Thursday, April 3, 2008

what's wrong with the newspaper business

In a word -- or three -- it's stuff like this, which, to me, anyway, epitomizes the sort of journalistic laziness and all-around dead wood that permeates the business. Bob Smizik has been writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since Pittsburgh was a French and Indian War battleground, and he often takes a contrarian stance with regard to much of the city's conventional sporting wisdom. Fine and fine. But three observations regarding that complete piece of crud he authored today:

1. Smizik is not in Atlanta for the Pirates' season-opening series against the Braves, something that would provide him the opportunity to observe the team up close and, you know, actually interview somebody to help broaden the perspective of what he writes. In other words, to do his freakin' job.

2. I counted four spelling and/or grammatical errors. This is as much the fault of the P-G's copy desk as it is of Smizik, but still: It's not like he was rushed by having to shag quotes from the clubhouse after the game or anything.

3. How in the world can he write that the Pirates ought to keep, rather than trade, Xavier Nady based on just two games out of what is a 162-games season? Sitting on his couch watching the game on TV, he obviously had no column idea as his deadline approached, so he winged it.

Bottom line: Readers today are more discerning, and those of us in this business owe it to them not to insult their intelligence. Problem is, newspapers might be the only industry in the country in which one's overall job performance is not tied to one's ability to keep a job, even when younger, hungrier, better talent is out there to replace him. Not that I'm jaded or anything.


mikesielski said...

Right on. Speak the truth, my bitter newspaper brother.

Diaz said...

Yeah, dude, but then we wouldn't have the pleasure of your writing while you on the road covering the Pirates! Who would read about them? Now, the Stillers, thats another story...

Now, but I totally hear you. Kind of like when Screaming A. Smith kept writing for the Inquirer, even though he was living in NYC and never attended games anymore. Its much different being in the environment than it is getting insight's through phone calls with front office people.