before i bash the old soul, let me state that i enjoy TJ. and i’m not alone.
to me he is the Bobby Knight of sports journalism: brutal, intense, entertaining, mean, and occasionally hugely successful. he is a brash maverick who demands (and gets) respect while being prickly.
in this Ryan Seacrest world of Bruno Mars halftime shows and metro-sexuals in skinny jeans sipping on soy latte vegan whathaveyous, some of us appreciate a macho man putting pro athletes (and owners) in their places.
i attended a charity event he threw a few years back where he interviewed the equally independent Sandy Koufax and asked the Dodger legend all of the tough questions that many of us in attendance wouldn’t have dared to – even after a few drinks. The spacious Nokia Theatre was packed yet stone silent as TJ fired good questions at the southpaw, and the Hall of Famer answered them honestly. it made you wonder why Koufax didn’t give more interviews.
But whatever, he granted it to TJ because TJ is TJ and maybe Koufax appreciated a man with similar moxie.
but unfortunately TJ is just a man. And as we know, mankind is flawed. because in the same way that he is fearless in asking questions, he has tunnel-vision when it comes to the future (and present) of journalism.
the occasional sports columnist of the LA Times recently told the USA Today sports blog The Big Lead that he is jumping ship to the OC Register because he wants to work with ”folks eager to still have some fun as newspaper men and women.”
in the short email that he sent the blog, he mentioned the word “newspaper” six times.
1. “I was overwhelmed by the exictement [sic] I felt at the Orange County Register and the crusader-like effort to prove newspapers still matter.”
2. ”In my initial meeting with the paper’s top editors they were aware of the best newspaper movie ever made: Deadline USA…”
3. & 4. “The Times still offers a terrific newspaper, but there is a feeling there that the newspaper is dead and most efforts should be directed to the Internet while waiting to see who buys the paper.”
5. “As Sandy Koufax’s grandfather told him, ‘Time is the most important thing you have in life.’ And I choose to spend it now with folks eager to still have some fun as newspaper men and women.
6. “I would hope everyone would now start reading the Register—at the very least to save newspapers as we remember them.”
If you read those six quotes you’d think TJ is 93, not 63. And if you didn’t know any better you’d think that the OC Register has 3 editions and little kids in knickers at the corner yelling Extra Extra.
Meanwhile, it’s curious that such a loud mouth would want to use such a tiny megaphone.
Although the Register, under its new ownership, is a shining star, whose circulation slightly increased at last count; the LA Times has double the print readership of the OCR. Likewise, despite the empty LA Times desks that depress the suddenly sensitive Simers, latimes.com attracts millions (if not tens of millions) more eyeballs to its pages each month than the OCR. It’s obvious Simers couldn’t give one fig about the web, but still.
In fact the odd irony about today’s news is he EMAILED the USA Today BLOG about a previous BLOG POST that was based on a TWEET that then turned into an even more popular BLOG POST that everyone today is reading ONLINE and now talking about on FACEBOOK, blogs and Twitter.
I sincerely hope the LA Times didn’t really offer a guaranteed contract (as TJ alleges) to a writer who is so willfully ignorant about how news travels in these modern times. As much as he may yearn for the days of Bogey and Barrymore in black & white Deadline U.S.A., he happens to be living in the color world of Deadline Hollywood / Deadspin where even the luddite knows when you want to clarify a point you OMG email it to a blawwwwwg.
In his email he alluded to the fact that the suits at the OCR knew of my hero Mike Royko.
If I had been one of those suits and TJ floated that name past me I would have said, “oh you mean the man who basically blogged at the Chicago Tribune by cranking out lively columns every single day, on a variety of topics, with gusto and panache? If you are saying that you’re ready to step up your game and produce like that, then yes welcome.”
But when TJ utters that name I imagine he just thinks of a fellow crank – and nothing more.
Let’s hope I am wrong and this apparent move to his new NEWSPAPER will instill him with a second wind because when TJ is good, he’s very good. Meanwhile I worry for the Times who in the last year has lost giants in news (Andrew Blankstein) and entertainment (Geoff Boucher).
Soon they may be saying ciao to their giant pain in the butt.