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Post turns its sports folks loose on the frontrunners

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Hustle, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    Don't know about you, but I'd welcome the chance to do something like this:

    Sally Jenkins on Hillary Clinton

    and...

    Eli Saslow on Mitt Romney

    I don't know the woman who did Edwards today, but she's not in sports, at least as far as I know.
     
  2. Most of the guys in my department wouldn't be able to name more than two people running for president, let alone write about them. Maybe not that many.
     
  3. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    For me personally, I've done both news and sports at three different papers in my time in the business, and it's made me a whole hell of a lot more well-rounded because of it... [/patting myself on the back]
     
  4. This is part of a "special project" that includes Robin Givhan and, today, not one but TWO mentions of the $400 haircut. Also the insufferable Dana Milbank. More tinhorn psychobiography. All in all, it may be the death knell of political journalism at the WaPo forever. What a fucking mess.
     
  5. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    That may be an overstatement. I said "may."
    So don't write a 14-paragraph retort. I lack your passion. ;)
     
  6. SilvioDante

    SilvioDante Member

    See, people say this, but can't sports, done the right way, encompass a lot of this stuff, too? I think it's great that people know how to cover school board meetings - but how is that going to pay off when it's time to cover, say, a coaching search?

    Not doubting. Well, kind of doubting. But seems like we're perpetuating the "toy department" stereotype here.
     
  7. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I guess I feel the same way about this as I feel when some cityside reporter or features person gets sent to the Super Bowl. There's probably some poor bastard who has worked his way up to covering the Virginia or Maryland statehouse -- doing a great job at it, too -- and wonders exactly what he has to do to get a break like this. You have people who have devoted 10, 20, 30 years to striving toward writing about a presidential campaign and then they give the assignment to someone who has spent that same time writing about sports or fashion.

    I'm a fan of Sally's writing, but at the same time I'm troubled by the lack of attribution on some of the little recreations of Hillary's childhood that are stated as absolute fact. Now having read Jenkins a lot, I trust that there were multiple sources involved in whatever scenes weren't attributed, but people interested in national politics who have no interest in sports, well, they are not as familiar with her work and have no reason to believe that Jenkins putting us at the Rodham dinner table in 1950 is the result of talking to anyone other than Hillary.
     
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Applaud your first point, Frank. This business has so few ways to reward dedicated long-timers, the solid pros who never quite got to the "star" level. Yet much of the hand-wringing here involves older "stars" expanding what they've got (columnists adding radio or TV) and younger "stars" moving up as quickly as possible. Sometimes doing right by your staff -- the infantry types who handle (well) the daily grind -- IS doing right by your readers, because somebody really rises to the occasion.

    I'll take rewarding a solid pro over a gimmick tactic any day.
     
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Why would we assume someone covering state government for The Washington Post is merely "solid"?
     
  10. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Hey, you're the one who started this, voting for the dues-paying "poor bastard." Sounded to me, from that description, that it likely was someone who was "solid" rather than a "star." Besides, where's the insult in being known as a "solid pro"? Can do a lot worse in this business.
     
  11. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I don't see it as a gimmick. I think both Sally and Eli have shown they're two of the best profile writers the Post has, regardless of subject.

    I understand what you're saying about the foot soldier of the newspaper. Frankly, I think the person who covers his/her beat effectively, churning out copy, and filling up the paper each day is often unfairly treated by newspapers. Especially ones that are in love with stars and awards. Stars could not exist if there were not other people filling up the paper the other six days of the week (or 30 days of the month).

    But I think as an editor I'd still want the best story. And if I had someone who was extremely talented (and someone I was probably going to lose to a magazine unless I let him/her explore other interests) I'd probably give them a shot at something like this.

    I also think, Silvio, that the Toy Department reputation is going to exist regardless, but stuff like this helps erode some of that thinking. If you hire a sports staff capable of writing about everything -- including politics -- it's proof you're hiring pretty smart people.
     
  12. BRoth

    BRoth Member

    I listen to the daily podcast their web people put together and they're having corresponding interviews with the authors the day they release the features.

    Yesterday they spoke a little about why they're doing it and essentially said they felt it was a good idea to get fresh outlooks from people who don't cover politics because otherwise it'd be the same old people asking the same questions who cover it every day.

    Sure, that's a good thing. But for this purpose, I like what they did. They're giving plain old talented writers the chance to do good writing, regardless of the topic. I like it, but I don't think it'd be a good idea outside of this instance.
     
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