddison Cervantes can be reached at mcervantes@sagebrush.unr.edu.