Lean on me.
When competitors walk onstage, they rely on the talent and devotion of teachers and coaches that have been passed to them through years of classes. They are betting that all those hours of practice and repetition were well directed and well spent. The performance is an acknowledgment by all of the years of building a credible foundation and upholding difficult values.
Bill Evans (whom Centrum's Carol Shiffman, left, and I are watching at his Port Townsend reunion) is still performing at 60-something. He says he has learned to let his skeleton do most of the work; he teaches how to move in a true and healthy way and how to preserve and care for a dancer's instrument, the body. His is a system that takes natural gifts and maximizes them not just for the moment, but for the long haul.
Consistency can be boring, and that boredom eventually motivates change, but it also provides a comfort level for most of us. If we count on something, we need not attend to it, but can focus on creative endeavors. A foundation of reliability and trust doesn't happen overnight, though; it is built over time. Can you trust the next new thing? Maybe, but you won't know until it has been tried and has come through for you again and again.
When we learn to rely on something or someone, we feel betrayed if that confidence is not upheld. Some of us have spent much of our adult lives with The New York Times as a gold standard of legitimate reporting and reliable fact-checking. So, earlier this year, when the unethical behavior of one of the Times's bright young reporting stars, Jayson Blair, was disclosed, it was a scandal in the eyes of professional journalists, publishers, and yes, readers, who counted on the truth of what they read in New York's "gray lady." Blair, it appeared, plagiarized material, invented quotes, and wrote stories of places he had never been--and the fact that he was able to pull off such a hoax resulted in the replacement of Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd. We cannot assume that the integrity of any other writer or editor on the paper has been compromised, but we hope that sufficient time and attention will be spent to put procedures in place to restore our confidence. The lack of fail-safe efforts at the Times did prompt many publications to look around and inward. California's East Bay Express found that a paper with a tri-state distribution had plagiarized an Express cover story. Not without stain, it discovered that a film reviewer on its own staff had been lifting reviews from online sources without attribution. We all checked ourselves.
On one hand, the breach of trust between an employer and an employee and a lack of ethical behavior that's expected of all legitimate journalists are important issues. The greater issue, it seems to me, is the reader's loss of confidence. "If you can't trust the Times, who can you believe?"--and all of us in print and online media suffer. I and my staff at DANCE MAGAZINE can only assure you that we try to be as trustworthy and steadfast as the remarkable people we feature. We are pledged to support you with the finest techniques and in the best tradition. Count on it.
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|Title Annotation:||journalistic ethics; Starting Here|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2003|
|Next Article:||Positive Protest.|