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Revitalizing Writers' Workshop

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Versatile, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    This board is loaded with good, if sometimes contentious, discussions on news judgment, journalism ethics, layoffs, social media, etc. But the actual discussion of writing has really dropped off since I first joined this board back in 2006 (under my actual name, when I rarely posted). I would love to see those kinds of discussions brought back, if people are interested.

    So I was thinking, why not take a piece a week for discussion. I don't mean "Death of a Racehorse" and "The Silent Season of a Hero" and other great pieces. I don't even mean the latest Gary Smith feature. I think the discussion would be far more interesting with real examples of modern sports writing for newspapers and websites that might actually compare to something we would be writing or editing on a regular basis. Most people on this board, I'd guess will never be given the four-five months to write one 7,000-word feature that Gary Smith gets on a regular basis, but we consistently deal with 700-word game stories, 1,000-word columns and 1,500-word profiles.

    It wouldn't be difficult to provide one current piece for full analysis each week. I'd be happy to find the pieces and open the discussions. But before I do that, I figured I would take it to the board on a few questions:

    1. Would you be interested in this?
    2. Regardless of your interest, how do you feel about the idea of using current sports writing as a basis for a craft discussion? My targets would all be generally good, relatively speaking, and from major sources (top-20 newspapers and major sports websites), but we would have to be free to criticize or there is no point. Is it unfair to target writers who did not expect that type of scrutiny?
    3. Is there another form of craft discussion you think would be more effective or palatable?
  2. JamesCimburek

    JamesCimburek New Member

    There are more than enough forums to whine and complain. We need more places to learn from the best in our craft.

    Short version: I agree.
  3. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    It's terrific idea, but journalists are pretty reluctant to dig their teeth into beat reporters writing the 20-inch feature in between lunch and dinner. A lot of those folks juggle enough balls as it is.

    What I did once - and it actually got a lot of good critique - was post five stories from one game and have folks pick their favorite and say why.


    I'd try that. Do it from a NFL game. Say - Giants/Cowboys tonight. Hell, columns, too. There ought to be, what, 15 written from it?
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Alma, I like that idea except I don't know that people will be invested enough in it each week (or on any regular basis) to read four or five full stories about a single game. I'll give it a shot, though, perhaps not with that particular game.
  5. Simon

    Simon Active Member

    I'm in.
  6. Illino

    Illino Member

    I can't say I'd contribute much (being just a youngster), but I would love to read what the old vets have to say about something like that on a weekly basis.
  7. silent_h

    silent_h Member

    I'm willing to help when I can.
  8. ringer

    ringer Active Member

    I like the idea, if there's a clear question to discuss.

    Otherwise, it might dissolve into a mess of opinions about style preferences.
  9. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I'd love to read such material, and participate.
  10. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    I want to complain more. In fact, I think it sucks that we're talking about threads that don't involve personal attacks.

    Having said that, I'm all in. Great idea. Now let me go complain about Rick Santorum, CNN, ESPN, Holly Rowe, the BCS, AAU basketball, Qdoba's inferior ingredients and Katie Perry.

  11. Ch.B

    Ch.B New Member

    Like the idea. A thought: what about rotating through different formats? Start with a gamer, then move on to a column, then a short feature, then a bonus-length piece. Could be a way to highlight the differences in approaching each, and bring in different voices on the board.
  12. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    OK, I'll pick one of the NFL playoff games and go with Alma's idea. We'll see how that goes.
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