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Globe news columnist returns fire at mag

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by wickedwritah, May 29, 2008.

  1. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Boston Magazine wrote this piece in the June issue, lamenting what the writer says is a lack of hard-nosed column writing in The Boston Globe's City/Region section.


    So Globe columnist Kevin Cullen fires back today.


    Regardless of whether the return slam was warranted -- frankly, I thought the Boston mag piece was pretty good to Cullen -- this isn't the right move. As Cullen alludes to in his piece, Boston mag isn't really relevant anymore, if it ever was. I can't even tell you anyone who reads it.
  2. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Before I even read Cullen's response: the original piece by Gonzalez smacks of dripping ivory-tower know-it-allism.

    More than anything else, Gonzales seems pissed the Globe columnists don't all write hard-ass columns the way he (of course) would.
  3. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    The better strategy in that sort of situation is to not return direct fire. Just bide your time until the critic screws something up, which is inevitable, and then happily tear him a new one.

    The quick response makes Cullen look thin-skinned, even if that's not the case.

    As for Boston Mag, they need to remember the old adage: Don't get into a pissing war with a guy who buys throughput by the terabyte.
  4. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    Eh, fuck 'em.

    The guy called, listed his beefs from "people complaining about it" ... the reporter asked for specifics and the mag writer wouldn't/couldn't give names. At that point, it was time to take him out to the woodshed.

    This all reminds me. We had a local university professor, a guy who taught several of my college journalism classes, who constantly railed against the work being done by the local daily newspaper.

    So one day, he put in for a sabbatical to WORK at said paper for a semester. He wanted to write some big think piece, digging deep, on baby boomers and race issues.

    What he turned in was a scarcely-sourced package of articles so laughably thin — so hilariously underreported — that print-outs got handed back to him, topped with a Post-It note that said "You might try and offer this to the school paper."

    Ivory Tower Jerk-Off.
  5. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    The Boston Magazine piece is at least a thorough critique. It has a sense of history and a strong take. I don't necessarily agree with the take, but it's 2,000 words, it stays on point, and it gives Cullen the chance to make his case, which, actually, he does.

    Cullen's response is the typical, unfortunate "fuck you, and your pathetic rag" rant. I know it's popular and common among columnists to run the same tired jokes ("you're right, I suck, just ask my friends") demand names ("I want to SEE my accuser!") and throw stones back at the glass house.

    It's just discouraging and diminishing. And y'know what? It solves nothing, and simply deepens the impression that journalists can't take criticism without retreating into "who the fuck are you?" nonsense.

    Considering all the outraged threads I see on here about some parent who dared to question the sacred text of a prep story, or, worst of all, <i>asked for more coverage</i> I shouldn't be surprised.
  6. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Wait a minute, wait a minute. You mean to tell me that the Boston Magazine reporter is supposed to provide the Globe columnist with names, when I am quite sure, those people made their statement under the condition of anonymity? When journalists use the word "sources" for the tiniest thing these days...the Boston Globe columnist has an inalienable right to know his accusers before he can accept any criticism whatsoever?
  7. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    I should've been more clear:

    It sounds like the ol' "Some people say that you ..."

    Well, who? "Some"?

    It's the old bailout on a guy not wanting to say "I think that you..."

    It's weak. He's not protecting whistleblowers. He's bitching about a columnist.
  8. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Pat Smith and Mike Barnacle mentions are ALWAYS welcome.
  9. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    The piece quotes two anonymous sources, a current Globe writer and a former one. Unless you're claiming Gonzalez made them up.

    Here's what Cullen writes: "Mr. Gonzalez informed me that some people think I'm too busy comforting the afflicted to be any good at afflicting the comfortable. I asked who these people might be and he said he couldn't tell me."

    In other words, Gonzalez wasn't going to tell him, because when do journalists <i>ever</i> reveal their sources?

    Cullen asked, of course, because most journalists act just like the people they cover when their feathers get ruffled a little.
  10. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    On both sides, typical of the inside baseball, all about ourselves naval gazing that distinguishes Boston media these days - neither the Globe nor Boston Magazine are anything close to what they used to be. That being said, Cullen's in a tough spot. Since the Barnacle and Patricia Smith debacles, Globe columnists can't make things up anymore - it's hard for a metro columnist to compete with the fictions of an earlier era in a newspaper with "Boston" on the masthead that is now targeted at people who live between 128 and 495.
  11. ECrawford

    ECrawford Member

    You write a column, you give your opinion every day, you have to expect

    1. For some not to agree
    2. For some to think and say you're an idiot
    3. For some to hate your work no matter what you write
    4. For some to get pissed off at you and stay that way

    You have to accept that. If you can say whatever you want about whomever you want, there's no reason someone can't do the same about you.

    Sometimes I'll answer reader (or other) challenges via blog, but I don't think there's any reason to use the newspaper's column space for self-defense.

    Frankly, choice of column topics is as legitimate an area for criticism as any a columnist faces.
  12. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    This has nothing to do with the issue between these babies, but what the hell . . . Cullen lost all credibility with me when he wrote this:

    Being called soft by Boston magazine is like being called fat by Carmen DiNunzio, the 400-pound Mafia boss.

    Explaining a punch line? That's the best he can do? Typical artless, ham-handed newspaper junk. Either he has lousy touch or he couldn't get a DiNunzio reference past an editor without adding the clunky "400-pound" explanation that completely invalidates the line in the first place. "See, a newspaper is black and white, and it's also read -- r-e-a-d -- all over, so..."

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