H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize winner and sports scribe for the ages, has become irrelevant. And insane.
The author of the phenomenal Friday Night Lights, an outstanding book about life and football in a Texas oil town, pretty much lost his mind on HBO’s CostasNow the other night. You know that first rant in Network, when our angry messiah spouts off from a news desk? It was like that, only instead of speaking for the general population, Bissinger was piping up for a handful of angry, aging sportswriters.
His target: Will Leitch, editor of sports blog Deadspin.com. And blogging in general.
Bissinger in a nutshell: Blogs are bad, cruel, unprofessional and useless. Professional sportswriters work hard and deserve to be read on that basis alone. I’ve spent years working to “perfect the craft” (gag!), and you and your Interweb come in here and take my readers away and pick on me.
Look, I know the frustration. The newspaper industry is tanking. Jobs are gone, wages won’t go up and papers are getting smaller. I love, love, love newspapers, and this crushes me.
But I get something the great Bissinger doesn’t. We can’t stop it. There is an organic aspect to industry change that can be resisted and shouted at but not halted. The cycles vary, but every industry will at some point shuffle, shake up and be spit out, looking quite a bit different on the other side.
Bissinger’s idiocy here is that he treats Leitch like some guy who just got out of bed and decided to start posting on the Internet one day. You would think a journalist would have taken a few minutes to look Leitch up and find out that he’s sort of a, you know, professional writer.
So don’t be like Buzz. When things start to change and they don’t look like the IT you used to know, keep an open mind. Listen to your staff members, ask them for help and ideas. Do NOT become a raving lunatic. Do NOT batten down the hatches unless you have a damn good reason. Do start reading Deadspin. It is so much more fun than your newspaper sports section (minus the fact that your local paper will obviously focus on your local teams).
Leitch should be commended for keeping his cool while Bissinger rants. He saved his best comments for his site. Instead of exploding on air, he went back to the Internet and picked up exactly where he left off. That makes him smarter than a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Here’s a link to this catastrophe, as hosted by Gawker Media, which owns Deadspin. I should warn you that it is loaded with foul language and bad, cruel, unprofessional and useless comment. It all comes from Bissinger.