Thursday, January 26, 2006
I know that I can be a little abrasive at times. I have opinions and sometimes I exhibit little tolerance when expressing them. I was given some sage advice quite sometime ago: Don’t submit anything in writing until I have had a chance to sit on it for a while and read it over. It’s advice that I must admit I rarely follow.
There was a recent feature article in our campus newspaper (The State Hornet) about the many winter activities in the nearby Lake Tahoe area. The article was poorly researched and was obviously written by someone who had no prior knowledge about the area or skiing and snowboarding. There is an opportunity to register comments at the end of any given article on the on-line edition of the paper. I took the opportunity to voice my objections. You can read the article here: NorCal ski, snowboard options are plentiful .
My response was:
Wow, I've been skiing and snowboarding for many years all over the Northern California Sierras, but I must admit this feature article has some facts that I didn't know.
First, I am simply amazed that Squaw Valley at 91 miles away can be 42 miles closer than it's next-door neighbor, Alpine Meadows? News to me!
Sugar Bowl has California's first ski lift. It must be a mighty old lift! I wonder where they find spare parts? (It's long gone with only a very few scattered remnants remaining).
Sierra-at-Tahoe has "46 slopes and trails?" What may I ask, defines a "slope?" Mountains generally don't have any more than 4 slopes... north, south, east and west. A slope and a trail, at least in reference to skiing and snowboarding, are not synonyms.
As close as we are to the snow country and with the vast number of winter sports enthusiasts in the area, it should be no problem for a reporter, even a reporter with limited resources, to obtain accurate information.
Internet research is an important tool in news reporting. It should not be, however, the sole source for a story, even a feature story. Simply looking at a road map would have raised questions regarding the mileage figures given for Squaw and Alpine. (When there is no snow, it is a short hike... a very short hike from one to the other). Imagine that, using a simple map to verify facts.
I am not expecting much, if anything more from the Hornet this semester than it delivered last semester. Nor do I intend to waste my valuable time pointing out its endless foibles. However, fortunately for both of us, it is at this point in the beginning of the semester that I have ample time to provide this service. No, no – no thanks necessary.
It was submitted with my first and last name and my email. I think it is obvious that I had far too much free time. Anyway, when checking for responses to my comment, I found this the next day:
Michael, since your time is so "valuable", perhaps you should spend your it doing something else, rather than bashing journalism students via the internet. If you don't like it, don't read it. Until next time, please, shut your mouth.
First name only, just short of complete anonymity. Well, if there could be anything written more poorly than the original article, this comment was it. Of course, I had to respond:
Kevin (last name and email unknown),
First, I am a journalism student (government-journalism to be precise). I pride myself on my accuracy – if I’m writing about something I know nothing about, I gather all the information available before I write one word – or I won’t write anything. As far as my “bashing” through the Internet (capital “I”, by the way), well you can call it what you want, and perhaps your right. I guess I shouldn’t hurt their feelings. I mean that never happens in the real world. For the record, I’ve been known to “bash” the pros too, although they don’t call it that.
“If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Until next time, please, shut your mouth.”
This is a direct quote Kevin. I keep reading it and reading it and no matter how many times I read it, I can’t quite figure out what you mean. How can I know whether I like it or not if I don’t read it? Although I have yet to use my “mouth,” I’ll assume that is a metaphor for any form of communicating. I get that, but not the until next time part. It’s like saying don’t say anything until you say something. Huh? Like there’s any other option.
Fortunately for both of us, any time I have for future bashing will be limited. I’ll keep my mouth shut until then.
So what do you think? Am I a total a**hole? Could I or should I have tempered my comment and response? I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t care. Any feedback, pro or con, will be considered and appreciated. Thank You.