"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wTuesday, July 15, 2003

ANOTHER DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER: It's too bad I don't have referrer logs, because I'd love to know if former Report editor Candis McLean stops by. Today the Edmonton Journal published the following letter:

If I read any more stories saying, "As a former employee of Alberta Report, let me tell you some amusing anecdotes that illustrate how clever I am and what impractical eccentrics the Byfields are," I will abandon all hope for journalists as a species.

These writers imply, with an urbane snicker, that had they been at the helm, the valiant ship would still sail on. What rot.

I worked for the magazine for five years and I have never met anyone who worked harder than the Byfields, or who struggled more determinedly to keep an ideal afloat. They ceased publication only after every courageous effort had been made to fight society's drift toward today's buzz word of "whatever!"

We watched as Link Byfield not only tackled the grinding, hands-on job of editor, but also co-hosted with his wife, Joanne, a daily radio program. Their aim? To reveal the wide range of topics covered by a magazine which, astonishingly, most of its critics had never even read. The demands of those two full-time jobs were brutal, yet Link somehow retained his sense of humour and caring for his staff and readers. The word for that is "commitment."

Septegenarian Ted Byfield wrote weekly nationally syndicated columns, while masterminding the breathtaking Christian history series. Less well known -- because he would never mention it -- are such deeds as he and his wife, Virginia, quietly opening their home, for months on end, to fellow church members down on their luck.

Impractical and atypical? Definitely. But whom does that fact condemn, the Byfields or society?

While former employees across the country recount stories of how they could have done better than these "impractical eccentrics," I would love to see the Byfields write a book about employees they have known. Yet, stoically, they do not respond.

I would love to hear some of their more lighthearted tales. For instance, Paula Simons' recent Journal column began: "I am Ted Byfield's bastard daughter." Simons' comment was intended to be metaphorical, as she went on to reveal her philosophical differences with her former employer. But the claim led to several curious calls to the Byfields, and the irrepressible Ted whipping off a note to Simons' father stating: "I deny paternity."

It's corny, I know, but sometimes on a hot summer afternoon I find myself dreaming that an intelligent backer will step forward to refurbish the ship that worked so tirelessly to ferry Canadians from the quagmire of "Oh well, whatever" to the terra firma of commitment.

Candis McLean,


PS: The alternate title for this post was MY GOD, WE'RE DOOMED AS A SPECIES!

posted by Jeremy at 12:42 AM