Standing around and waiting, watching

Cutting to the chase of this widely discussed (in the hockey world, at least) rant from the esteemed Roy MacGregor at the Globe and Mail:

[Leonard] Koppett, the brilliant New York Times and Oakland Tribune sportswriter who died shortly after his book appeared in 2003, was particularly prescient, seeing that the overload of media in dressing rooms was killing thoughtful exchange. He also believed that “excessive use of statistics, if not checked, may turn out to be a fatal malady.” It’s certainly getting close.

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.”

It’s a fine sentiment, sir, and we’d certainly be happy to try it if we didn’t have to tweet, blog, upload video, edit audio and continually check our BlackBerrys.

Maybe it’s because I had the pleasure of getting to know and learning from Erik Erlendsson that I’m optimistic sportswriters will figure this all out.

The notion should be that you don’t have to “tweet, blog, upload video, edit audio” every day. But you should be doing something every day (that’s called work). Why post a photo when there’s nothing of real value to see. Choose your media wisely. Oh, and obviously, stop using a Blackberry.

I spent a ton of time the last two years standing around in locker room hallways, waiting. And learning. There is still no shortage of time spent by sportswriters bullshitting. And there is no lack of a better word there. That is the best word. Sports media folk are some of the world’s best bullshitters. So even though MacGregor proclaims himself not to be one, a Luddite’s fears of new technology come from a lack of understanding of it. Good storytellers should be good enough to know when, why and how they are telling any story. Writing 500 words is just option A. You can tell a great story by editing 25 minutes of interview footage into a meaningful two minutes.

Capture what you know.
I guess that’s the new ‘write what you know’ mantra.

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