1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Mean-spirited writing....

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by farmerjerome, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    So, this season I've noticed that that my writing has gotten a bit harsh.

    I've had an incident or two as far as snotty kids and parents so far but I don't think they have anything to do with it. The games in our area have just been so, so -- AWFUL. The talent is poor give or take a few teams and we really don't have anyone going far in the postseason.

    This summer marks my 10th year in the business, so I don't know if I'm in a rut, if it's just the teams this time around or what. I just can't seem to find anything positive to point out.

    On the flip side, the only piece that I'm really proud of in the past six months is a 70-10 basketball game that I flipped and featurized on a Catholic school putting a program together for the first time.

    Short of going back to basics and writing every gamer with an inverted-pyramid approach, any tips before I start getting really nasty complaints?
  2. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    When you say mean-spirited...in what way? Cynical, critical....or more honest than your readers might appreciate?

    Maybe you were too nice before, and now you're where you should be?
  3. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    If they've been mean-spirited all season shouldn't you already be getting complaints?

    Maybe they aren't mean-spirited.
  4. There's a vast difference between being mean-spirited and being critical. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying a game was horrible. I've covered girls basketball games where the winning team shoots under 20 percent from the field, and I had no problem saying it was awful basketball.

    The only thing I steer away from is being critical of kids. Because they are still kids. They're not on scholarships or being played to play, they're kids playing because they enjoy it - or in some cases just because they're good at it. Kid makes a mistake that costs the game, no problem in saying so, or giving them a chance to talk about it. But not need to bury kids.
  5. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    T.J., is that you?
  6. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    I don't know if you always have to point out "anything positive." If there's nothing positive there, it's not our job to necessarily try to find something. We report what we see. If you see two teams shoot a combined 12-for-63, then that's what you see.

    Also, I understand the whole "critical of kids" argument, but I assume we're talking about high school players here. Granted, a column pointing out one player's flaws might be a bit harsh. But these are high school kids - people who are capable of plenty of things, not the least among them having children themselves or criminal offenses. On that scale, being critical of a team that scores eight points in a mid-season game isn't all that bad.
  7. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    I, too, am rough when I think it calls for it, which happens to be more often than not. But I haven't gotten complaints. I think readers, for the most part, appreciate honesty, and if you say a game sucks or set the sport back so many years, they can appreciate the insight and analysis, since that's our job,
  8. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    Yeah, maybe you guys are right. It's not like I was being to "rah-rah" before now I'm just being a little more balanced. It just seems this season that things have been more negative then positive.

    I'm in a small market, so I do see these coaches on a regular basis. I'll just have to keep my cynicism to a minimum.
  9. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Dear FJ: It seems to me that if the schools you cover are in a down cycle talent-wise, which of course happens everywhere once in a while, this is when those coaches really earn their paychecks. They have to teach these kids much more about how to play, and even more, how to use what abilities they do have, what not to try to do, in other words. It's not cynical to write about that.
  10. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    find something else to write about...feeding your subscribers a constant diet of simple-gamers is going to make them want to puke. Try to find some topical pieces or feature profiles to mix in, so the blowout gamers aren't taking the focus.
  11. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    We're missing a few people in our department right now so I'm only doing gamers.

    You make a good point though. Maybe the reason I'm in such a rut is because all I've been doing for the past six months is game coverage. Not that I'm complaining. I'd rather cover games than write features anyday.
  12. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I've been where you're at, but it was a college program, which is inherently easier, because there's coach who can be fired (Which he was. OK guy, couldn't recruit.) In high school, it's a little harder, because prep parents expect you to find the silver lining where none exists, and you can only take so much shots at the players without feeling like you're piling on.

    Michael's right: You can find positive stuff in the process - there such a thing as progress from awful-to-bad - or maybe in a freshman who's getting good minutes. I do not think that means you're the coach's buddy. Way too many small dailies/weeklies get into that problem, and they can't get out of it. For that matter, larger papers struggle with it, too - especially on the prep level.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page