It’s probably a little odd, but there is a stack of newspapers on my kitchen table that I go through and edit, whenever I feel like it or whenever I have a chance. The point? Just for myself, and just to learn. It gives me an opportunity to look up CP rules that I wouldn’t otherwise, or exposes me to a layout I wouldn’t have created myself.
I emailed some copy to a friend the other day, just to get his take on it. B. is one of the ones I refer to generally as “my second-years” — j-students I edited when in school and now am pretty happy to see the majority of them out there being bright young journos — and he and I are constantly going back and forth on what we would have done in a particular situation or another.
He emailed me back with his critique, which was interesting to read — there were some things that I hadn’t even thought of, or things I normally don’t flag so I just glossed over them this time as well. One of the lines in my reply email was, “I would make a Star Wars young jedi reference, but I don’t know enough about Star Wars to make a correct reference.”
Writing that made me stop and think. As journalists, we’re supposed to know a little bit about a lot. I try and do that — some of it’s fallen to the wayside, but among other things, I can somewhat hold my own in conversations about causes of stroke, classic cars, and ASD and art history (the last two because I’ve proofed so many of M.’s essays).
Other subjects I don’t know that much about, I do try — one of my friends is constantly saying things where you can hear the whoosh as it goes over my head, because it’s about things that I would otherwise not pay a lot of attention to. So I constantly make him back up by about six sentences and explain.
Sometimes, I do use ignorance as a “get out of jail free” card: “Oh, I don’t know anything about (subject), so of course I’m not going to be interested.” If I’m with people who know me really well, I’ll sometimes be stubborn about something, even if I know I’m wrong, again, using ignorance as justification.
It’s not though. And this is where the whole, “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know,” comes into play. Sure, it’s overwhelming — half of my Twitter favourites are things I think I’ll find interesting, or only know a little about so would like to know more about, but being able to read and process and understand takes time.
So now I think I have to go and figure out this whole Star Wars thing.