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!

The Athletic keeps growing .......

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Fran Curci, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    As someone who has read a lot of sports writing for 50 years I think that just because Frank Deford or Dan Jenkins had the talent to write long that 99% of sportswriters can do the same thing. But I have seen a lot of guys in the 99% try and fail.
  2. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    When I've written long I gain new appreciation for editors. I also really enjoy watching the "deleted scenes" extras on movies with the commentary to understand why scenes were left out. Generally they had a couple of rules - no matter how much you love a quote or vignette (or scene in a movie), if you can tell the story without it - you should. If you've already made the point, there is no reason to make it again. And just because you put a lot of effort, time, money into getting (a shot, a scene or an interview) doesn't mean it should automatically be included in the final cut.
    justgladtobehere likes this.
  3. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    Well I’m a poet who creates art with my long paragraphs and big words. For you unartistic clowns, though, this is good advice.
  4. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    Their soccer writing since they geared up in the UK has been fantastic.
  5. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    I agree. I really enjoy Levanthal's work on Watford, he's been great with setting up Q&As after matches so we can vent about the shittiness of our club.
  6. bpoindexter

    bpoindexter Active Member

    HanSenSE likes this.
  7. MeanGreenATO

    MeanGreenATO Active Member

    Amen. I'd love to see the metrics of how many people actually read more than 1,000 words on any given story. It has to be really, really compelling in today's era of shortened attention spans. And if editors aren't cutting stories longer than they're coming in, at any site, then they're not doing their jobs. Story length has nothing to do with quality.
    Liut, matt_garth and Tweener like this.
  8. Tweener

    Tweener Well-Known Member

    I think that last sentence is something that needs to empathized more at colleges and within the industry. Many still do not get that. They think that everything they write has to be 3,000 words — and that thinking often hurts the quality of their work.
    Liut likes this.
  9. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I work for the biggest sports website in the United States and I call tell you conclusively that this just isn’t true.

    I would agree that most people should not be writing 3,000-word features mainly because most people aren’t taught how to write 3,000-word features, but shearing everything down to 1000 words or less is a terrible blanket approach and looks silly every time a Simmons or Barnwell or Lowe or Magary or Peter King gains a massive following by doing exactly the opposite.

    We need stronger editors (who are also empowered to make good decisions) for sure. But a cookie cutter approach that begins by stifling creativity meant to appeal specifically to distracted, uncurious readers is a good way to a quick death.
    daemon, Pilot and Tweener like this.
  10. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    We're on the backside of this peak Longform era, of which there were too many great pieces, and bad pieces, to count. There will be more, I'm sure, but readers and fans have been fed enough human interest sap and overwrought cultural analysis that I think you'll see a small shift back toward pithier, punchier stuff. We've dug into the navel and pondered the stars long enough.

    Oh - and, yes, there are too many 3,000-word stories. Because 3,000 is nothing anymore. Nothing at all.
  11. MeanGreenATO

    MeanGreenATO Active Member

    DD, for starters, people in your category can write 5,000 and make it read like 500. But I think you misunderstood what I said. Not everything should be shorter. Be it the level of copy or the narrative, some things should go long. But it needs to merit that length. And a lot of things don't, which is why people struggle to make it to the end of them.
    Liut, Tweener and Writer like this.
  12. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I think we agree then. I had to learn that lesson as a newspaper writer in that recovering from an ACL injury was not enough dramatic tension to warrant at 40-inch feature.

    I did hear a recent story that depressed me immensely though. A paper sent a writer to Florida to write about Lamar Jackson’s upbringing, who (by some metrics) has become the NFL’s most popular player this year. Writer got great stuff on a subject that is obviously one people want to read about. The editor wouldn’t even look at the story until it was cut down to 30 inches. Like, refused to even read the first draft, which was 40 inches. I know the industry has changed, but that’s insane. If that’s the attitude, take that extra 10 inches and make it into a new story. But to just cut to fit some arbitrary standard you’ve decided is the limit people want read on a super important subject to your readers, c’mon. That’s why readers flocked to The Athletic in the first place.

    I will say: I spent several years writing 300-word high school gamers and 800-word mid-week features before I ever wrote a 1200-word story and it was frustrating at the time but super helpful to my development. And a big problem today is there is no feeder system to develop writers anymore like that. Which leads to a lot of bad 3,000-word features. I wish I had an answer of how to fix it, but I don’t see one. It’s like filling out MLB rosters after eliminating the minor leagues. There will still be stars who can just flat out hit, but man, there will also be a lot of bad fundamentals that just didn’t get learned and it doesn’t really stand out *that much* because most players have them.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page