Most of you who have been on here a while know how I (and Justin also) feel about this kind of thing.
First of all, I'm not sure we in the media do a very good job of explaining the difference between columnists and reporters, especially to athletes, and the lines are getting blurred more all the time as media tries to create and sell ``personalities.'' Plus, the powers that be are asking reporters to have more opinions on the stories they write all the time. Then there's the differences between blogging and reporting, and then getting asked your opinion in different forms of media.
I still believe -- and I know I'm old-fashioned and maybe even out-dated -- that somebody has to be objective and be the recorder of facts. Somebody has to be the record-keeper, the historian with ethical credibility to provide perspective so when we do tell you something is wrong or strange is happening, you have no reason to doubt it. Blah, blah, blah. LOL.
I think Justin and I do a pretty good job of keeping each other in check on things like that. I have a tremendous respect for him, what he does and how he does it. You might be surprised how often we talk about things like these issues in the press box; or he'll ask me for advice or I'll ask him what he thinks on something. We are very competitive, but there is a tremendous appreciation there. I know how hard he works, and if I beat him on a story, I really earned it; and vice versa. I know, we push each other to stay on top of our games. I think we help each other get better.
I also have a lot of respect for Reggie Hayes and Ben Smith, the primary columnists for the two papers, and how hard they have to work to do their jobs. They have an incredibly difficult job. I hope Fort Wayne readers appreciate how lucky they are to have this kind of talent here. I know how lucky we are to have you.
I think a lot about the people I've learned from, too: Kerry Hubartt, Steve Warden, Bud Gallmeier, Joe Sheibley, Bill Scott, Rich Griffis, Len Pasquarelli, Terry Hutchens, Barb Wachtman, Connie Zuber. I often wonder how Bud would have done in a blogging world. Things are just so different now. I'm pretty sure the blog would have exploded sometime because he'd have gone after somebody. LOL.
It's definitely a lot different than when I started 30 years ago. A lot of times I don't think it's for the better, either, but I know, I'm old. This is going to sound really elitest, and it's not necessarily meant to be, but sportswriting is something most sports fans believe they could do, and pretty easily, too. Sometimes? Sure, it maybe could be done. Other times? No way in the world. The hardest part would be coming up with ideas during the dog days of the season or on a really boring game or dealing with a player who is PO'd at something you wrote. Just like I couldn't easily learn your job.
We certainly don't do as much training with younger reporters starting out as we used to. More cutbacks in staff and asking everyone to do more things has led to that. More often than not, we throw people out there today and hope they can handle it and don't give them enough feedback or simple help to get them going. That's something that REALLY frustrates me because I love to pay it forward by helping younger reporters. There's just not as much time. Maybe that's what leads to asking players for autographs.
I do have a lot of proteges out there in the business who I am really proud to have had a little hand in helping them, though. Guys like Tyler Hoeppner, Marc Johnson, Mike Sanserino, Aaron Organ, Jeff Wiehe, Justin Kenny, Ashley Brouwer, Jonathan Bateullo, Greg Mengelt, Maria Ortiz, Nick West, Dan Cortez, Nate Trela, Brian Hedger, Scott Warden, Erik Pupillo. They are great reporters, class acts and better people. I've learned as much from them as hopefully I've been able to teach them. I know none of them would ever ask a player for an autograph.