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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A word from the editor in chief

    “”I hate newspapermen … if I killed them all there would be news from hell before breakfast.””

    – Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

    I hated journalists too.

    I first made it into the newspaper when my friends and I wrote a three-act comedy in high school, “”Don’t Correct The Boss!”” If it ever hits YouTube I’ll never be elected to anything — ever.

    Even though we were a bunch of acne-faced drama kids, our hometown newspaper, The Glendale Star, sent a reporter.

    We were excited. We’d hit the big time.

    Then the article came out.

    I guess publicist-types would say I went off message. You see, during the interview I mentioned this other student who’d written and produced his own musical a year earlier — Kevin Frei. I’d been an extra in his play.

    When I mentioned Kevin Frei, the reporter’s eyes caught fire. She’d done a story on this guy before.

    Thinking back on it, I can see the lead forming in her reporter’s brain as she scratched away at her notepad.

    “”Oh, Kevin,”” she said. “”He’s brilliant.””

    “”Yeah, he is,”” I said. “”Anyway, we’ve been working on this play for about—””

    “”No, no, you don’t understand,”” she said. “”Nothing is good enough for Kevin Frei. He is a genius.””

    And then we talked about Kevin Frei for something like 10 minutes.

    You can see where this is going. When the article hit the newsstands, the story I thought was going to be about our play turned out to be a Kevin Frei lovefest.

    “”Don’t Correct the Boss!”” we read, was inspired, fueled and nourished by the incandescent spirit of Kevin Frei.

    I never even clipped out the article. We would joke for years that if I were ever horribly killed the obituary would read something like this:

    “”Alex Dalenberg, who had a chorus role in Kevin Frei’s groundbreaking musical, ‘Final Vinyl,’ was among the victims in Sunday’s explosion.””

    We also used to sing this song called, “”What if God was Kevin Frei?””

    Man, we were pissed.

    We even wrote in another villain, the smarmy newspaper reporter Madeline Hitchcock. Things really went south for our heroes after she showed up.

    So if you’ve ever felt burned by the media, trust me, I’ve been there. I felt like my whole life got boiled down to Kevin Frei by a journalist, a damned journalist.

    And now here I am, editor of your Arizona Daily Wildcat. What a life.

    I’ll tell you something though; I’ve worked at the Arizona Daily Star and The Arizona Republic. I even did a short stint at the late Tucson Citizen. I can say now from being on the other side of the fence that the real journalists try like hell to get the story right every single day. They wouldn’t do what they do, often for peanuts, if they didn’t care deeply about their community and the people in it.

    For example, that Glendale Star reporter whom I hated for years — nobody else was going to put the word out about a bunch of geeky high school kids trying to put on a show. I see now I was mostly mad because she didn’t tell the story I wanted her to — the story of Alex Dalenberg’s playwriting awesomeness.

    And maybe that was the story; it’s certainly one angle. But more likely, Kevin Frei was the story.

    Yes, I now recant. We never would have written that play if he hadn’t produced his first.

    But this confession doesn’t mean you should cut us journalists any slack. The Glendale Star may have been right in this case, in spite of all my media relations savvy, but you and I both know news organizations are wrong all the time, or half-wrong, or just slightly wrong, or the angle is wrong, or just off-kilter.

    But my promise to you is that we’re in this business because we don’t want to be wrong — ever. We’re here because we’re passionate about information, ideas, opinions, truth.

    In some ways the job is impossible. It’s a dicey business, jumping into a situation, talking to everyone you can and then trying to come up with some sort of definitive “”truth”” for the record.

    For example, my friends and I knew we could produce our own student-written play because Kevin Frei accomplished the same thing at his school. But we didn’t think about him much aside from that. Did we really follow his lead like a pied piper? I don’t think so, but who’s to say?

    This job may be tough, but it’s just that — our job. We’re charged every day with getting as close to that ideal of truth as possible. It’s not easy. And like all of you, we are learning every day. But I can tell you there will be reporters, photographers and editors in the office on campus every day working toward that goal.

    And if we’re truly wrong about something, you need to call us on it. Any journalists worth their salt wouldn’t complain if you did.

     — Alex Dalenberg is the editor in chief of the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at 621-7579 or at editor@wildcat.arizona.edu. He also had a bit part in the 2003 production of ‘Final Vinyl,’ written, produced and directed by Kevin Frei, the greatest human being to ever live.

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