Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Speak for yourself

A couple of the cardinal sins of column writing are on display here:

We need a hero
U.S. looks hopefully to skater Cohen
TURIN, Italy -- You know there's an American hero void when more than 100 American journalists go to a figure skating practice. But there we were Monday, sitting in the stands at the Palavela rink, watching Sasha Cohen rehearse her routine and asking each other what the heck was going on.

One, columns about what you and your fellow journalists are doing are boring. Period. What journalists see is often interesting. What they talk about with their fellow how-much-is-that-in-real-money Ugly Americans, no. Sorry.

Which gets us to Point Two: Don't invent voids or other national needs unless you can provide at least some shards of empirical evidence. When there's a void of such a scale as to make pampered sportswriters actually learn how to spell "Palavela," I expect at least -- I don't know, warning signs on Stewart Road or something (hell, I could have driven right into that thing).

[bad sportswriter dialogue omitted to spare the reader]

And so on. Later, there were so many American reporters stuffed into the mixed zone -- the kid's-lunchbox-sized area they have for journalists to interview Olympic athletes -- that Italians were taking pictures of the clowns-in-a-taxicab scene. Then, to each other, they said something that may have meant, "Hey, throw them some peanuts."

But, hey, we need a hero. We're holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. There's an overwhelming feeling that Americans are doing awful here, but that's not exactly right. The U.S. is tied for the lead with Germany in gold medals. America has won 15 total medals, which is actually the second-best total in our Winter Olympic history.

That's the real Ugly American part. Cold War's over, dude. We don't have to do the "we need a hero" and "our Olympic history" bit. Let NBC hang out its own American flag lapel pins. If you can't find a story worth writing about, give it a rest for a day. But enough with the fictional invocations of the national consciousness.

(Congratulations, of course, to the hed writer who managed to slip a correct "hopefully" into the paper -- but again, could we have some evidence to support our bizarre assertions about what the whole damn country is yearning for?)


Blogger nicole bogdas said...

I offer this aside: One of our columnist wrote a piece the other day about how Iceland has no ice based on the limited number of competetors from said country. Nevermind the fact that we all learned in the third grade that the Vikings or whatever named Iceland Iceland to keep people away and Greenland Greenland so they'd go there instead only to find a frozen, not green trundra. Those sneaky Vikings (or whatever). But I digress. My real point here is that about a third of the way into this column I stopped reading (can you believe I even started?). You know why? Not because of the poorly chosen topic, parts of the story were entertaining, but because we sent this guy to Turino, Italy to cover an event so full of drama, so full of triumph and tragedy that there are four TV stations devoted to its coverage and best he could give us was "There's no ice in Iceland"? That's just a poor use of resources and it pissed me off. I can barely afford to pay my rent and this guys flitting around Italy on the company dime at one of the biggest sporting events ever and he's phoning it in?

4:40 AM, February 22, 2006  

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