Thursday, January 08, 2009

Interesting story about sports writing

Gary Andrew Poole writes an interesting story the Columbia Journalism Review about how to save sports writing, and basically, he wants newspapers to go backward in time and stress good writing. (That's VERY basically.)

Good idea. I don't think newspaper management as it is currently running things is smart enough to buy it, though.


rknil said...

There are no longer enough good writers to do this. Too many of them rely on lame cliches and have no sense of sports history. We also have been weighed down with all the dip****s who think presentation is what matters. (It doesn't.)

Today's sections could use a good proofreading, though. Time references are often incorrect, and the TV listings are generally hopeless and of little use to a reader. Also, too much stuff is thrown together at the last second, even when it's not of the breaking or gamer variety. This leads to careless mistakes like saying the wrong coordinator was fired or the wrong person received an award.

If the staff can't be bothered to get the stuff right, why should readers care about the product?


You know, rknil, I certainly understand what you're saying, but I have to feel a little for the desk staffs, too. Not only are they being cut back all over the place, but this whole "do more with less" philosophy means not only are there fewer of them, but they're working stories for the web and print and doing all sorts of things they never had to do before. It was tough keeping typos out of the paper before, and has always been, but now it's even tougher.

rknil said...

It wouldn't be as tough, though, if people were focusing on copy rather than hairline rules.

I say this not from some theoretical basis but from experience. When people who are not catching mistakes are not only allowed to skip the editing process, but also are permitted to act as if they are the saviors of newspapers, then something is very wrong.

Also, in rereading my post, I see nothing about "keeping typos out of the paper." I see references to incorrect information being put in carelessly. Not typos.

If the staff can't be bothered to get the stuff right -- meaning focusing on text rather than crazy design details -- why should readers care about the product?

rknil said...

Yeah, I'm back, because once again, excuses and rationalization are offered instead of solutions.

Just the day before the latest Tribune mistake, there apparently was a problem with another NBA article. I say "apparently" because I've stopped buying the Tribune on a daily basis. But a correction appeared on Saturday.

Let's see: Two consecutive days, two consecutive errors. Nope, nothing wrong there. No problem at all. That kind of stuff has been happening for decades.

And we just can't expect today's newspapers to get all the small things right -- scores, winners of games, game-winning sequences before the buzzer. Those are tiny details, and it's unfair to expect the writers and the editors to know them.