I’m about to bore you totally to death, but humor me.
The date is March 3, 1984. Big Brother is not watching. I have spent the last three hours answering multiple-“guess” questions on the LSAT. I have one last section to complete, the writing sample. I will have 30 minutes to write a well thought out response to the following topic:
“Some argue that the increased incidence of terrorism and other extremism is due, in part, to the coverage provided by the news media to such activities. The individuals argue that hijackers, bombers, assassins and other destructive extremists should be deprived of the media forum they seek.
This position is in conflict with the Code of Good Practice of the International Alliance of News Organizations (IANO). The CODE calls for unswerving dedication to the duty of informing the public of all notable events. It pr0scribes press suppression of facts in order to manipulate events.
A roundtable discussion of the conflicting positions is planned for the next meeting of the IANO. As a participant in that discussion, you have been asked to prepare a brief statement of your views on the conflict. In the space proved below, write your views. “
I didn’t know there was such an organization, for one thing, and I stumbled over the word “proscribes,” thinking at first that it was a misspelling. “Roundtable” is misspelled. Should be hyphenated or two words, at least spellchecker thinks so, and so do I. So with the brain drained completely over the last few hours, I attempt to write a response. I wanted to prove that I still had the document in my files, and, yet again, humor me by letting me know if you think this addressed the topic:
Note: The parenthetical remarks were obviously not in the original text, but added by me, now, 28 years later.
The conflict before us has many positions available for a stand to be taken. (Yeah, like maybe two?) The question which has to be addressed in any case is whether or not news media coverage of these events has an effect, and if so to what degree. (Missing a few commas here, me thinks. Wouldn’t make any more sense anyway.) I believe that press coverage of these events is not only desirable, but imperative. (Will he offer any proof?)
News reports of terrorist activities are essential to the alleviation of the problem more than its major cause. (Yeah, who says?) A free society depends on unobstructed press coverage to get the information necessary to continue that freedom. The CODE of the IANO is based on these assumptions. (Is it?)
Does the press give ideas to prospective terrorists by their coverage? I think not. (I don’t know. I used to watch “Columbo” and figure I could commit the perfect murder and know exactly which mistakes not to make.) In fact, it should be argued that the whole, or greatest majority, of the viewing or reading audience is turned off by the coverage of bombings and assassinations and the like. (…the like??) A moral society will not accept it, and will take steps to curtail it in some way. (Curtail it? How about stop it?)
Although novel ideas may be learned by future terrorists from news media reports, we still must explain the positive affects of news coverage where terrorist attempts are thwarted. (I’ve read that three times and it still makes no sense to me. I’m still not sure I used the proper spelling of effects and affects in usage.) Surely this must dissuade some would-be terrorists to rethink their proposed action. (I’m back to “Columbo.”) Effective action by authorities, documents in the news media presentations, will have that effect. (Says who?) A terrorist act which gets little result will not further a cause. (Isn’t that the point? If we don’t report it, they don’t get media exposure, and the cause is not furthered.)
The people’s “right to know” is always paramount in a discussion of this nature. The founding principles of our news media are based on the idea that suppressing information is harmful to a free, democratic society and it is. Exceptions to this rule are unacceptable and history has proved this, although current events such as press restrictions during the Granada operation had wide-spread public acceptance. (Now, what the hell am I doing here? Is it harmful or not? The public accepted press restrictions in the example given. Was it harmful to the democracy?)
The news media must stand on its principles. It must report events accurately and fairly. (And there, my friends, is the problem.) This will eliminate the necessity for discussions such as this and provide the public the information they need to make rational decisions. The rest is simply argument. (Ya think?)
That’s all I got out in 30 minutes and I took every second allowed. Reading over this again, the piece lacks substantive information. I’m making stuff up and it’s obvious. Making statements of fact with no support…at all. And then, I go and contradict myself in the fourth paragraph.
This part of the LSAT is not scored. It’s a writing “sample” and that was probably a good thing in this case. Each law school decides how they will use this writing sample in their evaluation of an applicant. If you take the test more than once, which I would have had to do if I was serious about admission, they will send the three most recent writing samples along with the scoring. Can you imagine taking this test that many times? I can’t even imagine it. Maybe I’ll see the same questions and get them wrong again. The test cost $100 back in 1984, it costs $132 today. I guess if you’ve got the money and the time.
The really horrible, and, looking back still sounds really horrible, thing about 1984, was three months later I was finally offered a “real” job. A job as an assistant manager at Thrifty Drug and Discount. A reasonable salary plus bonus that placed me behind a counter most of the day scooping cylindrical ice-cream cones for fifty cents a scoop. An unending line of undecided ice-cream patrons that thought we were serving the world famous Thrifty Ice Cream from our counter. We weren’t, it was Creamland Dairy ice cream. Every night as I pushed a three-foot wide dust broom up and down the aisles, I wondered why the hell I wasted all that time and money to get a college degree.
If you get to this paragraph, I want to thank you for taking the time to humor me by reading my LSAT essay. You probably have a better idea of why there is no “esquire” after my name. WTF