I remember my first typewriter: a brown Royal Model HH with green keys. What a machine! In my eyes, it was as sexy as a two-tone '57 Chevy Bel Air. The Royal saw me through high school, college, the Army (where I was a clerk), and 10 years into my newspaper career.
When I moved to an apartment, I didn't have a spot, or the inclination, to store it. Regrettably, it had become a 21st century anachronism and Deseret Industries became its repository.
Still, the old Model HH manual typewriter was my entr into journalism—first, the Lehi Free Press, The Daily Utah Chronicle, The Salt Lake Tribune and now, Salt Lake City Weekly. These past six decades have taken me on a heady ride, and I don't regret one paragraph I've written. Then, as now, journalism's prime directive was to "get it right ... get it first, if possible ... and seek the truth."
Today's a whole new ballgame. Everywhere, I see folks adroitly communicating on miniature QWERTY keyboards with their thumbs. And many, it seems, have become self-styled "journalists."
Just the other day, I struck up a conversation with "Jeremy" on the northbound UTA bus on State Street. Skinny as a whippet, he was wearing a green-and-black flannel shirt and traces of acne. His thumbs were working overtime on a smartphone. "I'm finishing up my blog," he confided. "It's about the ..." and he looked around to be certain other passengers weren't eavesdropping "... the 'predominant religion.'"
"Did you know President Nelson refused to operate on some guy because he wasn't Mormon?" he volunteered.
"No," I responded, "it's news to me."
"Yessiree," my UTA companion continued. "And that Dallin Oaks has relatives who are Nazis?"
I admitted my ignorance, rolling my eyes.
"You wouldn't believe the things we've uncovered," enthused "Jeremy."
"You're probably right," I replied—grateful that my stop at 300 South was coming up and wondering exactly who "we" were.
"You can read about it on ..." and he gave me the blog address, which I promptly forgot. I stepped off the bus bemused, and then troubled.
By now, "Jeremy" has finished his blog, and it's on the internet. "Did you know that Russell Nelson refused ...?" one of his readers will text another. "And that Dallin Oaks' family are ...?" Or—in the best-case scenario—he didn't post his "expose" at all. Just maybe, sanity prevailed, but I doubt it.
According to the Statista blog, the number of American bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million users next year. So how many people will believe bat-shit-crazy "Jeremy's" dispatch? I hope not many.
Like my old Royal, some blogs are solid as steel, like the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, The Daily Beast and Salon.
Some, like Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, are a tad mushy. The Bathtub sometimes comes up with something local, however, like recalling when the late snarky comedian Paul Lynde was arrested in a Salt Lake City gay bar for raising hell. After a few adult beverages, apparently the "Hollywood Square" wasn't the least bit funny. He was in town, incidentally, for a taping of the old Donnie & Marie show. As I heard tell, Osmond family matriarch, Olive, wasn't the least bit amused.
When I began professionally writing on my old Model HH, my editors emphasized:
• Be accurate.
• Be impartial.
• Be aware.
• Be truthful.
Put another way: Don't screw up the basics; don't assume; don't be duped. And seek the truth. Good advice for anyone, writer or not.
Just a word about truth: it seems in short supply nowadays, especially in and around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Those who try to uncover truth are dismissed as "enemies of the people" and purveyors of "fake news." It would be laughable—if not so downright troubling.
Truth isn't elastic (as in "bend the truth") nor divisible as in "half-truth." It's pretty straightforward. And like my old Royal, it sometimes can be noisy—even annoying—compared with the hushed keystrokes of my MacBook Pro.
Truth, I find, especially bothers The Establishment, whether it's the brie-and-chardonnay crowd or the god-and-guns gang. But isn't that the job of journalists: To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? I'd like to think so.
If I've learned anything, it's this: Words are powerful. Not that I crack it open that often, but the Bible in John 1:1 puts it best: "In the beginning, was the Word ..."
Words. Be careful how you say them ... and write them ... and read them.
Continuing a long newspaper career, Lance S. Gudmundsen currently is a proofreader at City Weekly. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org