Sunday, January 30, 2011

To Write or not to Write

The near zero temps ended earlier this week. Amazing how warm 25 degrees can feel after a few days of single digit readings. Unfortunately, a rather large winter storm struck the area leaving at least a foot of snow to be shoveled, or blown as the case may be. I encountered some impressive snow mountains during my route, especially in cul-du-sacs. More than a few of them had small children perched on top waving to the cars and pedestrians as they passed by.

More snow is expected this week; after 3 snow days already, I told my daughter she should be prepared to be in school until July this year.

I read a column this past week which admitted to and bemoaned the fact that the writer was aware of an obsession with Sarah Palin. He was not especially proud that he had written about her 42 times since her vice-presidential nomination so he had decided to try to be Palin-free for a month in his columns. I sent him the following email

Mr. ----,

I am a subscriber of the Philadelphia Inquirer which has recently been publishing your column. I was especially interested in last Tuesday's column concerning your dilemma in reporting/commenting about Sarah Palin and your challenge to be Palin-free for a month.

What particularly struck me was your admission that your obsession is partly driven by the reluctance to "send millions of Web surfers, readers, viewers, and listeners to our less scrupulous competitors". Wow. Obviously, as a paid writer, you must be cognizant of your audience in that, you need to have one to be paid. But isn't it the job of the writer to create the audience either by pure writing talent, poignant topical commentary, interesting stories, inspiring tales of human achievement, etc? It seems so easy to stand on a soapbox or sit in front of a radio mike or a TV camera and say "The bogeyman is coming" so as to get attention. I know that your column was meant to be tongue-in-cheek but the problem lies in the fact that even good media men and women are resorting to quips and commentary for the sake of ratings.

Somewhere in your column there is the unstated message that if no one talked about her, she might disappear; if we stop feeding the beast, it will wither and die. I have a blog which I began last year. I have no real audience to speak of so perhaps it is easy for me to sound a bit condescending when I say that I have only mentioned Ms. Palin once or twice and only as an example towards making a point, not as the topic of the entire blog. If my blogs were the norm, Ms. Palin might still be governor of Alaska!!

To be honest, I know that one of the reasons for not blogging about her is that I do not find much of interest in what she says or does. Her popularity seems to be rooted in her ability to create a black and white response to every topic, then convince her listeners that she and they are always in the right and the "others" are always in the wrong. It doesn't matter if today's "right" audience agrees with yesterday's, as long as she winks half a dozen times during her speech, everything is right as rain. For some reason I am reminded of the scene in the movie, Men in Black II when the Laura Flynn Boyle character, Serleena says "Silly little planet. Anyone could take over the place with the right set of mammary glands."

I have only read a few of your columns to date, but I feel confident in saying that YOU CAN DO THIS. As you say, only good can come from conquering an obsession. While I don't think you will gain so much time as to actually understand the federal budget or Medicare reimbursement rates, perhaps you could attempt the more modest achievement of explaining how giving more money to the top 1% income earners is going to get people back to work again.

Good luck and my sincerest regards,

Joe Pugnetti

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