Last week we discussed the PERILS of being a writer, not just any writer, but a writer for the media. I am the faculty supervisor for our college newspaper as well as a professor of media, and this question organically arose one day. One true peril of being a journalist is that our words are out there in the public domain, available for consumption and scrutiny. I use an example of a “harmless” article written by a staffer at our local paper, the Asheville Citizen Times, over 2 years ago. The article can be found here and is titled innocuously, “As schools reopen in Asheville area, think outside the lunchbox”
The article’s premise is simple and can be found in the 1st two paragraphs.
“Before you have children, the thought of packing a kid’s lunchbox may seem like a no-brainer. But when you’re trying to feed your child in a healthy way day after day, week after week, year after year, the allure of PB&J quickly diminishes, and the risk of trading for Twinkies increases.With a little creativity and a system of rotating favorite foods so they never get boring, it’s possible to pack the lunchbox or brown bag with nutritious offerings that will keep your child fortified throughout the school day.”
Yet, the comments from this article range from the the commercial: “So now you’re promoting lunchboxes? A lot of parents can’t afford them.” to the highly political: “A lot of parents can’t afford their children anyways. The kids should be taken away and given to people who can afford them. Mandatory birth control should be given to poor people so they don’t reproduce and create additional problems for those that do provide.”
I dub this “the Spiderman Lunchbox Conspiracy” and it serves a cautionary tale to my undergraduates. Thick skin, I preach…Thick skin.
Oh, and here is a link to some of the more colorful comments.spiderman comments