The Daily Illini

Stay focused despite criticism

By Ashvini Malshe, Columnist

My last column received a negative comment, which was officially the first type of blatantly negative criticism I have ever received. Upon first reading it, I was shocked.

I tend to be more sensitive than most, and the idea that someone out there dislikes me for no rational reason digs deep under my skin and settles in the form of uneasiness and fear. But I decided, early on, before I started writing for any publication, that I would never encourage any negativity if faced with it.

I would make it a point to ignore it and encourage only people who had something positive or constructive to say.

If you do have an opinion in contrast to mine or if you disagree with me, I’d have no problem discussing it. But I do have a problem when you make negative claims about me without knowing who I am at all besides the information contained in the 300 words or so I’ve written for a column.

I’m aware that this happens a lot to creative people — like writers, singers, actors and artists — who have something different to say and who say it with a voice that challenges the status quo.

People fear what they do not understand and they try to silence those who try to be brave. I’ve learned that you should keep being creative no matter what they think. You should keep being brave because that’s how you drown out the negativity.  

Lynn Holley, the revered, award-winning journalist and University instructor, was a broadcast reporter for CNN Radio, WMAQ Radio and WebFN for 26 years. Before that she worked her way up in the industry for a variety of stations in the local markets.

Every day and every night as a reporter, she had to be on radio and on camera for the whole country to listen to and to watch.

At first, she recounted that this reality was rather nausea inducing, but she didn’t obsess over it too much because the newsroom dictated that she be present and focused.  

Frankly, she didn’t have time to be terrified or to people-please; as she said in class one day, she had to tell the news and tell it well. That was her job, her passion and her commitment to the audience.

If you ever talk to Holley, you know she can command a room with just the click-clack of her no-nonsense boots. Her voice is powerful, and the weight of her words is even stronger; she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Admittedly, she is a role model to me. I always wonder how she survived and thrived for so long in an industry that can be so cruel.

I gather that she didn’t care about what people thought and said about her. She used the power of her presence and the ferocity of her passion to inform people of what they needed to know, and that to her was more important than any nasty thing she heard uttered about her.

And a lot of the time, she laughed the hurt off. That’s the most therapeutic thing you can do as a creative person — use negative criticism as fuel rather than as a deterrent.

For a journalist, that kind of state of mind is vital to our cognizance. You have to punch out the negativity and prosper by your commitment to what is right.

It’ll lead where the cynics cannot follow.

Ashvini is a senior in Media.

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