Meet the Son of Munjoy
Meet the Son of Munjoy.
The new blog by the alleged offspring of the pseudonymous Thomas Cushing Munjoy appeared recently (it’s hard to tell exactly when it started because Sonny doesn’t date each post on his homepage). He claims to be carrying on, and expanding upon, the mission of the original Munjoy, the recently departed critic of the Portland Press Herald and its owners, the Blethen family.
Unlike Poppa Munjoy, the alleged fruit of his cyber-loins plans to turn his critical eye on all of the state’s media outlets. He started with a swipe at me for being too easy on the newspapers and Web sites I write for. I’ll leave it to readers to determine the validity of that point, which shouldn't be too difficult because I regularly disclose all such connections. To date, SoM has not been so forthcoming.
Assuming he has any connections.
I’ve had no reply to an e-mail asking Sonny for a little information about himself. But if this blogger possesses journalistic credentials, they don’t appear to be extensive. In the above-mentioned critique of the Sun, he misuses the word “dateline” several times to mean date. As even novice newsies know, a dateline is the place from which the story is being reported.
Sonny also comes up with a rule that I’ve never stumbled across in 30-odd years in the business: “[M]ost quotes come with an expiration date. Sixty days is when we break out our paraphrasing skills.” Who knew?
SoM’s editing skills could use some fine-tuning. His valid criticism of the Sun’s confusing story about Portland’s use of federal funds to fight blight is almost as unreadable as the article he’s writing about. I got drowsy halfway through.
But my biggest gripe with Sonny is his feeble attempts at imitating the original Munjoy’s style. He clearly lacks the wit and the writing chops – not to mention a firm foundation in grammar and spelling – to channel his namesake.
For example, there’s this reference to “Uncle Munsey's tradition of gnawing at the dieing carcass of The Wretched Blethens.”
Even setting aside his apparent confusion with the relationship, there’s still the misuse of “dieing” and the questionable use of “carcass.” Get a dictionary, kid.
Or how about this one: “The Portland Press Herald has its version of the War on Blight story published recently (hard to say exactly when) in its upstart rival, the Portland Daily Sun.” Nice of the PPH to run an article in the Sun.
In a post dated April 9, Sonny said errors on his site are the result of “the difference between professional journalism and blogging.” He said blogging is “stream-of-consciousness stuff” and readers should, “[t]hink of posts to this site as a quickly jotted note to friends and we'll all feel better about ourselves.
“Of course, that won't stop me from calling out journalists who fail to follow their ABCs. Do as I say and not as I do, and all that jazz.”
SoM has scored a couple of points, taking the Lewiston Sun Journal to task for not contacting ammunition companies for some national perspective on its story on an apparent shortage of bullets in the local area. And his list of the ways a breaking story should be reported online and in print, while not particularly original, is certainly a useful blueprint for daily papers struggling to adjust to the Web.
Media criticism in this state is in such short supply that almost any attempt at it is to be welcomed. Maybe Son of Munjoy will improve. Maybe he’ll inspire someone with more qualifications to give the job a try. Maybe the one and only Munjoy, incensed at the misappropriation of his name, will return to set things right.
Here’s hoping for at least one of the above.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.