Reflection on the Plains: Writing to Write and the Consumer Wins

Last week I read something that really inspired me and I thought that I really didn’t have a place to reflect on that. I was wrong. We discuss writing and you, the consumer, having options to read about sports.

Photo via Flickr.

Last week, Will Leitch wrote an opinion piece for the Povich Center, more accurately The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism. This is one of those things that’s probably only interesting to me, but I thought I’d share it because it was really good. First some background. Leitch is the guy that started Deadspin, and he very much tells the story about how Deadspin came about in the article. I’m sure that some of you associate Deadspin with the “bad side” of sports journalism. I know that I was sometimes uncomfortable with some of the things that they published and they would publish about anything. But in a society where we really value free speech, it was really important, I think, to have a site like Deadspin come along, that wasn’t part of the mainstream media that wasn’t afraid to post things that might be irreverent, but important nonetheless. Of course, Deadspin is the site that unearthed the who Manti Te’o and his fake dead girlfriend. That’s kinda a big and strange deal and and I’m not sure it gets covered without Deadspin. Regardless as to whether or not you find that important, there’s a place in this world for Deadspin.

The reason for the information above is to give you a bit of context because I found the parallels between how and why Leitch writes and why I write to be pretty similar. Leitch essentially writes the way that he wants to write and if you want to be successful, you have to keep plugging away at it. I never really came to the realization that I wanted to write until after I was fully obligated. Obligated with a mortgage, school loans, and a wife and all those sorts of things that seemingly make it near impossible to just give up everything that you’re working so hard for and write. Still though, Leitch’s thoughts that you just have to keep plugging away at the process still rings true, perhaps now more than ever as I want Staking The Plains to be something special:

You just can’t consider that an option. If you love writing, and that’s what I love — I love writing; I love reporting — this what I always wanted to do. Not doing it was just not an option. If I had to be this sad, pathetic 60-year-old man who was still typing BlogSpot posts waiting to be discovered, I was willing to do it because you have to. It has to be the decision you make and you can’t do it half-ass. Write and work all the time as if you are writing for millions of people, even if you are just writing for your roommate and his cat.

One of the very early editorial decisions that I tried to make is the idea that I knew that I really couldn’t be viral and quirky and funny. I didn’t feel that my time was well spent putting together a .gif collage of how a football turned out, thinking that you weren’t really here to be entertained in a sometimes funny manner, but that you were here to have legitimate discussions about Texas Tech and how and why things needed to be fixed.

I’m not completely devoid of staying away from viral things. Last week, I posted this thing about Kingsbury hanging out with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and that was obviously intended to be viral, but at the time (like 4:00 a.m.) I thought it was kinda funny and harmless and wouldn’t hurt if I posted it as a stand-alone story and see what happened. I think I’m sorta having buyer’s remorse on that one as I have come to find out that Mayweather is sometimes not very nice to women and I honestly didn’t know that before posting it. I don’t keep up with the negative things in sports, so this slipped by me. I can say that I don’t tweet or post things to intentionally be derisive and just to get a reaction. If I’m doing stuff like this, I’m doing it because I thought it would be a fun way to start the day. If you ever wanted to know why I don’t get caught up in tweeting offensive things (i.e. saying negative things about a rival just to get a reaction) it’s because there’s no sense of accomplishment and that you’re not providing context for discussion, just posting to have a reaction:

Sometimes you end up writing things to get an audience reaction, other than necessarily writing things because they’re true or because they’re interesting or because you think there is something compelling about what you are writing about. I find that it’s addictive. This is why people are sitting at 100,000 tweets. They get addicted to the rush of people responding and telling them they’re wrong. It turns into a whole bunch of stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with writing and absolutely nothing to do with trying capture some sort of truth in what you’re doing.

There’s one more thought on all of this, which is the idea that in today’s blogging and writing world the biggest winner for all of this is that you have so many more choices than you did ten years ago, where there was maybe one forum and a newspaper and that was it. Now, you’ve got a handful of options to read about Texas Tech. I helped create one of them, but now there’s Viva The Matadors, Wreck’Em Red, Raider Power, Red Raider Sports and there are probably others. Heck, Michigan probably has 20 or so quality blogs, covering hockey and basketball specifically to a general blogging. That’s some serious variety and as stated above, you’re the big winner here because you get to pick and choose what you read.

Forget places like Deadspin and Grantland and Sports on Earth and places that are publishing things that would have never been published years ago.

Look at all the entertainment writing that is being done. Look at like, the Cardinals. There are literally 20 different great sites for me to read about the Cardinals. Never mind it being FanGraphs and based on perspectives and different people writing great on Grantland and Tim Marchman doing great on Deadspin. There are so many great places to read about the Cardinals. Literally 15 years ago, there was one.

When I’m thinking about state of the industry, I’m thinking from a consumer’s side. From a consumer’s side, there’s so much good stuff that you almost need a full-time job to read it all. It’s really kind of crazy when you think about how much great stuff there is on a daily basis.

Admittedly, I don’t really read anything other than the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, although truthfully, I try to read just news items. I’m one of those people that if I read analysis and story ideas from other people that those ideas get ingrained in my brain and I tend to be unable to move away from those ideas. It’s weird. I’ll also admit that I’m fiercely competitive when it comes to blogging. I’m generally not competitive much, if at all, in most other aspects of my life . . . but when it comes to blogging and I have the desire to be the best. Or as good as I possibly can be.

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