A cautionary tale

After looking deeply into his heart, your humble content provider finds little sympathy for an ex-radio reporter and private blogger from Alaska by the name of Eileen Goode.

Goode, the erstwhile news director for KDLG, a small NPR outlet based in Dillingham, Alaska, quit her job July 27 after scores of enraged Dillingham residents besieged her station manager with complaints about certain remarks she made in her virtually unreadable blog.

Like many young, middle-class urban migrants to the Arctic, Goode appears to have been genuinely shocked by what she found: orgiastic boozing, incest, drug abuse — if you live in Nunavut, you know what I’m talking about.

Here’s a sample remark:

“What did the 10 year old Alaskan girl say after she was done having sex? Hey Grandpa, can you pass me a cigarette?”

Believe me, such nuggets are not easy to find. Her posts, great eye-glazing sheets of redundant verbiage, display no apparent knowledge of paragraphing, proofreading, grammar, spelling, or structure.

She just wasn’t very good at doing what she wanted to do, which is why I don’t feel sorry for her. Sarcasm is a useful tool. Shocking, offensive rhetoric can sometimes serve a great moral purpose.

But if you want to get away with it, you better know what you’re talking about and you better be good at it. She wasn’t.

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6 Responses to A cautionary tale

  1. Megan says:

    Yeah, I want to be sympathetic. I want to support bloggers, especially journalist bloggers. But this just isn’t doing it for me.

  2. Pingback: Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills » Blog Archive » It takes a lot of effort.

  3. Jackie S. Quire says:

    Here’s the thing: I wanted to read what all this controversy was about. I wanted to understand why a woman was fired/asked to resign over a personal blog. It’s an issue that comes up all the time in the north. But like you say, the writing was so poor, I couldn’t even get into any of the posts.

    The long paragraphs, the poor sentence structure, the lack of direction in the entries… it was just painful to read. I expect general coherence in the blogs I read from “regulars” and for this to have come from a fellow journalist? How embarassing.

    As a result, I will never really form an opinion re: if her comments were out of line or not. I can’t stand to read through any of them long enough to find out.

    And that’s coming from someone who’s currently unemployed 😛

  4. jamesbell5 says:

    This may sound like Jesuit-style hair-splitting, but I don’t believe anyone violated her right to freedom of expression. She lost her job, not her blog, which she’s free to continue writing.

    And her job? Well, her communication skills are really poor and I have to wonder if she’s cut out for a job in journalism. Maybe her station manager also came to that conclusion.

    At the same time, I hope she can turn things around. She’s got guts, passion and a lot of potential. She just needs to work on those basic writing skills…

  5. Megan says:

    It’s not hair-splitting at all, Jim. I found myself getting annoyed as I read through some of the comments over there. This is not about freedom of speech; it’s about taking responsibility for your own words. The government hasn’t done anything to stop her from saying the things she’s said: the anger is coming from other people.

    If there’s any connection to freedom of speech, it would be that she has the right to say what she said, and her commenters have the right to criticise her. They DON’T have the right to threaten her or harm her: some of them are way over the line, and that’s not about free speech at all.

    I don’t like it when people lose their jobs over things they’ve written in their blogs, but that’s a separate issue that’s not about free speech, either.

  6. jamesbell5 says:

    Well, I agree, Megan. Freedom without responsibility doesn’t add up to much. I usually take strong libertarian stands on freedom of expression, but this incident really made me want to think through the issue pretty carefully…

    And if you want to read examples of real courage, there are bloggers in places like Cuba, Egypt, Iran, China and so on who take enormous risks every day by simply saying things we that we can say without any risk at all…

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