Monday, May 23, 2005

A Correction

Every media outlet knows what a correction is; most have had to issue one at some point. In an effort to bond with our journalistic brethren, we’ve decided to issue a correction of our own.

Elliott Marcus is not my given name. It’s – gasp – a pseudonym, and one that I’ll no longer be using. My real name is Nathan Gotsch. Some of you may recognize it, but most of you won’t.

Here’s some background: I was born and raised in Fort Wayne, finished high school in 2001, and came out to California for college. I graduated in December, and I split my time between Fort Wayne and Los Angeles.

Though you may find this hard to believe, I didn’t go to school to be a media critic. No, I am a filmmaker. A few years ago, I did a short film that screened for a week at the Cinema Center. I made it before I got into the heart of the film program at USC, so I didn’t really know what I was doing, but it ended up turning out okay. Catherine Lee (the Cinema Center’s director) was nice enough to exhibit it and many people in local media were generous in helping us promote it. The money from ticket sales was donated to Community Harvest Food Bank, which was Catherine’s idea, and a good one.

Right now, I’m developing (read: writing) several things, including another short film that I might end up shooting in Fort Wayne. If that were to happen, I again would need to approach the Fort Wayne media outlets to help publicize what I’m doing. And I feared putting my name on this blog – and being known at the Media Notes guy – might hurt me in that endeavor.

I also didn’t want to pull any punches. I knew that if I tried to be “nice” to the people who would be covering me, FWMN wasn’t going to work.

But I also realized that it wasn’t fair to sit back and criticize from behind a curtain. Members of the Fort Wayne media have their work published or broadcast with their names attached, and if I was going to critique that work, I ought to have the decency to do the same.

What tipped the scales was the email I received from Steve Penhollow. Yesterday I criticized his Rants and Raves column in the Sunday JG, and this morning Steve happened to read it. I’m not going to reprint his email without his permission, but I don’t think he’d mind me saying that it was complimentary of the blog overall while disagreeing with me a bit on my take on his column. He also included some advice on the direction of FWMN, which I appreciated.

Steve’s response impressed me, but it shouldn’t have surprised me. It only proved what I think I already knew, if only sub-consciously: that the people in Fort Wayne are willing to listen and give you the benefit of the doubt, as long as you’re criticizing or praising the work (the aim of FWMN) and not simply attacking people. They might argue with you, but that’s what an interactive medium like this is all about, and maybe you are wrong. (None of us is above issuing a correction or two.)

Steve’s email also struck a chord with me because he is the pretty much the only guy on the local film beat, and thus would play a very important role in publicizing my other endeavors. If he could handle a little criticism with such professionalism and aplomb, it would be insulting not to think he could separate FWMN from my filmmaking.

And so the pseudonym is gone, but the blog will (hopefully) remain the same.

I’ll be filling in some more details about me in the next few days, including my experience in local media and the reason for my interest in it. In the meantime, curious staffers at the N-S with some extra time are welcome to try to dig up a guest column I wrote in the summer of 2002. If they can find it, I’d gladly post it – and welcome your comments…positive or negative.

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