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Politically Incorrect

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Politically Incorrect

Marianne Love is NO journalist!

Although Marianne Love has been a columnist for the River Journal for four or five or, well, six-and-a-half years now, and though she has published three books, and spent many a year training the journalists of the future via Sandpoint High School’s Cedar Post newspaper, I recently learned that Marianne Love is most decidedly not a journalist.

I came by this information in a roundabout way, after Sue Haynes put a post up on Facebook about Marianne’s blog, “Slight Detour” (www.slightdetour.blogspot.com). By the way, I didn’t mention that Marianne also blogs... daily. She’s also a regular with Sandpoint Magazine and the Appaloosa Journal (though they’re not using many freelancers anymore), and I wouldn’t even want to attempt to guess what her accumulated word count is now, though I’m sure it’s somewhere in the millions.

Anyway, Sue talked about fans of Sarah Palin and the ability to help a local charity and I’m not sure why I found that intriguing, but I did, so I clicked my way on over to Slight Detour to see what was up.

It seems that Sarah Palin autographed a copy of the 2009 Winter issue Sandpoint Magazine, which contained a story about her roots here in Sandpoint that Marianne wrote. The crew at Keokee were offering the autographed magazine on Ebay, with proceeds to go to a local charity. (If you were interested in bidding on it, sorry, you’re too late. But feel free to make a donation to Panhandle Special Needs, anyway.) Marianne was not just sharing the information about the bidding opportunity, though... she also took that opportunity to explain that she had made a mistake in the story she wrote, misidentifying the actual house the Palin family lived in while they were here. And then POW! It was right in the kisser with the journalism disqualification... as Marianne added that she had moseyed on over to the house to explain the mistake she’d made to the man living there and to offer homemade apple jelly in apology.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little rough on journalists here, but within humanity as a whole, it’s very rare to find someone willing to admit they were wrong, much less someone who will go out of their way to try to make things right. Everyone can and does make mistakes, but in the world of journalism, I can rattle off a good dozen stories written in other publications where the facts skated the truth a bit, usually in an effort to make a story a tad more sensational, and where no acknowledgements were ever offered to clear up the facts, much less any effort taken to make amends.

This is one of the reasons why I admire Marianne Love so much, and in part why I continue the effort of publishing this magazine each and every month—because the writers in these pages are superb. They are much more than journalists, and I anticipate seeing what their contribution is going to be each issue every bit as much as I ever anticipated the loaded tree on Christmas morning.

It was December of 1993 when the River Journal first rolled off a press (out in Ronan, Montana) and in the years since, very few (if any) of the people whose writings have filled these pages were graduates of J-school. Instead, they were and are a group of home-grown writers who not only love to write, but love this place we live in and love to tell the stories about the who, what and why of life along the Clark Fork River Valley. Most of them also have a passing acquaintance with things like spelling, proper grammar, and the rules of sentence structure.

When I took over the River Journal in the fall of 2001, I got to add people to that stable of writers—Marianne was one of them—and every time I did I found out just how talented the people who live here can be, especially when it comes to putting words on paper. I am not only informed by the people who take the time to craft stories every month for our pleasure, but I’m inspired, as well.

Much has been said about the impending demise of newspapers, and what that means for the world we live in. From the newspapers’ standpoint, we are heading down a path we will later regret. From the standpoint of the online “press,” the existence of which is the direct cause of the agony experienced by print publications, we will all be better off with a plethora of voices from which to choose. Who is right? Probably both... because any tool can be used for good or bad, and the internet, like the printing press before it, is nothing more than a tool.

In the early days of this country, the “press” was a rowdy bunch of irreverent, opinionated, less-than-truthful gentlemen who would not have concerned themselves over the misidentification of a house. They were ”infamous scribblers,” in the words of Eric Burns, whose book of that name is an enlightening read for anyone interested in the birth of our nation. He wrote that “...the golden age of America’s founding was also the gutter age of American reporting...”

We might well be slipping back into a gutter age as we rush wholeheartedly into the new forms of communication allowed for with the World Wide Web. And we might not. Because for every ‘infamous scribbler’ out there today with his fingers on a computer keyboard, there are still the Marianne Loves (and the Lou Springers, the Sandy Comptons, the Ralph Bartholdts, the Mike Turnlunds— just look at these pages for more) who take the time to craft an honest story, and care about what they write, and make amends if a mistake is made.

If you want to get your news from people who write like that, you can do so here in these pages or you can read them on our website (RiverJournal.com). And you can rest assured that what you’re reading was written by people who think that stories make a difference, and that if you put your name on it, it should be the best that you can do.

This holiday season, my thanks go out as always to you, our readers, but they also go to those writers who truly make this publication worth wading through. Here’s to the year just passed, and to the stories to come in the future.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

Marianne Love, journalism, mistakes

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