Exactly What Was That All About?

The other day I read a “guest” editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune, a moderately liberal paper that’s won a lot of awards for journalism. The editorial was fairly well-written, but I had no idea what the point was, unless the “editorial” was just an expression of frustration and rage (about which I earlier blogged), but all I could figure out was that the writer was clearly unhappy about the conduct of one of the members of the Salt Lake School Board. Even after reading the editorial three times, the only point I could discover was that the writer was upset at the perceived patronizing attitude of the school board member. I had no idea whatsoever what issue was under discussion (and with all the Covid-19 school and teaching related issues, I’ve been following the news in those areas closely). Nor could I determine who had what position and why.

Now, I’ve taught, and I’ve also had a number of children in very different school systems over the years. In all those years, I’ve seen dedicated and knowledgeable educational professionals at every level. I’ve also seen arrogant and patronizing buffoons. I’ve not only seen parents with more knowledge and understanding than the teachers they’re addressing, but also parents who are opinionated, ignorant idiots who just want things their way.

So why did the paper print what amounted to a non-specific rant, with no supporting facts, except for the fact that the school board member replied with a six page letter that the writer didn’t appreciate [because the writer saw it as patronizing], and not even a hint of what the issue was.

I have no idea why it was printed, only that it shouldn’t have been printed in the form in which it was presented. Disagreement is certainly part of life and news, but unless a reader was actually at the meeting and read the written response, I’d defy anyone to decipher what was going on, and even then they might have trouble.

While this was an extreme example, I’ve seen way too much of this kind of editorializing over the past few years, where very angry people assume that everyone knows what their issue is and the basis for their anger. Guess what? Even well informed and educated individuals may not, and, even if they do, they may have reasons for not agreeing, but they certainly can’t support such anger if they don’t know what to support, and many will tend to make up their minds about the writer based on that anger, rather than the facts.

But, of course, that’s what some political figures want… and it’s a very bad example of leadership.

3 thoughts on “Exactly What Was That All About?”

  1. Tom says:

    “Only an ass assumes”. So, perhaps, when people get angry they change?

    I note that you have suggested in the past that the quality of reporting by the media seems to have deteriorated. This may be caused, in part, by the disappearance of local newspapers and bookstores; supported by the change, in the quality of what we read and how we communicate each day. Smart electronics force a change in reading, writing, and all our daily activities. We wish to respond quickly, as if our thoughts will disappear, rather than considering before we communicate our replies. The general population’s conversation is sound bites and off-the-cuff statements; so most media write the same way. Is it any wonder then that the freedom from demanding editors results in writing chaos and loss in quality?

    But you felt that the opinion was well written if obfuscated. How could that be?

    The result –

    The truth may seem, but cannot be,
    nor will we learn from what we see.

    1. Technically well-written, but it lacked necessary information.

  2. Wine Guy says:

    There is a thought held in common that faster is better. This thought is false. Faster is just faster. If you equate faster with better in some spheres of life (a la 3-D Venn Diagrams), the answers that come fast to various problems often cause even worse problems down the road.

    One of the hardest things to which I’ve had to adjust in medicine is that everyone wants everything right now. A healing body doesn’t heal overnight. A healing body demands sacrifice of time and comfort if the healing is going to be as thorough and complete as possible. I hear “I don’t have time for this” 3-5x/day in the ED. But if the person who has a damaged appendage DOES NOT REST THE APPENDAGE AND DO THE PHYSICAL THERAPY – it isn’t going to heal correctly and will leave a person in chronic pain with a chronic disability. The problem is even worse for complex organ systems like the neuronal system, cardio-respiratory, and (everyone’s bugaboo) diabetes, which is capable of destroying multiple organ systems all at once.

    News flash: if you don’t take some time each day to do the right thing for your body, you’ll die younger and with greater health complications than if you took the 20-45 minutes each day to eat right, exercise a little bit, brush your teeth, and put on a damn mask.

    Things take time, whether we want them to or not. Take the time to do something properly NOW, that way you’ll be in a better spot later on. THe author of the article in question could have put in 1-2 sentences defining the problem and thus would not have sounded like a crackpot.

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