How Not To Write

7 02 2011

It’s not every day that I am so bothered about someone else’s written work that I feel the need to complain about it on here. I hope this doesn’t come off as arrogant, as if I know everything about journalism. It should go without saying that isn’t the case — there is more for me to learn about journalism than I realize. Yet there are a couple things which I feel writers lack, and that goes for many people in our society, in general. Dignity, responsibility and pride are qualities I admire in others. Those characteristics flow through in some written work. It’s also quite easy to spot when it’s not there, when those qualities are set aside just to gain attention.

You may or may not have read Esquire’s Chris Jones comment recently on Jason Whitlock. He took Whitlock to task for his style of writing and “reporting” as well as the yearning from up-and-coming writers to make noise just for the sake of doing so. If you haven’t seen it, the link to it is here. Then there’s the post which inspired this late-night jabbing session.

A sportswriter friend of mine, Susan Shan, invited a guest blogger to her website. D’Brickataw Purgaton, who runs the blog Fire John Clayton (the website touts its title is inspired from the sports world’s need for a scapegoat) wrote an introductory post about why Clayton, an ESPN writer who’s inducted into the writer’s wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, should be fired. Purgaton’s initial post stems from his annoyance at Clayton writing about why a couple NFL head coaches were wrong this past season for deferring their kickoffs after winning the pregame coin toss.

I don’t endorse people writing about why others should be fired, unless that intended target has done something illegal or morally reprehensible. Clayton isn’t guilty of anything like that; Purgaton just seems to not like his writing or information he puts on his blog. I’m not going to get on my high-horse and state writers are exempt from criticism. They’re certainly aren’t, and they deserve to be called out when they make mistakes. Yet the feeling I had from Purgaton’s post was someone in need for attention.

If somebody wants to write that another person should be fired, then that’s obviously that person’s own prerogative. And just because I disagree with what someone writes, that obviously doesn’t mean the writer’s post is wrong or unjust. As a writer, I’ve learned very quickly that it’s impossible to please everyone. There will always be someone who disagrees with something I have to say. But there’s a certain way to go about an inflammatory post.

What I read from Purgaton was someone who didn’t feel the need to thoughtfully support his points. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of supportive evidence to anything he wrote. He cut corners and cheated the readers out of information that could have further supported his point, or possibly countered what he had to say. From the looks of it, he was writing something to be mean-spirited and sarcastic, without much regard for giving the reader honest information. And the reason it’s pissed me off as much as it has is because Shan has a pretty good following. I don’t know the number of hits her website receives per day, but the Purgaton was allowed to post what he did bothers me.

I wrote an e-mail to him explaining most of what I’ve written here. I tried to be reasonable in my argument, although I didn’t hold back in the basic criticism I had for him and his post. I won’t go in detail into what I wrote, or what he wrote back to me. That’s between us. But if he was going to write that Clayton needs to be fired, as much as I disagree with it, I just wish he would’ve taken more care to support his argument. His readers deserve that.

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2 responses

8 02 2011
T. William Gooch

I just started a “Fire Kyle Stack” blog… it is gonna be huge!!

8 02 2011
kylestackblog

Oh, great.

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