A simple question: is it worth reading _The Daily Princetonian_ to keep up on the ways in which it has embarrassed itself?
A simple answer: probably not. Welcome to PrinceWatch. Welcome to _The Daily Princetonian_ of November 12, 2010.
__Terrace may open doors to graduate students__
by Molly Brean
As one becomes familiar with _The Daily Princetonian_, it becomes clear that the _Princetionian_ never justifies the existence of its own articles. There is the vague suggestion that the subjects of ‘_Prince_’ articles are significant, but rarely is there real evidence. This can lead readers to peruse ‘_Prince_’ articles in a daze, searching for a raison d’êtrê for the publication. ‘_Prince_’ writers, in turn, exploit the distraction and frustration produced by the reader’s attempt to understand why the ‘_Prince_’ is produced to write the same article over and over again without anyone noticing.
To write the standard ‘_Prince_’ article, the author carefully structures a basic narrative. First, a change is proposed. The change has backers and detractors. The author selects a prominent student to argue for change and randomly selects someone to provide a dissenting voice. This means that the person supporting change usually has something to say to support their position and the dissenting voice is often barely capable of speech.
In this week’s article on Terrace’s proposed admission of Graduate Students, the ‘_Prince_’ nails its own format. The discussion is amorphous—“I think it’s going to require a little more thought”—and unhelpful. If the reader happened to be interested in the topic, the article would be a poor place to find information about it. Everything seems thrown together—the article even wears its half-baked nature with pride when the author confesses that she “quickly found out” that the information she gave one of the two dissenting voices cited in the article was inaccurate. Before the reader catches on, the article is over and yet another unsuspecting student has been spoon-fed the standard ‘_Prince_’ Article.
Revised headline: “Terrace: Sketchy”
__Buford ’12: Life after whistle-blowing__
by Rachel Jackson
There is one other type of article that the _Princetonian_ publishes—the ‘_Prince_’ exposé. In these articles, the courageous staff at the ‘Prince’ step up their game and fearlessly investigate something on campus, producing a tell-all article revealing the sordid side of their subject matter—all while maintaining the difficult-to-capture diplomatic tone of professional journalism. Or at least, that’s what the ‘_Prince_’ staff thinks they do.
These articles truly catch the self-congratulatory tone of the _Princetonian_. Only in _The Daily Princetonian_ will you not only read the shocking tale of John Buford ’12, who endured severely humiliating hazing while pledging a fraternity, but also a follow up article on this momentous “whistle-blowing” and the newspaper that broke the story, your very own _Daily Princetonian_.
This article again airs the most humiliating details of Buford’s pledge events, such as drinking more than 20 oz. of another man’s tobacco spit and being bitten by a stripper. Despite the article’s lofty goals, at this point the reader beings to seriously entertain the possibility that the ‘_Prince_’ is writing about Buford again just to get to put this material in print for a second time.
Princesposés are also a classic example of the ‘_Prince_’s tendency to do exactly the opposite of what it intends. In “Life after whistle-blowing” Rachel Jackson struggles valiantly against the ‘_Prince_’s tendency to render a moderately intriguing subject wholly uninteresting while basing its analysis off of typecasting and oversimplification. Unfortunately she succeeds in doing the exact opposite.
Buford’s closing words offer a glimpse into why the ‘_Prince_’ has found him to be such a kindred spirit:
“‘When you read it, it sounds really dramatic and serious. It was really dramatic and serious at the time, but, you know it happens,’ [Buford] said. ‘It’s given me lots of stories. You know the times with the prostitutes and strippers. I feel very worldly, even though I’m definitely not.’”
Money quote: “‘I’m a Republican. I very rarely crusade about anything.’ – John Buford ’12”
Revised headline: “20 oz. to freedom”
__Legacy for a day__
by Joey Barnett
It’s a ‘_Prince_’ standby for authors to wax nostalgic about their hometown when they run out of ideas. Joey Barnett takes this to the next level—he has published a veritable canon on his city of origin, Tulare, California. In his most recent Tulare-based column, Barnett somehow manages to weave his place of birth into an otherwise unrelated article about the virtues of being a legacy at Princeton. One wonders if ‘_Prince_’ writers develop a “hometown reflex” that causes them to crank these articles out involuntarily.
To Barnett’s credit, he doesn’t mire the reader in too much of the usual muck of ‘_Prince_’ self-reflection, in which the author buries the reader in the minute details of his or her everyday life. The editorial page often reads like an atrocious series of blog posts synopsizing writers’ humdrum daily lives, producing articles that are as painfully mundane as their subject matter.
Revised Headline: “Tulare: City of dreams”
by Nathan Mathabane
The Opinion pages are a great place for ‘_Prince_’ writers to show off their standby journalistic move: the extended metaphor. Nathan Mathabane’s article on Princeton academics opens with one of the most involved and extended metaphors recently seen in the pages of the ‘_Prince_’.
“You are standing at the threshold of a massive, tangled, over-grown jungle. It is not a jungle of gnarled trees and lofty canopies, winding rivers and dangerous pitfalls. It does not contain poisonous frogs, disease-ridden mosquitoes or flesh-eating barracudas, but at times it can seem just as scary and overwhelming. This jungle is built of stone buildings and libraries, websites and papers. This jungle is called Princeton academics.”
This epitomizes the ‘_Prince_’ metaphor as it manages to last an incredibly long time without actually saying anything. Like the rest of the ‘_Prince_’, the word-count-to-content ratio is stratospheric. Instead of trying to create a cohesive vision of an article and execute it, ‘_Prince_’ writers seem obsessed with overworking the necessary component parts of their articles—introduction, conclusion, attempt at humor—and never form them into a cohesive whole.
The only question is—will the next editorial be more rococo and uninformative than the last?
Revised headline: “Welcome to the jungle!”
__Editorial: An even better way to P/D/F__
Expanding the “P/D/F” option seems to be the crusade that unifies the Editorial Board. The Board—which seems to have a center-left take on matters political and a center-crazy take on campus issues—puts the full force of its influence behind expansions to “P/D/F.” After the landmark increase in the time allotted to “P/D/F” a course, it seemed plausible that the ‘_Prince_’ might move on to other topics. Instead, the minutiae of the grading system seem to be what’s on everybody’s mind over at the old Princetonian.
The only thing more absurd than the Ed Board are the cartoons that are published underneath their articles. Predictably, the cartoon from last Friday is about “P/D/F.” Suffice it to say that it was like every other cartoon in the ‘_Prince_’: upon first glance, it is confusing. Upon second inspection, it is demonstrably unfunny.
Revised headline: “P/D/F every day”
The titles on a ‘_Prince_’ Sports page look like a brainstorming session to find synonyms for “defeat” and “mediocre.” This is just one element of the ‘_Prince_’s broader campaign, which aims to record all of Princeton’s athletic losses in meticulous detail. It’s somewhat surprising that the sports teams haven’t asked the ‘_Prince_’ to tone down its coverage—there seems to be little need to write a long-form essay about another football defeat.
Revised headline: “The mausoleum of all hopes and desires”