Friday, April 28, 2006

The Free Press shall write again.

There were a pair of editors with nervous faces outside the newsroom today as I arrived around 1:30. They said they were sorry for what had happened, and they understood if I was angry.

This made me nervous as I had been out of contact all morning doing interviews and had no damned idea what they were talking about. I kept as calm as I could manage and asked what had happened. They told me: Almost all the newspapers on campus, copies of the Collegian with a story on the front page I spent four weeks working on, had been stolen that morning.

I was too shocked to speak for a moment, then I muttered a plural curse word I can not say here because my grandparents read this blog. Let's just say it rhymes with "brotherchuckers."

I said it again. Louder. Again. Louder.

And then I took the Lord's name in vain so loud people heard it over at Seaton Hall, about 150 yards from me. I hadn't broken the third commandment in years. I need to go to confession tomorrow now.

I went into the newsroom and started looking at the page and while it's pretty apparent what happened, I can't say here until we have proof.

I was mad. I still am. My left eye is twitching involuntarily as I type this.

I went to the Cat's Den to ask if they would let us post one of our few copies of the paper in their windows. They said no, but pointed to a large recycling bin and said they were in there. They were right. The copies of the Collegian in that bin were clean, still stacked together even, about three feet high. I carried all I could back to the newsroom and put it down on the desk, and with a volunteer went back out to take the rest and put them out for distribution.

Later on, I took a stack of 200 or so and started going to different offices and the Library and handing them out. No one was going to suppress the press.

All I'll say further is that whoever did this will soon learn that you just don't mess with people who buy ink by the bucket.


Amendment 1
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

More to come later tonight.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

One part down. Two to go. And then Finals.

I relearned a lesson today that I've had handed to me many a time before: No matter how much time you have for a story, it is never enough. No exceptions.

I've spent the past four weeks working on a series that explores the background of the Athletic department here at K-State. I've done a dozen or so interviews lasting more than ten hours combined, four of those hours with one source.

Part one of the series runs tomorrow. It's a look into the entire budget of the athletic department, and I've written and re-written it several times now. There is no room for error on this thing, if I screw up and make the department look bad without cause, I just might be murdered by an angry horde of wildcat fans in the morning. With pom-poms. And charcoal grills. And sharp, purple objects.

I've interviewed many a person for this sucker, including President Wefald a few weeks ago as well as Tim Weiser, Athletic Director, this afternoon. All have been good people whom I have enjoyed speaking with, but I must say that when the last part of this series runs next Thursday I just might collapse, or run around the campus tackling people and introducing myself as the eggman. Or the Walrus. Coo-Coo. Ka-choo.

I'm interviewing a bunch of people on dialysis in the morning for an assignment in MC 690 Medical Reporting. I have an A in that class, can you believe it. In fact, I may have three or more As in my classes this semester. The jury is still out, but for once in my life it appears I've actually gotten my s___ together. Who'd have thought?

Anyway, I'm sitting in the newsroom right now listening to REM with the occasional replaying of "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie. You know, that song about stress and all with lots of skat bursts that make you want to scream along with the band. If I weren't surrounded by my busy colleagues, who are likely wondering why I am banging my head so much, I would scream along.

"BE BE DAT BOM! BE BE DE DAT DOM!" I'd yell, putting all living creatures in earshot on notice that I am worn out, I am stressed and I could not sing to save my life.

That is all. Go back to your business. Nothing more to see here. Until later.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The upside of stress

I slept like a damned log last night. You see, I'd gone to bed at about three the previous morning and spent the day working like mad on interviews, a story, and a paper that I finished at one this morning. Normally it takes me a couple hours to fall asleep, but I was out almost like a light. It felt good to sleep that deeply. I'd forgotten what it's like.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A wish comes true

I've been campaigning for the past couple months for the Collegian to hire a Public Editor. It was announced this afternoon that I got the job for the fall 2006 semester.

The following is the letter I wrote to the Editor-in-chief about why I wanted the job and how I would do it:

To whom it may concern:

I, Logan C. Adams, want to be the K-State Collegian’s public editor for the fall 2006 semester.

This position does not exist now, but the Collegian once had an editorial position known as the “readers’ representative.” As far as I can tell, no one has filled this position since fall 2004. The paper needs to have a person in this role, but this is an opportunity for innovation. We can reinvent the position.

The Collegian’s public editor should perform all the functions served by its counterparts at The New York Times, The Sacramento Bee and other papers. These include:

  • Communicate with readers and sources and listen to their concerns, complaints and recommendations. Also, answer questions regarding the Collegian’s coverage, policy and other things on an individual basis.
  • Report to the Collegian’s staff and editors with information and comments from readers and sources, and provide analysis and advice on how to improve the paper and better provide for our readers’ needs.
  • Write in the Collegian about readers’ comments as well as the paper’s coverage and responses to these comments. Express opinions on the paper’s actions and comment its editors’ decisions. This means the public editor would have to criticize or defend the paper depending on the situation.

Our public editor would not stop there, though. The position should have a twist. There are questions many readers carry around with them about their world, and the public editor could serve those readers by taking those questions and finding the answers for a second column where reader questions are answered, and everyone gets to know the truth.

I want to be the Collegian’s public editor because this paper needs to do a better job of reaching out to its readers and responding to them. I have been a part of the Collegian for four semesters, I know its workings and I have considerable journalism experience. I have often taken comments and criticism from readers and sources while working as a reporter, taking on this job will allow me to respond to them and provide a way for the Collegian to improve.

As public editor, I will make myself available publicly and privately to people who wish to say what they think of the paper, be it by sitting at a table in the Student Union fielding questions or answering e-mails from readers. I will do whatever it takes to serve the readers better.

To sum up, I want to make the Collegian a better and more-respected newspaper. I believe this job will allow me to make the most difference.

Thank you,

Logan C. Adams

So I've got one more thing to drink to when I turn 21 next month.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nick Kristof

I applied for the Nicholas D. Kristof Trip today. Below is the essay I submitted as to why I'd make a good travel companion:

I want to see.

I spent much of my childhood hearing about the poor starving kids in several different African nations whenever my parents wanted me to finish my vegetables. I would chew my green beans and force a weak smile and hang my head down a bit to show I felt bad. That’s the only purpose those children seemed to serve to me growing up, to guilt me into obedience.

It’s a common parenting tactic here in America, using those less fortunate than us to make us appreciate better the things we have and behave. Sadly, all the value our country sees in the people of the third world is just that, as tools of discipline. These people deserve more than that, they deserve our direct attention. Even more, they need our action.

I want to see the third world because I don’t know what it’s like for the people living there. Sure, I’ve read about the poverty and conflict all over the planet and I care about it, but I don’t really know what it’s like to live with it. Disease, violence, hunger and despotism are causing great pain to millions of innocents around the world and Americans must pay more attention. We may not want to admit it, but the problems in other countries eventually affect us as well.

It’s easy for me or any other reporter to just regurgitate the latest reports from Sudan or footage from Liberia, what’s hard is going out there ourselves to witness more of it and force the rest of the world to look. We journalists must go out there and bring back the truth because these people only know what we tell them.

There’s little effort in rattling off scary statistics like the number of people who die worldwide for want of clean water (14,000 each day, 9,500 of them children, according to James Thebaut’s documentary “Running Dry). It’s just that easy, but it doesn’t work because Americans are desensitized to big numbers about bad things. Telling someone there is a bunch of people suffering doesn’t do much on its own. Seeing it for myself, finding the truth firsthand and bringing the painful details back to the world, however, would be another thing altogether.

Mr. Kristof, I ask you to consider me for your travel companion on the trip you are planning for this summer. I would be happy to go no matter the destination or duration, just as long as I can put my own two eyes and two ears to good use.

Travel by land, sea, and air with as little baggage as possible is fine with me. I have experience in camping, hiking and going to unfamiliar places to find stories. Writing under difficult conditions is no problem, and sleeping on the ground with unpleasant insects sounds quite all right.

The possibility that I may be changed by this expedition does not bother me. I welcome the chance to have an experience capable of changing who I am and what I understand about the world. All I ask is for a chance to see what is out there.

Please, let me find the truth.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I write. I've always been a writer. I played with a typewriter as a small child, I wrote my first book in preschool, I wrote my first newspaper column in the fifth grade and I ran my own newspaper in the seventh grade. You probably know where it went from there if you've been reading this blog for long.

I have firmly believed from some time now that God made writing, and especially writing the truth, my reason for existence. Photography is nice. Pottery is fun. But writing is why I am here.

But writing is not simply an ability to compose words so they work together for a reader. A writer must first understand the subject before choosing a single word, but then a writer must also know how to convey that understanding on to others. Writers find truth, and then they share it. They enlighten. They inspire. They incite.

Writing is a big part of journalism. We journalists go out into the world and find truth, then bring it back and let others have it. There are other parts, such as curiousity, disrespect for authority and concern for the public's well-being, but they all are much less important than writing. Well, writing and witnessing.

I've seen some interesting things in my time, what is likely to be one quarter of my life's span. Back as far as I can remember, I've carried with me a feeling that I should remember the things I saw and heard and smelled and tasted and touched. There was this thought bouncing around in my head, that I was to witness what was happening about me. That one day, I'd have to remember it all because no one else would, and if I let it be forgotten, then it would be as if it had never existed.

So I remember things that others do not.

I remember always rushing with my friends and little brother to get the seats over the entrances to the Ritz Theater in Council Grove because we thought they were the best seats in the house. I remember the strange multi-colored house lights they had there that looked like Bomb Pops, the weird arrangement of the facilities in the mens' bathroom and the old pictures on the wall. I remember buying a box of cheap popcorn just to coat its contents with a deluge of salt just so I could offer a friend some and then laugh as the harsh flavor made him wince.

I remember the old shelter-shed at the slab of concrete next to where the old elementary school was torn down, one block from my home. I remember how it was supposed to provide a cover from rain and snow for us kids as we waited for the bus each morning, but we never did because there were 20 of us but only room for four. I remember the giant bush that kids would climb into to hide, then jump out to scare others.

I remember crying at the funeral for Casey Mullenoux's mother after she died from cancer, and how lousy and lonely I felt after his father, his brother and him moved away. I remember when he and Jake King started a fire in his Kasey's dad's garage (or was it Jake?) and getting in mountains of trouble. And I remember how jealous I was that he could tell you how late it was just by looking at the sun, and I never could.

I remember the old jail that used to be in Durland Park, the one made out of giant blocks of wood the size of railroad ties. I remember it getting a bit too old, and being taken down with saws. I remember reading later that someone had been mistaken in saying chainsaws were used. They cut it apart with reciprocating saws, and I suppose that made a big difference.

I remember the great wide open space that used to be between my church, St. Rose of Lima, and the parish hall. I remember playing out there on hot summer afternoons until they built the new St. Rose of Lima there between them, leaving a great hole in the ground until they finished pouring the basement where we could find big seashells (kansas was an ocean once, you know). I remember playing hookey from Sunday School while the new St. Rose was under construction, going up and down the stairs while they were still lumber floors and 2x4 walls, standing near the edge of the balcony before the workers had put up the guardrail and walking around where the altor would go one day, looking at the church-in-progress with such awe. I remember when the plaster in the old St. Rose, now our chapel, wasn't so cracked and how much old, dusty stuff was horded away in its back rooms.

I remember a kid named Tyler who would jump off the top of one of the slides on our playground and land oh-so-easily. I remember he was a tough sprite with long hair. I remember him dying when we were in the third grade by drowning in a drain pipe during a storm. At least that's what my teacher said, I think. The whole class just seemed to act as if he never existed.

I remember grade school, middle school, high school. I remember Boy Scouts and mass. I remember teachers, mentors, friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, babysitters, enemies, priests, bullies, heroes, girls, boys, men, women, angels and monsters.

I remember so many little things from my life, and I seem to always be bringing them back to today to think over again. Things that aren't around anymore, people who are long gone. I carry them with me, so many of them in such random order.

I wonder if it all reveals more about my purpose in life, to see and record all these things. First, I witness. Then, I report.

But to whom?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nationals: 1, Mets: 7, Me: sad

I just read that the Washington Nationals lost their home opener. I was saddened by this bit of news, the Nationals are sort of like my second home team. It was in RFK stadium, after all, that I saw my first professional baseball game.

It made me get all sentimental for DC, especially so because it's almost one year now since my internship ended. I've made progress as a journalist and photographer since then, I've made some good accomplishments and the like but nothing has ever felt as exciting as covering things there. It's just this sad thing I have to ignore to keep up my reporting because there's no way to get rid of it.

My life plans are going through a nice game of musical chairs these days with my college plans getting tossed about on a daily basis. I don't know if I'll be graduating May 2007 or in December that year, it all depends on what happens this summer. I keep thinking about what I want to do and I'm getting really uncertain about it all. I miss DC, but there are other things that appeal to me. Right now I find I like very much the idea of going out to a small-town newspaper somewhere in the Midwest, maybe eastern Colorado, and working for 5-10 years on being the best reporter and photographer I can. I say this because I might go to a paper that is so small I'm responsible for both the stories and the pictures that run each issue. I find I like that.

And I also find my heart yearning for the West, for some reason. Colorado. Montana. Wyoming. Somewhere where there's space, room to live and breath and where things aren't so damned expensive I can't earn a living. That'd be nice, being a simple, small-town reporter. I think I'd like that very much.

I miss the concrete jungle, that place has a special spot in my memory. But sometimes my heart yearns for the West.

We'll see how this turns out.

And I'll be following Nationals baseball, and the Royals as well, this year. Much more closely than I have in the past. I've noticed lately that news of how the teams have been doing has seemed much more appealing than in the past.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I just had to share this with you all...

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News in Brief

-I got a scholarship for this next year. The Milton Eisenhower Jr. Scholarship. $1,350.
-I went camping with Troop 65 this weekend. It was cold, I had to deal with multiple propane-powered appliances exploding and my tentmate snored and cost me a great deal of sleep.
-I think I have a secret admirer. And I think I know who it is.
-I have so much crap to do it isn't even funny. This includes applying for Nick Kristof's Trip. Wish me luck. I also applied for this trip.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

An 1100-word excerpt from the first draft of "Stuck," my novel-in-progress

Ellie had Alex cornered. She demanded to know why he had come so close to her, then stopped when she had just wanted him to keep going. It wasn't usual for a girl to have to be so direct.

Alex paused for a minute, Ellie's head on his shoulder. He couldn't see her face, but he knew her stern expression. She wasn't letting this go.

"There was this girl, Phoebe," he said, finally caving in. "I met her at this summer writing workshop for gifted teenagers after I finished my sophomore year of high school. We were in the same group, so we spent plenty of time together and we hit it off so quickly. It was as if we'd been friends all our lives, Phoebe and I were inseparable. You couldn't get us apart with all the WD-40 in the world.

"We went home after a few weeks together and talked every single night, almost, either by phone or instant messaging. Sometimes we even wrote long love letters to each other, with X's and O's covering the final lines. We shared every secret and hope and dream and fear. Our plans. Our needs. Everything. She called me her giant teddy bear, that I was this big soft guy that always made her feel safe. It wasn't long before I said I loved her, and I meant it."

Alex paused, relishing the memory for a bit while Ellie grew impatient. "Well?" she prodded.

"And she said she loved me too," Alex rattled off, like he couldn't hold it in anymore. "I mean, my heart wasn't really beating anymore, it was more like it was just spraying blood through my body. Clocks stopped, the planet froze in place. I waited for her answer and then it came. She loved me too! I went crazy with joy inside, and we kept talking and it was so sweet.

"That next summer, we started off the program even closer than when we'd left off. We would walk from class to class together, but kept seeming to ignore it when I put out my hand for her to hold. When we'd watch TV together, she'd be close to me, but there was always this invisible wall between us. We were too close for just friends, but there was still some distance I couldn't explain.

"Four days in, I confronted her over it. We were sitting alone on one of the benches outside the dorm of the community college hosting us. It was night, and the stars were clear as ever. I needed to know why she said she loved me but still kept me at a certain distance. There was such a difference between what she was saying and what she was doing. I finished what I had to say, and I waited for her answer. She just stood there, so I went for broke. I tried to kiss her."

"What stopped you?" Ellie asked.

"Her eyes. Two inches away, I saw her eyes. They were wide open. Terror," he paused. "
Phoebe was completely terrified of me, she was just shaking so hard. I pulled back, and she just burst into tears and ran. She didn't speak to me for the rest of the workshop."

There were two minutes of silence before Ellie her next question. Actually, several questions.

"Did you ever find out why?" she asked. "And what does this all have to do with you waiting till I said I had a crush on you before making your move?"

"Two weeks after we went home, she called me. Phoebe said she felt she needed to explain what had happened. "She started telling me about Jim. He was her best friend in junior high, the guy she could always count on. She went to him with all her problems, and he would always make her feel better."

"Kind of like how you were to her?" Ellie asked.

"Exactly like I was to her, Phoebe told me," Alex explained. "And that's what freaked her out."

"Why, what happened to him?" Ellie interrupted again.

"I'm getting to that, be patient," Alex said, and took her pause, as acknowledgment. "One day their freshman year of high school, Phoebe was hanging out with Jim at his house. He said he had a new CD downstairs in his room and wanted to show it to her. She followed him in there, but there wasn't a CD."

Alex felt a chill come over Ellie's skin. He knew that she knew where this was going.

"Jim turned down the lights, and he kissed her. She stopped him, and he told her he was in love with her. Phoebe said she wasn't ready for this sort of thing, and that Jim was just her friend. She apologized and turned to leave. Jim didn't let her."

Ellie gasped.

"Did he...?"

"Yes, he took her."

No one spoke for what seemed like enough time to wear out every clock in the apartment. Ellie broke the silence, seeking confirmation of what she suspected.

"So Phoebe, she thought you were like Jim, and was going to do something to her?" she asked.

"Pretty much."

"So how does that translate to you and me and all this dating difficulty? Why did it take you so damned long? Were you afraid I'd react the same way?" Ellie sat up and glared at Alex, but gently.

"Yeah, I was afraid it would hap..." Alex started to say.

"But why? I'm not Phoebe," Ellie lectured. "Neither are any of those other girls out there that you're so afraid of."

"Her eyes, that's why!" Alex howled, then restrained himself back to his soft, gentle self. His outburst didn't phase Ellie. "I keep remembering her eyes. She was so afraid of me, and I just can't handle it. She thought I was a monster, that I was going to hurt her, that I was capable of raping her.

"I just can't bear the thought of another person seeing me like that. That's what had me scared, that's why I couldn't make my move until I was sure you wanted me to.

"I can't stand the idea of making you or any woman afraid. It hits some button in my mind, it keeps me from really doing anything. I'm sorry, I just can't help it."

The bruises from Ellie's last boyfriend had since faded underneath her skin, but she hadn't forgotten one bit of what it's like to have a man beating her. She decided she had no problem with a man who couldn't bear the thought of harming her.

But there was one thing she was still curious about.

"Do you still love her?"