Welcome back to Dead Letters, the feature in which we reprint our favorite reader mail. We should take this moment to remind you that all emails to Deadspin and its editors are on the record unless otherwise specified. Now for your letters.
Subject: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
To: The Staff
Just curious as to when you will report on him being part of a potential buyout of the LA Clippers. Donald Sterling was racist in private, but Mayweather was racist in public referring to Manny Pacquiao as a "yellow person." Also, he is a convicted domestic abuser. Is this the type of guy we want to replace Sterling? I know he is black so he probably gets a free pass from the deadspin/gawker crowd but come on.
Maybe this begs the question, is a black racist better than a white racist? Look forward to your response.
From: Kyle Wagner
To: Will, The Staff
There's a better chance Deadspin ends up owning the Clippers than Floyd getting them. It's free PR for Floyd from anyone who runs it.
From: Albert Burneko
To: Kyle, Will, The Staff
But Kyle, don't you see? Will has discovered The Real Racist! This is pretty big news.
To: Albert, Kyle, The Staff
Albert, used your chicken thighs recipe the other week,
Hearts and kisses
Subject: Are Racist remarks worse than Adultery or Abuse of Power?
From: Traver Justin
To: Timothy Burke
Tim, I read your report on Sterling. I read the comments from readers.
When did we and the NBA owners & players begin ranking sins and punishing certain ones severly?
Magic Johnson didnt get kicked out of the league for having sex with 2,000 partners.
Or MIchael Jordan for gambling.
David Stern never got slammed for his abuse of power and influencing playoff outcomes.
Consider that in your next Opinion column.
Subject: Nice job
To: The Staff
Good smear campaign on Sterling, that was awesome. Now, who should you target next? I got two names for you:
-Jason Whitlock. Racist comments against Jeremy Lin, then got a promotion to ESPN! UNFUCKING BELIEVABLE, am I right?
-Michael Wilbon. He's always down for the cause, time and time again. Just turn on PTI. There's gotta be something on him, right?
"Should I treat one group of people better than another group, intentionally, or should I #treatevery1thesame?"
From: Albert Burneko
To: TreatEvery1TheSame, The Staff
deadspin_tips_ninja moved this conversation to #falseequivalencevalley
Subject: Holy Fuck What Was The Last Sean Newell Article Awful
From: Josh Turel
To: The Staff
I don't even like either team but I don't know which game this fuck was watching. After posting that hot mess of an article not sure you guys can ever bag on ESPN again.
[Note: It's unclear which Sean Newell post this correspondent is talking about.]
Subject: Tim's editorial is sucking the life out of journalism and I can't stop writing about it
From: Justin Lillge
To: Tim Marchman, The Staff
Hi Tim, Deadspin,
I don't know why I did this, but I wrote a brief response to Tim's "Shut up about "Clickbait"" editorial. It's copy and pasted below the sig line and attached in .pdf. I hope it's helpful.
Tim Marchman, in his lazy, derisive, and empty editorial – Shut Up About "Clickbait" – hypothesizes that the use of the word clickbait is lazy, derisive, and meaningless. He forms this hypothesis on the basis of the following observation: The word is lobbed indiscriminately at articles of all kinds. Whether the article is about Mila Kunis's present state of undress, a thunderous slam dunk, or the deaths of thousands, someone will invariably complain to Deadspin that the piece is nothing more than clickbait. Thus, Marchman concludes, "clickbait" is an empty word, since there is no coherent concept that could tie-together all instances of the pejorative.
Marchman's hypothesis isn't crazy. If a single word were used to ridicule many different types of people – nice, mean, smart, dumb, tall, short, fat, thin… – it would be hard to derive the meaning of that word from all its various contexts. So the inference from Marchman's observations of the use of "clickbait" to his conclusion about the meaning of the word is, at the very least, understandable. It might even be correct: perhaps it is just an empty vindictive that is thrown at journalists and their mastheads. What makes Marchman's piece so shoddy is that he stops his analysis there. Rather than taking the time to think a bit more about the use of "clickbait", he settles on the first (most natural) thought that he has about the word and, since he concludes it's meaningless, decries its use.
When observations (i.e., evidence or data) seem incomprehensible, there are two kinds of meta-hypotheses one can draw: (1) the data is incomprehensible, meaningless, and unhelpful, so there are no useful conclusions to be drawn from it, and (2) the data is incomprehensible, so there must be some novel hypothesis that can make the data meaningful. In an editorial piece, route (1) lazily presents confusing data but takes no time to try to understand it, while route (2) requires thought and effort from the editorialist. This, of course, is not to say that taking route (2) ensures success: more commonly, confusing data is "forced-into" pre-drawn conclusions (see esp. conspiracy theories).
Deadspin has a reputation for great success in pursuing route (2), when its writers choose (and are able) to do so. This isn't terribly surprising: most excellent journalism involves starting from a pool of messy, unconnected data, and drawing coherent, meaningful connections between and from that pool. And Deadspin has had some excellent journalists write terrific pieces. The microscopic problem with Marchman's piece is that it fails to live up to the standard that one could reasonably expect from reading some of Deadspin's better articles. (Perhaps most relevantly, Marchman's article comes as a huge disappointment, considering it comes from the same broader source as Tom Scocca's fantastic meta-journalism/media piece "On Smarm".)
There's a macroscopic problem, as well, and it's parasitic on the microscopic issue: because the articles on Deadspin are so diverse in quality and standards (putting "Check out this ——, I'm can't stop ——-ing"-like articles on one end of the spectrum and "How Roberto Luongo Saved Vancouver"-type articles on the other), your readers don't know what to expect from a given article. This, I suspect, is the origin of "clickbait!" accusations: readers develop varied expectations about the site's content and, when their expectations for a given article – which are formed partially on the basis of their past experiences with the site, and partially on the basis of the article's headline – aren't met, they cry foul.
Even if that suspicion is right (and hell if I have any way of confirming it without leaving my armchair), it still leaves open the question of why "clickbait" is so uniformly utilized to lodge those types of "failed-expectation" complaints. Perhaps a partial explanation is that it's easier for a reader to identify (rightly or not) a misleading headline than it is for that same reader to identify (again, rightly or not) a site which has licensed wildly varying expectations about the quality of its content. But that's just a thought, and I'm no journalist (nor psychologist), so I'll leave my hypothesizing at that.
Subject: Sean Newell
From: John Barbaro
To: The Staff
I had to laugh at Sean Newell's attack on Dan Snyder in reference to Snyder's interest in the plight of those people trapped on Indian reservations.
What I find amusing about individuals like Newell is that they're so often Caucasians who are so consumed with a guilt complex that they actually presume to coach American Indians about the things that should (or should not) offend them! I'm not sure which affliction possesses Newell's psyche more: Arrogance or ignorance.
So the hapless Newell goes about challenging Snyder for his wealth, as if that wealth disqualifies Snyder for being as sincere and as concerned as Newell only pretends to be!
The attempts by Newell and other geniuses like him to lecture the American Indian on what should be offensive is one of the more tragic comedies of our time, because it deflects attention from the genuine cultural problems on the reservations. The American Indian, and the Washington Redskins, and Dan Snyder, and football fans would all benefit greatly if individuals like Sean Newell sought professional help to locate the massive short circuit located somewhere between the right ear and the left ear.
From: Tim Marchman
To: John Barbaro, The Staff
To: The Staff
look, it's all about clicks, right? site visits? that's what you need, that sells the advertisers? you want the trolls all upset, you want some national coverage? then get someone to write this;
"ARE JEWS TAKING OVER THE NFL"?
2% of the population controls 33% of the NFL teams. Jews own;
NEW ENGLAND MIAMI OAKLAND
NEW YORK (JETS) ATLANTA
That'll get people riled up. You'll get labeled anti-semetic for even thinking about it. you'll have half the national media upset.
It's all about the clicks; go for it.
To: The StaffSeveral articles posted on your site include profanity, obscene, or indecent language. For just one example (use of fucking and shitty) look at the last paragraph in: http://regressing.deadspin.com/the-problem-is... or the use of douchebaggery, shit, and bullshit in http://gizmodo.com/great-article-... . Watch what you allow to be posted, grow up, get a thesaurus. If not put an age block on your site with credit card varification.
Subject: Matt from st.louis missouri
1,U did a story of a guy who had the ghost of bobbyjones/golfer in a jar in his garage who was the guy who had him in the jar ?
2, & i would love a deadspin.com grapic t-shirt in (XL) & MAIL IT TO MY HOME AT
Subject: Sly motherfucker
To: Albert Burneko
It's weird, I know, I get it. I read deadspin for drew. I love the word fuck, or any variation. I am a drunk asshole. I have a job, car, and my own house. I come from a well to do family, but also have balls, and yet very poor myself.
I CRUSH pussy, I do. Pics attached!
What are the must haves for a basic, (cook) (chef).
FAT CHICKS ARE WHORES.
[attached: pictures of pouraguinness's naked girlfriend]
From: Albert Burneko
Dude, please don't send me this shit. Ever.
To Albert Burneko
C'Mon bro, I thought you were kool!?
Hahaha, jokes we all got 'em till your dick shows up, then that's the joke!