Originally created 05/29/03

Years of columns include some stolen moments



There's been a lot said recently - and deservedly so - about journalists who steal, lie and mislead, exerting much more effort in their charlatanism than they ever would have in doing the job right.

The most blatant example is that of Jayson Blair, a young New York Times reporter - now unemployed - who was accused of plagiarism in dozens of stories.

Fortunately, such abuses of power don't happen often, but when they do, they are splattered across the media because of the public nature of journalism.

In light of the recent scandal, many news outlets are examining themselves more closely to guard against wrongdoing. In that regard, I'd like to clear up a few instances in the past year or so that conceivably could, if you used a magnifying glass and white gloves, bear the fingerprints of lapses in journalistic judgment.

For instance, when I wrote about a fishing trip I allegedly had taken, and I wrote about a companion: "He was an old man who had fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish."

I should point out that it was Ernest Hemingway who actually wrote that, in The Old Man and the Sea. I simply took myself out of context and misquoted myself.

A couple of months later, I was writing a column about elderly people who use underpowered light bulbs in their homes, and I said, "Do not go gentle into that good night; old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light." In fact, that is from a poem by Dylan Thomas, whoever he was.

Another time, I told you about my old car, which I called Christine. It would repair itself after crashes and would go looking for people to run over. Now that I think about it, that might have been the concept of a novel by Stephen King. My car was actually called Bob, and it never fixed itself.

When I decided to get into the political realm, I pointed out how really nice it would be if "government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth." A reader later wrote in to say that Abraham Lincoln had said something like that several years ago in a big speech. I swear, I thought I had it first. Still, I'm willing to give Lincoln the benefit of the doubt.

I think I mentioned, when writing about the struggles of growing up, that I "wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." Several people wanted to know whether I got that from a Bob Seger song. No, I'm pretty sure I've never heard Against the Wind.

Let's see, anything else? Oh, yes, I was complaining in a column that the human race never really progresses, and I put it eloquently: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Pretty cool, huh? But I was told that F. Scott Fitzgerald may have used a similar line at the very end of The Great Gatsby. Great minds think alike, I say.

Well, that clears up everything, I believe. In closing, I would like to reiterate my philosophy on journalism and just about everything else: "Nothing ventured, nothing lost."

And if songwriter Steve Earle tries to tell you he wrote that first, just ignore him.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or gmoore@augustachronicle.com.