From part one of Steve Marantz’s interview with veteran newspaper columnist Bob Ryan:
You’ve got the shift in readership to the likes of Bill Simmons and all of the people on the Internet, who are a little less accountable than newspaper writers. But they’re all out there forcing us to re-evaluate where we fit in. It’s not the same and it won’t be the same – our influence is waning and eroding. Simmons is not doing what mainstream columnists do – he has no desire to speak to anyone in power – he observes and does what he does. There’s room for everybody – the access to information is staggering, imposing and intimidating. You’ve got Baseball Prospectus and all that number crunching by genius people dissecting baseball in ways mainstream writers never could – it’s very intimidating.
All you can do is use your access to bring thoughts to the public and to write as well as you can and hope that someone cares and that it matters. And how you say things is almost as important as what you’re saying. When that stops being the case we’ll be in trouble. Our business is under siege. Somebody starting out today should get to a dot.com immediately if not sooner – why spend your time in a dying industry? I’m grateful I’m much closer to the end of my career than the beginning. I’m grateful for the times I’ve lived through. I doubt the dot.comers will ever have the fun we had – because of the access and respect we got from the leagues – theirs will never be what ours was. They’ll never have the fun and the relationships we were lucky enough to have had. I can’t imagine starting out today.
…My pet peeve is a continual stream of one-sentence paragraphs. That is not writing in my book – I would reject it if I were an editor. My hero is Jay Greenberg (NY Post) because he’s the only guy who writes longer paragraphs than me. We stand alone in the lengths of our paragraphs. One-line paragraphs are not writing – it’s an easy device – it’s just illogical. Anything is okay on an occasional basis – I will lay one down at times but not 27 or 35 of them and you know there are people who do that.