Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On The Mark -- My Turn

I am a big fan of the “My Turn” column in Newsweek. I’ve always liked that every week a common, everyday person gets published like a George Will in a national newsweekly. I typically like the subjects and find them in the Studs Terkel class of getting into the heart of the country.

But the column in the April 11 issue really ticked me off. It’s written by Nicole Kristal, a struggling musician who wrote term papers for public and private high school and college kids. It’s a “I was a bad girl and I admit it” piece, so she’s not bragging, but it doesn’t deserve to earn publication in Newsweek. Here’s how she opens the column:

“For three years, I was an academic prostitute, I ruined the curve for the honest and ensured that the wealthiest, and often stupidest, students earned the highest marks. I was a professional paper-writer.”

The operative words are “for three years.” That’s a long time, a lot of papers, and piles of deceit to finally wake up. And now she gets the prize of being published in this exclusive column, I’m sure hoping to be discovered by a music producer, or perhaps there’s a book on the way.

Sure, she attacks herself with phrases like, “by a self-loathing nerd like me,” and “Despite my intellect, I handed over my self respect to rich losers. I allowed myself to be blinded by privilege and the hope that some of it would rub off on me and help my flailing music career. Ultimately, trading my morals for money cost me the confidence I needed to turn my dreams into reality.” At the same time, she says, “I put up with it because I feared working in an office for $12 an hour again.”

Give me a break. We’ve all run into these people who talk with such sincerity when it’s really – well, she said it – self loathing. What she’s really all about is how she’s described in the caption below her picture: Writer for Hire.

This story should not have gone any further than her blog, and I’m sure she has one. Certainly not Newsweek.

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