Saturday, May 18, 2013

Finally read the last issue of The Concordian

About two weeks ago or so, I saw a post on Facebook by Scott Noble, the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian, Concord University's newspaper. It hyped the final edition of the paper for the 2012-2013 academic year, and specifically the piece by Cody Neff in the opinion section.

Maybe it's ego. Maybe I yearn for the spotlight. Maybe I just like people to talk about me. But, for some reason after reading that I thought to myself, "I wonder if Cody is making fun of me."

I had critiqued the paper a little bit over the last few months. Some people on the staff didn't seem to be big fans of me, in particular Cody Neff, who had left a blog comment or two here previously that was very critical of me.

Wednesday, May 1 came and I was on campus so I grabbed a copy. The first thing I read was the piece on the front page detailing Scott's conversation with the outgoing President of Concord, Dr. Gregory Aloia. Fine for what it was - a fluffy piece where we pretend he didn't fuck over Concord by leaving with very little notice.

I went to the opinion section and looked for Cody Neff's name. I found it next to a piece entitled "Top 5 Things I've Learned in College." Looked like he wasn't making fun of me, so I didn't read it and looked elsewhere in the newspaper.

I read Richard Babich's piece on the opinion section about his interactions with President Aloia. Then I looked over Sara Cameron's piece where she talks about all the rumors running rampant at Concord. I read the anonymous "Concerned Student" piece which was very critical of several aspects of Concord (and which I would later be accused of writing). I had a chuckle about the CSI: Miami parody of all the gazebos on campus. Honestly, I don't mind the gazebos.

I put the paper down and ate dinner at the cookout Concord was hosting for Spring Fling week. Not a wide selection of side dishes, but the hamburgers and hot dogs were pretty good. Then I went and wrote that blog talking about why I gave up on the SGA. That kind of became the topic of conversation for a few days. A lot of comments on Facebook.

A couple days ago I saw my copy of the final issue of The Concordian and realized that I had never read it after that fateful day a few weeks back. I picked it up and started reading about the lessons that Cody Neff learned in college.

The five lessons are kind of generic and things you would expect. But, what he writes about his experiences in how he learned those lessons is where he starts to shine. It was a really good piece about how college helped him step out of his comfort zone and how he became a better person as a result. I really liked it.

Then I read the end.

While talking about the kind of person he wants to be, he also made note of the kind of person he doesn't want to be: "As the semester winds down and I get ready to head out into the workforce, I can only hope that I don't end up boring or worse, like writing some lame blog and bouncing from minimum wage job to minimum wage job."

I'm never one to assume, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he's taking a shot at me there.

It's one thing to make fun of my blog. I get it; some people don't like it. It's like The Concordian - it's something written that people can decide for themselves if they like it or not. Cody Neff, I guess, has decided that he doesn't like my blog. Honestly, I think there's enough stuff out there for everybody. If you don't like when I critique the newspaper or the SGA, read about me getting fired from my job, or I write about music a lot. There's a variety to what I post.

But, anyway. Cody has decided that in addition to taking shots at my blog, he is also going to make fun of how I pay my bills. Here's what I wrote about one of his pieces back in October, followed by his response:

An example of a bad opinion piece was the thing from issue 1 where the guy talks about an unprofessional professor. He is so vague and trying not to cause a stir that it's pointless. It reads more like he's talking about the idea of an unprofessional professor as opposed to him being fed up with the one he deals with. You read it and don't care. Name names. Be specific. You might create enemies, but you might also walk into a bar and have 5 drunks tell you they love what you write.

I wrote earlier in the blog about how I was at a bar and 5 people came up to me and said they liked my blog. Cody's response is below:

First off, why would tell me to name names and then not even have the decency to put my name in? I'm not going to mention names. It's unprofessional and calling the professors out by name borders on petty gossip. Why would I intentionally make an enemy out of someone that I would have to sit with for an hour each day? Besides, I WAS talking about the idea of an unprofessional professor. I didn't write names because there were too many to name. I'm not making a "best-of" list. Besides, I don't write so that I can gain the undying adoration of five drunks. Don't try to tell me how to do my job. Do I come to your work and tell you how to flip burgers? Leave me out of your childish ramblings.

You haven't been relevant for years and almost no one on the staff even knows who you are. You're just some pizza manager with a blog who thinks that he's Citizen Kane. The Concordian isn't going to change just because you don't like it. Stop being such a self-entitled baby. You haven't earned it.

Ouch. Here's what I said at the time:

Sorry it took me a while to reply. I'm horrible about checking for blog comments. Here are a couple replies...

I'm usually good about tagging people on facebook when I mention them in a blog. But, I didn't have the newspaper in front of me when I wrote this and didn't remember your name. But, it seems to have worked out since you saw it.

You write, "Besides, I don't write so that I can gain the undying adoration of five drunks." I meant the number 5 in a figurative manner, meaning that if you named names and stood up for yourself, you could gain the respect of those around you, which is what I have accomplished over the years.

I don't flip burgers. I am no longer a pizza manager. And, I've never seen Citizen Kane, so I don't get that final reference. I'm sure it doesn't paint me in a positive light lol.

On a more serious note, the ability to take constructive criticism is a very important skill to have. Nobody is perfect; you're not, I'm not. Everybody can improve in some way.

And, there's that. The thing that troubles me a little bit about this is that Cody seems to take a particular joy in making fun of my job situation. It's one thing to make fun of this blog. I wrote about his writing, so he writes about my writing in response. No big deal. 

It doesn't bother me necessarily; I'm a thick-skinned guy, I'll be okay, but it does sort of come across as mean that his best defense is to make fun of the fact that I don't have a good job.

The Concordian is a learning experience. I've always said that the best way to learn is to make a mistake. You see what you did wrong and realize that you shouldn't do that. People are going to read the two occasions where Cody Neff made fun of how I pay my bills and they might get the impression that he's an asshole. That's probably not what he's going for.

And, I don't think that's accurate. He seems like a nice guy. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think I've seen him at RadioShack twice. Maybe next time I see that guy I'll ask him if he's Cody.

I've elected to write a blog and occasionally be controversial with it. That's fair game. Make fun of that all you want. I work at RadioShack so that I can pay my water bill to take a shower and buy groceries to eat. That's not really something that you should make fun of somebody for. I'd even be okay with him making fun of the fact that I'm a 26-year-old college dropout. That's funny for everybody except me. I'm cool with poking fun at that, as long as it's not malicious.

Maybe one day Cody will look back at this article and show it to his kids. They'll say, "Daddy, what's this line about the blog and jobs about?" And Cody will look at it for a second, sigh deeply, and say, "You father was kind of a douchebag there and probably shouldn't have made fun of him for working hard and trying to make an honest living."


  1. Hmm. I guess my comment is that if Cody's remark does refer to you then I guess it's good it was in the Opinions section. You certainty make your opinion clear in blogs, some of which may offend particular individuals. So I guess if Cody was referring to you, it's fair game. And, yes you do seen to like spotlight. :p to an extent though, there is no harm in that. See you in the fall, Chris.
    Sara Cameron

    1. Gotta grab the spotlight. You can't change the world if nobody notices you :)

  2. The lame blog comment referred to you. The minimum wage cheap shot referred to lots of people, you included. It was a mean comment in general, not necessarily aimed solely at you. I'll admit that. People said you had been insulting everyone's work more and I took a cheap shot. It seems that you thought it was meaner that I wanted it to be and for that I'm genuinely sorry.

    The funny thing about this whole thing is that you and I could have been friends. We seem like we have a good bit in common. You messed up when you called a piece I wrote "bad." I can accept criticism. I like constructive criticism. What you wrote was an insult.

    You have seen me in Radioshack a couple of times. We've both been civil to each other. I am an asshole though. I don't claim to be anything else.

    1. Here's an example of what I wrote earlier about the best way to learn is to make a mistake. When I wrote that your opinion piece was bad, that was a mistake.

      The thing with journalism is that, as long as the facts are right, there's no right or wrong way to do something. We can both write the same thing but write it differently and we'd both be correct.

      I feel like I tried to explain it, but it didn't come through well after the "bad" comment, but what I should have written is "an example of an opinion piece that isn't as strongly worded as I would have preferred."

      That's constructive, but looking back it didn't come across that way.

      And, just as a warning, I will probably try to talk to you the next time I see you at RadioShack, depending on how busy I am.

  3. I know Cody Neff. Cody Neff is a friend of mine. You sir, are no Cody Neff. (OK, so I stole that, but it's still a good bit.)

    My point (and I believe Cody's too) is that he's a student at Concord, writing for the school newspaper. You are not. He now has a professional degree from Concord, you dropped out. He's most likely going to get a job as a journalist, you've had several minimum wage jobs. This all adds up to who has credibility, which again is the point I believe Cody was making. He has it, you don't.

    You're not in a position to really critique his work, at least as a professional as you seem to be doing. You're just a regular "Joe". You're not an instructor or authority in Cody's professional development, but you're trying to give him writing advice. So yeah, it annoys him.

    But if we want to talk about writing, you submitted an article to the Concordian for an April edition. I suppose it was meant to be funny, but a lot of people were hurt by it. Was it accidentally mean? Maybe. But the real trick was, you didn't have to face the fallout. Mrs. Akers, Scott Nobel and pretty much the entire newspaper staff took the brunt of an article you wrote, which in hindsight should never have been published if for no other reason than it's a student publication.

    Another poster wrote that being criticized means your accomplishing something. Well, no, not really. It usually means you're doing something wrong, at least in someone's eyes. Hopefully it can help someone improve, but it's not an indication of success. Praise is an indication of success. Are your works being praised? I don't know, but Cody's are and he was recently recognized for his superior work in journalism. And I agree that he deserved it.

    Sara alluded to the idea that you were returned to Concord in the Fall. I hope you do. Then you'll have a chance to prove yourself as Cody already has.


    1. The anonymous journalist below sums up it up pretty well about the difference between having a degree and not having one. So, I'll leave that alone.

      I'm 20 hours away from having a degree. I've taken every journalism class offered at Concord. I was a staff member of The Concordian for 9 semesters. I have written on a freelance basis for two newspapers since 2008 (although, on a somewhat infrequent basis).

      That's why I felt like I was qualified to comment on the paper and others articles. I'm not trying to be mean. The Concordian is a product put out for an audience. That audience consists of students, faculty and staff, and anybody who reads it. I want the newspaper to be the best it can be for whatever audience sees it.

      Maybe critiquing it in my blog isn't the best way to do it, but it's the way I did it.

      And, in case anybody doesn't know, I do often talk about what I like in the paper. Sara Cameron and Molly Bates are two of the strongest writers on the staff and Richard Babich had a few good pieces on the opinion section last semester. Morgan Elmore is another name that sticks out as being a strong writer.

      And, about the april fools piece, there was no "fallout." Some athletes got mad. They'll be fine. They're being given a lot of money, so they don't have anything to worry about. That was the point of what I wrote.

    2. Why is everyone taking the "minimum wage" cheap shot? I have a degree. I'm going to grad school, yet I have had my share of minimum wage jobs. That's one of the issues with not having "seniority" in my field: you have to start out nowhere unless you know someone or get a lucky break. I'm certainly happy to have moved up the ladder a tiny bit, but minimum wage still pays the bills. Whether or not Chris should comment on other people's work aside, quit the "Flippin' burgers, must be a loser" thing.

  4. whether people love you, or hate you, you have them talking. Well done my friend.

  5. I will say this about a degree in broadcasting/journalism/underwater basket weaving. These days it doesn't matter. You take what you can get and work your way up.. I have learned that you basically have a piece of cool paper that you can frame when you graduate. I don't make that much money at all. I started at the bottom at my company in the Broadcasting field with a degree from Concord. I'm staying anon here just to keep my nose clean. but if you can figure it out then you probably know who it is, but please for the sake of decency don't post it. Either way, now you have to walk in with all the ambition in the world start at the very bottom and push yourself to the top. Good luck to you Cody as you seem to be an ambitious soul and Sara i know you will do exceptional things as well. Chris you have never failed to be an entertaining/charismatic writer so I know if you could get out of this paradoxical situation that is Princeton (although it is your home) you could do some outstanding work as well.

  6. (This will be a run-on sentence, but bear with me) Speaking as someone who worked for his college newspaper before dropping out after three semesters a decade ago; speaking as someone who worked minimum wage jobs for years while writing a blog; and now speaking as someone who has worked over seven years as a newspaper, radio, and TV journalist, winning journalism awards, teaching journalism, having his work appear in national publications around the world, I think you're doing just fine Chris.

    1. Thank you Steven, that means a lot coming from you. You have definitely come a long way and hopefully you keep going up.

      * * *

      If you guys are on twitter, make sure to follow @stevenadamswv. He tweets a lot of important stuff. And sometimes he talks about Star Trek...