Is television killing sports columnists?

Stephen Rodrick, writing for Slate magazine, seems to think it is.

In a devastating critique of many of the yelling heads that appear on ESPN’s several talk shows, Rodrick makes a simple point: the time a sports columnist spends on television takes away from the time he or she has to write a good column — to talk with sources, to visit lockerooms, to research information, etc.

He has particularly harsh word for people such as Stephen Smith (Philadelphia Inquirer), Dan Le Batard (Miami Herald), Tony Kornheiser (Washington Post), and Woody Paige (Denver Post).

Some columnists still give their first priority to writing the column — people such as Tom Boswell of the Washington Post.

At the New York Times, where sports columnists are only rarely on television, the reported column lives on. In the first four days of 2005, columnist Selena Roberts wrote back-to-back columns that artfully skewered the seamier side of Auburn’s football program using—get this—actual public documents that probably involved a trip to a courthouse or two. Rhoden also penned a thoughtful piece on USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow and racism in college football.

Rodrick’s article is titled, “Unpardonable Interruptions: How Television Killed the Newspaper Sports Column.” It’s well worth reading.

(Posted Jan. 26, 2005)

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Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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