Ok, I’m not going to go into details — for the same reason I didn’t BLAST a hole in my blog about this a couple months ago — but just let me say this: The education system’s definition of “journalistic excellence” is an oxymoron.
A news article this morning in a local paper made me want to give up my entire belief system about mood-altering drugs and just go get a script for something that would dull the senses and make me not give a hang about the state of the union, the political situation, the education debacle, and the inordinate amount of stupidity and apathy I see around me every day.
I know, I know, what a “superior” statement to make, right? Well, no… not really.
In March, my significant other handed me a copy of a local high school’s “newspaper” and said, “Here ya go, you are gonna LOVE this.” So, feeling all nostalgic, I started reading.
At first I thought it was a joke. I thought it was an edition of the high school paper with “guest” writers from the elementary school. Seriously. I just KNEW this could NOT be actual high school work.
I read the whole thing, cover to cover. It never improved. I noticed the person who was the adult leader of this work was someone I knew. That made me sad. I also noticed that each page had not one, but TWO peer editors and they claimed to follow the AP guidelines. That fact pushed me from sad to morbidly depressed and I decided to write a scorching blog where I named the paper, the school, and provided a full PDF copy of the newspaper as proof.
But, I’m tired of getting so upset. I genuinely like the adult who is supposed to be in charge and hope that person was out ill or had some other personal crisis that prevented any oversight before this went to press. I HAVE to believe that’s what happened.
I took the paper to my parents and read a few sections to them. My mother wanted to see it, since reading it aloud made ME sound like a second grader. She read a few paragraphs and handed it back to me, shaking her head. Her mouth still slightly limp and ajar. My mother was dumbfounded. I read some to my father, who put up his hand in protest after the second paragraph and said, “I don’t want to hear anymore. It’s making me depressed and I’m a short-timer. It’s YOU and YOUR kids that will have to deal with these people being in charge. Good luck.”
I read and re-read it, in the hope that I had missed something good. Not brilliant, but at least age-appropriate writing. I picked it back up again the next day, to be sure that I wasn’t having a particularly “judgy” day the day before. The only result was I was depressed by the same thing for two days in a row.
I tucked the paper away. After a few days I took “Write Blog About School Paper” off my to-do list and tucked the paper itself into a deep, dark section of my desk and went about my merry way, pretending the thing didn’t exist and that I’d never seen it.
Today, my sweetie sends me a link to a newspaper article announcing that this school newspaper has won SEVERAL awards.
I cannot begin to fathom how far the profession of journalism has sunk that THIS is considered anything but substandard. I didn’t even accept that it was standard work and I completely refuse to believe that work of this caliber is considered award winning. But, there it is, proof-positive in black and white. We really have sunk that low.
So, yeah, I think medicating myself may be the best answer. I can’t joust all the windmills. I can’t fix the world’s problems. I can’t even prevent myself from falling into a spiraling state of despair, during which I actually want to physically break down and bawl, over such things. So, maybe I should join the ranks of the “Prozac Nation.”
It certainly won’t improve anything, but at least I wouldn’t give a damn anymore.
For those who think I’m exaggerating, here is a sampling of random quotes from different articles in the paper (No, the “typos” are not mine.) Please note: Each quote below is from a different article by a different writer and I did not pick the worst examples.
“A lot goes into making a theatre production, particularly lights and sound. There is a lot of searching for the right sound effects, and you have to focus lights and make sure they work.”
“Intersession is a time which students can take advantage and really learn something outside of the realm of education.”
“First we had a couple officers come in with a drug dog and demonstrate how the dog senses are powerful. One of the officers hid some crack cocaine under the hood of a car and let the dog find it. We also got to see how the dogs will attack if their master is in danger. Secondly…”
“At one point students were told to draw a small picture out of a bag, and they had the option to use what the pictured showed in their story or not. Most students used their picture to inspire them. Monday through Thursday students wrote and shared. Friday the whole class was in the computer lab typing. Some students still continue writing what they started.”
“Not one moment did I get bored, and the kids kept me on my toes. I loved it! This visit also brought back many memories. It felt so small walking down the halls of my old elementary school. I had been so little when I had been there last.”
“Ultimately, learning about a subject you’re so passionate about on top of something you thought you already knew so much about, intensifies the craving for knowledge. I love interacting with people, and communication is probably my favorite thing to do, especially while helping someone at the same time. Thus, being an interpreter is the profession I plan to go into.”
No writer is perfect. I know this. I screw up all the time.
But, surely, with the writer self-editing, two peer editors following behind the original writer, and an overseeing adult helping with topic selection, content, and the grammar/spelling/technical aspects of journalism, these articles should be a little more advanced, shouldn’t they? And even if they aren’t, is THIS what is called award-worthy writing these days?!?
Where the HELL is my pill?