Vol. 3, Issue 11, April 12, 2005
Education for the Otiose
The Specious Report

You May Already Be a Winner, Sort of

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

It is now nearly two Years since I began to ply the journalistic trade, and while I have yet a great deal to Learn, still I believe I may say with all modesty that our humble establishment has managed to Elbow its way to a spot at the table of journalistic Institutions in our fair burg. Much ink has been Spilled, many pipes Smoked in fervent editorial Concentration: even my chronically inactive nephew Ephram has, at last, ceased to collect his Unemployment checks, accepting (grudgingly) that he has something resembling a Career here in the sanctity of our news-room.

And I thought perhaps we had come even farther than I had Thought when I received a most unexpected letter last week. In a thick, gold-embossed Envelope arrived a Startling letter from the American Academy of Journalism with a remarkable Announcement: that I was to be awarded the Editor of the Year Award! My stars. This calls for a Celebration! Something at least Thirty years old - well, perhaps a Twenty-year old Scotch will do. I have never Heard of the Academy, but I have absolutely no Doubts at present that they are a Fine Upstanding organization of the highest Caliber.

Upon further Reflection, I note however that the letter mentions a "membership Fee" which is Required in order to attend the Award Ceremony. Well, that seems rather Reasonable in principle, I suppose. Two Thousand Dollars, however, does Not seem rather reasonable. I begin to Wonder if the letter is Legitimate. I check the letter again: duly Embossed, high-quality linen. I pull down the most recent Baxter's Publication Almanac: indeed, there it is, the AAJ, an organization established for some Time now. I am quite Perplexed.

I often find that, when there is a Problem which I cannot resolve through smoking several Pipes and ruminating, it is quite Helpful to head for the Club and seek the company of my peers in a friendly game of Darts or Cribbage. I find both Solace and highly useful Information among the gentlemen of the club, not a few of whom are involved in the Publication industry as am I. Quickly then, I take up my beloved set of Flying Dutchman darts and head out the door.

Imagine my astonishment when I learn that no fewer than Six of my peers have also been named "Publisher of the Year" this year, and Eight in previous years! Even that cantankerous old Curmudgeon, Mordecai Grunion, has been so honored; and the day he earns an award on Merit is the day that Hades shall close shop due to inclement wintry weather. "Just pay the Fee, Watley old boy," said Fiztpatrick, who was a beneficiary of the award last year. "They give a most Splendid awards dinner, and the certificate looks Marvelous hanging in my Study!"

We are sadly Awash in certificates, Degrees, and other spurious Honorifics, a steady flow which does but meet the strident Demand for such from to-day's professionals. For better or Worse, such things are Currency in our careers; few would hesitate to add a few extra Letters behind his or her name, or add yet another framed bit of gilded Parchment to their walls. Truly meaningful honors are Rare and, what's more, inconveniently difficult to Earn for most - far easier to pay a Membership fee, and reap the same results.

I afterwards learned that my physician received a Similar "award", from his Political Party no less; though his was a Bargain at a mere $1,250. Like me, however, the good Doctor Watson opted to Decline the opportunity. We raised our Glasses to the bare spot on my study Wall, and toasted our Obscurity and lack of Honors. Our attitudes may not bring us many pretty things to hang on our Walls, but they does at least bring us peace of Mind. Besides, it is considerably Cheaper this way.


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