Write a poem already.

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What’s he waiting for?

Canada’s poet laureate is in the news today for whining about only being asked to compose one poem during his paid term: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/06/18/a-poet-without-poems-canadas-taxpayer-funded-wordsmith-laments-scarcity-of-assignments-from-ottawa/

Obviously, we shouldn’t have a paid poet laureate. That goes without saying. It’s not that I don’t respect poetry. On the contrary, while I have no aptitude for it, it strikes me as a lamentable gap in my own knowledge of literature that I’m so poorly read in poetry.

But being a poet doesn’t require a paycheque, nor should it require instructions to “go write a poem.” This seemingly silly man should have realized the position of poet laureate doesn’t come with a dedicated project manager to hand hold him through his assignments.

Do what you’re supposed to do, poet, and write. If you have something to say on an issue, say it and let the controversy begion.

Another bad government-is-your-parent decision. Apparently unpaid internships may soon be illegal in (some of?) the States: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/06/18/jesse-kline-let-interns-work-for-free/

 Sure, some interns are taken advantage of, and some companies should do the right thing and provide at least an honorarium for the work of interns. I’m not saying “don’t pay interns.” But, as this op-ed says, requiring it will only limit opportunities for people trying to break into an industry.

I began in journalism writing free movie and book reviews for Rue Morgue magazine (http://rue-morgue.com/). I got a column with the Peterborough Examiner in part because I told them I’d write it for free.

Seeking out opportunities – unpaid opportunities – to learn new skills and educate yourself about new industries is hands down one of the best ways to change your life. Any person who finds themselves in a dead end job can only improve their lot by deciding what they really want to do and asking someone to let them do it for free until they’re good enough at it to demand a paycheque.

I realize the situation is slightly different when an internship is a more formal requirement of a diploma or degree program. I think it’s bad form for an employer to not recognize an intern’s contribution with some sort of modest thank you payment, but making it illegal will just close doors on young people.

Yes: http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/06/18/this-is-not-a-field-trip/

Great, great, great idea. And like the parent at the end of the article, I don’t need a raft of scientific papers to tell me what is patently obvious – the natural world is a terrific classroom.

Would the stats be any different in Canada? I can say I hope so, but maybe not: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/06/18/majority-of-americans-dont-trust-newspapers-and-television-news

It’s too bad. It’s more than too bad, it’s a dangerous trend. I know, I know, readers will say newspapers and media deserve the distrust they’ve garnered. I don’t think that’s entirely fair, though (not that I’m at all biased).

I think the key to understanding media is being an educated consumer of media. Know the limitations of what you’re reading.

Articles will rarely be exhaustive. They are often written under deadline. Not every voice on an issue will be represented, but hopefully the big players will be. Bias will creep in, at least some of the time and, as newspapers are businesses relying on broad appeal, fringe views will not always get the airing they deserve. Also, sources will lie, and journalists won’t always have the resources to catch those lies.

So the point is not that media is always right or even that its information is always correct. Yes, be suspicious of the information in an article.

Also understand, though, that the goal of most journalists is to inform the public and illuminate truth. My experience is that reporters typically care about the integrity of what they’re producing and seek to make it accurate. Be skeptical of information, but try not to be overly cynical about the messengers.

Also, what’s the other option? If you think the information in a newspaper can’t be trusted, I’m not sure what source you’ll go to instead. Facebook?

If you care passionately about a particular topic, don’t rely solely on one source or one kind of source. Watch documentaries, listen to radio broadcasts, read newspapers, magazines and books. Lots of books, exploring every angle of a topic. Sorry to say, but unless you want to invest that kind of time and passion in learning about something, you probably won’t do it justice.

There are exceptions – breaking news, stories where visuals tell the story – but generally newspapers remain the best way to get a relatively accurate picture of what is happening in the world in the least amount of time (if you think TV is always better, think about how few words may actually be said in a broadcast: a major story might have a script of, what, 100 words or so?).


…and as odd as the mix of my interests may seem, also this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2343491/Welcome-Glock-Block-Vigilante-neighbors-Oregon-town-say-longer-calling-police-armed-instead.html

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