Saturday, February 24, 2007

An amusing rant

I've started paying attention to The Muse again, which may or may not be a good thing.

It's probably no secret to many that I got my start in journalism by walking through the doors of the old Muse office in the TSC back one faithful day in September, 1990. I consider the four years I spent there to be some of the most important in my life. It shaped my professional career and most of my closest friends have come either directly or indirectly from my time with the paper. So I feel a strong sense of belonging to the paper years and years after my day was done.

I've always tried to keep track of what was going on with the paper, but refrain from commenting except when among friends. Back in my first year with the paper I recall an "old time" Muser came in the office. And by old time I mean he had been with the paper in the early 80s. And he began talking about his time with the paper, and how they did things different and boy didn't they cause a racket and wow, clearly the paper need to do something differently to get up to the standards they had set.

The fact that the staff who were in the office at the time listening to this didn't beat him to death borders on the miraculous. I vowed then and there to not be one of those people who would pop in the Muse office years after my time with the paper and start telling them what to do.

However, now I have the Internet and can read the paper online. Plus, thanks to the miracle of the Newfoundland and Labrador blogroll, I know several of the staff are online and that they sometimes come here and read things. This is all bad things because it makes me tempted to start talking about the Muse. And really, I shouldn't. Yes, it's a good idea to have people with more experience to come and offer suggestions and tips. But that's what conferences are for. Plus, you're invited to comment and offer suggestions. There is a big difference.

But still...

You know, I will say this. The paper looks good, the layout is coming along nicely and it's great to see some really nice colour photography in the paper. That LSPU Hall spread and the cover were very well done.

But no, what caught my eye was thisthis. Understand, I enjoy a nice crafted rant. And yeah, I can renew my longstanding complaint that The Muse ought to run editorial and not opinion pieces (editorials don't use personal pronouns). And yeah, maybe it's a touch rough and could use another pass to knock off some of the edges.

But then again, another pass might have ruined it. It might have watered down the bile and contempt. And that would have been a sad thing. This is a lovely thing. It stirred something dark and thought long dead or dormant in my chest. That being the seething hatred and contempt you can have for those in power when you're in university. It's a wonderful thing to read and I just wanted to post a link to it here so others could read it.

Plus, that's a great headline. The kind you can only get away with in the student press.

I also hope they ran that past a lawyer before running it because if CFS is as litigious as is claimed in this piece, then the lawyers are likely already sharpening their knives.

I almost feel bad picking on university student councils. I lived for it back in the day. If you think the three levels of government (municipal, provincial/territorial, federal) produce juicy targets, it's nothing compared to what your average student council can offer up. It's like a lame duck shoot every week for a budding journalist.

But then again, they're not that dissimilar from the people who work on student papers. You've got people who want to get involved who are often inexperienced, but want to learn more because this might be something they want to pursue full-time. And mistakes are going to be made. Quite often big ones. Lord knows enough people have ripped The Muse, and even tried to shut it down, over the years for mistakes in the paper.

So it seems a shame to pick on student council's in such a ruthless manner. Then again, the other part of me thinks that you're better off crushing them when they're young and weeding out the incompetent. After all, if you don't catch them then, well...wasn't Ed Byrne a former student council president?


Sheena said...

Nasty anonymous comment? The internet really had helped hike our collective maturity.

As for your fears of being a ranting ex-editor, you really must check out the Onion story I posted today. It's hilarious.

These last few weeks have been the most union-focused of the year at the Muse. They're making big changes.

I personally love to see breaking news correspond to the editorial. It's far more relevant than a random rant.

Also, Mark paints the MUN Students' Union as a very relevant body. His negativity is towards the CFS.

Also, no worries, CUP's lawyered up.

towniebastard said...

Anonymous is fairly obviously someone who harbours a grudge against me and has apparently not learned its lesson yet in that 99.9% of time its comments with be deleted without response. I mention this only because Sheena responded and that hopefully Anonymous will get the hint, although I obviously have my doubts about that.

People should not worry about defending me or responding. Its comments won't be around long enough to bother with most of the time.

And Sheena, I had the pleasure in 1993 of being with The Muse, Arts Rep on the CSU and NL's rep on the CFS National Executive. The Muse was obviously the most fun, but CFS was invariably the most fucked up. So it's nice to see that some things don't change over the years.

And yes, the editorial worked much better than the one about not shopping at a local photo store. It can be hard linking a big story of the week to an editorial, but worthwhile when you can.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Oh dear. A racket between the CSU and the MUSE.

As the story goes, one year the CSU president wanted every vote to be followed a second vote making the results of the first one unanimous.

Petty bullshit, to be sure.

That year the MUSE editor had managed to get himself elected to Council. Being a good contrarian he habitually voted the opposite on the second vote, just to prevent their being any majority votes.

That was the year they changed the locks on the MUSE offices once, if not twice, if my aging memory serves. Perhaps there are MUSE vets who can recall those old war stories far better than someone who only heard them third hand.

Sheena said...

CSU, I assume is the old name for MUNSU? What does it stand for?

It's amazing to me that Musers once sat on the union. Our constitution now prevents members of MUNSU's board or executive write news, or be a voting member for three semesters.

But I wouldn't call this "having a fight." We get along fine with MUNSU, though we don't always like what they do and they don't always like what we write.

But we know we need each other.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Craig for your MUSE musings. I was actually one of the "old" people that was involved with the scene back in the early 80's.
At the time I was on the excutive of the CSU (Council of the Students Union)and recall quite well the issues of the day that resulted in the locks being changed.
Ed; I only recall that the locks being changed once but there was a long "dust up " that resulted in fundamental changes at the paper.

The incident which took place during 83-84 had to do with a Gay Lesbian Supplement that was produced each year as a supplement to the MUSE. During that year the content stepped over the line for what was acceptable to the homophopic population of MUN during the early '80's. It would be comical to review the supplement to see how tame and acceptable the articles are in today's standards.

The ensuing fall-out resulted in an uproar and a campiagn of hate and intolerance that was a sour point for student leaders. At the time the editor of the MUSE was an openly gay man who wore dangling ear rings and shirts with pink triangles to promote his sexuality. This poured salt into the wounds of intolerant people on campus with pressure resulting in the closing of the MUSE.

Freedom of speech and the right to journalistic control became the (needed) mantra of the MUSE with the equally homophobic administartion stepping in to put a halt to this "disgrace". If this happened today there would be an uproar that would be heard around the country.

After the dust settled the "compromise" that was dictated by the administartion was to form an "editorial board" with reps from faculty, MUSE , CSU, Admin and others..
Actually, the board is still active with Noreen Golfman and David Cochrane as sitting members.

I could go on and on........

towniebastard said...

Oh lord, I feel old now...CSU stands for Council of the Students Union. I believe the name was gotten rid of because too many people didn't know where the CSU was from when it attended national meetings. Although I recall reading (it was after my time) that MUNSU was mocked for sounding like a Chinese food dish.

My being on the CSU and CFS certainly caused a share of rackets. One councillor that year spent part of the summer in jail for possession. It came out during an in camera session where it was agreed if anyone asked he was away at work or something to protect his privacy. However, the Muse got ahold of it somehow (the editors never told me) and everyone on council thought I ratted the guy out. So yeah, I was pretty much the proof that sitting on council and being part of the Muse is not necessarily a grand idea.

And yeah, it is a symbiotic relationship with ups and downs. Still, I'll be curious to read the letters section this week.

Oh, and as for Noreen and David still being on the Board of Directors, I personally think they've been there too long. I don't know how much, if any, influence, they have on things. But both have had those positions for the better part of a decade. Some fresh blood might be in order there.

sigh. Sorry. I will try to do better and not getting sucked back into telling the paper how to run. That Onion article hit a touch too close to home. Funny as hell, though....