This week marks the first of two episodes in which five writers and I discuss the art of asking questions. Today, it’s Tampa Bay Times enterprise writer Ben Montgomery and CBSSports.com national columnist Gregg Doyel, and next week, we’ll entertain author Jeff Pearlman, Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer Bill Koch and Columbus Dispatch beat writer Bill Rabinowitz.
Montgomery tells a fantastic tale of how one journalist slowly adds details to a story about a hero by the way he approaches the question-asking, while Doyel talks about why it’s important not to be scared to ask the challenging questions (“Fear is weakness,” he says). Also, Doyel and I chat about this:
The impetus for this podcast was the recent decision by my former CBSSports.com colleague Mike Freeman to take a job with Bleacher Report, and Michael Schottey was the guy who could explain that move and where the website is going. In our chat, we talk about whether the perception of B/R simply being a free content mill will ever change, whether website aggregators and content-providers can have a symbiotic relationship, and why his site doesn’t want its writers breaking news. Plus, we discuss his original goal of becoming a Lutheran pastor and why Schottey feels like God is OK with his ultimate decision to write about sports.
Here’s some of what we talked about (and some we didn’t).
Montgomery is an interesting character, and we had a fascinating in-depth conversation about his craft and about how we can improve the newspaper industry. In our chat, we discussed his approach to covering the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial, why he live-tweeted his father’s wake and funeral, and how he originally wanted to run his grandfather’s farm.
A quick homework assignment. We discussed two of his stories in depth, so before you press play, if you’re so inclined, read these pieces: 1) How most of the witnesses to the Martin shooting were actually watching TV during the struggle with Zimmerman, and 2) Montgomery’s return to his home state of Oklahoma after the mammoth tornado in May 2013.
Seriously, if you want an enlightening discussion about how to write the hell out of some stories, let Montgomery’s soothing tone educate you.
Trent is one of my best friends and the perfect guest to begin this podcast. In our chat, we talk about working a baseball beat – and why his day is so damn long – why the Cincinnati Post was a great paper to work for even though we knew it was going to die at the end of 2007, and how he handles anonymous criticism from what could be the very vocal minority. Plus, why would he go from working at a national website to a local newspaper?