Beginners’ Guide to Reading the Times Picayune

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Published: June 29, 2011

In the wake of this morning’s release of John Deshazier’s column speaking on the subject of David West’s opt out of his contract, I feel it necessary to remind all of you how the newspaper works. Now I understand that most people that read on this site as well as Hornets Report, At The Hive, and James Grayson’s Swarm and Sting, already know the fallacies of the works of our illustrious writers at the Times Picayune, but for those of you who aren’t quite aware of their works, I’ve got a few pointers for you.

People think that the newspaper is always 100% honest and true, believing that everything printed in it is concrete fact. That is entirely untrue; in fact, much of what you read in the paper should be taken with a grain of salt. It doesn’t matter whether you’re reading the Times Picayune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or USA Today, writers find a way to sneak their (or the paper’s) opinions and bias into their columns by the way they set the tone or mood of the paper. Much like FOX News is basically dominated by the right-winged views from the producers to anchors and reporters, newspapers are often the same. There was once a time when it was the norm to have many different newspapers covering the same stories in the same city, each of them giving a different perspective of certain events. This lead to great competition amongst local newspapers, producing all the facts somewhere, however a bit scattered about in various columns of papers. But at some point, probably during the Cold War when the propaganda games ran rampant around the media, most of those other newspapers went away. It turned into some whack version of Darwinism with the “survival of the fittest newspaper”. Really it was who could produce the most encapsulating arguments, twist the minds of readers, and have the most money. Now we are left with just one major paper in the Greater New Orleans region, the Times Picayune, thank you capitalism, you suck.

As a huge Saints and Hornets fan, I read a lot about the two, but it’s sad because I can hardly find any information from T-P writers that I couldn’t get from a three sentence report from the Associated Press. Both teams have several writers, and while some of them can put out a good piece every now and then, most of them really lack the gutsy instincts to get their noses dirty and obnoxiously ask the questions that we obnoxiously want answers to. Most of the time it really just sounds like they make stuff up or try to stretch out a small team report put out by the nationalized Associated Press. Very sad stuff. So, I’m going to give a few examples of trustworthy and not-so-trustworthy writers for our Hornets.

The Good

Peter Finney

Pete doesn’t write a whole lot about the Hornets or basketball, but when he does, it’s a very entertaining and compelling piece. He writes in a style that captures the attention and emotions of the reader, usually with a tone that’s meant to make you feel inspired by the actions of athletes, coaches, and the like. He’s not a guy that will write much about stats, the financial side of things, or potential moves in the offseason. Instead he’s a writer who writes for honest entertainment purposes. So, he won’t give you much coverage on the inner workings of the Hornets, but he’ll provide a very enjoyable piece that it is often centered on an interview with a player.

The Mediocre

Jimmy Smith

Jimmy is one of two beat writers for the Hornets. His content is usually pretty decent as he’s a level headed thinker, rarely letting emotion or opinion get the best of him. His content often has good insight, modest proposals, and nice research. However, his work isn’t written in a way that wraps you up and brings you in. This can be attributed to his rigorous agenda to have to produce a few pieces a day, but if you’re a pro I think it could be a little better. It’s good content, but it’s a little dry for me and doesn’t offer much I didn’t know already. His counterpart John Reid is very similar, but he just writes less.

The Bad

John DeShazier

Before I really start to tear this guy apart, I would like to say a few positive things about him. He writes beautifully, and certainly his calling is writing because the way he uses words almost leaves you in awe thinking “Why can’t I think with the vocabulary this guy does”. That’s about the only good thing about his writing though. Everything he ever writes about the Hornets is a negative, misleading, pile of biased baloney. He does no research, poses terrible arguments based on either weak or untrue premises, and he interviews no one. Perhaps the worst part about him is actually something he doesn’t directly do. He get’s published on the front page of the T-P with his writing. Something based on pure, unresearched, careless, negative speculation gets to circulate throughout the area scaring everyone, giving them a negative perspective on not only the players, but also the team as a whole. Look if your job is to write about a team don’t make them look bad, you should appreciate the people that help pay your bills. Nothing this guy says or writes should be taken as a fact; actually it should be totally disregarded.

 

It’s unfortunate that the propaganda train still rolls on where, as Mr. Christopher Price told me on Twitter this morning, “scandal and fear mongering sells”. That is a very true statement, sad but true. I try to stay away from the Times Picayune altogether, but many of you just want something new to read, which I understand. Hopefully this guide can help you navigate through all of the content in the paper or on NOLA.com, so go forth and be freed from the crucible of bad writing!

 

This post was submitted by YLZL.

5 comments
QueenBee
QueenBee

Fletcher Mackel is dumb as **** too.

QueenBee
QueenBee

What about John Reid? Where does he fit in? I'll give you a clue.... he doesn't fit in The Good. LOL. Peter Finney and Jimmy Smith are the 2 better ones. DeShazier is a bandwagoner. He'll give the Hornets the occasional prop when they're winning games but the guy has been doom and gloom about the Hornets since they arrived in New Orleans. Dude, if you'd prefer, just ask your boss if it's ok that you not write about the Hornets. Now in no way am I saying everything he writes has to be roses and peaches and cream, but you can just tell that the guy doesn't give a you know what about the Hornets. If I ever see him face to face I'll tell him about his fake bandwagon riding a**.

Mason G.
Mason G.

Great post, and I'm quite glad it was written. To follow up on your analysis of those three TP writers - I totally agree with your description of Mr. Finney. Although he doesn't produce some of the stat-intensive content many of us enjoy, he is a magnificent writer and a class act. I went to high school with his grandson and also dated his granddaughter for a little while way back when, so I have been around him a few times, and each of those times he has appeared to be a fantastic role model. Jimmy Smith does a good job of covering the Hornets intently and in great detail. However, I think his main issue is the simple fact that he isn't as knowledgeable about the game of basketball as a lot of us, and simply relies on generally accepted statistics to base most of his opinionated writing. DeShazier... ugh. Nothing more to add than what you said. I know a few of us threw our two cents into the comments section of his article today, and it wasn't pretty for him.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

This has always been my question for local and national newspapers- do they write conservative, lame (yeah I said it) pieces because that is all they are capable of or do they do that because that is what their audience demands? I don't mind that they write their simple little pieces, because I dont feel like dumbing down my articles for casual fans. So, while I agree with 99.9 percent of the things you said in this piece, I am glad that the TP and other papers like them exist to write pieces for the guy who checks his Iphone for 80% of the game and leaves at the end of the third quarter so he can beat the traffic. And, thank you for the journal. Very entertaining and well written

Nola Jake
Nola Jake

That was absolutely awesome. Well said and done. I read that article this morning and almost wrote a a piece titled "Why John DeShazier is a Fuck Stick". But you said it far more eloquently than I would have.