Our first “real” Guest Author is Jaycee. Many many thanks for this passionate piece, sir!
Given that I’m a carpenter / joiner by trade, you might think that you could be excused for dismissing my missive at this very point. But, given that I have been working in my trade for over 45 years, you’d have to grant me experience in public interaction and give me time to deliver my complaint to you.
If there is one thing experience and time in ANY public interaction occupation, be it carpenter, policeman, teacher, spare-parts salesman or even journalist, give you, it’s the accrued skill to “suss out the situation”. For instance, when I first meet with a customer to look at a job and give a quote, I not only have to assess the site etc., I also have to do a quick “once-over” of the person I am going to be dealing with. And I had better be accurate as many a budding “self-employed” has been brought undone by over-estimating a customer’s capacity to deliver when it is pay-day! This is where life-experience allows one to use language, nuance and observation to make a reasonable judgement of the person. (An excellent summary of this ability can be found in Clarence Darrow’s wise essay How to Pick a Jury).
(Credit: Michael Schulder)
The second principle of good work is time. We constantly hear of the 24 hour news cycle making it difficult for journalists to meet quantity with quality, given the demands on their time. That I can mostly understand and accept: there are times when workloads do tend to crib into each other. Again, this is where experience comes in – being able to foresee the problem arising and making preparations to deal with it. I would imagine that a journalist, with his ear to the ground, would be very savvy to a developing situation.
(Credit: Kitty Cheng)
The site where I post has four moderators. Two of whom I have little knowledge as to their employment. The other two are self-employed contractors. One –”Bushfire Bill”– is a manufacturer/polisher of optical lenses of the highest quality. In a post he wrote many months ago, Bushfire Bill enthusiatically related his success in polishing a lens to such fine measurements. He felt called to share his excitement at the quality of finish NOT out of a sense of self-aggrandisement, but because that internal self-rewarding feeling of a job damn-well done! The other – “Joe6pack” – is a trucking contractor, who started the site with little knowledge of blogging technology, but a fistful of confidence that HE could tackle it. A confidence gathered, I’d warrant, from years of coordinating and timetabling loads and schedules and personally “mixing it” with highway traffic and conditions that would try (as we all know) the patience and vocabulary of a saint.
(Credit: Bushfire Bill & Joe6pack)
I relate all these facts to you because I know, as we all do, that having a loaded and busy schedule is no excuse for shoddy work. If there was, Bushfire Bill’s lenses would be “cross-eyed”, Joe6pack would be smashed on some highway up the coast, and I would be called back to right the wrongs of my constructions. Those with long experience at their craft are constantly thinking of technical points relating to that job even while sitting relaxing or on the road or even at another job – plotting the lines, the theme, the time-line, the length or load, not to mention the personal obligations of our everyday lives. The skilled professional and artisan must have the capability to do this even while doing handstands to entertain the kids! There are no excuses for sloppy workmanship in the professional work-world. It disgraces both the craft and the creator.
(Credit: Dave Gamache)
So … j’accuse.
I accuse the Fourth Estate of negligence in assessing the source and validity of their material.
I accuse the Fourth Estate of slacking off in the preparation of their work and dedication to quality of delivery.
I accuse the Fourth Estate of gross indifference to the quality of their craft and of the vanity of over-valuing their shoddy product.
I accuse the Fourth Estate most of all in the lack of professional application to the dignity of letters, a dignity bestowed through a good education and favourable employment that has allowed yourselves the privilege of delivering, in print, with your own by-line, articles of what ought to be erudite delivery and succinct opinion – unlike the cautious uncertainty whereby one of such self and mixed education as yours truly, must place oneself in the front line of possible ridicule to draw attention to YOUR shortcomings.
I accuse you, I accuse you, I accuse you. And in the end … I DAMN YOU!
(Credit: Brett Coomer)