a fan letter

Update 10/15/05: I have edited this to remove the “fan’s” identifying information, at his request. I’m not going to remove it entirely because I don’t want to.

Received this a little while ago:

Dear Mr. Lee:

I was doing a Internet search for stuff concerning my old friend X, I came upon your comments.

You inadvertantly reveal yourself as really low class, Mr. Lee, but I suppose one must expect such cheap shots, from anyone who would post a resume such as yours on the Internet.

The document reveals that you’ve had ongoing, serious difficulties finding your way & you should consider that putting it on the Internet is merely a dertriment to whatever aims you have in mind.

As far for the Norwalk Hour, apparently you don’t realize that all small newspapers are essentially the same. They serve a limited function and yes, they’re not necessarily very high-toned nor objectively interesting…. X (the shitty reporter I panned) is a good guy and he’s done the best he’s been able… and I suppose that’s good enough.

—Name Removed

Took me a while to figure out what the heck he was talking about, but I found it: my hometown newspaper in which I said I think X is a lousy writer. Or something like that. Very weird.

I wrote back and asked him if slandering me made X a better writer, and asked what his resume is. But I don’t expect to get a response.

Isn’t (fan)‘s comment odd, though, that X has done the best he’s been able? Is he saying his good friend X is stupid or in some other way unable to be a good writer? Sure reads like it to me.

UPDATE (Monday afternoon): I did get a reply! I’m so pleased that I was wrong.

Okay, in some sense, you’re right ... & I’m sorry for attacking you. I like the photo on your Web site and love the quote from W.C. Fields.

So let me re-phrase my point—Do you really feel that attacking X makes you a better person?

X’s a good-enough, well-meaning guy as far as I can tell ... which I might say about you, if I knew you, but which is perhaps more than I’d say about most people.

In the interest of disclosure, my resume, if it actually existed, would include 10 years at the Norwalk Hour ... and eight years at (Big Important News Outlet). It’s difficult to say which experience I have personally found more dull and pointless. Such is journalism after all.

Perhaps you might enjoy the old recordings of the Bob & Ray radio show, which often skewered local reporters with a light touch, but didn’t entirely preclude a little sympathy ...

It’s so sad, spending 18 years at a job one loathes.

I believe that some training and a half-way decent editor can turn nearly anyone into a passable writer. I’m not looking for Pulitzer material here, just the ability to decipher what the heck the reporter is trying to report. So maybe the reason a lot of the writing in the Norwalk Hour is so horrendous is that the editor(s) suck. And I don’t think papers with a rival in town (the Norwalk Advocate, which is really the Stamford Advocate, which is really Tribune out of Chicago) can afford to let turgid writing slide, particularly for the important stories which are generally assigned to senior reporters. Turgid prose = one less subscriber—we’re even dropping the Sunday edition.

What is a “better person,” anyway? Are there rules for this? What is the prize? I think I’ll ask (fan).

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/03/05 at 08:31 PM
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