Thursday, August 24, 2006

So, what exactly is a muckraker, anyway...

This is a rapid link from the Wikipedia (a fab source for things, by the way):


In college I was exposed to James Agee and Walker Evans, as well as Jacob Riis (an early documentary photographer in NY) etc.

I think all writers have a bit of muckrakishness in them, especially if there is a trace of the Irish in them.

Teddy Roosevelt named the term, in 1906. You can learn all about it over in the Wikipedia.

Anyway "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" by Agee and Evans was written for the FSA, (under Roosevelt) and has always been a favorite of mine. Along with "Grapes of Wrath" by Steinbeck and so forth.

(Which is why I think that Mixtec project deserves an award)...

What greater honor can there be, than a Pulitzer?

The biggest and most honorable things a newspaper does are like that Mixtec Project, aren't they? I can't even remember who started it, but I think it began years ago, as a project by Melinda and Len?

Anyway, I know them. Not socially, but, I knew them because we are all newspaper people. The real thing. Working at a paper is not always fun, believe me. It's hard. You pay your dues. By this I mean gain the respect of your peers. It's a craft in a way, and like the mailman delivers mail, it has to arrive on the doorstep come rain or come shine. Or you get the angry calls if it isn't there, or is late.

I used to work with a fab editor who would say "Let's put this paper to bed."

This meant it was ready to print, and getting it there was no small feat. Just think, that happened every day!

I don't think it's too different now, even with all the fab technology that made life a lot easier, for many. It's more a solitary act I expect, now. Isolating, in a way. and stressfull because people have to keep up with all the system upgrades and programs, and just like at home when you upgrade, it's like that.

Now imagine all that, and having to come out on a daily basis as well.

Could I ever tell you funny stories! Like about times the power went out, or the night it rained so hard that...

People who work for papers are really fabulous individuals, and in a way, not that different than my idols Walker Evans, or the writer James Agee.

I think we are seeing so much "Citizen Journalism" in the blog world is because it is necessary right now, around the world. I have some articles coming your way today about this...

There is a kind of pride you have working in that industry, and a pride for your fellows, too. It might sound old-fashioned, and it is! Can't help it!

So, when I saw Barney cry, I cried too. Because when he said "I love this paper" I knew just what he meant. He meant the blood, the sweat, the tears, the stories, the ink, the press passes, the awards...all THE HISTORY!

Plus, he had his column. He was read! (That means everything to a writer. Everything! -- and perhaps even more to someone like him...someone that seasoned).

That ink gets into your bloodstream. Into your heart. You see?
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