Thursday, September 09, 2010

Todd Barry is annoyed and so am I

Todd Barry is a very funny stand-up comedian. He recently played a gig in St. Paul, Minnesota, a show that was reviewed
on a web site called City Pages, which appears to me to be the Minneapolis/St. Paul equivalent of Tampa Bay's Creative Loafing. This review, in particular the writer's acknowledged failure to list or even remember the opening comedian's name, caused Barry to ask via Twitter if this was a standard or even acceptable practice:

"Question for writers: if you're reviewing show + don't remember opening act's name, is this the way you handle it?"
My answer, as a writer (for what it's worth); absolutely not. This is sloppy, lazy writing that shouldn't be tolerated under any circumstances. The fact that it's so disrespectful to a professional entertainer (whose name is Tim Harmston, by the way) adds insult to the mix. If the writer thought Harmston sucked, there's no excuse for at least show a basic level of respect of using the guy's name. Beyond that, what the hell is the point of this post anyway? It's not really a review; he doesn't even mention whether Barry was funny or not. The only thing you take away from it is that the writer attended the show but didn't think it was important to mention anything other than that, padded by some "clever" phraseology (I picture the writer sitting back in his chair, very pleased with himself after concocting the stream of nonsensical gibberish that closes the piece).
This is what can happen when publications dabble in blogs. Many seem to believe there's journalism and then there's blogs, and that they don't owe their readers their best effort when they publish things in blog form. If you want their 'A' game, read the magazine. I don't use my blog for news or journalism, but a lot of people do. Those people work hard to check facts, write well and give their readers quality, pertinent content, all of which is missing from whatever this is supposed to be.
My point here is that all readers should demand and expect a certain standard of effort, if not quality, from the writers you read, be they bloggers or "real" journalists. Your time and attention is valuable. Don't waste it on those who don't respect you enough to give you (and/or their subjects) their best.

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