Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Dr Teresa Heinz Housel

Judge: Plain Language Champion — Best Individual or Team

Senior Tutor in Journalism, Public Relations, and Communication, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

I bring my passion for clear communication and my keen eye for copy-editing to my journalism and public relations courses at Massey University in Wellington.

I cover plain language principles in all my Massey courses. One of my courses, Editing & Publishing for Journalism & Communication, specifically focuses on copyediting, layout, and design. I introduce principles of plain language as we focus on style guides, house style, style sheets, and writing clearly for our target audiences.

Many of my students will go to work for news outlets in New Zealand and overseas, government ministries, Crown entities, non-profits, commercial businesses, and other organisations around New Zealand and the world. Plain language skills are needed in all these fields.

I’ve always loved people’s stories

A desire to share other people’s stories led me to journalism as a first career. Before I went into academia, I worked as a journalist in the US, Australia, and Britain.

I’ve worked professionally as a news and features reporter for various newspapers and magazines such as The Columbia Missourian (US), Lawrence Journal World (US), The Big Issue (London, UK), and Good Housekeeping (US edition in New York). I am now a freelance writer and blogger.

Plain language guides my academic work

My plain language training transformed my academic writing. Many students ask me if it’s possible to use plain language in academic writing. Absolutely! When writing an academic text, my goal is to communicate clearly and concisely for my intended audiences.

If you use technical words, explain them clearly to the audience. My academic research encompasses media, advertising and consumer cultures, cultural studies, technology and society, media history, journalism, and teaching pedagogy. All this research can be written clearly, concisely, and concretely using the principles of plain language.

Plain language guides my close eye for editing

I’ve edited four books on first-in-the-family students and healthcare disparities that impact LGBTQ+ people. I work closely with authors to help them communicate clearly. I draw frequently from plain language principles as I coach authors.

My most recent book is Mental Health Among Higher Education Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students: A Critical Perspective (Lexington Books, 2021). I’ve co-edited an upcoming book, On the Front Lines: Women Faculty’s Experiences of Pandemic Educational Experiences, which will be published later in 2023.

Meet the judges for the Plain Language Awards

How the judging process works