Criticism: curse or blessing?

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One can only imagine how distressed Russell Wangersky and his colleagues at The Telegram must feel after the lambasting handed out by one David Murphy (“Sick of constant government criticism”) in The Telegram Sept. 21.

Murphy, who may or may not be a supporter of the current government of Newfoundland and Labrador, is highly offended that these writers do what they get paid to do. Murphy  did not tell us exactly what the writers had done wrong, for he was much too busy attacking the persons rather than the issues.

I’m not quite sure what he would have the folks at The Telegram do, but for writers like Wangersky, it must be something of a shock to be told by Murphy to “…get off their backsides and do some real research and writing…”

Shock aside, however, it does remind me of a wonderful story as told by H.L. Mencken, one of America’s foremost newspaper persons.

It seems that the poet Walt Whitman had the great misfortune of working for one of Abe Lincoln’s secretaries of state, James Harlan.  When, on a day in 1865, the said Harlan found out that this was the same Whitman who had written “Leaves of Grass,” he immediately had him fired.

Mencken went on to say: “Let us repair, once  a year, to our accustomed houses of worship and there give thanks to God that one day in 1865 brought together the greatest poet that America has ever produced and the damndest ass.”

I’m not sure if we should offer thanks in the same vein with respect to Sept. 21, 2013, but Mencken surely had a wonderful way with words.


Wayne Norman

St. John’s

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: America, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Starr
    September 26, 2013 - 16:28

    No sympathy. I have seen Russell W. use his position as a journalist to unfairly influence issues to his own advantage, to sway people to his way of thinking rather than letting the people think for themselves.

  • Eli
    September 26, 2013 - 07:41

    Yes Wayne, Mencken had a wonderul way with words. Unfortunately, Mr. Murphy tries his damnest to impress us with words he picks up from his dictionary. He's fifty miles offshore 'tho compared to Mencken's wisdom. I join Linda in my appreciation for the news/editorial people at The Telegram.

  • Linda
    September 26, 2013 - 06:04

    I like the crews at the telegram, keep up the good work.