Any criticism of amateur journalism must be based upon a given set of standards. To date there has been no serious attempt to set such standards. I do not propose to define such a set of standards finally or perfectly. I do hope to shed some light on this subject.
First, there is currently an impression that amateurs should be somewhat less skilled or finished in their productions than so-called professional writers. This is an erroneous assumption. In practice, the amateur not only exceeds but should excel his professional brother.
Second, the time spent preparing any amateur word should be done so meticulously that the end product will bear more than a passing glance. None of the smaller sheets so lacking will bear even slight notice.
Bearing these two standards in mind, we may take a rough glance at the latest productions of the amateur press with a more intelligent eye. We may now disregard practically all of the productions in the recent bundles and concentrate on a few works which may be sincerely criticized by these strict standards.
The main problem is to produce some theme that is not trite in words that support the theme. Take the latest issue of O-Wash-Ta-Nong. On page one there appears a nice effort on the part of Floyd Yeomans to dress a trite theme in a dress suited to a better idea. The main problem seems to be the use of too many adjectives. Sophronisba tries a little harder on page two but with just about the same lack of success. “Human Nature and Socialism” is the reverse. The writing does not come up to the theme.
Skipping the rest of this issue we can go on to a publication like Segal’s Campane. The whole issue of January 1951 will not bear up under this sort of criticism. Vondy’s article is much too long for a discussion in this size journal and Castleman’s article could be dropped without any loss. Passing on to the Phoenix we come to the worst jumble of ill-prepared material assembled in type. The whole paper seems to be another effort to present the maximum number of useless words in the maximum number of pages. Alf’s Cat may be placed in the same field as the rest of the publications mentioned with an occasional exception such as the better than average quote of a letter by Ernest Edkins.
Let’s take Frank Kille’s seventh issue of The Platen. The lead story seems to be just so much soap opera hog wash. The same might be said about the other contribution to this journal. The whole product seems to be second-rate material dressed in an attempt at good printing. However, even the affect of good printing is destroyed by the use of obnoxious shades of blue.
Ralph Babcock and Vic Moitoret both try hard but I find them continually violating principle two. All of the publications these two produce seem to be haphazardly prepared. We haven’t been subjected to much of Burton Crane’s mediocrities in recent months but surely he will soon join the Babcock-Moitoret parade.
Getting away from this criticism of journals, we have seen some recent political shenanigans which bear a bit of comment. Particularly out of place seems to be the Babcock campaign for the executive position in the NAPA. The current project began some months ago with a continuous quest for promises of votes at a time when no one could truthfully say who he would favor. It seems that this campaign assumes that the presidency is won through promises rather than actions. Remember that actions do not mean a mere prolificacy of papers. It means concrete contributions to our welfare.
Every voter, whether a “promised” one or not, should actively and conscientiously review the candidates and pick the proper men to administer our association and edit its official organ for the next twelve months. A careful choice for both offices is essential to the life of the association and should not be flippant.
We trust the approaching convention will be a quiet one since we have reliable reports from Messrs. Heins, Lindberg, Harler and other unmentionables that they do not plan to schedule any filibusters this year.
This issue of Sour Notes has been made in strict accordance with the principles outlined on the first page hereof and is intended as an outstanding example to all amateur journalists of the apex in amateur creation.
Comments, bouquets, congratulatory messages, bottles of champagne, other vintages, and general salutations should be addressed to Robert L. Smith, Jr., Upper Darby, Pa.
The printing and editing hereof was done in the graphic arts dept. (basement) of the Segal Manse. No Segal was in any way, shape or form involved writing, editing, or suggesting the content hereof.