Public Enemy № 1: In defense
After being informed of my new Blueprint status by Chris Schlechter yesterday, I took to the pen, to defend myself against charges of being a heretic. (Someone actually disagrees with the Blueprint?! Blasphemy!) Read on…
You’re reading a Google-friendly blog. The way each page is coded, how headings are arranged, and how each entry gets its own archive page all mean that Google places this site high in its search results.
For the most part, it’s been a privilege. In the past few weeks, Quiz Team members have come up and gleefully told me that, if you search for their names, my mention of them comes up first. That’s no longer a surprise to me: Larry Stosman told me that last year.
But it’s also been the source of plenty of grief. After I published my rant “Red Cards for the Blueprint” almost three years ago, Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Paul Whitlatch e-mailed me, voluminously detailing the ways in which I had belittled all that the Blueprint staff had labored to create.
Among his concerns was that I republished the Blueprint article “Red Cards for the Soccer Team” in its entirety, thereby violating copyright. I did so because many of my readers don’t have access to the Blueprint at school (they go to schools like Moeller). I quickly obliged, trimming my quotes down to reasonable lengths, and Mr. Whitlatch was satisfied. Since then we have had a few friendly e-mail conversations regarding the paper he was once Editor-in-Chief of.
This morning, Chris Schlechter (a long-time reader of this blog) was kind enough to inform me that, in the eyes of the Blueprint, I am Public Enemy № 1 (my words, not his). Their investigative unit had apparently found my three-year old article via Google, and had posted it on their office door, for all aspiring journalists to hiss at.
Such is the problem with maintaining journalistic transparency. Since the beginning of this blog, I have kept comprehensive public archives of every entry, every comment (excepting spam, of course), and every Trackback ping ever published here, as a service to my readers. That is the status quo for blogs, after all. Had the Blueprint done the same with its back issues, I’m sure I’d be able to find something that they’re not particularly proud of.
The irony is that newspapers – even school newspapers – are held to a much higher standard than blogs are. (And no, the Loveland Schools Press doesn’t count; it was never a real school newspaper.) Whereas my blog represents only my opinion, newspapers are supposed to represent the opinion of at least the entire organization, if not their demographic as well. In this case, the Blueprint represents the entire school-approved club, and all of its freelance contributors.
Now, I may be going a little far by criticizing the goings-on at their workroom – they haven’t yet published anything about me, after all. But I have to be responsible for my own work. Many of the assertions I made in “Red Cards” were incorrect and posted under only the pretense of a rant1, and I have long since retracted them. As a blogger, however, I have the right and responsibility to analyze the media and expose its shortcomings. (The very idea of monthly Blueprint analysis came straight from Whitlatch himself.)
Blogging these days is a very public form of whistleblowing, and while I didn’t have incredibly serious flaws in the editorial process to uncover three years ago, I have since reported on a multitude of errors that should have percolated to the top of the Editor-in-Chief’s tasklist without my help. Coincidentally, many of the errors I have reported are not from the Whitlatch administration of the Blueprint, but rather from subsequent staff: this year alone I have noticed countless errors that would prove beyond embarrassing for a more serious newspaper.
Yes, there are more serious newspapers than the Blueprint. Archives of The Scotsman, a very Scottish newspaper (obviously), now stretch back to January 25th, 1817, and you can search the entire database for free. Beat that Blueprint!
Chris chided me for not recognizing how much work it takes to get an issue to print. I may not have seen all the ins and outs, but I do understand that the Blueprint is doing a respectably difficult job. That does not, however, excuse them from any of the mistakes they have made. Does a five-page-long research paper due 3rd bell mean that you can scrawl it on looseleaf, and make up facts as you go along? Should deadlines dictate reliability?
For any commercial newspaper, accepting any low standard means certain doom. My original rant against the Blueprint stands: that because it is actively distributed to every student regardless of content, the quality and validity of its stories is moot point – and is often an interesting topic for discussion. So when Chris tells me that I don’t respect the hard work put into every issue, I am tempted to calmly reply, “Work harder.”
I didn’t think that the Blueprint would stir up this old thread. The very date on the entry should have informed them that the whole issue had been taken care of. Despite the animosity, however, I am quite alright with my new position as Public Enemy № 1. Just as long as Chris and company start posting comments here again. And judging from the tone of this entry, they will come.
- It’s intresting to note that Chris himself maintains a blog (a LiveJournal, to be specific) and has admitted to me that it’s not really much to look at – just a collection of rants.