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Wahl piece on Bruce Pearl (or, fluff articles vs. legit features)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by PhilaYank36, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. PhilaYank36

    PhilaYank36 Guest

    Finally got to my SI today and I really enjoyed reading the article about Bruce Pearl. Seems like a really likeable guy, the type that you would really want to know on a personal level. But then I remembered: fluff pieces have become an SI specialty lately. Here's the article:


    I'm not saying that this is a fluff piece, but I have no problem admitting that I don't have such a discerning eye to differentiate between legitimate articles and glorifired press releases. And I'm also sure there are a number of guests who are still in college that would like to be able to tell the two apart. Would anyone here like to provide some insight?
  2. Cousin Jeffrey

    Cousin Jeffrey Active Member

    Well, in no way is this a glorified puff piece. Wahl could've dug up old dirt on Pearl, esp. with the Illinois stuff, but that wasn't the point of this piece. It was basically, "here's this wacky Jew who's turning heads in the SEC." It's a feature, not hard news. A little puffy, perhaps, but fun to read. It's certainly better than the paint by numbers features ESPN the Mag usually puts out.
  3. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    He mentions Pearl's kids.

    Is this one of 'em?


    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  4. PhilaYank36

    PhilaYank36 Guest

    How and where did you get those pictures? Wow.

    Anyway, back on topic; I really like the part where Wahl said that he lifts with his players and puts them to shame on the bench. The dude can nearly bench 300 for cryin' out loud!
  5. Cousin Jeffrey

    Cousin Jeffrey Active Member

    I've seen those pics. I doubt Pearl is hitting that. What he is hitting, well, who knows. I doubt, after his climb to Tennessee, he'd rail a student (she looks like a typical "co-ed.")
  6. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Sorry, here ya go, fellas.

  7. PhilaYank36

    PhilaYank36 Guest

    OK, here's a question for you: what's a dead giveaway for a puff piece, versus a legit feature that has a positive tone? Is it in the content or the voice the writer is using?

    (Oh, what are the odds that Summit converts to Judaism and the two get hitched on the court?

    I keed, I keed [kinda])
  8. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Pyank --

    I don't think "tone" or "voice" get you anywhere in trying to figure out what's fluff, what's puff and what isn't. I read plenty of utterly empty upbeat stories - particularly in business magazines - written with all the grey-flannel gravity imaginable. Conversely, some of the most incisive writing possible, in which all the miserable wonders of the human condition are exposed, comes to us from humorists. So a stentorian tone is no guarantee that a story should be taken seriously; nor is raucous comedy a warning that it shouldn't.

    You can also write negative stories in a positive tone, and postive stories in a negative tone. In fact, that's a perfectly apt strategy for varying the tenor of your work.

    Which I guess leaves us with content. To me at least, a puff piece is one in which no real narrative tension is ever present. Nothing is ever at stake. No one is ever at risk. Nothing is ever truly lost. Everything seems to work out of its own accord in the end, and the experience of having read the piece is that of having spent half an hour in a tub filled with lukewarm sentiment. Never is heard a discouraging word.
  9. spinning27

    spinning27 New Member

    Very pedestrian piece. Anybody could have written that story. If you're going to spend 7 pages on a college basketball coach, you better find something new in there. It was little more than a rehash of everything that has already been written about Pearl, and Wahl basically just pulled it together in one place.

    The real story about Pearl -- the human story -- is much more compelling. His personal life has totally fallen apart; the girl that caused his divorce isn't even with him anymore. Meanwhile, he's arguably the most universally despised person in his business. I don't know one college basketball coach who likes the guy. He's finally "made it," with the fame and fortune and love of a huge fan base, but he's all alone.
  10. Writer33

    Writer33 Member

    I've seen the photos mentioned in this thread. There were some rumors floating around about them. His family was at the outing. In one photo, his daughter can be seen in the background. I don't know anything about his personal life or how his colleagues perceive him. I know the Tennessee folks are happy to have him. He's done wonders for that program.
  11. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I'm always torn on where to include, if at all, personal life details, but in this story the mention of his divorce felt late to me. The piece leads with the four kids and walks through his career, then seven grafs from the end you find out his 25-year marriage is ending. Maybe it had nothing to do with Bruce Pearl, the coach. But I don't think a profile can just gloss over something like that.

    That said, I liked the story.
  12. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    I would assume he aspires to a higher standard than having Billy Donovan and Jim Calhoun be his buddy.

    As long as normal people like him --- as most seem to do --- I'm sure he could give a flying fuck what dozens of "college basketball coaches" think of him.
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