Ranking my own columns
Davis Gonsalves | Wednesday, April 3, 2019
We are closing in on the last few columns, with only two left after this. As my column nears its end, I want to reflect on my columns and evaluate them by the only way I see fit — ranking them. What better way to categorize my thoughts? Here is the list of the 25 columns I’ve produced by my own meta ranking.
Tier 5: Columns where the execution could have been better
These columns may have been as funny as any other ones, but I know personally they could have achieved something greater. The idea was there but I just did not execute like I know I could have, and the result is taking something that may be funny, and make it frustrate me. With Dome Dance, I straddled the line of the criteria being too ridiculous and also serious so people did not know if the application was real. In The Bible as a Movie, a few lines were removed because I did not work with my editors to check if some were jokes were acceptable. Both the states as Tinder profiles and the Notre Dame websites article needed more time. I rushed the Tinder connections only allowing three days for a response and I could have thought of more jokes for each specific website. The trio of miscellaneous column rankings have individually very funny ranks, but I should have thought through them more, cut the fat on each and keep only the best ranks. Lastly, I should have used better Bible quotes and stingier remarks on each, but I balked and held up a tad; a practice I do not want to make routine.
Tier 4: Could Have Used More Time
The Campus Outrage one frustrates me, because since I published it, the legging controversy came out and I could have given a spicy take, but alas, I missed the boat by only a few days. Both the Saints and Relationship issue has good jokes and I feel I did well with what I wrote. Overall though, if I would have sat on the columns more, I would have thought of better lines. When reading the published version of all three, I wanted to fix some phrasings and add a sentence or two, indicative that I just needed to reread them again.
Tier 3: Solid content, but I bit off more than I could chew
Biting off more than I can chew manifests in a few different ways. Dear Mr. Finn Wittrock was my first letter ever submitted to The Observer and is a little more niche humor. Similarly the Dear Men column faded in the memories of many students and the reaction to my satire was lukewarm. I bit off more than I could chew when evaluating my audience, going more experimental but falling a tad shorter than I had hoped. For American Regions and Bathrooms, these were much larger projects that required more research than initially imagined. I had to rush the columns at the end because of how long they took. Even though I am still happy with them, I would have limited their scope if done again. For Rules as an RA and Dorm Mascots, I initially wrote a ton of content but had to scale back. Ultimately, I think this made the columns cleaner, but I was off with how much I could write. Lastly, I opened up a can of worms with Disney princesses where seemingly everyone on this campus has their internal ranking that I was not clued in on. I bit off more than I could chew in the sense that I ranked a topic I simply could not defend from the hoards of Disney princess lovers.
Tier 2: Columns I am content with and received good feedback from
These are some of my favorite columns I have written, receiving a lot of praise but mainly I liked how much time I put into them. Study abroad really allowed me to encapsulate the strange country Denmark is while also telling my parents that I’m having a good time. The Fr. Jenkins column rewarded me with a one-on-one meeting with the University President, and the Copycat rankers column put the brakes on the runaway train that was impersonating ranking columns. With dorms as cities, I was able to combine my love of the Notre Dame residential model with my love of geography to produce a column I felt happy with and others could enjoy. Nothing is necessarily wrong with these column, they are kept from the top tier because they do not have that magic or pizzazz or whatever you want to call it that will keep them special in my heart.
Tier 1: Columns special to me
At the time of ranking the presidential platforms by web page layout, there had been a deluge of student body election articles in The Observer. There were the news articles that 10 percent of the vote had been shaved from each ticket, the endorsements from different sources and the Zahm freshmen throwing the election a curveball. When I wrote my column, I kind of just muddied the waters even more and turned a circus into a zoo. For that I am grateful. The ranking dorms column definitely received the most press and engrained the type of column I was to write. This column is the origin of how I write my column but I felt I messed up on a few dorms and deservedly got some backlash. The U.S. Presidents column is my personal favorite though and allowed me to place my musings with my friends in AP Gov class onto paper. The Presidents and Halls one were very close, but I gave the former the edge because of its universality where the latter finds meaning only within Notre Dame. Plus the dorm rankings no longer reflect my true rankings now, since many have shifted. Maybe we will see the updated list soon.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.