RUSHTON: Best judge is the reader, not the writer

Watching the Golden Globes Sunday night reminded me that once again I have missed seeking an Aluminum Beaver . . . that being the award given by the BC Community Newspapers Association!

While not adverse to metalized animals, winning a beaver hasn’t the distinction of receiving Oscars or Globes, which are plated in gold. On the other hand, the metal in the beaver is probably worth more than the golden wash on the movie/TV biz trophies, and it is the equivalent recognition of the contributions community newspapers make to our lives.

So how did I miss out on the potential for an award again? Every year just after New Year a cryptic message from the editor appears in my inbox which reads, in the competition for ‘columnist of the year,’ “Deadline next week, although I’d rather get this out of my hair ASAP.”

OK, I think to myself, I’ve got to get on this, if for no other reason than to boost my ego – it would be nice to add “Best Columnist in BC” to my resume (not that resumes have much value nor purpose at my age).

Then came the realization that I have no definitive idea which of my columns are good or bad. After all, I just write ’em . . . it is the reader who judges that. In addition, I can barely remember what I wrote last week, let alone which were the “best” two columns written over the past 52 weeks!

So, for me to have complied with the editor’s request I’d have had to read every column written in 2010, and after the first half dozen or so, I know even I would have been driven to distraction.

Thus the reading was never done, the entries never submitted, and again I shall watch from the sidelines as a shining star marches onto the stage to receive his/her trophy (or maybe due to the depressed economy and all that, the aluminum paperweight has now been replaced with an engraved plaque).

There are some very talented writers in our community newspapers, and as an occasional awards judge, I’ve had the privilege of reading some great writing, that often is not truly appreciated.

As for my efforts, about the only accolade I can honestly ascribe to myself is that I’m regular – you get a column every week, without fail, 52 weeks a year . . . that in itself should merit an award!

However, for me to judge what are my best columns (the worst ones don’t need adjudication, thanks) simply doesn’t work, because I don’t read them (other than for editing purposes).

That is the purview of the reader and they, not the writer, should be the ones who decide what is good, and what is not . . . which columns are worthy of being judged “best.”

Therefore, in my relentless quest for fairness (tempered with a large degree of laziness) to all other columnists in the province, I now suggest that you, the reader, decide over the next 52 weeks which two columns are worthy of entry.

Then, in the first week of next January, you can email me (thanks to the editor’s always timely note, I’ll even remind you) which ones you think I should enter.

Of course, if no one sends any suggestions, not only will my ego be crushed (and my editorial worth questioned) I’ll be forced to wade through a swamp full of columns to try to trap that elusive beaver in 2012.

markrushton@abbynews.com