Same old, same old - Shawn Loughlin editorial
In the acclaimed show Mad Men, all about the advertising industry in the 1960s and 1970s, there is a scene where protagonist and advertising guru Donald Draper is interviewing a potential copywriter and, as Draper flips through the prospective employee’s portfolio, Draper notices a trend.
As Draper reviews the work of prospective employee Danny Siegel, he catches that every one of Siegel’s tag lines states that the product he’s trying to sell is billed as “the cure for the common [insert product here]”. Perhaps persuasive once, when looking at them one after the other, it’s clear that Siegel has one idea that he has stretched so thin you can see across a river through it. Furthermore, his solitary idea isn’t very good.
As I sat in front of the blinking cursor – the infuriating metronome that haunts every writer – I sought to lay waste to Minister of Education Lisa Thompson’s ham-fisted “four-point plan” for the education of autistic children in an attempt to shift attention from Minister of Children, Community and Social Services (and Bullying and Intimidation) Lisa MacLeod, whom Lisa relentlessly and shamelessly continues to support. I stopped myself though, remembering I’ve been doing that kind of thing a lot lately.
Just as Mad Men’s Siegel can’t make every product the cure for the common whatever, I need to mix it up a little. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.
Years ago I was told by a reader that she didn’t enjoy my column as much as the others in the newspaper because she wasn’t much of a sports person. I didn’t think I wrote about sports that much, but it caused me to go back and review. Sure enough, at that time, I was writing about sports more than I realized.
There was another time when both Denny and I received some advice. Keith Roulston, our publisher at the time, a seasoned journalist who has written about nearly everything, urged us to always make a point with our readers in mind, rather than taking on pet issues without much thought given to whether our readers shared our passion. He cautioned us against being “the guy yelling at the bar”.
The old man yelling at the bar could also be seen as a form of the boy who cries wolf. If you’re outraged about everything, are you then ever truly outraged about anything?
Furthermore, news in The Citizen is largely dictated by the community. I assign stories for the weekend and decide what goes where, but in this space I have complete editorial control, so it’s a nice outlet to blow off a little steam, tell our readers a story they might not have heard otherwise or introduce people to a way of thinking they may not have considered.
That final point is one that comes straight from Keith. He always told me that with his editorials, he might tackle an issue that everyone’s heard about 20 times by that point, but that he would try and implore readers to consider a different viewpoint.
That principle is at the heart of opinion writing and discourse in our communities.
For the longest time, I always tried to include at least one personal anecodote in my column every week in the hopes that readers and community members would get to know me a little better.
Without the benefit of growing up in Huron County, readers can’t rely on having known my parents or grandparents, remembering me as a child or knowing the history of my family. Though it’s now been 13 years, it’s all new to you, so I have tried to bridge that gap... in a new and interesting way each week.