Into every story goes their dreams of becoming good reporters: writers doing good with their lives, changing the world —or at least a smaller corner of it. They also imagined that a hundred years from now, their stories would be read, with their true picture of how men thought, felt and reacted, in response to circumstances prevailing at their time.
Those who hate them believe that they were purveyors of sound and fury, that conveyed unrestrained expression of journalistic partiality. But their paramount duty is simply to record life’s passing parade….the bad with the good, the bland with the colorful, moving within their life span having experienced both the sheer terror and joys of life and survival spewing out the truth, while aggressively flirting with libel.
The Pen: A phantom world of words
Writing is not all joy. Sometimes it is pain that makes us write. The dread of a blank page that stares at you mockingly, torment of the word you didn’t find, and if you did it merely rhymes with an adjacent word. It is the martyrdom of a sentence that limps of the metrics that fall apart, the structure that struggles, of the page that bores….and the paragraphs that you must dismantle and rewrite, rewrite and rewrite—until the words seem like food that recedes from the famished mouth of Tantalus.
The novelist Colette said “it is a monkish discipline, a hero’s sacrifice, that was also a form of masochism… a crime against ourselves, a felony, that should be punished by law.”
Because of writing, there are people who end up in psychiatric clinics, if not the cemetery; people who turn into alcoholics, drug addicts, lunatics or suicidal. That is like when writing destroys, when it kills more than bombs.
But to live, to survive, we must think and produce ideas. Who better to produce ideas than writers? Away with phony humility!
The writer is a sponge that absorbs life: the gift of wizard Merlin, who has the ability to see things others cannot see, to hear things that others cannot hear, to imagine things that others can not imagine, or anticipate. Then, we transfer our thoughts on paper, succumbing into the rhetorics of enthusiasm, without forgetting that the writer is always entitled to a certain amount of wrong.
Forget literature, immortality lays in a front page: to see the story on page one, and your name riding atop it. Nothing can surpass this bliss!
The Lens: The camera is more vicious than the pen
They are going to set the world on fire, scourge the earth. So they started by going out, and seeing things and people and took pictures of what they saw.
Sometimes they called it creative breakthrough, especially when worked out casual events have been milked to the limits, to masquerade as news, instead of photographs that spoke like Russian novels.
The pen and lens worked side-by-side on coverages but their differences are deeper than rhetorics, skin, shape or liver spots. You read and weep, but a picture is worth a thousand words. It breaks models, going beyond boundaries. The photographers rolls up graphic details in a coherent whole. It can turn blood into smoke as it ignores convention even with a camera that has a temper and breaks down, now and then.
Words can’t do everything, the power of photographs with its vivid communication of reality is a tapestry which tells a story, through images of people and events, captured in the split second that they happened. The photo delivers the complete massage, sometimes words are just grace notes. Great pictures made the news more vivid, significant and memorable.
For the pen and lens of Southern California, the future seems to smile, but it is the present that is filled with trepidation when you know this is what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. But there is no journalist better than all of us together who brought bad news.
You see, reporters, like photographers can be lonesome and arduous. People blame you for the bad news. Truth can get you into a lot of trouble. The Greeks used to kill the messenger who brought bad news.
It certainly would delight some people to revive the custom!