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Art Modell dies, so which Ohioan wrote it best?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Versatile, Sep 7, 2012.


Which of these columns about Art Modell is best?

  1. Terry Pluto

    1 vote(s)
  2. Joe Posnanski

    3 vote(s)
  3. Jeff Passan

    4 vote(s)
  4. Pat McManamon

    2 vote(s)
  5. Bill Livingston

    3 vote(s)
  1. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Five notable Ohio columnists sound off on the death of the most hated sports figure in the state's history. Here are your choices:

    So who wrote it best, all things considered? The columns are very different takes from people who experienced the move first-hand, from very different vantage points. What worked, and what didn't?
  2. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    I've only read Posnanski's, because I knew what it would say and he didn't disappoint. And it's essentially what I'd say if I were that good of a writer. Only I didn't move to Cleveland until 1981, when I was 5, and the mid-80s Browns were the first I remembered.

    I could have done without the massive photo of AM with that giant fucking trophy though.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I think you might like the Jeff Passan column more, based on your responses in the RIP thread. But I will get to more detailed analysis this afternoon.
  4. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Well, to be fair, that was in the immediate aftermath and joyous afterglow of the demise of true evil.

    Had I had a couple hours to think about it, then write something for mass consumption for a major website, Posnanski's would have been close.
  5. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    OK, read them all at the cost of getting ready for work.

    McManamon's was terrible.
    Pluto's was fine.
    Livingston's, meh.

    Here's the thing: I and a few others on this board will read these columns differently. I don't WANT fair and balanced and "but he did so much good!!!" We want to read about others who feel how we feel, who remember the pain and the abandonment. And that's why I vastly prefer Pos and Passan on this topic.
  6. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    That blogger column was horrendous. Jesus. Not because I disagree with it ... just because it was terribly written.
  7. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I think you're right. It's not fair to compare that to the other five. I tried to find a better-written blog post about it, but couldn't find anything more than 200 words. That wouldn't have passed muster as an SportsJournalists.com post.
  8. hpdrifter

    hpdrifter Member

    Another option:
  9. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    OK, since no one else wants to follow IJAG ...

    Terry Pluto: This piece was actually listed as a blog post, and though it's a very long blog post, it had a rushed quality. I know that's typical of Pluto's writing, but it surprised me for a piece of this magnitude. It felt out of the notebook, cobbled together and shallow. There was a lot of self-referencing, which surprised me coming from the man I think of as the pre-eminent current Cleveland sports authority. The focus was strange, but he wasn't writing the main column, either. As IJAG noted, though, he kept his opinions and emotions out of it, which didn't seem appropriate given the situation and particularly since he made so much of the column about himself. It's not that it was bad; there was good information in Pluto's column that others didn't have, and it had a unique side to the story. But I would have encouraged Pluto to write something more personal about a guy he covered (to varying degrees) for years.

    Joe Posnanski: You could take any paragraph from this piece and send it to a regular Posnanski reader without a byline attached, and he or she would immediately recognize the author. It's as though Posnanski was parodying himself, to a degree, with the understanding covering the emotion. But it was a good column. On first read, I wanted more about the move. That's the emotional core of the story. But I realized Posnanski was gone by the time the move hit, presumably down in Cincinnati or North Carolina working as a reporter and too busy to fully grasp everything his city was going through. Posnanski takes the opposite approach to Pluto, letting his writing ability shine, delving into personal emotion and not spending too much space talking about the move but instead talking about the man and the earlier days. It's a strong effort, and it's what Posnanski readers want out of him. There's a value to that, but this column was a bit on the safe side.

    Jeff Passan: Writing for a young, national audience frames Passan's work. That's why he brought up LeBron James four times and why he used Joe Paterno as an example. I don't think either was necessary, but he knows his audience and those types of reference points increase clicks and spark conversation. Passan went right to the heart — the heartbreak — of the issue. And he didn't bother mincing words. He won't forgive Art Modell, even if he'll forget him. The ending was wonderful, and the emotion was raw compared to the other four columns. More or less, this is how I would have approached a Modell column, had I been a Clevelander. This is why the Cleveland perspective is so much more interesting than the Baltimore perspective. All five writers hit on the key points, but only Passan hit on the key emotion.

    Pat McManamon: McManamon comes in at a disadvantage, like Posnanski, because he wasn't there for the move. McManamon is an Ohioan, but I'm pretty sure he was down in Florida in the mid-1990s. But I thought his piece was unfeeling. This was the least personal of the four pieces, and it included a lot of rehashing and explaining to an audience that's heard this story more times than it would like. There was very little beyond the surface, perhaps because McManamon never covered Modell's Browns and instead covered the new Browns. That would have made a good, unique column, the story of how the new Browns never picked up the pieces of broken hearts Modell left scattered about the city. But McManamon chose the broader approach.

    Bill Livingston: If Pluto is the populist pick for northern Ohio's favorite sports writer, Livingston is his counterpoint. He's a stylist in a working-class city. I think this column exemplified that. Columnists shouldn't always pander to their audiences, and I liked Livingston's approach and his conclusion (though I could have done without the arguably misuse of "irony" in the lede). I thought Livingston provided a nice look back at the best of Modell's time in Cleveland, but he skimped on the worst. Maybe that's how it should be for an obituary column, but Modell in Cleveland would seem to be a time for an exception, if there ever was one. It was a good column, but it missed its audience.

    I voted for Passan.
  10. 3OctaveFart

    3OctaveFart Guest

    De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
  11. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Did any of these writers really break that code? I didn't mean to imply that someone needed to rip Modell, just to provide the contextual emotions associated with his death and his relevance to Cleveland.
  12. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    Pos did something that absolutely infuriated me in his column:

    He might have said it, but it sure as hell wasn't true. The Browns' records, colors and name were left behind not as a magnanimous gesture by Art, but as a settlement brokered by the NFL (including a hotshot lawyer named Roger Goodell) for breaking the lease and against any kind of class-action suits that were brewing.
    David Ginsburg from the AP did the same goddamn thing, but then, everyone in Baltimore likes to engage in revisionist history about them getting the Browns.
    Between this and the JoePa book (which I read), I think Pos has a pathological inability to call a sonofabitch a sonofabitch.
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