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Jake Scott piece

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Columbo, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Of course, Birdscribe, to be non-hypocritical, I support a number of the screamers, too, especially for the Internet. There's room for both.
  2. daemon

    daemon Well-Known Member

    Now that Hyde has found Scott, maybe he can track down Daunte Culpepper.

    Seriously, though, management line in the business these days seems to be "Earning space." As in, a story must earn the space it is provided.

    This one definitely earned it.

    A little back story: I believe Hyde has written a few pieces on Scott in the past few years, so I'm sure this story is a culmination of five or six years of work. Great move letting him go to Hawaii: Even if Scott doesn't talk, the search for him would have made a great story by itself.

    If there is one change in philosophy I'd stress to editors in this day in age, it'd be spending money and resources on a story like this, rather than covering an out-of-town NBA Finals.

    I'm guessing it cost about the same (or even less) to send Hyde to Hawaii for three days than it would have to send him to the entire World Series.

    In every market, there are stories like this just waiting to be told. The trick is spending the money and time on them, as well as sending your best writers to compose them.

    The Sun Sentinel did both here, and we all see the result.
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    As for Double Down and his thoughts: I too think this the kind of stuff that's great for discussion on this board. So, DD, let me tell you why I think it was done right.

    As I noted in my first post here, I'm at the point with the daily paper where, when I see a lead and two full pages of jump inside, the likelihood I'm going to get through the whole thing is about 10 percent.

    Now, I'm sure Dave didn't have my attention span in mind when he chose to craft it this way. But I really didn't need any creative tension here. They weren't going to do this story, to that length, if they hadn't found him. So let's get to him already.

    By doing that, they hooked me early, and I read to the end. Mission accomplished.
  4. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    First off, I really liked this story a lot, and I didn't know a damn thing about Jake Scott before reading it.

    Second: Shockey, you're a dick.

    And third (further to second), this is exactly the sort of story that's made for a group dissection, because there are so many ways Dave could have gone with it. Part of me wonders -- and maybe it's only because I'm a writer, and so I'm curious about process -- anyway, part of me wonders how Dave went from Jake on the porch saying he didn't want a story written about him, to Jake on a barstool spinning stories. Something happened in between, and maybe that's the part that Double Down feels is missing.

    When I wrote the Ricky story that Frank mentioned (a half-step? You're too kind), I put in a short section about the process of finding him, because I didn't want readers questioning how I found him. Maybe it would have been better without that part. Now, reading Dave's story, I can see a little better how my Ricky story might have gone without it. Again, maybe the average reader doesn't need that much explanation. They're just happy to be sitting at the bar beside Jake.

    Either way, it's an interesting debate, you know, FOR A JOURNALISM BOARD.
  5. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    In my humble opinion, I think this is exactly why you don't need the "suspense" in the beginning. You're asking people to read a 100-inch story. I'd rather that 100 inches be full of information or storytelling about Scott rather than trying to give the readers "suspense" over if you found him. The point of the story was to offer up what Scott had to say after all these years. With the way things have gone in journalism and the studies that show people don't like to read a lot of long, long pieces, I think the last thing Hyde needed to do was write 10-15 inches about his "search" for Scott.
  6. shockey

    shockey Active Member


    if this was true, i might be hurt.
  7. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Blondy you are the one who wrongly introduced race to the subject. What I tried to convey was something I personally found interesting about players like Jake Scott.

    What interested me about the players mentioned was not the fact that they were white but the fact that they were all very smart and had a similar iconoclastic nature. All seemed to be strong willed independent types.

    DD - my apologies for gumming up your journalism section but sometimes it also might be instructive for young writers to know what interests their readers.

    Too much of what is written today is done for the casual fan who would not even have a clue who Jake Scott was. Instead we end up with the same redone stories on TO.
  8. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I never said 10 or 15 inches. Never. I said five paragraphs, actually.

    You can say that I'm wrong and point to some vague studies that show me I'm wrong, but I believe that you can write newspaper stories the way people write magazine stories, and not lose readers. We keep trying this "readers want less and less" strategy and "they want their info faster and faster and guess what? It's not working. Personally, SF, I almost never look at how long a story is before I read the thing. If the story interests me, I keep reading. I certainly don't look at the headline, open the paper to whatever page it jumps to, see that it's two full pages and 100 inches, then go back and refuse to even read to the jump. I get it that a lot of people have short attention spans. That doesn't mean ALL people have short attention spans. Most of the stories in newspapers now, however, are written with the the belief that no one can read more than 20 inches. Every now and then, it's ok to stretch a bit and challenge people.

    When Plascke wrote "Her Blue Heaven" he didn't start out by telling us that he'd been getting emails from a girl who was in a wheelchair and that he drove down some dusty Texas road and found a girl in a tiny shack with cerebral palsy typing out her Dodger blog posts with her tongue. He let the story unfold. And it certainly wasn't a story about Plascke. It wasn't about the "journey" either. It was about Sarah Morris. And it ran in a newspaper. And people read it.

    There's a big difference between showing off as a writer and trying to make the story about yourself, and setting the scene to make your opener a little more powerful. There is a lot of great detail in this story, some beautiful characters (I love the little one sentence descriptions of the people at the bar) and some great answers or non-answers to the urban legends about Scott. I think that's exactly why it deserves something more than "we found him" as the headline, and "over the course of two days of interviews this is what he said" in the second paragraph. It's a wonderful, interesting story. Saying that the lead could have been more artful doesn't mean I want to add a contrived attempt to add suspense. Clearly there was some suspense for Hyde walking up those steps, yes?
  9. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    All I know is that a girl who can type Dodger blogs with her tongue is my type of gal.
  10. blondebomber

    blondebomber Member

    Since when is Mike Wagner an iconoclast? On the Steel Curtain defense he would be ranked about 10th on the impact scale.
  11. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I will say this: if this thread were the Tahiti Nui cocktail lounge, David Hyde might have a difficult time interviewing Jake Scott while Boom 70 and Blondebomber sat on opposite sides of them, flicking peanut shells at one another and arguing over the shoulders of Scott and Hyde about charismatic white defensive backs.
  12. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    True. Different story, though.

    I guess the obvious thing is that there's 100 different ways to write a story. Dave went this way, and I think he pulled it off perfectly.
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