I decided not to go to practice today. I have to deal with life a little and maybe even clean up my office and I am having a crisis of confidence and an overpowering sense that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing at practice anyway. I remembered why I wanted to go (to see the Preds practice, to add another team to my “seen practice” list) but I had forgotten and I only remembered when it was too late to change my mind. When I finally got around to checking Twitter, I found this article about social media and sports writing and how the former is going to kill off the latter.
This is not the raging of a Luddite contrarian. In 1983, I was The Toronto Star’s guinea pig for the Tandy TRS-80 (“Trash 80”) computer that transformed sports filing and had no small part to do in killing off afternoon newspapers. I love what the Internet makes possible, admire those who use social media effectively and even appreciate the power of Twitter.
What this is, hopefully, is a cautionary flag being raised by someone who sees the sports world marching into a journalism trap where Gay Talese’s monumental study of Joe DiMaggio, the Esquire magazine feature The Silent Season of a Hero, would have to be delivered in 140 characters or less. -Roy MacGregor, The Globe and Mail
Well, maybe I didn’t have a job in 1983 but I remember sitting on my bedroom floor trying to make a TRS-80 go. So I guess I’ve been sentient for as long as MacGregor has in terms of technological development. I don’t see Twitter doing any harm to long form writing, at all. Twitter is to an article what the back cover blurb is to a book. Your reader is already interested in what you have to say, they’re following you. They’ve already picked up the book, so to speak. Twitter just announces or introduces the new story. That’s not really mysterious. Yes, some will prefer to have it all delivered in tweets but most of us want more.
Bloggers, on the other hand…. now this is a problem. It is good because it gives readers access to a wide variety of viewpoints, but it is bad because it floods the market. If you do that, no one will pay for it, no one will get paid for it, fewer people will have time to really do in-depth stories. So setting aside the reliability of information bloggers put out there, economically, it is a disaster for all kinds of news media.
Chaos is necessary for the creation of a new order… or something like that. AKA, c’est la vie.
Even using blogs to complement regular news is problematic. The blogger should offer something different from the story, something unique or off beat. Unless you are really trying to build a portfolio to get a job as a news writer, you should do something other than imitate news writers.
Which is why I feel out of sorts at practice these days. I can tweet what’s going on from the stands, or let someone else do it, and write stuff based on secondary sources from home. I don’t need to be there except that I break out in hives if I’m away for too long. I just have this gut feeling like it is better to be there than not to be there. I know that my brain will work better if I just spend more time in the setting, desensitize myself so to speak. But I feel like that is hard to explain, how I manage myself like a wild animal instead of a well trained human being. That’s why this quote jumped out at me:
But Koppett also wrote, “The secret of good reporting is simply being around.”
Hanging out, he said, is “how a writer learns to know what he needs, what and how to write about it, to evaluate relevance and fairness, and how to distinguish the important from the trivial.” -Roy MacGregor, The Globe and Mail
So there. That’s what I’m doing, well, not today, because I’m neurotic as hell, but that’s what I’m doing, not just being a borderline autistic nervous person. I’m hanging out. I will slowly nudge my hanging out space closer to the action. It might take me a really long time but that’s what I’m doing.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it… starting tomorrow.