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Writer Cat Fight

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Boom_70, Apr 9, 2011.

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  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Scott Raab vs Chris Jones.

    Follow the trail in comments. Pretty entertaining.

  2. Entertaining or maybe...sad and ridiculous.

    I don't know if Jones' post has already been talked about on SJ. I found it shockingly revealing in a way in which most of us would rather not reveal ourselves. So I guess he gets credit for candor.

    My other reaction was just to notice the litany of fawning comments. So it's interesting to see him take such umbrage at a critical review of his remarks.
  3. secretariat

    secretariat Active Member

    Meh. You say cat fight, I say reasoned disagreement.

    Now, "Alexander" came in looking for a cat fight. Jones did not abide him.
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I so thought this was about Richie Pace and Dub Fricker....
  5. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Impressively revealing blog.

    Not sure what Raab's beef is. Award-winning writers aren't allowed to have motivation until they've walked in Kafka's shoes?
  6. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    And here would be the follow-up to that disagreement:


    Make of it what you will, but one paragraph intrigued me for a random reason:

    <i>But all of it, every last bit of it, had better be born of desire. Because journalism is a business based, almost exclusively, on competition. There’s a reason they call it a beat. It is a game in which some people win, and a lot more people lose. And if you don’t want it bad enough, you will lose. Gary Smith will beat you. Tom Junod will beat you. Susan Orlean will beat you. Never forget that’s who’s out here, waiting for you. If you’re not driven, if you’re not motivated, if you’re not ambitious, you had better write poetry and try to make starvation seem romantic, because once you come out here, into the messy real world of commerce and hit counts and breaking news, you will get done.</i>

    The intrigue: What if Gary Smith, Tom Junod, Susan Orlean and Chris Jones all worked the same story? They could go about it however they pleased, of course, from whichever angle they preferred, interviewing whomever they deemed necessary. How would <i>that</i> play out?
  7. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Jones probably shouldn't admit to it and probably needs to get a grip. Because I am on the editing side, my feelings about awards are mitigated by the fact that for me, any wins or losses are collective wins or losses, while a writer might take it more personally, but there have been times over the decades when I have thought my newspaper(s) has been jobbed or that we've won some on reputation (especially APSE section awards). About a decade ago, I was positive my newspaper deserved a Pulitzer and even was so sure that I arrived at work a few hours early so I could be there when it happened. I was pissed when we didn't win (it was a finalist). Come April 18, I will be a little disappointed if the current newspaper does not get at least a Pulitzer finalist (my prediction) for one specific piece of work.

    A couple points:

    1.) Unless you work someplace really small or you had to fight with management to get the story into print, every award is a collective win or loss. I got a couple of monthly in-house awards last year ($25 apiece), but I understand my bosses let it happen. They could have vetoed how I did both things, and they never would have been in the paper. Also, it's pretty subjective. On the headline one, I do not think it was the best hed I wrote on that page, let alone that month.

    2.) It is silly to get your hopes up because you can't know the entire picture of what the judges get to see until after the fact. I read a lot, but it's not really possible for me to know what every newspaper did in 2010. I think we had a Pulitzer-quality project, but really -- best project of the year? ... third-best project of the year? ... eighth-best project of the year? Fuck if I know. It's like filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket (how often have I seen these guys play?).
  8. MartinonMTV2

    MartinonMTV2 New Member

    I don't have an opinion of the writer, but anyone who is this concerned about awards needs to chill.

    At a couple of places, we did bitch about not getting awards, but mainly because the winners were chosen for asinine reasons that had nothing to do with the category.
  9. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    When you're at the very top of the magazine writing business, and you're polishing up a handful of gems each year, I think, quite honestly, it's a fairly appropriate motivation. You already know it'll get good presentation in the publication. You already know people will generally sing its praises, because a magazine article isn't judged creatively like a non-fiction book. So it really boils down to that small class of folks who are good as you are, who enjoy your access and freedom, and who's deemed the best of that bunch.

    Again - I find the whole thing kind of endearing. Jones reminds me of the some of the 70s movie directors who tore their eyeballs out going to see one of their peers' pictures, then went and took out full-page ads in the trades announcing their own projects. <i>What's Ashby doing? What's Friedkin doing? What's Scorsese doing? What's Bogdanovich's next picture? What's Coppola doing?</i> It went on like this. Because filmmaking is a headier, far more expensive undertaking than a magazine story, many of those people either died, lost their talent entirely or spent the first half of the 1980s coked out of their minds, but the sense is the same.

    Where Jones may diverge from his peers is in tying the competitive spirit almost exclusively to awards subject to caprice and influence. What might have been more universal is to describe that moment when you read someone else's work - and you're fearful, for just a second, that it's better than anything you've done, whether it ever wins an award or not. Kind of like when a certain woman passes by you and whatever perfume she's wearing works its way to your brain in .7 seconds. In both situations, don't look back. Even if it makes you shudder every so often. Being a voracious reader and occasional interviewer of such certain women, I'm guessing Jones is familiar with both.
  10. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Bogdagovich was shagging Dorothy Stratten, so my sympathy is wan there.
  11. MartinonMTV2

    MartinonMTV2 New Member

    If you don't read better work, how do you improve? I'm fairly certain the mediocre people never read other work or even their own published work to see what was changed and why. I'm not sure some of them even know how to read.
  12. bpoindexter

    bpoindexter Member

    I followed the trail. And so was Chris Jones. I found the blog to be pathetic, to be honest. I didn't become a sportswriter to win awards, and I won't say here how many I've won, what specifically I've won, or whether I've ever even won at all. I'm a writer because I effing love it, and pissing about not winning a award - any award - just smacks of (and I could be totally off here) someone who grew up being told everyone should win the game and go home happy and with a trophy, and then when it doesn't happen in real life, "Wwwwaaaaaaaa." Again, just my opinion. Most of the comments stroked his ego, and he fired back at anyone who disagreed with him. Get over yourself.
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