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Life of Reilly: The rise, fall and rise again

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HanSenSE, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    I'm loathe to veer into anything that smacks of mansplaining here, Luggy, but as a guy who worked mostly in print, I don't think I ever received an assignment without a word length attached to it. I hit that count, I would guess, 90 percent of the time. Sometimes I went shorter, sometimes longer (more often longer), but almost always something like it. It's just how it worked. Editors divided up pages by deciding in advance how much space certain stories were "worth." Obviously that doesn't matter online, except that I think people will read (generally: There are exceptions) less online than that might on the page. I do, anyway. But word counts or column inches were always part of my deal. I'm not sure what I would with an assignment that didn't have a length attached. It would be like telling me to go somewhere without giving me any direction where or how.

    Putting all of that aside, some large percentage of long stories start too early and end too late. They have three ledes and four endings.
  2. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    It wasn't even word counts for me as a newspaper reporter; it was length in inches (hey now!).

    You'd get back from a planning and zoning meeting at 1:30 a.m., you'd have 30 minutes till deadline and the editor would tell you you had 12 inches to work with. Not 11, not 13. 12. Because all the ads had been placed by the slot editor and they weren't moving other stories around at that hour to accommodate your verbosity.

    And you had to be pretty damn close over or under to that 12 -- like 11.5 was fine, and so was 12.2.
    Otherwise you'd have to fuck with the kerning and squeeze or stretch text, which looks like shit and is definitely noticeable, at least to other newspaper folk. I don't recall what 12 inches came out to wordwise, but I seem to remember it was 600 words, maybe a bit less.
    BitterYoungMatador2 likes this.
  3. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Of course you want great writing, but there are people who can produce that. Far fewer great reporters who can pull out of other people the words needed to make great nonfiction. Fewer still know when to stop or have editors who know when. There's a shitload of nonfiction out there today, a lot of it acclaimed, and I mean, a lot of these books are much too long and, worse, just 12 vignettes chopped up for the sake of drama and called a book. One award winner from a years ago, on the drug crisis is perhaps 200 pages too long, like eating a long john or eclair with way too much filling in it.

    The recent Rodrick piece on suicide is, I'm sorry, it's just too damn long. And I get that it's personal, and the ending is powerful, but that was a challenge not to scroll halfway in.
  4. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    No, it wasn’t, and, ultimately, that’s OK. ESPN leadership was free to try whatever and think whatever and do whatever.

    I feel bad, too, that Jemele Hill took the brunt of it. She was pretty good on TV and did not express on Twitter an opinion almost all national sports journalists - who I think are more left and progressive than political journalists - didn’t already have.

    But of course there was an ethos at work. Of course there was. Hell, the constant critique of football was part of it. Skipper didn’t like football. He liked soccer and basketball. So there was a freedom that was taken so far, hell, the normally milquetoast Bill Simmons started acting like a virtual Weatherman to get himself fired.
  5. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    I always got a special little kick hitting the number exactly. Like a showcase showdown. Editor wants 1,500 words? He's getting 1,500 words, not 1,501 or 1,499.

    Baron Scicluna, Dog8Cats and Lugnuts like this.
  6. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Mansplain anytime, tf !
  7. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    I'm unfamiliar with him, but I hope to God there are better examples of his writing than this. That's like something a 19-year-old would write for an essay in an Intro to Philosophy class that's he's three weeks into.
  8. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Unfamiliar with Steve Rushin.

    See what I mean, folks?

    Rushin dropped off the flat earth.
  9. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    thread - cory doctorow goes long

  10. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

  11. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Small point of order on The Atlantic discussion on here - The guy didn't get a bunch of shit on the Internet just because he said it was hard to find people to do it, he got a bunch of shit because he said it was hard to find people *besides white men* to do it.
  12. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    But that's not really what he said.

    It was pretty clear in the original interview what he meant - that it's hard to write a 10,000-word cover story AND only a handful of white men were being afforded the chance to do so.

    Because yeah, the guy who put Coates and Flanagan on the cover of the Atlantic has no idea where to find writers.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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