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Talking about "talk about"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sprtswrtr10, Oct 3, 2011.

  1. sprtswrtr10

    sprtswrtr10 Member

    Just browsing, I've seen one pet peeve thread (about "respective" and "respectively") and another one about terrible press conference questions. Those two threads have conspired to motivate my creating this one. I don't know if it's just me or what, but whenever I hear a reporter ask a coach, player, anybody to "talk about …" I immediately decide that reporter is one of two or three things: lazy, stupid or (being very kind) unmotivated.

    "Talk about your bench play tonight"
    "Talk about the way you came back in the second half"
    "Talk about what it takes to beat a team like (insert name of team)"

    Maybe 10 years ago it was mostly radio and TV guys doing it at press conferences, intentionally trying to cast a wide in hopes of getting their sound and pictures for the whole week. But now I think half the questions I hear in postgame begin this way.

    Just once I want to hear the subject turn it around and say, "We came back in the second half, what the hell else do want to know about it." Or "It's not really a bench, but a bunch of folding chairs, but that's not what you want me to talk about, so why don't you ask me a real question." Or, at the very least "What about it do you want me to talk about?" just so the questioner might realize how stupid phrasing a question that way sounds.

    Every once in a while (couple times a year, maybe) I hear myself begin to lapse into a question like that, and in that moment, while hating myself, back up and ask the question another way — "What happened after the half, it seems like your bench really got on a roll there?" I realize that's hardly an intelligent question, but at least it's not insulting to the subject, nor does it out me as in idiot.

    To me, using "talk about" is equivalent to saying "Look, I'm an idiot, but I need some quotes. If I knew what I was doing I'd ask you a narrow question about a key moment, decision or momentum shift, but all of that is lost on me, so I'll just ask it this way and hope you don't realize I'm an idiot.

    If anybody wants to defend "talk about" feel free. Or if I'm on to something, let me know. Or if theres a similar convention that drives you nuts (not in copy, but in the interview process), please share.
  2. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    I think we've talked about "talk about" in several previous threads. I'm too lazy to look them up, though.
  3. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    More questions like this please:

  4. "Talk about" is preferable to a long question where the reporter tries to show how knowledgeable he or she is and then ends up asking a question that the coach can answer with "Yes."
  5. mrbigles01

    mrbigles01 Member

    Let's be honest, most people asking that kind of question are asking it in a situation where "everyone knows the score." Talk about your bench actually means, "I'm on deadline in 15 minutes, the story is already written and I need a quote about how well your bench played." The coach knows exactly what is going on there as does the reporter.

    It's a gamer, it's not Pulitzer Prize winning stuff, its just the rote day-to-day. The quicker you can get in and out the better.
  6. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    Doesn't bother me. Everyone knows what the questioner is getting at. You can argue it's not a question, so if he said "Can you talk about... ?" would that be OK?

    What comes after "talk about" is much more important.

    "Talk about the way Joe Shmo's throwing has gotten so much more precise over the past few weeks." is not technically a question, but it's better than...

    "How happy were you to get that ninth-inning lead?" which is a question.
  7. writingump

    writingump Member

    I heard myself saying "talk about" in a question the other night and inwardly cringed. I guess it's better to say that than the example Bobcat just offered. But "talk about" is kind of lazy, I admit.
  8. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    "Talk about your next job, Larry."

    "As a matter of fact, that's what I spent all afternoon doing..."
  9. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    Don't worry, I work hard every day creating direct questions that pretty much get across the above idea.

    Also, some coaches take better to "talk about," becuase some direct questions make them think you are coming after them ("What goes wrong with your defense in that second half?"). Those coaches are often insane, but that's the nature of the business.
  10. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    I'll take "talk about the run defense" guy every day over the guy who spends 45 seconds prefacing his question, which can be summarized as "talk about the run defense."
  11. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member


    "Coach, I know you talked on Tuesday about wanting to work on your run defense. And Johnson out there, well he rushed for only 27 yards against you in the first half. That's the fewest first-half yards you've given up this season on the ground. What did you do differently with the run defense?"
  12. sprtswrtr10

    sprtswrtr10 Member

    I appreciate what folks are saying. But why can't "talk about your run defense," be, "you guys were good against the run today, why?" My point is, general questions are OK, but a lazy general question isn't.

    before: talk about your bench.
    after: did your bench surprise you today, or is that what you expect from it every time?

    before: can you talk about their explosive offense?
    after: is there a starting point to defending so many weapons?

    I guess, I would say, ask what you mean!
    Or, if you don't know what you mean, just don't say "talk about."
    It's insulting. To the subject. But mostly, to you.
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