Friday, October 26, 2012

Writers on Writing - Rose, Conn, Travis & Jones

There's been a few things I've come across lately that fall within the subject of writing that I love to prattle on about.

The oldest piece was "NEW SOUTH JOURNALISM: The Sometimes-Picayune" by Chris Rose. It's written for Oxford American Magazine by the former (left in 2009) New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter and has some really cool anecdotes from him about getting hired and working at the paper. Not incidental to the story was the Times-Picayune several months ago laying off half it's newsroom staff in advance of a move away from daily publishing.

More recently of interest were two pieces that were both well done and which approached the subject of writing from very different angles. For Grantland, Jordan Conn wrote "Jeremy Tyler: No Longer a Symbol, Now Just a Pro" on the 21 year-old Golden State Warrior. In the piece, Conn wrote about Tyler's past and how people would try to use both his talents and narrative story for their benefit (Conn included). Extremely interesting stuff that brought to mind an anecdote on Andre Agassi being upset with tennis broadcaster Bud Collins characterizing Agassi's career path as being "from punk to paragon." Basic idea from both Agassi and Conn is around this propensity towards assigning narratives around others that may or may not fit.

The second recent piece was written by Clay Travis for his college-football leaning website Outkick the Coverage. Travis previously wrote the fascinating "2011 Belonged To Twitter, So Does the Future of Sports Media" and this recent piece deals in the same topic. "Bleacher Report vs. Grantland: The Spectrum of Online Sports Media" compares two different sites and the importance of great writers (and associated compensation for them) to each. Interesting and logical ideas put forth by Travis that make me think of both Drew Magary writing about doing a novel because it pays better than writing sports for the web and the hockey bloggers I've known who had fairly significant online readership and gave it up. Not that I know their reasons for walking away from sports blogging the same as my own, but when I stopped my hockey blogging (to a small audience), I simply didn't feel the writing I was doing that different than could be done by anyone and wasn't worth the effort.

Final thing to note here that traffics in the subject of writing was the podcast "Episode 10: Chris Jones (Live in Romania)". Done for Longform and The Atavist, it's about an hour-long interview with the Esquire and ESPN writer and while I had seen in print already much of what Jones covered, it was especially interesting to hear him talk about some of the depression he's dealt with and wrote about in the November 2011 issue of Esquire.