Pine Log Politics: What I learned about Journalism from my Undergraduate Newspaper

My recent experience with "WIRED" magazine reminded me of the last time I wrote a letter to the editor, with much poorer results. The re-posted narrative (from the SaysSimpleton archive room, Oct 4, 2006):

During my undergraduate work at SFA, the school publication was called the Pine Log. In this weekly newspaper was normal college content. Because I was school-pride-filled-Lumberjack, every Tuesday and Thursday I would sit at work (as a writing assistant) waiting for new clients, and peruse the Pine Log. Now, the newspaper was notorious for spelling errors and grammatical mishaps on almost every page. This would in turn be fodder for lighthearted discourse among the writing tutors about the pitiable grammatical standards of our beloved school publication.

One day, as was the custom, I was reading the editorial and noticed a small, inconsequential grammatical mistake. I then got the brilliant idea of writing in a letter of complaint railing against such syntagmatic atrocities. After minutes on end, I had crafted a letter that I was sure would alter the written and verbal character of our university. The original letter that I sent in read like this:

Dear Editor, after reading the editorial section of the October 21st Pine log, I feel compelled to respond. My concern has nothing to do with the content of the column, but rather with its grammatical integrity.

What served as the catalyst four this elevation of interest can bee understood after looking closely at the 90th word in thee editorial column titled "Presidency versus the Crown." Now eye have been content too hold my tongue the entire duration of my SFA residency regarding articles in the Pine Log; how ever, the nature of this violation is moor then eye can bear. The author of the abovementioned column has confused the chronological and comparative essence of the words "then" and "than."

I would think that grammar would not be an issue for the editor of a collegiate level publication, but I guess I am not write two think in such a weigh. This may knot seem offensive too sum readers, butt this kind of semantic confusion could lead to mayhem. What if this practice became a trend? Just imagine if some random guy told his girlfriend, "I love you more 'then' other girls." This would mean that he loved her more at one time . . . but, then moved on to greener pastures! One can sea what this could lead two. On the hole, I think the Pine Log is grate. Furthermore, I hope this letter is helpful in making the Pine Log a better publication by illustrating the importance of heightened grammatical integrity and warning against the egregious affects of not successfully proof-reading one's article. It is plane to sea thee importance of this correspondence.

P.S. Ewe won't really have two edit this letter. I sent it thru the spell-chequer ate times and it didn't catch a single air err.

Obviously, the tone of this letter was playful. It was satire. I was making a point about the widespread editing problems by writing a letter filled with obvious grammatical mistakes as I commented on an insignificant error in an editorial. It was supposed to be witty and revolutionary.

A few days later, I got a nasty email from the editor saying that they reserved the right to edit all of the letters they publish "for clarity" and length. I thought this spelled the death of my deftly crafted narration of my complaint. However, the next week, this is published in my name:
My letter of "concern" has now been labeled an editorial complaint. All of the satirical grammatical mistakes have been "corrected," and now I come off as just an uptight erudite filled with malice who counts words and makes fun of well-meaning journalists. My writing assistant friends were all hopping mad, and we, understandably, decided to boycott the Pine Log.

However, next Tuesday there I was reading about how "the Parking problem has effected student attitudes," and therefore returned to (or rather simply acknowledged) my plebeian, pawn-like influence in the world of ideas. I think I can trace my low journalistic and sometimes political efficacy to this very moment. Two years later, every time I detect grammatical inconsistency in news publications, the wound in my heart cuts just a little deeper as I remember the time I tried and failed to change the world.

Verification for this rant:
July 28, 2009


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