Muckraker Me

Always I have been a news junkie.  As a pre-teen, I would finish reading The New York Times, The Daily News, and The Times-Herald Record before the dog awoke at dawn.  We did not take the Post.

As a child, I never dreamed to be a princess or a ballerina or even a bride, all feminine aspirations far beyond my reach.  And as a school girl, well, the typical lady professions of the day — teacher, nurse, librarian — yawn.  No, the only thing I ever wanted to be was a journalist.

Of course, I wrote for the high school newspaper.  Investigative reporter.  Undercover.  Perhaps most famous for talking my way inside the principal’s locked office to gather evidence for an exposé on the district’s failure to comply with Title IX, the law guaranteeing girls equal access to all federally-funded educational programs and activities.

When it came time to apply for college, I chose Syracuse, a mediocre university in most respects, but among the country’s top undergraduate programs in journalism (and partying!).  With an admissions rate of only 10%, the day my acceptance package arrived should have been a joyous one.

But it was not.  My mother screamed that the local community college was “good enough” for me, that dental hygiene would be a more realistic option for someone at my “level”, that a nobody like me had no business to run so far from home.  And then there was the sticker shock.  I would be funding 100% of my education; clearly private school would be out of the question.

Maybe it would have been different if one of the state universities had offered a decent journalism major.  Maybe it would have been different if the mirror had reflected the kind of looks required by the cable news networks.  Maybe it would have been different if the wind had simply blown another way.

Maybe then you would be forwarding to your friends my columns instead of those written by that snarky Maureen Dowd or earnest Gail Collins.  OK, maybe not so much that last maybe.

But as it happened, I took another path.  Or more accurately, I got lost along the way.

Anyway, today my Letter to the Editor got published in the Palo Alto Weekly.  It wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last.   But this particular piece of perspective won ink — real ink — from all three Palo Alto paper-based periodicals.  Palo Alto Weekly.  Palo Alto Daily News.  Palo Alto Daily Post.  A perfect trifecta.

There’s something about holding a floppy page of newsprint and seeing your words and byline typeset in black Benton Modern.  It never gets old.

© 2013 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

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