Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ok, Burn the Newspapers

About 5 years ago I was a staunch defender of the newspapers.  I had read them from a very young age and was sad to see them in decline.  Over the last few years I have had the pitchfork and torch out.  There are several reasons for this which I will get into in future posts.  For now I will focus on the beat writers and game columns.

One of the philosophies of the newspapers that I don't understand is to be non partisan.  In local newspapers it seems to be taboo to put real emotions into your work.  Sportswriters are not fans.  Most of them are simply moving from city to city trying to get the most exposure and most money.  They are more concerned with playing wordsmith and distancing themselves from showing the emotion of fans.

Dave Kindred explains sportswriters. "Lord knows there is nothing wrong with being a fan. I love sports.  Without the painted face people, I'd be writing ad copy. But have I ever been a sports fan?  A fan of reporting, yes. Of journalism, of newspapers, of reading and writing, you bet. I am a fan of sports, which is different than being a sports fan. I have never cared who wins. We don't care what happens as long as there is a story."
At least Kindred has the decency to separate himself from us by stating it as fact. He gets it. It would be nice if those in his profession understood this as well.  It seems as if writers would rather scoff their noses at you, then take the fan's account serious.  I denounced blogs at their inception and defended newspapers.  I wrote off blogs like many people are still doing.  Claiming anyone can do it and why does their opinion matter, blah blah blah.  I was wrong.  Its comforting reading articles that delve into the emotion of sports fandom.  Reading a blog and surrounding yourself in a community that shares your same emotions makes for better writing and reading.  There is nothing fake about it. It goes well beneath the surface of what you will read in newspapers because they tap into the heart of the sports fan and what you go through with your team. When your a fan of the team and write anything about that team your going to work that much harder than a beat writer.

Brian Cook, the leader of,  works harder than any sports writer covering Michigan Football.  He reviews each play of each game to grade out the players, rather than the repeat the same tired lines you hear in the media. How many times do we here lazy stats like red zone efficiency, defensive points against, and returning starters that don't take into account that 7 does not equal 3, the offensive of your team, and strength of returning players and depth? Blogs can provide better answers to these questions instead of the same drivel you will read in main stream publications.  A major difference between sports fans/blogs and beats/game columns is that the newspapers take things at face value rather than pealing the onion and going deeper into the game.  When I read the newspaper the day after a game rarely does it provide me with any information I did not know from yesterday's game and it also fails to connect on a personal level.  It's boring.

Newspapers represent conventional wisdom and if there is anything you should take from this blog in general is that conventional wisdom is for asshats without an original idea. Ultimately newspapers will fail and people will vote with their clicks. Sportswriters should be afraid because in order to survive they will need to change the way sports have been written in newspapers for decades.

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