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Death of the general sports columnist?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Oz, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    I hate the fact that I always come away from reading Murray Chass thinking he's the most bitter man in the world.

    That bothers me. But I can't help it.
  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I don't read it that way. He's disputing the notion that general sports columnists can't write knowledgeably about teams they don't cover every day. And he's illustrating that by saying that Dave Anderson would consult with the beat writer rather than just parachute in and assume expertise. Did Anderson also consult the Knicks writer and horse racing writer before he wrote? Probably, but Chass wasn't there. An editor might suggest, "Dave Anderson was known to consult beat writers to ensure he was well-briefed, and he did so regularly with me." Something along those lines.

    I don't agree with his point (well, I could note exceptions in which I would). But it's a valid point and one of the least objectionable in his blog post. From an editor's standpoint, it's not productive to read between the lines on everything someone writes and look for the hidden asshole in every paragraph.

    I agree with Fishwrapper, though. Everyone needs an editor. The stuff about the sixth columnist is self-serving, even though he quotes Araton, and the Jolly shots are just catty. An editor would have tried to talk him out of it by telling him that he could make his point without giving the appearance that it's retribution.
  3. AD

    AD Active Member

    i'm not reading between the lines, and there's nothing hidden about it. it's all there in black and white. i understand what he's saying, and the way he says it that is revealing. my nickel, that's all.
  4. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    If a few editors didn't deserve a little retribution at this point, they ain't never going to deserve a little retribution. What the hell, they're kneecapping longtime journalists right and left in this business and we're going to chide a grizzled vet for firing back with a pop-gun blog (sorry, Murray, not sure what you call it)?

    Newspapers are slamming haymakers right and left at folks who merely wanted to continue doing solid work for them, yet the battered are the ones who are supposed to rise above it and not get catty or bitter? Nah, I think many have earned the right.
  5. ScribePharisee

    ScribePharisee New Member

    Preach on Joe. Best post on this page.

    Friend of mine's chat yesterday makes me believe that all "managing or executive editors" are no longer even that, they should be called "managers," "directors" or just plain "corporate bitches." It must be painful to worry every day what these bastards are going to do to make your job harder.
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Joe, I agree. I'm fine with the vehicle and the tone.
    But, Chass, by writing that "piece," makes Jolley's point for him.
    Problem was non-sequitur after missed point after bad analogy. Problem wasn't the right to write, but with execution.
  7. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

    One of the problems with the general columnist is that papers don't really want them to do great writing. They just want talk radio in print (and blogs). So most newspaper columns/blogs you read are the about playing GM for a day, or decreeing that so and so is the greatest ever or the worst ever, or declaring a team doomed 5 percent into a season.
  8. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    I agree with that too. But, that can't be said for the stable that used to be at The Times.
  9. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

    No, but truthfully, the Times' best writers have tended to be beat guys (Olney, etc.) It really hasn't been an inspiring lot of columnists. Hard to imagine anyone reading the NY Times for its sports columns, though it has had some good writing in the section in recent years. Olney, Wise, Curry.
  10. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    What about Bill Rhoden?
  11. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    I see your distinction. I'll assume that Times copy editors earn their money and that might account for some difference in the end result. But fair enough, we are talking about two different things.
  12. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Until quite recently, EVERY paper, or nearly every paper, had a senior columnist whose role was as institutional memory for the paper and the community. These people were not always great writers (although a surprising number were damn good), but they were a known quantity and were TRUSTED by the readers.
    Trust is a valuable asset, one which newspapers seem to have pissed away in many ways.
    That's just one of the many different kinds of general columnists there are, or were. If the columnist is no longer considered desirable, it's because newspapers don't seem to value individual voices, or any voices.
    The idea that good writing attracts readers has been abandoned. This is insane.
    One more thing. When I was a little kid, a teenager, a college snot, and a young adult, I never gave a good goddamn how old the people who wrote in the sports section were. I just rated 'em as people I liked to read or didn't.
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