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Start the Presses: Writing about the good, writing about the bad

September 20, 2013|By Dan Evans, dan.evans@latimes.com | By Dan Evans, dan.evans@latimes.com

Ugh. What a week.

Certainly a fair amount of tragedy in town, from a motorcycle death to grave-marker thefts to human bones found near a missing man's car. Still, I have to confess a bit of professional distance. We report on terrible things sometimes, and the only way we get through is by reminding ourselves that it didn't happen to us or anyone we knew.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but if you take everything in, there's nothing left.

What I'm taking ink and paper and electrons and your time to talk about is purely personal. As it happens to everyone, I'm feeling a bit burdened by the amount of work that needs to be done, the pressures of career and family, and the ennui of first-world problems.

In short, I'm whining.

I'm whining about the fact my 20th high school reunion is this weekend in San Diego. That I feel out of shape, wrung out, and a bit weirded out about seeing human beings I haven't thought about in two decades.

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I'm whining about the fifth anniversary of my stepmother's death was this week, a few short weeks after the 15th anniversary of my mother's death. (My dad, twice a widower, whines far less than I. Perhaps that's why I became a writer.)

I'm whining about the papers I have to grade for a class I'm teaching at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. That I am simply too tired from my day job to spend the amount of time necessary to properly correct AP style, word choice and fairness, and that my students aren't getting my best.

But then I remember to shut up, to take stock of what I have, and not what I don't. That I'm lucky enough to be able to run solid, interesting papers about some of the most interesting, generous — and occasionally, awful and crooked — people and institutions in the state. That I run newspapers fer crissake. Who even does that?

That my staff is filled with some of the brightest, committed and professional writers, photographers and editors a boy could ever want. That some of them are running out of wall space due to the number of awards they've won.

That I'm amazingly lucky man to have a wife that is not only wicked smart and beautiful, but actually loves me. That I have a father so mentally strong, wise, and caring that it gives me hope I might have a sliver of that DNA, and that one day I might grow more into those qualities.

That USC, for some unknown reason, trusted me enough to teach young journalists. And, that those students tell me that I do a pretty good job. (I swear a bit too much in class apparently, though. Ahh, hell. They want to be journalists. They better get used to it.)

Life is pretty hard, folks, and sometimes our first reaction is to let the crap just wash over us, to take perverse pleasure in getting down. I don't know how you all deal with it, but it seems my preferred way is to write it down on paper, to detail the problems and by doing so, diminish them.

But even more, I think it's important to write down the good stuff too. Darkness gets defeated by light every time, but it's a lot more work to keep it lit. Well worth the effort, though. Well worth it.

DAN EVANS is the editor. If you don't like something in the paper, it's probably his fault. Reach him at dan.evans@latimes.com, on Twitter at @EditorDanEvans or at (818) 637-3234. 

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