By Jeremy McDonald
So as I was driving back from Reno from a friends wedding Sunday, I found as many of us have on road trips, lost in thoughts amongst a eight-to-ten-hour drive back to Keizer and with me thinking about what to do this week, I found myself thinking about writing-styles and articles.
I’ve been doing sports journalism for four-years now just about since leaving Southern Oregon University and spent two-years in California and two here in Oregon and I noticed one of many things about journalist.
There’s two-types of journalist and one ‘true’ form journalist area as I like to look at it.
Imagine this as a Venn Diagram from school (yes, I know, those dumb things from elementary school haha); on one end you got the, ‘cut-and-dry’/’cookie cutter’ sports writer of, ‘this is a square, this is a triangle and this is a circle. The End’.
Cookie Cutter refers to the first journalism class that we’re forced to take of, ‘stay out of the picture in the corner’, ‘inverted pyramid, what’s most important’ and ‘don’t add too much emotion, your a journalist not the subject’.
Nothing wrong with that considering you need that some times, but not necessarily 98-percent of the time either.
On the other end of this figurative ‘Venn Diagram’ is the emotional writer. Kind of the Harry Carey of sorts which sadly I consider myself to be under haha.
These journalist go hard on the gas pedal with emotion and trying to harness that in their things, I can’t tell you when I was writing in California how many editors told me, ‘Jeremy, great article. Just a tad bit more emotion that what was needed for a 10-2 baseball game win’.
Finally to the similarities of both groups in this ‘diagram’, the middle. What I like to call the ‘near-perfect’ journalist, (keep in mind, there is no ‘perfect’ journalist and the moment you think your ‘perfect’, it’s time to do another thing).
In this you got writers, like this one editor I wrote for and several writers I’ve seen where they would tie both in beautifully. It’s almost like ready a short-play by Shakespeare, (don’t judge me with the Shakespeare reference, just trying to find an analogy haha), in that both cookie-cutter and emotional sides.
And this editor I knew that told me countless times to relax on the emotion, me and him would talk a lot about how he was able to do both without being conflicted to stay in one-voice or the other and what he told me was that it’s just his voice but he did tell me some advice being just at that time a second-year writer out of small school Southern Oregon University:
Keep a open-mind.
It gets easy to get trapped in ‘this is a square, this is a triangle and this is a circle. The End’ or yell into a microphone about a home-run idea, but a good writer will say yeah Little Johnny went 3-4 with a triple and 5 RBIs in a career day in a walk-off game; however, what is the other side of this story? Improvements, things like that.
Get the emotion of that game, that snapshot of that day in the grand-scheme of their season, but keep it in check so you won’t overwhelmed the reader.
Since then, at least for me, those conversations with this editor has remained with me. Have just enough fun that you are enjoying what you are doing and writing about, but don’t be so predictable and cookie cutter that it takes the fun out of what you are doing.