Critique of an essay as if it were a poem?
On Jordan Chittley's Poem
Last night my roommate and I had a lengthly discussion about your poem entitled Behind the Scenes with N.S. Woman who Made the Dragons Cry. He comes from France. He's a journalist who arrived in Canada last month for research. I presented him my issues with your poem i,e., form and function, and both of us agreed: you lack objectivity. Think long term. Ideally a journalist's subjectivity should be recognizable only after his or her articles are gathered and examined after his or her death. In the meantime I think your goal, from what little I understand about journalism, is to represent global and local news in unbiased objective terms. Leave poetry to poets; please, write us news.
Your poem on Yahoo! about Barb, Barb Stegemann, was well written but Grammar Girl (and possibly the critic Northrop Frye, The Bush Garden) might have criticized your abbreviation of Nova Scotia. Whenever acronyms or abbreviations are used in official documents its first usage is usually written in full. Had Strunk & White included a section on abbreviations in The Elements of Style they might have also argued, as Grammar Girl does, this reduces mystery or else squashes a writer's presumption that readers read minds as well as texts. Let's face it, readers nowadays have enough problems deciphering digital newspeak (simplified English, bastardized for efficiency) without the added stresses of regional handicaps. And Frye might have argued us Canadians often identify ourselves in terms of regions. By representing Nova Scotia as an abbreviated N.S. and then categorizing the not-so-special province as nothing but a smaller part of 'Atlantic Canada' you've created a negative story, negative news.
In the first paragraph you misrepresented Ms. Stegemann as someone who, "...was looking for money and exposure," which is later contradicted when you quote her as saying, "I wasn't going just for money, you can get money anywhere...Brett became my mentor". At first I assumed, because of your station in life as a professional writer, you tried to recreate the experience of 'behind the scenes' with literary conventions. I figured you were leading us — the viewers — through a televised personality and slowly, over the course of a story, you were showing us who Ms. Barb Stegemann really is. You illustrated it with craft. But then I remembered this isn't your job. Your job isn't recreating or representing experiences. Your job is journalism; you present us facts. If I wanted drama then I could have watched the Dragon's Den myself. Or better yet, I could have watched reruns of True-Life Adventures.
I understand your situation though. You're an online journalist in a world where the very definition of 'journalism' changes rapidly and uncontrollably. To fit in, to be accepted, to make a living, I see you and your peers borrowing conventions of other, more emotional sister arts like literature, and even though their expressive forms are probably more fun for you (much like skiing and sailing are) I have a feeling it damages the 'psyches' of exploited people. But you, you're a Western Canadian; your regional ignorance is expected (a reflection of your second stanza: "...she became the first woman from Atlantic Canada to succeed"). In the future, instead of throwing together a poor TV piece after a long day at Whistler, consider research. It's your job, and your current writing style reflects a generational and demographic laziness that sucks.
Nothing is ever simple. The next time you, as a Westerner, find yourself writing about people and places outside your region ask someone’s advice. Send an email. Try Herb Wyile. He studies Atlantic Canadian Literature in Wolfville Nova Scotia, and though I cannot speak on his behalf he'd probably be thrilled to help edit your articles to sound more honest and culturally true.
You write about Humanities but never leave a bubble, a screen, a region. The least you could do for us, your audience, is try a little harder. It’s your responsibility. We rely on you. So either write about familiar things or humble yourself and learn from others. Work harder. Do research. Give facts.
PS. In the 'about' section of your website you explain your interest, or research subject, during a Masters of Journalism was, "[The] result of negative news on an individuals’ psyche". Strunk's Rule #1: either pluralize individuals (omit 'an') or keep singular and change the possessive.