Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Gondola... It's Baaa-ack

Signpost editorial manages to straddle the issues, and to leave the paper standing firmly and boldly nowhere in particular

By Curmudgeon

It's baaa-ack. The gondola that will whip Ogdenites straight to Snow Basin. That particular pipe dream seems to have more that the nine lives cats are supposed to get. Its latest manifestation appeared in an editorial in the WSU student paper, The Signpost. [Title: "Will The Giant Icicle Save Us?" ] The editorial discusses Mayor Matthew Godfrey's vision for Ogden's future:
The goal is to make Ogden a high-adventure destination with ski shops, outdoor clothing companies and a gondola that goes straight to Snowbasin. As an all-around outdoor stop, Ogden could become a tourist hotspot. Weber State could potentially benefit from this attention too. Students could hop the gondola and ski before class. The holographic ice-wall is one-of-a-kind and might attract climbers internationally. Maybe ice-climbing would even be offered as a course. This is the vision of many, including Mayor Godfrey.
Readers of the editorial do not learn that the Mayor's proposed flatland gondola would not go to Snow Basin, but only from downtown to WSU. Nor will they learn that the proposed up-mountain gondola with its base near WSU would not go to Snow Basin either, but only to a proposed and highly speculative vest-pocket ski venue to be built, maybe, on the west flank of Mt. Ogden in Malan's Basin. Nor will they learn that Snow Basin management has said no, repeatedly, to the idea of an over-mountain gondola connecting Ogden to it. Or that Snow Basin management got so tired of Mayor Godfrey implying [wink wink, nudge nudge] that his two-gondola solution would connect to Snow Basin that it contacted the Standard-Examiner about the matter, and Mr. Trentelman subsequently did a story about Snow Basin's flat rejection of any kind of over-mountain gondola to Ogden.

That Mayor Godfrey has an interest in not letting the facts get in the way of what he wishes to voters to believe is understandable. But journalists should set a higher, a much higher, standard for themselves. [Unless their dream is to someday work for Fox News of course.]

To be fair, the editorial in The Signpost is somewhat skeptical about the feasibility of it all, but in the end, the paper's editors want to believe. And so they end up with an editorial that wanders around, larded with "on the other hands" and that fails, in the end, to take much of a stand at all:
We are skeptical, after all, we are journalists. We want to know if it will work. Are there hidden costs? Who really benefits? And who is paying for the other million dollars needed to erect the wall? Seriously, do people actually like climbing ice cubes? You'd think your fingers might get cold.
We are skeptical yet idealistic. Deep down we hope something will bring about real change, because we think Ogden has a bright future. The vision is lovely. The debate, however, is a mess. But the debate occurs because we all know something needs to happen.And we are open to change.
Declaring itself "open to change" is, for an editorial board, the equivalent of a candidate for office boldly proclaiming his [or her] undying support for motherhood, apple pie and the flag. It's like Orrin Hatch coming out, as he did yesterday, for "fair" Senate hearings on polygamy. [Who advocates unfair hearings on anything?]

The Signpost editors are to be congratulated for not swallowing the Kool-Aid Hizzonah is pouring uncritically [as the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce did], and for raising some of the right questions. But in the end, the editorial manages to straddle the issues, and to leave the paper standing firmly and boldly nowhere in particular.

6 comments:

Monotreme said...

Curm:

I think you have been victimized by some bad writing.

As I read the editorial, these paragraphs read to me like a "dream sequence" taking us into the fevered brain of Matthew Godfrey:

The goal is to make Ogden a high-adventure destination with ski shops, outdoor clothing companies and a gondola that goes straight to Snowbasin. As an all-around outdoor stop, Ogden could become a tourist hotspot. Weber State could potentially benefit from this attention too.

Students could hop the gondola and ski before class. The holographic ice-wall is one-of-a-kind and might attract climbers internationally. Maybe ice-climbing would even be offered as a course. This is the vision of many, including Mayor Godfrey.


The topic sentence appears at the end, I think. Oh well.

That's just my interpretation; like all bad essay writing, many alternative interpretations exist.

Ultimately, you don't know where the editorial writer stands, which is the point that you made originally.

Jason the tosspot said...

Well, don't expect too much from the editorial board of the student newspaper that serves Harrison High, Good Old (?) Curmudgeon. Oh, c'mon! Also, on the not-a-newspaper newspaper front, I note with glee a house classified in the Gondola-Examiner regarding a page designer position. The solicitation seeks someone with a solid knowledge of "grammer."

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

Curmudgeon said...

Jason:

"Grammer." Nice catch. Maybe it was deliberate. Any applicant who doesn't mention the typo doesn't get the job?

I recall a past editor [now deceased, alas] of one of Baton Rouge's two dailies --- which gives you an idea of how long ago it was --- who liked to tell a story about LSU J-School hotshots who came in to interview for summer and intern jobs. His practice was, first thing after meeting, shaking hands and asking them to have a seat was to give them a spelling test. Common reaction: shock, followed by panic. The attitude of the ones who didn't get hired, he said, was "I'm a writer. I leave that stuff to others."

The word spread quickly over at the J-School that "that son of a bitch Hughes will give you a spelling test if you go for the job." He said it cut down the number of time-servers applying. He always had a twinkle in his hard-boiled straight out of The Front Page eyes when he told the tale... and he liked to tell it a lot.

RudiZink said...

Gotta say, Jason... THAT was a danged good catch.

Here's the ad, as it appeared in today's classifieds section.

googleboy said...

Newspaper misspells its own name on front page

Jason the blotter said...

I would also bitch about the "love for news" prepositional gaffe, but I'm hungover.

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

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