I was thinking about my credibility as I was working on my magazine, and if I were to evaluate me in the usual process of writing an essay my lack of credentials would make my credibility a problem. A liability. I would have to discount anything I said as conjecture, or bias, or as just plain old opinion.
The problem with opinion is that everyone has them, and as everyone has them they aren’t inherently more worth than gossip. Opinions are only valid if attached to credibility, and credibility require expertise in the field which is opined about.
What do I have expertise in? I know how to do an A-level essay. I know that much. But essays aren’t journalism, and in order to do good journalism for the magazine, I must establish credibility. But I have no credibility because of a lack of credentials.
They say that “knowledge is power”. That isn’t true. Dead knowledge is nothing. Knowing that Richard III died in the Battle at Bosworth Field on August 22 1485 is meaningless on its own. Knowing why he died is far more important even if you don’t know the date of the battle. And knowing why is having understanding. Knowledge is not power, but understanding is. Credentials are an external evaluation of understanding, at the root.
Lack of credentials can be compensated for, if you have the money and the time and the network. I don’t really have any of that. The budget for the magazine is tiny; time I have, but I can’t do in on my own; and I don’t have the network needed, unless I would need other people who are reasonably adept at writing high school essays.
The alternative is to adopt a re-write culture, and forego any attempt at credibility. But that is just regurgitation. It doesn’t add anything, and online it’s just a means to farm clicks for advert sales. If one wants to sell ads, it’s easier to do something like Craig’s list that have a transparent advertising utility that people go and look for.
Pretending that one runs a magazine in order to farm clicks is just a form deception, and it just contributes to the general malaise of information without any caloric content. What is worse, since it takes ad revenue from sites that do put in the effort to be relevant, it is parasitic in nature. The re-write culture is the cordyceps fungus of the news world.
But I’m not sure I have anything else to offer, with my lack of credentials to say anything noteworthy. So, it’s a catch 22. I can do the magazine, farm the credit for it, but accept that it is just fluff. I can’t get out now because that would look really bad, and then I can’t farm the credit for it later.
Maybe that’s what becoming an adult is about, where the abandonment of pride for self-gratification becomes progressively easier until the day when you are so “wise” and “mature” that you can betray an ideal four times before lunch, and think that you did the right thing. Ah, here is the beginning of the hack, the one that ditch principle and ethics and pride in the work for “pragmatic” accommodation to both rational and greedy self-interest.