By Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson is a news editor for The Hoya. He has no opinion. He is the autonomic nerve whose electric impulse allows the higher cognitive elements on staff to think freely. His creative elan is limited to the fliratious interplay between bad headline breaks and character spacing. Professionalism prohibits him from exhibiting any bias whatsoever.

The last time he articulated anything even approximating a rational thought in Leavey 421 was to protest moving the inside box from its traditional home on the right-hand corner of the front page to a radical, revisionist, post-modern summit above the campus events box on the left (See “Inside Box,” Feb. 2, page 1).

I am confident, however, that my mindless machinations laying out the news section do not go unnoticed. Through my undying devotion to modular layout and associated press style, I shield the paper from such threatening letters to the editor as:

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my abject horror at the bumping headlines on the top of jump page five. Please inform whoever lays down the news section to insert a line one pica’s distance from the border of both stories next issue. My ophthalmologist is concerned that if I continue to stare at pages so spatially displeasing, there may be permanent corneal damage.

Alison Banks (COL ’02) nominated me for Editorial Board last semester. Apparently, our illustrious viewpoint editor has the unlearned opinion that the brain in my skull can be used for the type of analytical processing characteristic of most other primates. Unfortunately, I was forced to decline.

Now, before our most reverend managing editor takes this opportunity to revise my words, let me clarify. A news editor can sit on the editorial board without contravening the intentions of the paper’s founding fathers. He simply can’t say anything while sitting there; that makes it rather difficult to play up the old “I’m just what this Ed Board needs” approach in Hoya elections. I wouldn’t stand a chance, unless the voters were composed of sociologists opining that a silent voter would act as a kind of mental fulcrum preventing members from using language that was too indiscreet, lest their magnum opus be forever consigned to editorial obscurity by my one incalculable vote. Next semester, I am going to have to try that.

The reasoning behind all this, of course, is that when DPS officers tell me that they don’t appreciate being called “Keystone DPS,” (“Department of Public Safety: Keystone DoPS,” The Hoya, Jan. 29) I can shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s not my department. As a news editor, I am totally unaware that you may have any human sensitivity. I am incapable of judging your behavior on any normative scale of proper conduct. All I see is the impartial relationship between cause and effect. For instance, a DPS officer was not paying attention to a resident who detailed expensive items stolen from her apartment, therefore, those items are not included in the police report. I see nothing intrinsically right or wrong with that. It simply is. So, please ignore my paper’s libelous words and answer these few questions.”

In case I appear cynical, let me assure you that it is entirely worth it. Donating 30 hours a week for an eight point font credit in the staff box is compensation enough. In Arial, no less. I have always believed in my heart of hearts, however, that my name would look better in No Track than Normal, but who am I to decide?

I must confess, though, that is there is one downside to being a news editor and only one. There is the unpleasant mental tepidity that sets in after 12 hours of staring at the same computer screen and realizing that just about anyone could do what you have spent your semester doing. If you had an infinite number of monkeys, in front of an infinite number of Pagemaker applications (all networked, of course), one of them would finally lay down the news page. We can forgive them the faux-pas of not choosing the correct lead story. After all, how can a monkey comprehend how important the Med Center is? Even I can’t.

So if I weren’t a news editor, I might be allowed to share my opinions with you. I might say that the core curriculum ensures that no student at Georgetown could ever attain the breadth of knowledge of an Aristotle or Jefferson (they were demigods, anyway). I might say that the Jack the Bulldog controversy was the zenith of bureaucratic stupidity. I might say that if Georgetown rejects Ex Corde Ecclesia, it might as well create its own branch of Christianity and leave the Holy Spirit to its own devices. After all, what does He know? But, I am a news editor, and always will be, so I can’t say those things. Oh well, there’s always photo scanning.

Tom Johnson is a news editor for The Hoya. and a freshman in the School of Foreign Service.

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