Surrealization

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

As a small child I could often be found wearing my favorite lime-colored bathing suit, crouching under a patio table in the sweltering, tropical heat, interviewing my beat-up, orange tomcat named Fuzzy. With a pink Trapper Keeper and a soccer-themed pencil in my often dirty, puerile hands, I would proudly dawn my grandfather’s oversized, sage fedora, a crisply folded notecard with P-R-E-S-S in meticulous, black Crayola gracing the musky brim.

Lois Lane embodied my life-long reverie of one day becoming a journalist with keenness, integrity and a profound sense of duty, endeavoring to satisfy the public’s want for truth and justice in a world corrupt.

Early each morning I walked through our dark living room and made my way into our kitchen to find the day’s Tampa Tribune resting on our large, glass breakfast table. Etched in my memory of the more recent years of my adolescence is the paper’s masthead, and a name: Gil Thelen. Every day.

At once, my tired eyes would methodically peruse the headlines, stopping to dissect the stories of interest. As I flipped through the ink-scented pages, a friendly chorus of creasing and crinkling echoed through the slowly brightening nook. A familiar black tinge darkened my fingers. As I delved further into each day’s news, I found, without fail, that my favorite section was missing. The Tribune’s finely crafted columns would often disappear into the dimly lit, news radio-filled cavern that was my parents’ bedroom.

A family tradition it was to read the mordant words of unapologetic Daniel Ruth.

Ruth told our class Monday:

It’s my job as a columnist to make every effort to hold your attention.

And he has. When his WFLA show was canceled, my grandmother clipped his farewell commentary from the Trib and taped it to her computer, where it remains to this day. When he was no longer a part of the Trib, my entire family switched their subscriptions to The St.  Petersburg Times, where Ruth is now part of the editorial board and staff.

His columns uphold the ideal that good papers should be a candid observer and voice of the community. And he impenitently uses that voice to call out the arrogant, the inane and the immoral. For years, Ruth has used the inches he was accorded to eviscerate officials and the like via the printed word.

You don’t wish ill on your community, but you’re there to point out the warts and the foibles and lampoon the bumptious when necessary.

I felt refreshed when I heard Ruth speak of his preference for print journalism. The industry is changing, as we all know, but newspapers are not yet going the way of the dinosaurs, despite the fact that the queen of “.com,” Arianna Huffington, pretty much runs the world. Editors serve as a filter to keep writers from puking all over their keyboards and publishing it for the world to read. Newspapers can be held accountable, whereas blogs can be written anonymously. The blogosphere, in Ruth’s view, is a medium through which people talk over and past each other. He believes that bloggers should adhere to newspapers’ standards of ethics while maintaining objectivity and integrity.

I wholeheartedly agree, and I’d like to end it on this:

I felt honored to hold a seat in the beginning reporting class Ruth taught at the University of South Florida last summer, and listening to him talk about column writing in Thelen’s class this week was quite a thrill for a word nerd like me. Throughout my childhood, my family joked that I would one day have a column to air my grievances with politicians, policies and other socially relevant topics. It has been my dream for longer than I can remember, and I’m taking baby steps every day to reach that long-term goal. It’s difficult to describe the feeling I had when I was driving home from class on Monday night. Holy…. I was chatting it up with a couple of local journalistic celebs: Mr. Convergence and Mr. Snark.

Surreal.

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Comments
  1. Faggot Killer says:

    Daniel Ruth was a fucking idiot. I am so glad he is dead.

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