… but why the hell not?
I wanted to devote this blog entirely to my fiction works, and leave my sportswriting past where it belongs, in the past… but then I read stuff like Rick Reilly and it irritates me to the point where I have to let it out.
Rick Reilly is, to put it nicely, terrible at his job. Taking advice from him on how to be a proper journalist is kinda like learning how to be a benevolent ruler from Muammar Gaddafi. He bemoans that journalism schools are losing to twitter, facebook, blogs and “for free” websites.
“True, this is a new age and all these “New Media Thumbtastic Textual Revolution Departments” will someday teach everybody how to deliver the news on people’s contact lenses. I get that.
But no matter what the medium, this whole giant digital house of cards will fold if colleges stop producing well-trained, hard-nosed reporters who dig out good stuff, make sure it’s true and then deliver it well.
Without good journalists delivering solid stories that check out, there’ll be nothing for the world to tweet, Facebook, text, ping, blog, flog, poke, post, roast, friend, unfriend, wiki-leak, sneak peak, share, smoke signal or quilt.
Without good journalists, this whole whirring, spinning cyber-machinery we’re all so addicted to stops colder than Rosie O’Donnell’s lingerie drawer.”
Reilly conveniently likes to forget that this entire culture was created by the very media he is trying to champion. They were the ones that mastered the “sound bite” and the “headline ticker,” not bloggers and twittards.
Ya want to know who is ruining the field of journalism? Journalists.
Journalism, especially sportswriting, is a field that has become stagnated by columnists who have decided they should become the story rather than report it… people like Mitch Albom, Drew Sharp, Bill Simmons, Skip Bayless, Woody Paige, Mike Wilbon and yes, especially you, Mr. Reilly.
You get columns such as Albom’s work of fiction about Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson at the Final Four. Drew Sharp running with quotes from Wikipedia (incorrect quotes at that) that managed to turn Rush Limbaugh into a victim (don’t try to process that… it’ll hurt your brain). You get Bill Simmons turning ESPN into his own personal pulpit to talk about his crazy family.
And don’t get me started on that pompous, bloviating, arrogant abuser of asinine alliteration named Keith Olbermann.
But what really burned me up was this gem:
“Don’t write for free! Doctors don’t doctor for free. Professors don’t profess for free. Writers shouldn’t write for free. Have some pride! If you do it for free, they won’t respect you in the morning. Or the writer who comes along after you.”
Now, I won’t pretend I made a lot of money sportswriting. I was a freelancer. But I did have to do a lot of work for free if I wanted to be published. You want to why, Ricky? Because there are no paying jobs because of imbeciles like you that have managed to monopolize every avenue to plaster their faces in.
People like Reilly are so intent on making themselves the story that they take every chance they can to throw it out there. It’s why you see the same 30 some odd sportswriters doing work for their host paper, radio shows, national syndicated columns, cable television, etc. Why should a publication take a chance on a new writer when Rick Reilly is willing to whore himself out to whoever wants it?
It’s bad enough that the field is pretty damn saturated as it is. Once you have “established” yourself; nothing more than gross misconduct is going to get you unseated. There’s not all that much turnover in journalism, so you either write for little or for free, or you give up. Those too stubborn to give up (like I was) write for free.
Rick Reilly then leaves us with this plea;
“Don’t take my job.”
Ricky, perhaps we should be saying that to you.