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Things I shouldn’t have said: Welcome to the Lock Box

June 13, 2008

… I will take those remarks and tuck them away, away in a tiny “lock-box”, where all bad thoughts go.
–Darrell Hammond playing Al Gore on SNL, 2000

One thing I love about good old-fashioned journalism is the practice of recognizing a mistake when one is made, correcting it and moving on.

Recently, both the L.A. Times and Boston Herald made apologies for stories they ran that contained inaccurate information. Mistakes happen and the papers in question were good enough to try and fix them.

Usually when such a thing occurs, a correction appears under a heading such as “Corrections.” I’m calling mine “The Lock-Box.”

I wrote a blog back on April 23 entitled “What you know vs. what you do.” It was perhaps not aptly titled and its point was perhaps even less aptly argued. My comments were in regard to a debate over what was more important: getting good grades in journalism school, or putting together a solid portfolio.

Several people — including a couple trusted advisers of mine — disagreed with what I had to say on the topic and they were quick to point that out.

I’ve obviously not been so quick to respond, but in the midst of a recent job switch and move, I’ve been neglecting my blog.

Now that I’ve got some time, let me say that the people who disagreed with me are right and my original thoughts were ill composed and not very well thought out.

That said, I got great feedback on the blog, which failed to consider a couple points, those being (courtesy of John Taylor, a former supervisor of mine at the Yakima Herald-Republic and a college professor whose name I’ll keep anonymous):

• John pointed out that while much of getting a great job and succeeding in the journalism biz is based on who you know, it’ll only get you so far. “Good editors see and hire smart people who are willing to work,” he said, “and if those editors are good journalists themselves, they’re basing their hiring decisions on their own research and observations, not just taking somebody else’s word for it.”
Well put.

• My college professor pointed out that you can amass a great-looking portfolio in college, but if you neglect your classwork and gain a bad reputation, you won’t have much in the way of recommendations to get your foot in the door.

In short, thanks to them for the good advice, as always, and I hope it’s a long time before I have to open up the Lock-Box again.

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