Extreme Sportswriting?  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   April 1999

Extreme Sportswriting?   

By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

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   » Over The Edge?

THE VIEW FROM SPORTS EDITORS about attitude and edge in their domain runs basically the same gamut as opinions on news coverage. Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Peter Carry doesn't see much change in sportswriting at his magazine; USA Today President and Publisher Tom Curley cites a stark increase in snideness throughout the media. Gary Hoenig, executive editor of the graphically hip ESPN The Magazine, says his publication believes each writer does and should bring a "very subjective take to a story," but cynicism is not something ESPN wants to encourage.
Los Angeles Times Sports Editor Bill Dwyre offers an upbeat take on the merits of cynicism, a trait he finds to be on the increase in coverage of the big-business world of sports. "Where do you draw the line between flat-out cleverness and...an edge?" Dwyre asks. "I don't think you can." Those covering the field accept "the line of bullshit" less these days. "I think it's positive," he says. "In many ways it's more honest.... I've often said we're lied to more than the political writers on this newspaper.... Everything is spin; everything is hype; everything is big money." Giving a story the right spin, says Dwyre, can bring it closer to the truth, though writers can still go too far when "spin and cynicism is for effect more than conveying information."
The same forces at work on the rest of the news business have affected sports. Television provides the scores; newspapers need to do more, he says. Plus, many of the readers of the 1990s want to be entertained a bit. Dwyre's of the mind that, at his paper at least, "we can be a little more creative."



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