Sometimes, I find myself scratching my head at the buffoonery of it all. Take, for example, writing. Now, just to clear up a few things, I do not consider myself a great writer. There are times, when I do not even consider myself a good writer. There are those people who would say I am too hung up on the mechanics of writing and I lose something in the process of writing because I am overly concerned with the technicalities (thanks, undergrad professors). And there are those who would say I am lax in my punctuation and use wrong grammar (too many, or misplaced, commas and dashes), which I must admit, I do get confused from time to time and perhaps my writing would benefit from a review of the basics more oft than not. No, to my dismay, I am not without fault in the word game.
Back in my undergraduate days, a mere year ago, I was a journalist with an award-winning newspaper. I have withheld the name of the publication as I do still have a few friends on staff (or more appropriately, perhaps I do). Like any newspaper, they had their deadlines and meetings; extra long coffee filled nights and stressed out editors. What got my goat, and still does, is the fact that they were and again are “an award-winning newspaper.” That’s right! They took 18 trophies and ranked number one in the state and, as Tom Hanks said in the 1988 movie Big, “I don’t get it!”
I am not saying the journalists and editors are not hard working devoted people, they are—I was. What I am saying is that I was a part of the award-winning team and I know the rag. I am very familiar with the product. I have an insider’s perspective. There are so many reasons they do not deserve to win the awards, that… “I don’t get it!”
In my mind, the only reason they could have won, is the newspapers they were up against were so subpar they looked like the shining star in a universe of mediocrity. That’s okay if that is your plan, but to use that as bragging rights nationwide, well, that is an embarrassment (think of Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) taking advantage of the situation and going in for that second kiss on Ricky Bobby (Will Farrell) at the end of Talladega Nights when Ricky has beat Jean Girard in the race of the century—not cool!).
Why does this bother me so much? I do not mind giving kudos where credit is due, but when undeserved acclaim is offered as a gift then boasted about, it really frosts my marbles. When I was with the paper, a few things led up to my decision to leave. For starters, there were several consecutive misprints, which seemed to single out my articles and I felt they were a direct reflection of me as a writer (I still have those copies). Then there was the nonchalant attitude that went with the whole ordeal. The Editor in Chief then did not even recognize the problems, nor did he recognize my leaving the paper. The “Adviser” and Founder of the paper, who by the way was a respected professor on campus and I was under his tutelage at the time, despite my efforts of resolving the issues with correspondence, I never received so much as a response or reply, I was simply ignored. I will say this however, the News Desk Editor fully supported my grievance and he was encouraging throughout.
If you were to go through the paper, you would infer the rag is composed for not much more than gerbil cage liner. I am not a prude, but I do use discretion and I believe tact should play a role when reporting news. In this particular award-winning newspaper, there are sex articles with four letter words describing sexual acts (f*cking and s*ucking—I have that issue too!) back to back, and face-to-face with articles promoting religious harmony and church services and religious activities. That in itself is distasteful, but when you throw in the fact that a number of faculty have complained because of misquotes and misrepresentation, I wonder where the award issuing committee gets their information—it appears they get it from the award-winning paper!
The paper has a new Editor in Chief. I pick up a copy from time to time, but I’ll tell you I get more out of The Onion than the award-winning publication I once wrote for and admired… I too was naive. The stance the biweekly paper takes is liberal, highly liberal; sometimes they are too liberal for their own good. The writers of the publication think shock value and a liberal stance (f*cking and s*cking) are values leading to cutting edge journalism. Childish!
An international critically acclaimed journalist once told me, “If you want a good story, get out of your element and stick to the story. It should be about the news, there’s no need to make up news, and it should not be about the journalist, it should be about the story.” Thanks Sebastian!
The award-winning newspaper, which I wrote for, creates stories as well as purposefully disregards the authenticity of a story to promote a “scoop” or “hype”, as is obvious by the many complaints about misquotes and misrepresentation of facts.
News is not about what news story we can imagine. Imagination is fiction and it is reserved for the novels. News is information and revelation communicated honestly, knowledgeably and intelligently, to enlighten, and to educate and guide the reader toward a higher understanding.
Look, I may not be the best writer. I may make grammatical errors or enter the land of confusion when it comes to punctuation. I may even commit some of the most odious of writing offenses. I admit, I am not an award-winning writer. But above all, I raise the bar. Maybe that is why I was not a good fit on the award-winning newspaper. I am a passionate, conscientious, moral writer and most importantly, I stick to the facts.