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Sir, neither of those are questions, both are instructions

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Sly, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    Just caught this pet peeve in Joe Maddon's postgame press conference transcript.

    Q. Two questions: Talk about your offense; and number two, talk about your confidence going into Game 5.

  2. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Great catch, Sly! One of the great but unappreciated losses to real journalism is the way print reporters have surrendered to and been overrun by the broadcast folks seeking sound bites. It apparently doesn't matter what the person talks about, beyond the most general topic designation, as long as the person ... talks.

    Some of this is due to laziness or inability to articulate proper questions. Using the example above, I'm guessing the reporter "asking" Maddon about these topics either didn't know how to, or couldn't be bothered to, put together a cogent question about the Rays' explosive attack, and didn't know how to ask the second part in a way that would elicit more than a short or cliched answer.

    If I never hear another "Talk about..." construction in an interview, especially a postgamer, I'll be a happy man. Of course, I've got no chance at that. But "talk about..." is only the latest variation on the much-ridiculed "How does it feel...?"

    This would be more tolerable if the buffoons working this way would then move on, allowing reporters to ask real questions and even get some 1-on-1 time. But the teams and the leagues are complicit in this too, by the way they limit access overall. Often, this is all that we can get.
  3. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    The only actual question I hate more than "talk about" is "How big was it?"

    As in, "How big was this win?" ... How are you supposed to get anything of any substance from that question? "REAL big!"
  4. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    There are lots of bogus questions like that, that are offered up merely to get someone yakking than they are to elicit a real answer or, God forbid, thought.

    If a question will only provoke one possible answer, it's not much of a question. Probably could have gone unasked.
  5. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    This used to bother me, too, but I've come to think of it as something of a short-hand version of a question, usually used at the very beginning of a crowded news conference at which news folks have already been sitting for 10 minutes waiting for the subject . The inquisitor wants to quickly get at what he considered the key topics, usually topics that interest most of the audience. I'd much rather have this than someone asking a convoluted question to demonstrate how fucking smart he/ she is. Notice, too, that at least in this case it generated a somewhat interesting response with stuff that needed to be covered by a lot of people in the room:

    Q. Two questions: Talk about your offense; and number two, talk about your confidence going into Game 5.
    JOE MADDON: Well, first of all, the offense. I know our bats have gotten better. They've gotten a lot better, obviously. You get Carl back in the middle, Carl had a spectacular day today and so did Willy.
    You could talk about everybody up and down the lineup, J.B.'s triple to right center, but Carl and Willy really set the tone for us today, also.
    It's so nice having Carl in the middle of everything, and then of course, Willy is such an unsung part of this group, very good in RBI situations for us, has had a lot of big hits, and of course, the other guys just having good at-bats. We all talk about good at-bats.
    We are at the point now where we are swinging at strikes. We're not expanding our strike zone, which is one of our hugest goals coming into this spring training, and I'm loving that part of it. But right now it's kind of contagious. Just like the lack of something is contagious, when you're actually doing something that well, then it becomes contagious in a positive way, and the at-bats have been good.
    Going into the next game, we're going to take tomorrow off, we're going to come back out, and I want to see us go after it the same way. It was one of our more complete games tonight I thought in regard to all facets. I thought we made some really good defensive plays. B.J. in center field really roamed well, and you got to see his arm strength when he threw that ball to first base, J.B. on that slow chopper. A lot of really good things, and I was obviously very pleased with tonight's game.
    Like I've been saying all along, I don't want us to do anything differently.
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Couldn't agree more, cran. I'm not sure I've used the "talk about" construction very often but in a deadline situation I'm not going to begrudge anyone who does. Whatever gets the ball rolling.
  7. Monroe Stahr

    Monroe Stahr Member

    I'm not sure a question beginning with the words "talk about" is always lame. Sometimes "talk about" is just another way of saying "could you walk us through" -- that last drive, that last hole, that half-court shot you hit. You're looking for as much information as possible and want the answer to be as unrestricted as possible. That's all.
  8. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Talk about how you dislike reporters who ask a subject to talk about something.
  9. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    I actually don't mind it. I object to the wording, but not what's often the goal with the "talk about" non-question. I like to have a coach's general opinion on something before getting into more specifics.
  10. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but it has become ubiquitous. On deadline, in large groups, to get the ball rolling or to hit on the obvious talking point, OK, sure, I've got no problem with it. But now you've got interns showing up in clubhouses, pre-game, in July, sticking a microphone in a player's face and saying, "Talk about this winning streak" or something inane like that.

    It can seem semi-rude, a brusque command. And while I would rather hear it than some blowhard's soliloquy in advance of a question that the blowhard more or less just answered himself, it does seem like a dumbing down of what we do.

    I don't blame one bit the players or coaches who respond by saying, "What do you want me to say about ----?"
  11. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    I just generally thought it was weird because he said he had two questions, then threw out two lines that were not questions. If he had just said "talk about" right away, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it.
  12. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Our readers don't give a shit how the question was phrased. They care about the response. Or if it's high school sports, whether their kid was the one being asked.
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