So back about two weeks ago, I wrote this post about a Deadspin contributor named Kyle Wagner, who included one of my blog posts on his Worst American Sportswriting List of 2014. As I said then and will reiterate now, I wasn’t upset with Wagner for naming my shitty Ray Rice entry to the list. No, I was upset with the list itself.
I hate when people quote themselves. I really do. But, eh, here’s a bit of what I wrote, RE: Kyle: It takes an awfully arrogant scribe to tell guys like [Chris] Jones and [Wright] Thompson that their writing blows (I mean, if a writer is tearing down another writer in print, he surely believes his work to be superior). Just as I needed [Tennessean features editor] Catherine Mayhew in 1995, Kyle Wagner (in my opinion) needed an editor in 2014. He needed someone at Deadspin to pull him aside and say, “I know this is fun, I know this will get you a bunch of high-fives inside the office, I know ripping Peter King seems cool—but for something this disposable and unimportant, it’s not worth it.
And here we are.
A couple of days ago Kyle—writing for Deadspin—fucked up in a uniquely funky way. He wrote a fascinating post about the 2016 Olympics adding 3-on-3 basketball as a competition. Which (glub) turned out to be untrue. It seems Kyle fell for the ol’ Fake News Website trick, where he read a post that looked real but (again, glub) wasn’t. Now, I’m guessing, he feels pretty dumb and embarrassed.
My message to Kyle: Don’t feel dumb and embarrassed. Truly, don’t. You’ve now joined the select club of journalists who humiliated themselves by committing a huge gaffe. Meet the other members—absolutely everyone. Kyle, we’ve all been in your shoes (Lord knows, I’ve been there). And it sucks, it blows, it’s disheartening and—even if you’re putting on a brave face—I suspect you feel like dogshit.
Instead, learn from it. Figure out what you did wrong. And, in regards to your crap Worst American Sportswriting List, reexamine that idea. As I noted in the original post, we all have bad moments. Ledes that suck, metaphors that fall flat, quotes that make no contextual sense. I’m not saying journalism is ditch digging or ER surgery, but it’s public and humbling and oftentimes exasperating. To rip peers for their writing shortcomings is to say, “You suck and I can do better.”
Truth is, we all suck from time to time.
No reason to go out of your way to point it out.