JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Why it matters

I taught my first class of the semester at Manhattanville this morning, and while standing before the students my mind drifted to the whole CNN/Twitter thing of the past 1 1/2 weeks. Specifically, I was thinking about my relatively thin skin, and why the foul comments particularly offend me, and why even the negative comments about stories sting to a certain (but lesser) degree.

The answer, I believe, is because writing—if you genuinely care about the product—is personal. If you’re someone who just writes straight news, or merely blogs regurgitations of the work of others, or half-hearts the whole thing, well, of course you wouldn’t care. But when I write for SI.com or CNN.com or even for this blog, I generally bleed it. I don’t take positions I don’t believe in. I don’t make bold statements for the mere sake of making them. I write it because it’s how I feel. It means something to me. A lot to me.

A lot of writers would share this take. Gary Smith once talked about making every word count, and I try really hard to make every word count; to focus on the buts and whats as much as the names and lengthy adjectives. It’s personal, because it’s what I love doing. So, yeah, I don’t love the insults. But I don’t view it solely as a character flaw. I view it as someone who cares.

And that’s what I have to say about that.

PS: My 4-year-old can’t get enough of the above video.