With A Passion About The Printed Word, Act 1.

David Simon, Newspaper Man
David Simon, Newspaper Man

It might be a side-effect from growing up and treasuring the Sunday Times as manna from the heavens – or my years as a college newspaper writer – but I react the same way when I open up a newspaper (no, the Post doesn’t count, that’s a tabloid) that a junkie does when they get their hand on a dime-bag of cocaine. It’s a rush of blood to the heart. Watching the fifth season of The Wire wasn’t as bad as it could have been, because the newsroom is a growler full of kick ass for me. And for the most part, poseurs like Krauthammer and Kristol, Newspaper Men and Newspaper Women are a breed I’ll go to the mat for any day of the week.

My thanks to Collin for getting the gears turning again on a topic I’ve meant to get words out on. Box Score Beat is a damn good site, but I took issue with something he said, and thought a rebuttal was in the cards.

So I read his post, “New Journalism Demands a New Voice,” and got all animated in a rush because he seemed to be using Ben McGrath’s “Roid Warriors” article from the March 9th The New Yorker (which is about the investigations into the A-Roid story by The Daily News‘ sports investigatory team the I-Team) as a jumping off point about the failings in dumping the print writers onto the internet.

A friend pointed me to Ben McGrath’s recent article in The New Yorker titled “Roid Warriors” a few days ago. … I ran into the same friend the next day, and she asked me how I liked the piece. I replied that it was interesting enough, but I thought the writing was stereotypical print style and that it didn’t do much for me.

Where Collin sinks his teeth in is the proverbial red meat of the Sports Blogging Party: trite quasi-Lenoesque writing from old fartish hacks who never deserved their jobs when they wrote for print media anymore than they deserve their current jobs as online scribes. Here’s a quote that Colin found from Reilly:

Sure, times are rougher than Russian toilet paper. Your 401K is now a 101k. Donald Trump just laid off three blow-dryists. But because of it, you can see great sporting events for the price of a can of Spam Lite!

“RDRR,” Ricky, as the teacher at the sole private school in Springfield would say. But the problem with the piece was that the above quote was part of a longer ‘graf, and the only writing singled out as what you’ll see he refers to as “newspaperman writing,” despite the fact that the McGrath piece is where the story starts.

I’ll bold this ‘graf because I think it’s what we agree on. The above quote from Reilly doesn’t even deserve the place that it already has in print journalism, either. This is one of the flaws of large scale print journalism, to sell enough copies, publications have to cater to the lowest common denominator, as a result, the internet catered to the niche interests, and developed dedicated followings for those willing to lead.

Back to Reilly, though: any professor teaching journalism – print or online – would give that quote such a smattering of red ink you’d think the assignment was a Netflix envelope. Am I proud of that last line? Not entirely, but it gets the message across and it’s of substance, showing how drastically poor Reilly’s writing is, and somehow avoiding tried-and-abused never sacred heifers like Russian Poverty (not the best thing to be attacking in times of crisis), Donald Trump’s hair, and Spam, which Monty Python have had a humor copyright on for decades.

So how did Collin build a bridge from a New Yorker piece he was nonplussed by to

Don’t get me wrong, the reporting in the piece was solid, and the point of the article was surely to make the I-Team’s story the focus. But I’ve realized in the last few months that, due mostly to the proliferation of blogs I read, I have come to not only enjoy but also to expect a voice and an opinion in sports articles.

That seems to be the big difference between the net and the printed page: people get to be their own columnist online. Generalization, sure, but I believe there’s warrant to it. What I’m finding troublesome, though, is when writers I would classify as “print writers” convert to the online world and bring their newspaperman voice with them.

What do I mean by newspaperman voice? The type of writing that makes you think of trench coats, typewriters, kitschy headlines, and newspaper bundles tied with twine. The type of writing that smells faintly of ink and printing presses. The type of writing that has become so standard it can be called a “type of writing.”

Rick Reilly’s a perfect example.

While I’ve come to love Deadspin, have met Leitch and love their style of writing, it’s not a whole meal. There’s a thing about Yankees beat writer Tyler Kepner’s prose, for both the printed New York Times and the Bats blog that the NYT has Kepner writing for, that I actually find rather deserving of the ink and paper that is used in the printed version. He writes well, and he has a voice, but that doesn’t mean he has an opinion that comes through in any means other than the fact that you sense that he has a want for the team he covers to win, or at least give him stories worth a damn and more original than “Team Spends A Little Under The GDP of East Timor During Off Season To Try And Win The World Series.”

What I was trying to say is that we don’t always need columnists. Sometimes we need reporters. Actually, for the important stories, we really need reporters. We like columnists and the opinionated because we like to hear our ideas in someone else’s writing. The Times gets the difference between writing for the printed page and writing for the pixelated screen, as Kepner’s blog posts are musings and blips, appetizers compared to the lunches he serves up in ink and paper.

When I read that article from last week’s New Yorker, I realize that this is the kind of writing that keeps ink and paper companies in business(well, that and extremely pushy folks of the Schrute persuasion), because the printed publications, unlike most of the sports blogging world, can afford to send writers out to report, and find the reader more than they can find on their couch, you don’t see the following image in any MLB broadcast:

On a dry-erase board behind O’Keeffe’s head, Thompson had scrawled a quote from the newspaper baron Lord Northcliffe: “News is what somebody somewhere is trying to suppress. The rest is advertising.” There was an arrow connecting the word “somebody” to the name of the lawyer Rusty Hardin. His client Roger Clemens, the I-Team’s sources say, could be indicted for perjury sometime this spring.

This kind of stuff is why print still walks amongst the living, because it’s something that requires investigatory journalism, something that isn’t available to all bloggers, myself included, many of whom are unpaid and doing this to practice their own craft of writing in lieu of a paying gig, but most of us know that we’re not the standard.

What annoys me, and I don’t want to go Bissinger, but I’m worried about the future of the newspaper thanks to a dying attention span. Sure, the papers have a boatload of blame that they’re carrying on their fold, but they’re better than the alternative. I’ll hold onto the NYT, and I’ll be quite angry if it’s put out of business and those loud, boisterous hucksters at TMZ are still cranking shit out.

Good Journalism is what’s happening. It can happen in blogs, and does, but I’d rather have my name in ink than on screen nine times out of ten. This is why I’m going to try and write about a thousand words a night this week about where and why newspapers and magazines are chock full of FAIL and how I’d try and change the game up. Again, thanks to Collin for the inspiration.


• Regarding Sports

My world series alliegance really is not placed in either team. I’d like Tampa Bay to win to give Nate Silver some props for having predicted they’d have a smash season. I’d like Philly to win for Gruber and the rest of Philly nation who have supported the team more than the TB “fans” have, who hasn’t seen a game there in the regular season and spied the empty fields of seats at the Trop.

A recent blog post by Will Leitch over at NY Mag spoke to why the Knicks may be a decent team this year. This scares me. What if the Knicks become a team I have to root for, because I’ve still yet to see them win one? 9-year-old Henry is still hurting from the Reggie Miller game. From the finger roll. From watching Jeff Van Gundy have worse rings under his eyes than Ashley Todd.

The Yankees, we’ll see what they do in the post season. I want to see the rotation solidify. A big name arm will probably be signed. Who knows.

And I want Curt Shilling to die while campaigning for McCain, which I assume he is, as he did for W. in ’04.

The New York Football Giants. I’ve followed them this whole season. It’s weird. I’m not buying an Eli jersey any time soon, but this is the first time I’ve ever tracked a team throughout a season.

• Mission Accomplished … For Redeem Team

Dwayne Wade returns to kill it as he does playing ball, as Henry Casey returns to blog. Coincidence? Maybe.

I’ve returned … for Olympic Basketball? I thank Collin for getting me into these games.

No way? Way. I mean, I want to see the USA win here because … well why? Is it because we should win the basketball gold? Maybe? What’s easier to say would be that the Spanish National Basketball team’s blatant public racism makes them Alaska in D2: The Mighty Ducks, the token D-Bag team, that the Americans frequently are. Somehow, the America team isn’t the D Bag team for once, and, well, it’s fun to have a reason to root for the basketball powers that are Kobe, LeBron, Dwayne, Bosh, Paul, Tayshaun, Kidd, etc., all at the same time. It’s weird, granted, but it is fun.

My Time Warner cable box has been wigging out all of this fourth quarter I’ve been aware of the game for. I’m so taking this POS into Time Warner on Monday. I’ve lost about 5 minutes to it’s fuckuppery.

With, 32.9 left, 8 Pt USA lead: “Rubio has to foul. … And then a technical foul on Ricky Rubio.”

Rubio, has the least masculine name in basketball history, I’m sure. It’s a name reminiscent of Chris Tucker’s Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element. Sauter attributed for that connection.

Bill Walton claims that Kobe is the most popular non Chinese player in these games. I wonder for a second if he said Of The Olympics … he can’t have said that. What about Phelps … Wait, he did. “The most popular non Chinese athlete here in China.” But, then again, I don’t think it’s actually Walton. Someone working aside that incorrect gentleman refers to him as Mike. During the aftermath of the game, it turns out the guy in question is Mike Breen.

Mike Breen ... a known name to some?
Mike Breen ... a known name to some?

Even Kobe would say it’s Phelps, as that well circulated video of Kobe praising Phelps would say.

… and back to the subject at hand, a few minutes ago, the major moment that had the applause working was after a major 3 point shot from Wade, it seems as if the lead might be safe, and back to the moment …

USA has won. I hate to admit it, but I’ve now cheered for Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade in the same game. Not to mention LBJ.


19 point victory. That is all.

Christ I hope the Pistons do what I love them for doing: eliminating teams I hate (see Shaq/Kobe Lakers).

Fuck the Celtics, the Patriots, and especially the Sox while we’re on the subject.

Also, for debate: Youk vs. Giambino for Ugliest Man In Sports?