2. Do Columnists Need to be Shocking?
RCS: Clearly part of your appeal to readers is that you’re not afraid to be provocative. Your titles and leads usually have more shock value than your peers. For example, when the Browns stuck with Derek Anderson at the beginning of the last football season, you led with “Brady Quinn Must Really Suck.”
In today’s sports writing world, to keep readers’ attention and, as you said, to bust through internet’s group think, do columnists have to be that outwardly shocking, or is there still a place for more subtlety?
Doyel: There's definitely a place in this business for subtlety, but only if the writer is talented enough to pull it off. And the bar is awfully high on that. Joe Posnanski clears that bar. Me, I trip over the thing. It hits me in the groin. I don't have that sort of literary talent, but what I do have is the guts to write what I'm thinking, and to write it in the most direct way possible. So for that story on Quinn, as I watched Derek Anderson embarrass himself and take another step toward getting Romeo Crennel fired, it occurred to me: If he can't play for this team, Brady Quinn must really suck. So I wrote it.
I write how I think and how I talk. I'm not studying a thesaurus. I'm trying to say what I'm trying to say. More people should do that. Am I saying more people should write like I do? Yes. Yes I am. But I'm glad they don't.