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…. Historically accurate

Joe Posnanski writes about writing:

…. What I have been thinking about is probably summed up in a single, simple question: Have newspapers tried too hard to make sports reporting like news reporting?

A very brief history is probably in order: There was a time in the not-so-distant-past when sportswriting was nothing at all like news reporting. It was, as famed sportswriter Jimmy Cannon said, the “Toy Department” of a newspaper. More than that, sportswriting was very much tied together with the sports themselves. Promoters would get a little publicity by throwing a few bucks at sportswriters, who were barely making enough money to survive at their papers. Baseball teams would pay for the travel of baseball writers (and many baseball writers made a few extra bucks serving as official scorers). Horse racing writers would supplement their meager salaries by using insider tips at the track. Sports columnists were often movers and shakers who worked behind the scenes to get things done — in Kansas City, for instance, Joe McGuff played a prominent political role in bringing the Royals to town, in San Diego the old baseball stadium was named for sports editor Jack Murphy.

…. Here again I quote Leonard Koppett (and it should be noted that Koppett — a sportswriter for about 60 years — finished this essay just before he died in 2003):

“Athletes and promoters are not government officials dispensing tax dollars, patronage and punishment, backed up by the judicial and coercive powers of the state. It’s entertainment of a totally voluntary type for participant and follower. The admirable American journalistic tradition of ‘watchdog’ applies to government and other socially powerful entities, not blindly to accounts of ball games, movie reviews, comics and (need it be said?) the content of advertisements. There has to be a sense of proportion about any kind of blanket rule. Ethics depend on conscience, not formula.”

Discuss amongst yourselves….


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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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