Pop Culture: How to single out a multiple choice
I spent part of the past week compiling entries for a newspaper contest.
This particular contest is put on by the?Michigan Press Association. It’s open to member papers, and is judged by people at similar member papers in other states.
Newspaper journalists love contests. After 12 months of hearing how terrible you are at your job, it’s refreshing to have a chance to be ignored by a committee of your peers.
One MPA contest category is “Local Columnist.” I?have entered “Pop Culture” in this category 10 times, and I am proud to say I have entered “Pop Culture” in this category 10 times.
I wish I could explain the futility. Maybe it’s because I simply don’t submit my best work. More likely, it’s because my best work does not exist.
MPA limits submissions from each contributor: “An entry consists of three columns from the contest period. No more than one entry may be submitted from each local columnist.”
That seems contradictory. What it means is, a single “entry” may include up to three columns, but each writer is allowed to submit only one three-column “set.”
Have I been doing it wrong all along??I was sure that in past years, three were allowed. I wondered why the rules had changed, and then I realized why:?because they hadn’t.
What if I could have entered 30 columns over the last decade, but had only sent 10 during that time?
I think MPA needs to rewrite that rule for clarity. My suggestion: “No more than one entry per columnist is allowed, but that one entry is actually three. What I?mean is, you can’t enter multiple single entries (each consisting of three entries to make up that single entry) but you may submit up to three columns in a single entry, for a total of three ones.”
Nobody will change the rule if I?send my suggestion point-blank. Instead, I’ll do it subliminally by entering this column in next year’s contest. In fact, I’ll enter it three times.
That would count as one entry, but since it’s one column, I can also enter two others. That allows me to send two other sets of three, since, really, the others were only one.
It won’t be cheating, because I wrote the rule — unless I misunderstood it.
No wonder I never win these contests.
But that’s about to change.
Dennis Volkert is features editor at the Sturgis (Mich.) Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.