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Chris Jones on "Animals," his Zanesville Zoo massacre story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by brandonsneed, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    Crap, now the feds have my house surrounded. They'll never take me alive.

  2. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Crap, I thought you were Gargamel's cat!

  3. HC

    HC Well-Known Member

    You're in Canada, son. You'll be fine. :D
  4. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    I really don't get this whole discussion either. It's absurd that professional journalists are questioning ASKING a source to not talk to the competition. As has been said, they will or they won't, but as shotty points out, it IS a competitve business, and this is not below the belt by any means. Then again ...

    Just another example of a Chris Jones thread going off the rails because some on the board don't like the fawning. I would agree that more of his stories are posted than necessary, and they're not all home runs (which I'm sure he would be the first to admit). But when a story like this comes along, especially with the competition aspect, it's definitely worth a thread. I happen to love the story (I have read and enjoyed both), but to tear it down for reasons that have nothing to do with the story itself is ridiculous. I think Chris' credentials speak for themselves. Bet half the people on this thread haven't bothered to read it, because "The Jones" sucks! Par for the course around here.
  5. tclakin

    tclakin New Member

    Hey Chris --

    A question I had while reading: How careful were you (and, if it was conscious, what techniques did you use) to avoid turning the animals into the story's villains? The piece has more than once been referred to as "cinematic" in its scope, and I - and, I'm sure, many others - couldn't help but imagine an action movie scenario while reading. But within that narrative framework, there are heroes, and there are villains. The heroes, in this case, are obviously the gruesome death-preventing small town cops. But the villains? Given how we as a nation initially reacted to the Zanesville story when it broke - as a heartbreaking tragedy - the lions and tigers and bears couldn't really be your bad guys, though it certainly would have been easy to paint them as such. How did you balance that while writing?
  6. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    FWIW, Cincinnati Magazine had a feature on Zanesville too. Jonah Ogles did this one.

  7. brandonsneed

    brandonsneed Member

    This and this.

    Eh well. I guess the discourse is good. I'm not being glib. If people really are genuinely confused about this, it's good to talk about. I mean it.

    But at some point, it's like ... c'mon. I mean ... c'mon. Did all of you really think it didn't work like this at all? I'm one of the youngest folks in the room. And it didn't surprise me one bit. So I guess I'm just genuinely confused at everyone else's confusion.

    YGBFKM Guest

    Outing alert: Brandon is Jimmy from South Park.

  9. brandonsneed

    brandonsneed Member

    Haha ... that's awesome. Although—and I know, this is only going to make me super popular to admit—when I typed that, I was actually thinking of the "C'mon, man," segments on ESPN. No lie, I deleted the "man." I know. I know.
  10. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    If 99 percent of the journalism you have done professionally is in the sports world, it is very unusual to ask a player that you have spoken with to not speak to anyone else.

    If SI spends three days with Dwight Howard, I would not expect them to tell Howard not to speak with ESPN or Time or Newsweek (like he would ever get on those last two covers, but they were the first that popped into mind) until their cover story ran.

    I actually did do some PR work in the NFL when I was in college, and a good portion of what I did was setting up writers with players. I never heard of one media outlet telling a player not to speak with anyone else. In fact, I'm 99 percent sure the NFL would want a word with the player if they were exclusive with one media outlet.

    But Esquire and GQ are not sports publications, and it is interesting to see how that works.
  11. Well, you know what happened? You were talking all tough-guy that you had been "salting the earth." Which really took me aback, at least. I mean -- "salting the earth."

    It happens. We all get a little hyperbolic when re-telling stories. But that was a pretty jarring image. Thus, the reaction.

    Later, you walked it back that, really, you'd just been doing your damnedest to establish a rapport with sources, and ask, "Hey -- it would really help me out if I was the only guy you told that to."

    Well, that's different. And if that had been the original story, I doubt it would have registered barely a blip.

    And, yes. Chris Jones is a brilliant writer who has also done a lot to help out young writers and advance the craft. I'm a huge fan for both reasons.

    But, with all of the over-the-top breathless fawning over "The Jones," there is going to be a backlash. There just is.

    (Like Brandon saying how it would have been an honor to get screwed over like that by one of the greats. O ... kay.)

    Oh. And before anyone does the usual losing their minds: "Tread carefully or he might leave!" If I were Chris I'd be much less likely to pick up my toys and go over the nit-pickers. It would be more being cast as the object of cult-like fervor that would make me uncomfortable ...
  12. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    Hey dude—

    I guess one of the things that worried me about the story—have I mentioned that I worry a lot? Is that clear?—is that you're right: It has heroes, but they're almost accidental heroes. And it doesn't really have a villain. (I think Terry Thompson did a terrible thing, but everything I heard about him was that he complex, in a very bad spot, and really did love his animals.) You certainly don't cheer when the cops shoot an animal. And the story, really, doesn't have any traditional redemption to it: In the Hollywood version, that last tiger would have lived. But it doesn't live. It gets shot in the back of the head. It's all very grim.

    Really, this story is a series of inevitabilities that starts with an impossibility. Everybody, the people and the animals, just did what they were always going to do. Except that it's set against a backdrop of tigers flying through the trees in Ohio.

    I dunno. You just tell the story as best you can and hope people read it and like it.
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