3. Future of Young Sportswriters
RCS: On that topic of how more people should write, in an interview with Deadspin you made the argument that beat-writing needs to evolve: “The straight game story is a dinosaur. It's a complete waste of time, the Catholic ritualization of empty gestures. Hell, all stories, other than breaking news — and even that, come to think of it — are being (or should be) written with more insight, analysis and opinion. More like a column, in other words. A straightly written story is an insult to readers, considering many of them already know the news before they click on us, whether we're online or in print. It takes some kind of gall to assume people are getting information from ‘us,’ whoever ‘us’ is. We need to get away from the ‘who, what and when’ and focus more on the ‘why’ and ‘how.’”
Up until now, writing who-what-when stories was the path to writing why-how stories. Older writers might call it paying their dues. For young, aspiring sportswriters, who want to have their work taken seriously and want to get paid, how will they have the opportunity to write why-how stories for major outlets without first writing traditional process stories?
Doyel: That's a great question, and I'm fortunate it has come along now and not when I was that young, aspiring writer and there was only one way -- but still, a very clear way -- to write why-how stories eventually: pay the dues on preps, get a bigger beat to write more who-what-when stories, and then hope someone somewhere likes the way you write enough to give you that why-how job. That path was clear in 1992, when I graduated from college and got a prep job in Brooksville, Fla., for the Tampa Tribune, and it was clear up until Bill Simmons and the rest of the Internet blew the path up. (That's not a knock on Simmons, by the way.)
Now newspaper dues-paying jobs, and all other print jobs, are shrinking, but there are opportunities on the Internet ... yet it's such a vast place that you can write brilliant stuff and still not be noticed. Some of the most entertaining writing in sports is on blogs by people with names like Christmas Ape, and I know where to find him. But how many more Christmas Apes are there out there, writing incredibly amusing stuff without being "discovered”?
I just answered your question with a question. I'm irritating like that.