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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Dave Kindred laments the loss of newspaper columnists...

    Kindred makes some points noting the loss of a number of great columnists, but those are the greats. Not the everyday guys most of us are stuck with ... And those guys - and girls - aren't much different than the folks on radio and TV. In many cases they used to be print folks.

    This is where I disagree..
    For all the news one can get, I get 10 times the opinion. I'm saturated with it and sick to death of it. Ninety percent of the shows on ESPN are opinions wrapped around a sliver of news. The same with sports talk radio. And I watch and listen to neither of those. I can get opinions everywhere... Even entertaining ones, via Facebook and Twitter.

    I want news. Joe Friday - just the facts - News.
  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Yeah, but you can get news a million places too.

    Informed opinion/analysis is at least unique to each opiner/analyst.
  3. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    There are out in the world any number of persons who could replace the established columnists Dave cited and have their own insights, analysis and writing chops which would continue the presence of the columnist in the sports section. The point is, newspapers don't want 'em. Columnists make too much money, which is the reason I became an ex-columnist some years back.
    Sports columnists who are part of the paper's identity are to be lumped in the same category as foreign news or the drama critic. Yeah, readers like 'em, but so what? They cost.
  4. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    When I saw the thread title, I thought, "OK, this either has to do with Kindred, or some soccer/MMA/anything but the Big Three sports hater."

    The perfect storm is when a newspaper sports columnist writes about boxing or horse racing. The impactful sports columnist is indeed a relic of yesteryear.

    Why pay for a columnist when there is plenty of opinion out there?

    As far as readers are concerned, the well-read lawyer who blogs about sports can be just as insightful as the sports jockey who writes for the paper. In some cases, even moreso, since the blogger isn't afraid to lose his (or her) press pass.
  5. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    I am one of those bloggers, so I'm hardly in a position to argue that point. However, newspaper reading (and buying) is a habit. The established columnist was one of the parts of that habit. He/she is/was a familiar companion or even, dare I say it, someone the customer enjoyed reading. If, to put it as deterministically as possible, newspapers are just content aggregators, then the less content they aggregate, the less valuble their product is.
  6. sprtswrtr10

    sprtswrtr10 Member

    I'm a sports editor/columnist at a Big 12 daily.

    That's my way of explaining that I write columns but have never lived in the rarified air of being "The Columnist." I have a beat, too. I make the schedule, etc. Still, I take my columnist role very seriously and believe it to be an intrinsically bigger enterprise than simply spouting off an opinion.

    You're a watchdog, you're an historian, you're the conscience, you're a reasoned vote of approval or disapproval that matters, you have gravity … or, I should say, you have gravity if, over time, you're talented, skilled and smart enough to present yourself with gravity. I hope that I've done that in my small shop, but on the subject of columnists in general … I will forever lament every loss of columnists like that.

    Most are not that. Too many write sidebars with a picture next to the headline. Too many simply spout. Too few try to be "that guy" or "that woman."

    Of course, I loved Posnanski at the KC Star. But Berry Tramel at The Oklahoman is really, really good. You went to Posnanski. You go to Tramel. You feel incomplete without hearing from them.

    Losing folks like that will always suck.
    Even if they take their act to a place like ESPN or Yahoo, their gravity is lost.
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I certainly still believe that columnists as personalities are still destinations, for papers or websites or whatever.
  8. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    I cited the Krugman column because it was, in my mind, the kind of column that justifies the genre. It was done on an issue of national interest by a reporter who knows the turf. It was structured simply. It made his argument clearly. It was opinion, certainly -- opinion supported by reporting and reasoned analysis. Agreed, it was nothing that a lawyer/economist/blogger couldn't do. (Though Krugman's status as a Nobel prize winner is daunting.) But the fact that a blogger could do it doesn't change my feeling that America's best newspaper (maybe its best website, too) should also do it. The "lament" in my column, if lament there is, comes from my feeling that the Tmes has made a decision by default that a column such as Krugman's -- reported, reasoned, thoughtful, topical -- has no place in its sports section. That, I don't understand.
  9. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    The Times' political coverage sets the terms of the national discussion, though. Times sports columns don't do that and never have. I'll be honest, I have rarely read a Times sports columnist and thought that person was more informed about the issue than a hundred other people (oftentimes including myself in that category) are.

    Sometimes I read Times sports columnists and get the feeling they don't like sports all that much.
  10. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    Great post.
  11. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    It's the same concept as it no longer being an almost exclusively NBC/CBS/ABC nation. More options generally make any one option seem less dear. And more options make for more differing opinions, making it less likely any one opinion will be generally accepted as the take of the day. Hell, maybe newspapers should hire well-read lawyers to be columnists (what Whitman was doing on Rasputin's log-on, I'll never know)
  12. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Columnists are like travel agents, these days.
    Sure there are a few very good ones, but now anyone with a data plan can give it a whirl ... and they do.

    I've been doing this for a long time. And this mindset, no matter how noble or wanting, has been the problem with the industry. Grasping onto "what was," instead of "what will be." Adaption hasn't been quick in our dear profession.
    Instead of Dave always wanting to be called a columnist, I would applaud him with a standing ovation if he embraced being a "content provider" or "content source" instead of a columnist.

    That's the reality of the world we live in.
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