Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The wrong objective

Non-beloved, non-legendary Atlanta Journal-Constitution non-columnist Terence Moore submitted his final column today after accepting a voluntary buyout from the beleaguered newspaper. (Note: "beleaguered" is, technically, a redundancy.) The column itself, titled "To Braves, Hawks, Falcons, Thrashers: Good is for losers" is typical Moore: a mixture of the blindingly obvious (Atlanta's pro sports teams are not yet championship-caliber) with the stunningly wrongheaded (they're going to stay this way forever ... why?) and a misinformed cheap shot at Georgia fans tacked on at the end. It's not good, it's not even really in the same ballpark as "good," but as Moore columns go, it's actually par for the course: sometimes he doesn't even get the "blindingly obvious" stuff down right.

But this particular column isn't even the point. The point is in the "ediotr's note" that prefaces the oclumn, and which reads like so:
Editor’s note: This is Terence Moore’s last column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Terence has decided to take a voluntary buyout, ending a stellar 24 years as a sports columnist. Terence sums up his time this way: “My objective was to get people to think, not to agree or disagree, just to get people to think.” We thank him for making all of us think and wish him the best as he moves on to new endeavors.
No. No. That is not the correct objective for a sports columnist. Moore is, in fact, supposed to try and get his readers to agree with him--this is the point of his position, to elucidate, inform, analyze, help his readers understand the sports they're subscribing to his paper to follow. "Making people think" isn't the same thing as "getting them to understand." If Moore really doesn't care if you agree or disagree with him, then he doesn't have anything at stake in what he's written beyond how much attention it's getting--he's admitted to writing things even he doesn't truly believe, just for the sake of stirring the proverbial pot. On these here Interwebs, we call this "trolling."

A recent fisk at BHGP reminded me of this sterling and apropos quote from Fire Joe Morgan, may it rest in the awesomest peace ever:
I, for one, am sick of wrongheaded writers telling me I love to hate them when in fact I hate to hate them. A note to Baylessian contrarians: you should take no joy in being so wrong about something that throngs of people rise up as one to denounce you. This should not be what it means to be a writer. When thousands of people write you angry emails about something you said or wrote that was wrong, you should not shrug your shoulders and say, "I must be doing something right if I got so many people interested!" No, sir. Sir, no. You were wrong. That is the end of the story. You were so wrong you made people angry. There is no glory in your profound wrongitude. Please stop doing this.
Trust me, Terence Moore: it was never your job to make me think. It was your job to explain why I should think the same way you think. Forgive me, but I think the inability to understand the difference between those two objectives--why the first gets you only halfway to where you need to be, why not risking being right can only result in being wrong--goes a long way towards explaining why neither Terence Moore nor tons of other former sports columnists have their job at all anymore.


jrsuicide said...

Oh Moore, what a fucking douche.

Patrick said...

As an Atlanta resident, I agree with your assessment. Terence Moore will not be missed.

Sullivan013 said...

I agree with your assessment. The 'goal' of the journalist is to tell a compelling story of what happened. The method can be thought-provoking, humorous, sarcastic, even controversial, but the common thread should be the stark (and often painful) truth. This is true of great newspaper journalists of the past: Mark Twain, Emile Zola, Ernie Pyle, Edward R. Murrow. Take any story that they wrote, and you’ll find those same elements, but great writers rise above the method used and still manage to tell the story in such a way that you may occasionally disagree, but you will always be willing to read.

Hobbes said...

FJM is, on the other hand, greatly missed.

It makes me sad that they're no longer blogging. Although I may check out their new show.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Hobbes, I've been disappointed with Parks and Recreation so far. It's had little moments of inspiration, but to this point the comic relief characters haven't been THAT funny, the sympathetic serious characters haven't been THAT sympathetic, and Amy Poehler's lead character needs to be both (a la Michael Scott) and has been neither.

But a lot of shows need time to find their footing and the people in charge generally know what they're doing, so we'll see. It might improve.

Sully: I agree. It's about the truth.

John said...

Glad you brought this to light, or I would have missed it.

On second thought, maybe I would've been glad to miss it.

Moore is the the lowest percentile of sports columnists. Consistently using his column to spout off about racism, Moore was a joke. I can remember reading crap he wrote about David Justice when I was 5. What a joke.

I still believe he held onto his job for so long because he could get an easy interview with Hank Aaron.

J.D. said...

Terence Moore got you to write an entire blog post about him. He...wins?

jrsuicide said...

Parks and Recreation could use some work, but i remember thinking the US version of the Office kind of sucked the 1st season after being such a fan of the original and then by the end of season 2 i thought the US version was better. P&E has a good cast, i think it's got some potential. plus i love Aziz Ansari.

and Moore is still a douche.

Iggy said...

I am going to miss Terence Moore. How else am I supposed to remember that the Braves made a fatal mistake by trading David Justice, if he is not around to remind me of it once every two months.

I often agree with jrsuicide's posts, but in this case I have to take exception. Calling Terence a douche is an insult to douchebags everywhere.

Anonymous said...

The biggest race-baiter in Atlanta. Did more to incite hate than anyone I can think of. This man won't be happy without a race war.

Loganville Tiger said...

I too read his last column was yesterday - I had multiple drinks in the evening in celebration! No longer will I be exposed to his dribbles. Biggest racist in the state.

Who will take up the Mantle of pointing out no blacks on the Braves? Who will write the yearly column on bringing Griffey to Atlanta?

He Will Not Be Missed....

Jerry Hinnen said...

JD, that's the point: if he thinks he's won by my writing a post ripping him apart, then it helps explain why he's been so terrible over the years. And it's awful for the paper: we Internet people can fisk-and-run and be done with him, but for subscribers, week after week of this nonsense gets old and does nothing to strengthen the connection between the paper and the community.