Local Vocal: A Student Journalist Answers Charges
This is in response to Brian Clarey’s May 12 account of my impromptu interview in his office where we discussed the possibilities of my interning with his publication [“Writers and their stories”].
My college president has on his e-mail a quote which is incredibly profound, a quote which I’ve taken to heart as a student journalist and as a human: “There are two sides to every story. Taking a position or action before getting all the facts is 100 percent wrong 99 percent of the time.”
Clarey took a position and action before getting all the facts and that made him wrong; his depiction of my character I perceived as an assault on my character.
There is no way that I would lie about my age. My standard reply to my friends and acquaintances when they ask me how I am doing is always the same, “getting older.” I’ve only found it necessary to lie to protect myself as a gay male, when asked “are you a homo.”
My relationship to Elton Turnbull, a now convicted kingpin drug dealer, was only brought up in terms of the Rhino Times covering his story and the past corruption of the Greensboro Police Department. In fact, I was not the only person in the room discussing the facts of his case.
Surrounding the details of what Clarey said was the lynchpin, the Nation magazine: I’ve freelanced essays all of my life and there was a direct miscommunication there. There was my error, I’m not above reproach in this aspect. I embellished and Clarey, feeling like I was trying to “infiltrate” his organization, seized upon the information and exploited that one piece.
My sitting across from him wasn’t about breaking into his organization with malice aforethought; my aspirations were to become a better news writer and somewhere, somehow, wires were crossed and my words were taken out of context, twisted and turned into a variation of yellow journalism.
Clarey attempted to highlight my working relationships with people like Bishop Gene Robinson (the first openly gay Bishop) and my e-mail relationship with Noam Chomnsky to prove some abstract point. The point I was trying to convey to him was that I am a go-getter who loves to write news and loves to reach out to impossible sources. He instead turned the tables on a college student and turned him into the news.
Clarey attempted to take stabs at my past. My Nation essay highlights a small portion of a larger, even more confusing story. As far as family trees go, after more than 40 foster home placements, the death of adopted parents and bouncing all over the world, I landed in High Point to regain my life and sense of family. To call those facts into question was not only innapproperate, it vilified my character. It also assassinated the integrity of the work I’ve done since winning the Nation’s writing contest. Clarey baselessly assumed my character without first shooting me a phone call, he instead called the editors of my paper to “give them a heads up.”
Following winning the contest I was asked by several organizations to speak about my experiences and was asked to write a book. I’ve not turned my miniature success into working capital to, in Clarey’s words, hustle people. I have everything in the world I need financially, in fact I’m generous, often helping those in need. When do1thing.org called me about helping with giving a voice to homeless youth, I devoted my time and energy to that project. When people on various county boards asked I volunteer as a voice for those in foster care, I was there. I’m not perfect, I’ve just done my best as an adult not to hurt people, but turn my life experience into meaningful action for others.
In short, I’m not here to hurt anyone and am in Clarey’s own words disappointed. Disappointed that what would be considered a human resources issue was put in print, with half truths.
I’m equally as sorry that I won’t be able to work with people who I feel are dedicated to journalism, even if it was sensationalized in this case.
Clarey replies: Lopez’s recollections of our interview do not jibe with my notes or the memory of Jordan Green, who sat in.