Newsday, a collection of tire ads that old people leave lying around diners in Farmingdale, is cracking down on any use of sarcasm or name-calling or "negative characterization" in its corpse of a sports section. To which I say: Brilliant idea, assholes!
The New York Observer's John Koblin reports:
Newsday has a new policy for its sports page. The paper's editors have told their writers there has to be a new, softer tone. They don't want loaded words. They don't want name-calling. They don't want stories to be unnecessarily harsh.
Wallace Matthews, a longtime sports columnist who has made a career out of being martyred by his newspapers' stupidity, recently fled Newsday for the newly launched ESPN New York. In December, according to Koblin, Matthews filed a column in which he called Bill Parcells "surly" and wrote that Eric Mangini was "about as communicative as a mummy," neither of which characterizations anyone — least of all Parcells or Mangini — would dispute. Nevertheless, they apparently ran afoul of the new rules as laid down by editor Debby Krenek.
Mr. Matthews' lines were edited out and rephrased. "I said, ‘Why?'" said Mr. Matthews, recalling the conversation he had with his editor at the time. "[Sports editor] Hank Winnicki said that Debby doesn't want name-calling.' I said, ‘It's not name-calling.'"
Obviously, this is no way to run a sports section, and certainly not one in New York, which, without the occasional back-page name-calling, would just ring endlessly with a lot of happy bugling for the local boys — which is to say, it'd be San Francisco. No one wants that.
Let's just go ahead and blame this one on the Dolans. The Cablevision Stalinists, who also own the Knicks and the Rangers, purchased Newsday two years ago, and from the beginning they seemed to think of the paper as a sort of morning edition of the Dolan family newsletter. They may deny having anything to do with the new happy-talk policy, but no one seems to believe them, and with good reason. Newsday being a once-sorta-respectable Greater New York institution, I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume that the Dolans have had a small hand in fucking it up, the way they did the Knicks, the Wiz, and the music of Bruce Springsteen.
On Newsday's Sports Page, It's All Good [New York Observer]