Tuesday, December 06, 2005

News You Can't Use

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle is apparently making a cottage industry out of personally attacking the Oakland Raiders. In two columns on successive days (click here and here to read them), Mr. Ratto has teed off on the Oakland Raiders organization and the Raider Nation with considerable glee.

Now, before I am miscast as a "thin-skinned Raiders fan,” let me clarify something: this take is about journalism, not about circling the wagons as a Raiders fan (although being a Raiders loyalist does shade my perspective). Additionally, I concede that a columnist necessarily has the liberty and license to venture beyond the boundaries of mere reporting. Within that context, however, it is still bush league for a columnist to become a cheap-shot artist and a one-trick pony.

But Ratto's worst offense of all is so many words wasted with so little substance, like snowflakes that melt upon contact. If you are reading his columns and scratching your head, you are not alone. Thus, I have developed the following “Guide to Navigating Ray Ratto’s Columns.” Yes, I did say that News You Can’t Use is not intended for personal attacks on sportswriters, but the Raider Nation didn’t pick this fight. So here goes:

UNINTENTIONAL HAIKU

“The Raiders should be many things, but tedious isn't one of them. They came to San Diego without much chance to win, but they failed even to entertain, which is not at all the point.”

Keep an eye out for unintentional haiku. Intentional haiku is good. Unintentional haiku is unintelligible and should be disregarded.

ABSTRACT MEANINGLESS REFERENCES

“What we have here, you see, is another classic Raider example of what Strother Martin used to call "a fail-yer to co-MYOO-nicate." They're answering questions you didn't ask, and not answering questions you did. It's sort of like letting the weekend manager at Arby's edit an episode of Jeopardy.”

Does anyone know what this means? When you see the words “Strother Martin” and “weekend manager at Arby’s” in a column about the Oakland Raiders, you know that the author is just conjuring smoke and mirrors in order to meet a word count quota. Disregard all abstract meaningless references. If you are going to learn a second language, learn something productive like Spanish or Russian, not Ratto.

LITERARY PYROTECHNICS

"Of course, this doesn't concern you, the average Raider fan. You have always held fast to the notion that you can swear at the players, but nobody else can, and you should stay with that. It provides comfort and safety at times like these, when the baying wolves are giving it to you at the corner tavern, on the loading dock or wherever you happen to be."

“Well, so far, the loyal Raider Nation (at least those folks who have not emigrated to USC Nation, or Warrior Nation, or Law & Order Nation) have located their principal scapegoats, and they are Collins and Turner.”

Literary Pyrotechnics are a close cousin to Abstract Meaningless References. They cloak gross generalizations and illegitimate reasoning within a tone of authority and certainty. Baying wolves and Law & Order…Wow, he must be right! Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little literary flair. But when style becomes the entrée instead of the seasoning, you have a problem. Flair is okay, but pyrotechnics should be disregarded.

Now that we have carefully edited Mr. Ratto’s columns, let’s look at what we have left: “The…and…to...Raiders...at…they...be.”

And that, Raiders fans, is news you can’t use.

4 Comments:

Anonymous LK said...

I don't get Ratto, either. His work is usually over-written, pointless, not funny or insightful[other than that it's Pulitzer quality]. He calls out Collins and Norv for taking responsibility for the team's play..this is a bad thing? While I have said before I don't think Collins and Norv are the answer any longer, they are stand up guys. They take blame and give credit. I like that and I think most Raider fans do. Does Ratto think you build a team around guys who throw their teammates under the bus? He writes like he's getting even for years of being the last kid picked in gym class....

6:43 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Good points, LK. Constructive or insightful criticism is one thing, but lazy repetitious cheap shots are a strain of vendetta journalism that deserves a backlash...

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite his badgering, Ratto has a point; as a lifelong Raider fan I'm disgusted by Norv Turner's lack of backbone, playcalling and the ability to acquire quality personnel for the Raider roster.

Raider Nation, be ye not angry with Ray Ratto, he is only saying that which needs to be said to Al Davis to correct this mess.

7:50 PM  
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