Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 10, 2002

You can't necessarily tell how smart, or how talented a writer is by reading their book, essay or newpaper article. An individual who can barely put a complete sentence together can look like a genius with one simple thing -- an editor. When you're a young reporter looking for a job or looking to take the next step up in the rat race that is professional journalism, clips are your lifeblood. Editors always want to see clips, but they are also aware that a clip is really a combination of two things -- a reporter AND an editor. One of the dangers editors face when hiring a reporter is that the writer's gross incompetence may be masked by a talented editor.

Editors often save reporters from themselves -- here at Hoystory there is no editor, therefore there's no one to save me when I open my mouth and insert my foot. But I have edited many stories throughout my career and I have saved reporters from looking like total and complete idiots. My favorite was a reporter who started a story about killer bee infestations with the following line: "Don't pet that bee. It could be an Africanized killer bee." Yeah, who pets a bee in the first place?

Tom Shales is a movie critic for the Washington Post, one of the best newspapers in the country. The Washington Post has several movie critics. Stephen Hunter is my favorite, he is the author of several novels about Bob Swagger aka Bob the Nailer.

Shales, who should be condemned to watch "Showgirls" for the remainder of his life, recently tried his hand at a book review, specifically, Bernard Goldberg's Bias.

Shales' review is more in the nature of a childish rant. The review isn't posted on the Washington Post's Web site, probably because it's such a piece of drivel. I suspect that if Shales had submitted his piece to an editor (and maybe he did), it would have been thrown in a circular file. But reporters are a proud and arrogant bunch, so Shales found another forum.

Shales doesn't really address the substance of Goldberg's book, instead resorting to name-calling, including: "no-talent hack" and "full-time addlepated windbag."

While attacking Goldberg, Shales not only shows his hatred and bias of anyone who would dare claim that the major media leans left, he also shows his own ignorance of the way newspapers work.

Obviously hoping to follow in the footsteps of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, two intellectual giants by comparison, Goldberg has fashioned his rantings into a book succinctly titled "Bias," which, appropriately enough, won the dubious honor of a commendatory editorial from The Wall Street Journal. And we all know how unbiased those Journal editorials are. Gosh it is soooo hard to figure out where they're coming from.

Geez Shales, where did you go to J-school? EDITORIALS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE UNBIASED!


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January 2002



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