Monday, November 29, 2010

Mark Bowden Speaks the Truth

This past Monday, I attended a lecture in McGuire Hall called, “The Stories Behind the Stories”, presented by Mark Bowden. I had previously heard that he was the author of the book, “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War” and knew that this was definitely going to be a very interesting experience. When the coordinator of the event was giving a background of Bowden, she mentioned that he was a proud Loyola alumnus who graduated in 1973. This immediately made me even more interested because Loyola had definitely helped form him into the writer that he became. After the small introduction, Bowden took the stage and I was eager to hear the things that he was going to speak about.

He spoke about his life before Loyola as he grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Next, he talked about his decision to come to Loyola in 1969 and his major role in Loyola newspaper, “The Greyhound”. When he was a freshman, many of the upperclassmen were graduating; therefore, he basically kept the newspaper tradition alive throughout the next few years. He was even willing to tell us that the year that he was editor, was the worst year for “The Greyhound”, and to go downstairs into the archives for proof! He said that instead of discouraging himself, he continued writing and wanted to pursue a career as an author and reporter.

Although Bowden has written numerous books and written for very reputable newspapers, he chose to spend his time speaking about the information that society needs on a daily basis and the best way to receive the facts. He said that even though society is able to find many sources on the Internet, does not mean that everything is entirely true. Even the newspapers of today can either “stretch the truth” or not “tell the whole truth”. He also touched on the fact that many reporters are “armchair journalists”, which means they do not venture out to get the stories. Instead, they find many sources and try to establish the most common one or the best one that they can trust. Once again, this can lead to non-factual information or not telling the entire story. He said that even though going up to random strangers and asking them questions was the most hated part of his career, he never regretted it once and was always able to get the story that he needed.

I thought that Bowden’s lecture related to Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Tell all the Truth, but tell it slant”. Even though Dickinson’s poem was intended to represent a person who does not want to tell the whole truth because society cannot handle it, this occurs in newspaper articles and Internet sources in the opposite manner. Tabloids and magazines always stretch the truth in order to make society interested in the “juiciest” topics, but in the process will make false statements. It seems that unless a person hears or reads a story that is very similar to that of other sources, it is very difficult to pick and choose the truest story.

I think that one of the most surprising thing that I learned this semester was actually when our Understanding Literature class passed around the article about the Chilean miners and the fact that the hole that was drilled in order to send down nutrients to them was no bigger than the width of a Pringles cylinder container. I knew that these miners had been stuck approximately 2,000 feet underground, but did not realize that all of their food and supplies had to fit through this extremely small hole. Luckily, after two months underground, the miners were rescued through a larger capsule and all 33 of them survived. It made me think about my life today and if it had come to a halt due to an unfortunate disaster like this one that occurred. It really makes me want to take the time to be thankful for the things in life that I have and to spend each and everyday like it’s my last.

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