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Code of the West

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jgmacg, Jun 27, 2006.

  1. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    I left this thread alone for a long time hoping that someone would rise to the occasion in answering it. Happily, and not surprisingly, Mr. Ridgeway has done just that.

    His answer, it seems to me, is the broadest, smartest, and most generous one - not just here, but among all the many threads we've seen this week flaying Mr. Mariotti for his poor judgment. Mr. Ridgeway's description is also, I think, the most representative of the way things should, and do, mostly work.

    Many of our colleagues, on the other hand, seem inclined to frame the discussion only in terms of how big a sissy Mr. Mariotti must be.

    I take no position on that matter, but I posted this thread, and asked an obvious question in an obtuse way, to get us to the next theoretical level in that discussion, which I believe is this:

    Must we, as sports writers, adopt the same alpha-male jock code of honor and conduct as the athletes we cover?

    If so, why?
  2. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member


    I don't know that I agree with it, but Skip Bayless (oh, the horror!) had a resonable and thoughtful take on the subject of whether or not columnists should face the people they write about.

    Bayless' opinion is that a columnist is more likely to pull punches if he/she is going to face the people they're writing about, and that "showing up the next day in the locker room after writing something critical" is all about macho posturing, and has nothing to do with being fair.

    It's definitely worth a read, although I confess that I have argued, here and elsewhere, that Bayless is Mariotti-Lite.

    Either way, he does a far better job of rationalizing why a columnist doesn't have to, or shouldn't have to, go into the locker room than Mariotti ever could.

  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    And I would argue that a columnist might be a better read if he does pull his punches.

    It's easy and not entertaining to say something is stupid or someone sucks.

    It's much more interesting to read a clever Oscar Wilde type quip.

    To whit: I could say that journalists are crappy writers

    Oscar Wilde would say: "The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read."

    And I'm sure Oscar would not be afraid to stroll into the Billy Goat Tavern the next day with his ruffled sleeves and velvet overcoat and take whatever abuse you might care to heave in his direction.
  4. PEteacher

    PEteacher Member

    Morally, it might be a good idea for columnists to show up. But the reality is, he's done his job if he faces the readers and gets them thinking.
  5. The code for columnist suggests there should be a different one for them than for everyone else.
    Not that everything's exactly the same, but everything should be pretty much the same.
    If you're on the move when something critical comes out, that's fine, but you ought to be checking in wherever it is.
    If you aren't making a personal attack, what's the big issue? Somebody might disagree with your opinion?
    If you're making a personal attack, maybe you ought to give it some thought.
    But you don't write and hide, that's just sophomoric.
  6. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    i find this to be an odd debate.

    i guess it all comes down to your perspective on things but i fail to understand how anyone can fail to understand why a columnist should -- but isn't required to -- show up after he writes something critical about someone or a team. until it was raised on this thread, it never occured to me that showing up after writing something critical could be called macho posturing. you can use any word or phrase you want, but it's about treating people with integrity and respect. when you tell someone to 'be a man' you're telling someone to act with integrity, respect, class and dignity. that's not macho posturing.

    macho posturing, to me, is pretending to be tough when you're not because something has affected you in some manner. how can that be equated with showing up in the locker room the next day after writing something critical? no one says the columnist has to stand there and pretend any verbal (or physical) abuse isn't hurtful. it would be macho posturing if the code required a columnist to silently take all verbal abuse heaped on him and maintain a poker face the entire time. of course that would be absurd.
  7. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    I think the restaurant/theatre critic comparison is unfair. A restaurant critic reviews Sloppy Joe's Mortuary and Meatloaf Bonanza and then moves on. He doesn't have a continuing relationship with Sloppy Joe unless he/she wants to have one. But Mariotti doesn't write one column about Ozzie and move on -- it is an ongoing relationship and you don't respect someone who is a hit-and-run artist.

    Bayless did make some good points. But at the same time, he inadvertantely made the case for the other side. Bayless may not have gone to the locker room everytime, but he had the professionalism to call Sabean/Beane before articles, give them a heads up and ask for comment. If you are willing to face the music, whether it be wrath, thoughtful rebuttals, praise, etc., whether it is in person or via phone, e-mail, whatever, then you are doing your job correctly. Mariotti has shown no indication of doing that.
  8. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    ace - of course you should face the people you write about, but face 'em to let 'em vent? fuck 'em. you made the conscious choice to write who you wrote and if anyone thinks someone should take shit for having an opinion, to hell with that. writers weren't put on the earth to take shit from the public figures they decide to make a topic.

    although, that's not saying the cat out of chicago isn't a slash and dash douche bag. for me, you have to face the folks you pontificate on, but you don't have to listen to a load of shit, either.
  9. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Gang Star's "Code of the Streets" is a great song.
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Thing is, a negative restaurant or theater review is far more likely to affect the restraurant or theater's (or, shudder, dinner theater) business than a negative sports column would. A baseball manager isn't going to get fired because of what a columnist writes, even if it's someone respected, like a Dave Anderson.

    As for Bayless' point, it's been a long time since I've been in a locker room, but when I covered pro sports you stood a good chance of getting screamed at a few times a season just on the basis of being in there with a notebook. There was an out-of-town major-league manager who shit all over me once just when I introduced myself, and he had no idea of who I was or from which newspaper. We hadn't met and I was new to the beat. A colleague at the time was physically attacked when an NFL defensive back thought he was someone from another paper that had ripped him. I realized then that, as in the world in general, we are not necessarily dealing with rational human beings when we step inside a locker room. Bayless' point that we'd pull punches if we knew we were going to get screamed at is screwy, because the odds are you are going to get screamed whether you've written something nasty, nice or even written nothing at all.
  11. slipshod

    slipshod Member

    To me it's like talking behind someone's back. Show up and go to work. If you can dish it out you should be able to take it.
  12. blondebomber

    blondebomber Member

    I respectfully disagree. I think athletes are smart enough to separate writers for their opinions and not lump them under the umbrella of the masthead. A beat writer rarely has to answer for what a columnist writes because the beat writer IS there every day. He has a certain level of built-in respect because of it. The beat writer might be full of shit, but he would have more credibility in the locker room than a columnist who's not around much but hits the nail on the head. As a beat writer, I have never had to answer for a co-worker. In fact, I would say the beat writer can get away with writing a highly critical piece more easily than a columnist because of what I mentioned above. A columnist doesn't necessarily need to show up "the next day," but if he's going to rip, he needs to show his face at least a couple times a week.
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