Friday, March 24, 2006

The Echo, best and worst

The campus newspaper here is The Eastern Echo. My colleagues and I have enjoyed portions of it immensely over the years, especially "Campus Blotter" (in which the drunken brushes with the law of students is routinely reported.) Occassionally the Echo gets a little lost in its own sense of self-importance and feels it needs to be the crusader for some misguided cause on campus. Today was one of those days. It was also the day of the best op-ed piece ever. More on that later. First, the misguided cause.

"What Eastern Wants You To Believe" the headline read, "An Echo Special Report." The story went on for two columns on the front page and then for nearly all of page nine, to report that EMU is orchestrating a marketing / recruiting effort for potential students and their parents called "Explore Eastern" this Saturday, and that they actually have the gall to try and cast a positive light on the university to the people taking the tour. The very nerve! The author took the opportunity to point out many of EMU's faults, quoting semi-important people where he thought their words would lend more credence than his own. To read the piece, you'd think that new students were being tricked, decieved into coming to EMU on the promise of a wonderful experience, only to find it an utter hell hole.

Hey, Michael Greenlee, I'm talking to you. Nobody is under the impressive that EMU is some academic utopia. You wanna know the truth? We want students to enroll, and we try and convince them to do so. We don't turn away most of our applicants like our neighbor down I-94 does. We can't afford to. When we run a recruiting event or a campus tour, the intention is to show good things about EMU. How many high school seniors would come here if they were handed a color glossy pamphlet entitled "EMU: Our Many Problems" on their tour? Ford doesn't show film of Pintos exploding in their commercials; does that mean they are deceiving their customers? Should every magazine ad for GM include a disclaimer that the company has lost record amounts of money recently and may not exist in its present form in a year? And it's not even for the sake of disclosure that you are saying all this, because you and I both know that EMU's troubles have been amply reported in the local news.

I also disagree with your critisizm of the sample dorm room decorated by (and clearly shown as such) Bed, Bath and Beyond. To show the sample "corporate sponsored" dorm room and then the "less dazzling space" of some unidentified dorm room was a cheap shot. Have you ever rented an apartment, Mr. Greenlee? Do the demo apartments feature a hand-me-down couch, old TV and a bathroom full of mismatched towels? Is that, in some way, deceiving potential renters (especially student renters) as to what their living experience may be like in that apartment? Was it offensive to you that the room looked nicer than most students' rooms, or that it was "corporate sponsored" (in your words.) Is that inherently evil?

Cheap, Mr. Greenlee. I hope journalism isn't your intended career.

On a completely opposite note, the op-ed piece by Lynn Kargol, called "Good deeds don't stand alone, faith forgives sin" was the absolute most stunning thing I have read in the Echo. In about a quarter page, she states matter of factly that:
  1. Man has sinned
  2. "being good" can't save us
  3. Jesus paid the price for our sin, and only faith in Him can save us
  4. good deeds are important to our faith
Have my eyes gone insane?! Is that a gospel presentation on the op-ed page of the Echo?!? I'm far more used to reading heartfelt treatises on the importance of gay marriage rights or increased aid/awareness for some dilemma overseas on this page, and yet here is one of the most succinctly elegant summations of my faith that I have ever read. Lynn Kargol is now officially my hero. Let it shine, Lynn!

1 comment:

  1. Apparently Michael Greenlee's story won him some sort of award. Go figure.

    Link: here

    I certainly hope Mr. Greenlee ensures that his personal faults and shortcomings are on his resume, and not just awards he has won. That would be dishonest, wouldn't it?