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TJ Simers slams rival paper

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Almost_Famous, Aug 8, 2006.

  1. Gold

    Gold Active Member

  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Yes, just because others in our business don't understand what we do, let's be sure to keep everything on the straight and narrow -- and unentertaining and boring. That's certainly the ticket for saving this business.
  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    EssEff -

    I'm not saying that Simers shouldn't try to be entertaining and funny.

    I'm saying that he fails to do so.
  4. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Well, yeah, as far as you're concerned.

    A number of posters here, and readers of the Times, seem to disagree.
  5. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    from the letters which were printed on Saturdays, I don't think most Times readers would care a bit if Simers left. Heck, the Times has one of the lowest penetration rates on a newspaper in any major metropolitan area. I'm not saying that is Simers's fault, but he hasn't been the solution either. Maybe he generates a buzz on the Internet, but how much does that really help the Times.
  6. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Then let me add, "In this instance."

    But I think if you have to be another sportswriter to decode the self-referential metaphysics at work here; or to have read every column he's ever written to understand his "shtick" and thereby chuckle at his winking inside jokes and his unsubtle elbow to the ribs, that he's doing us all a grave disservice. This isn't even newspaper shtick - it's the written equivalent of sports talk radio.

    As the LAT and the DMN and the PD and every other paper in America downsize and diminish themselves, I'm not sure that citing Simers's readership is in any way a defense of his work. What proportion of the population of LA County takes the LAT? 10%, 25%, 50%?

    Maybe the question shouldn't be "how many readers has Simers brought in over the years?", because clearly the answer is "not enough."

    The question, rather, might be this: "How many readers does Simers - and writers like him - keep away?"
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    As discussed on other threads here, that's hard to quantify anymore.

    He generates a buzz for the paper -- I think that's pretty clear, whatever you think of him -- and he does it in a unique way. Aren't many "writers like him," love him or hate him.
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    a) you don't have to be a sports writer to get his "schtick." In fact, I think more SJers are put off by this stuff than those who get it.

    2) This particular column plays off his reputation, so yes, you do have to be somewhat familiar with Simers' regular columns to get the inside jokes ... but just read a week or two's worth of his stuff, and you'll start to pick it up. Every regular columnist has their own personal touch -- Gammons throws tons of musical references in his columns, Pasquarelli always adds some Pa. references to his, Simmons (again, love him or hate him, he's the most widely read columnist on the WWL) has made his entire career around inside jokes.

    It's no different with T.J. (Again, I'm not delving into his motives here -- I believe Frank's stories of his days as a beat writer, and I'm sure he's an ass to a lot, a lot, of people even when it's not "schtick." But ... as SF said ... he creates a buzz, which is his job. His job is not to cover a beat, his job is not to wax sentimental like Plashcke, or to be insightful like Adande ... it's to create a buzz. And he does that well.

    Throwing circulation numbers, IMO, out there is a straw man. One writer is, RARELY, in this era of the biz, ever going to boost your circulation numbers all by his lonesome. There's way too many other factors at work to say "he doesn't bring in readers." It's not that simple.
  9. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    For both BW and SF -

    Let me amend, then, this way:

    I'm not singling Mr. Simers out as the root cause of the LAT's decline.

    I'm saying that there are a million people areawide who read that paper - and ten, or is it twenty, million who don't.

    Rather than keep arguing among ourselves about the power of the internet and television and new technologies; or the illiteracy of the latest generation; or the venality and greed of our corporate overlords, when are we going to wise up to the fact that a lot of what we produce and put in the paper every day just isn't very good?

    I have no beef with Mr. Simers, personal or otherwise. But this piece just isn't very good.

    And the buzz Mr. Simers is assigned to make occurs only among some small percentage of those million or so who already take the paper. So he's buzzing to the choir.

    I'm saying that Mr. Simers's work is illustrative of the faltering standards by which we judge what constitutes good sports writing and good sports newspapering.

    The end result of which is this: We have failed to make ourselves indispensible to readers and potential readers. Thus do we get what we deserve.
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    So it's just about drawing an audience. The cretins on drive-time radio create a buzz, too. The swine draw in listeners by being crude and self-absorbed. I heard one pair of DJs a decade ago hold an on-air contest for Aerosmith tickets. The woman who won ate vasectomy clippings while her children watched. The same DJs used to hold "Ugly Bride Contests" in which they'd look at wedding photos in the newspaper and pick the ugliest woman among them. So, yes, one can attract an audience by being a pig.

    Online porn has a big audience. Maybe we need to start printing some of that.

    But is this what newspapers are about? Entertainment with no news value?

    Maybe we ought to consider that our solution to slumping circulation -- adding more non-news bells and whistles -- hurt us more than help us.
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Frank, you know I respect you, but that's not exactly what we're talking about here. :)
  12. Editude

    Editude Active Member

    If Simers were the lead columnist or even appeared on the cover, his shtick would get in the way of a metro-level product. He's on the page with Morning Briefing and the radio listings, and he has fun with his space. Some don't work, but some of the overcoming-obstacles pieces by the lead columnist don't work either.
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