Poem: “What Good Will It Do?”

In today’s news, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, disappeared after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. It is now reported that he was killed for the stories he routinely wrote criticizing his home country’s government. When it was proposed to President Donald Trump that the United States should cease selling weapons to the Saudi Arabian government, the leader of the free world responded, “What good will that do us?”

My answer? We would no longer be accepting blood money from a repressive regime. We would no longer be upholding a bully. We would no longer be endorsing their human rights violations. 

We would no longer be guilty by association. 

What Good Will It Do?

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

What good will it do?

Sticking your neck out,

Standing up to a bully,

Being courageous.

What good does it do me?

If I refuse to befriend the “strong”

That will make me weak.

 

What good will it do?

Who says I have to help

When others are down?

Got my own life to live.

What benefit is there?

Right and wrong don’t mean

A thing when you’re on top.

 

It’ll do me no good

To give you a handout.

Sure it’s tough all over.

Get a grip on yourself.

There’s nothing in it for me.

Helping others is just a game

Invented by bleeding hearts.

 

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.” –President John F. Kennedy

 

 

Blog Tours: The Why and Where I am Today

In my first journalism class, I learned about the who, what, when, where, why and how. Today I kicked off my umpteenth blog tour for my fourteenth (?I think?) book. So who is me, what is a blog tour, when is now and how is through Goddess Fish, a blog tour company I’ve worked with successfully before.

Why is a little tougher. Why do blog tours? I already blog. Sometimes I neglect my own blog, so why write guest posts and interviews for someone else’s blog? Why pay a third party to set it up? Simple. Hope.

Hope that somebody who reads these blogs will want to read my book. Hope that they’ll love it enough to tell ten friends and at least five of those friends will love it enough to tell ten more. And so on.

Hope springs eternal in the breast of every born writer. We are made of hope or we wouldn’t keep writing. We exist on hope because we know our writing is never going to support us. We live for hope because without it, there is nothing.

Today, I hope you’ll join me at Edgar’s Books for an interview in which I speak about what makes Becoming Magic different from everything else I’ve written and from much of what is available in the romance market these days. I also reveal what my first reaction is to a bad review. And why I hope I keep getting them.

Find me here: Becoming Magic: Book Tour and Blog Giveaway. Oh yeah, and there is a giveaway to register for, too!

Two Days to Becoming Magic: A Salute to Just Journalists

assorted wooden alphabets inside the crate

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

It’s just two days to the release of my new romance, Becoming Magic—and I can’t seem to stop thinking about The Capital Gazette‘s dead.

This probably wasn’t considered a mass shooting. A mass shooting, I think, is defined as ten or more victims. There were only five in Annapolis yesterday.

Just five people who didn’t get up and go to work this morning. Because yesterday a man decided it was okay to take a shotgun into their office and shoot them.

This is not a very magical way of thinking.

This is not romantic at all.

This is the life we’re now living.

Somewhere along the timeline of my life it became somehow okay to solve your problems by picking up a gun and shooting the people who you see as causing it. How did we get here?

Some say we need to go back to God.

Some say we’ve lost our common decency. Those people may be right because I can’t help but think that yesterday there was a certain dismissive attitude about the five dead people. I heard the whisper of common conception as plainly as if someone were standing behind me shouting it into my ear.

They were just journalists.

Just journalists. I went to journalism school. I worked on small newspapers in both North Carolina and Virginia. I remember getting up in the morning to drive an hour to the small newspaper I worked at and feeling like I was the luckiest person alive to have gotten a job doing something I loved doing. I loved writing the news in that tiny town. I loved helping with the layout and typesetting and taking photos of people’s kids playing soccer and even—a couple of times—driving all over the back country of North Carolina delivering the papers.

So I was just a journalist, too.

I wasn’t even that great at it, and the hours were terrible, and I got paid next to nothing. But I was proud to have a press pass and to work to uphold the basic principles of journalism.

I imagine those journalists at The Capital Gazette felt the same way.

Just journalism is nothing to sneeze at, fellow citizens. Just journalism is all that holds those in power in check. Just journalism holds a light of truth on the unethical. Just journalism verifies and monitors and maintains independence.

And all too often, just journalism suffers because of it.

I apologize for the length of this stream of consciousness column. I encourage you to read up about the victims of yesterday’s shooting. They were just journalists and I salute them.

Oh yeah, and buy my book, on sale July 1.

Lessons of a Favorite Teacher: Like a String of Christmas Lights

pexels-photo-632205.jpegToday I found out that my favorite teacher passed away. Mr. Goins was 75 years old, and I never told him he was my favorite teacher. He was the first to teach me the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of journalism, the first to encourage me to check my sources and back them up, the first to impress upon me that journalism is facts only—my opinion and my point of view do not matter in true journalism.

Mr. Goins was too kind-hearted to be a journalist, but he was the best of the best at teaching it. He led the little band of would-be journalists who made up our high school newspaper The Broadcaster to multiple awards. In fact, it was while attending a ceremony to receive one of these awards that I first stepped foot into Howell Hall of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And I knew I would go there and get my degree in journalism. And I did.

I’m luckier than most. I managed to finagle my way into the job of editor of The Broadcaster during my senior year and I helped found The Purple Fridge, the literary magazine of our high school, which Mr. Goins also agreed to sponsor. So I worked closely with this gentle soul who guided and advised and helped, but never ordered. He never yelled, though once or twice I think we all saw those bushy eyebrows flare over the gold-rimmed spectacles he wore. And sometimes he’d take those glasses off and rub the tear-drop shaped indentations on his nose very wearily.

I’ll never forget going into The Broadcaster office—Mr. Goins’s classroom—after school to ask him a question and find him, more often than not, kicked back in his chair with his feet up on his desk smoking his pipe. He’d drop his feet to the floor and motion for me to take a seat nearby, puff on his pipe and listen, think, and answer. He was never to busy for a student.

I never thanked him for that. I never told him he inspired me to pursue my writing career or that I still remember his journalism lessons like they are Christmas lights strung along the journey of my writing career, lighting my way. But they are. His lessons live on in my life, and I treasure their light. Thank you, Mr. Goins.

National Poetry Month: Poem 24

I had some fun with this one. 🙂

 

Poem 24

Headline Design

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Little bits, pieces.

Unimportant on the floor.

Haircuts for the news.

 

Is that the story?

Which words are most trustworthy?

What makes the whole truth?

 

Bits and pieces lie.

Truth lies in between the cracks.

Don’t believe one source.

Save Freedom of the Press: Quash the whackjob media

wrecked-newsstand

By Uberto from Pavia, Italia (edicola esplosa foto 2°) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A few months ago I wrote a post about my fears for the marketplace of ideas and what that could mean to today’s free press (There’s Something Rotten in the Marketplace of Ideas). I’m not insensible to the fact that this has been going on for a long time. Somehow we’ve allowed conspiracy theorists out of their carefully marked “whackjob” corner and into mainstream consciousness.

Today I read an article in The Washington Post (Want to Save the Republican Party? Drain the Right-Wing Media Swamp.) The author calls out many ideas that should be whackjob conspiracy theories and instead are actually believed by many in the Republican party. Things like voter fraud, that global warming is a myth perpetrated by scientists looking to make money, and the crowning achievement of the right-wing media: Birtherism.

What is so frightening about these ideas is that it is almost impossible to quash them unless you actually do purge the sources or—as the author of the Post article calls it—drain the swamp. Yet that goes against the very tenet that we must all protect above all else: Freedom of the Press. For once our press falls under government regulation, all freedoms may go along with it.

Freedom of the Press is based on the idea that misinformation will not gain footing in an enlightened society. An enlightened society will reject what is not true, thereby allowing the truth to shine through. But the conspiracy theories and misinformation are spreading, helped along by politicians who use them for political gain simply by refusing to disavow them. This sickness isn’t confined to the right wing anymore, either. Liberal websites that spread propaganda and outright lies are popping up, too.

BuzzFeed (yes, BuzzFeed, which is becoming a news service to rival AP) conducted a study of misinformation presented on Facebook as fact (Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages are Publishing False and Misleading Information at an Alarming Rate). The study found that right-wing Facebook pages were far more likely to spread rumors and lies as fact than mainstream media, but liberal, left-wing Facebook pages were not far behind.

So what does this mean? In a world where information is free and independent of government regulation, can we believe anything we read/see/hear in our Marketplace of Ideas? Thomas Jefferson said, “…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” I believe he meant that every man who reads the news must be capable of distinguishing fact from fiction. In other words, we must demand the truth from our media and be willing to turn our backs on those who do not back up their information with facts. In a world where our politicians are unwilling to tell us when we’re being fed lies, we must search out the truth ourselves.

And if Thomas Jefferson thought we could do that, then for the love our country, we need to try harder. We must put the whackjobs back into the corner or risk losing the right to a free and independent media—and the truth.

There’s something rotten in the marketplace of ideas

rotten2c_moldy_and_decaying_oranges

By Downtowngal (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I was trained as a journalist. I didn’t practice long (about a year and a half), but I remember some of what I learned in the journalism school I attended.

One of those things was the theory called “the marketplace of ideas”. It’s the cornerstone of freedom of information. It’s the idea that out of a vast mix of many ideas, the truth will emerge. In other words, truth is the idea that gains the most traction when all ideas are allowed to be expressed.

This is a great concept, and I thoroughly support it for the most part. But every now and then, in this huge marketplace, the smell of rotten fruit is overwhelming. I smell it most strongly on social media, where far left and far right media are quoted as facts.

I worry that the marketplace of ideas was not intended to be placed next to today’s information superhighway where people are too busy to pay attention to the fruit they pick up. Is that fruit actually something they want to consume? Or was its sweet smell concealing something much more rotten?

In today’s age of too much information presented too quickly, you need to be careful what you believe and what you pass along. Ask yourself: Is the information you pass along based on real fact? Where does it come from? What other ideas has that source put forward? Are you passing it along because it sounds like truth or because it sounds like the truth you want?

Treat the marketplace of ideas like you treat any roadside stand you may stop at to pick up fruit for your family. Look at each piece of fruit carefully. Examine it for rotten areas. Think about where it comes from. Because wormy ideas are causing a great deal of sickness in this world.