Posts Tagged ‘newspapers’


Typing this on Ma and Pa Fury’s iPad. Please excuse any errors.

* Fans of the BBC’s Sherlock — and you should be watching — will enjoy this New York Magazine story on Benedict Cumberbatch. Oh, fans of the new Star Trek will also like it.

And I’ve stopped using the iPad because I can’t figure out how to highlight some text.

* Alan Sepinwall offers up an appreciation of The Office. And the famed TV critic reviews the series finale.

* Nick Saban does not enjoy being compared to Satan.

* Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams talks to some old-school NBA players about what travel was like in the past.

* For soccer fans! Like Terry. Brian Phillips on Alex Ferguson, famous coach over in England who is hanging it up.

* With a new Trade Center opening, the New York Times looks at how security around the new building will cut it off.

* The mayor of Toronto was probably caught on camera smoking crack. Oh, Canada.

* Are newspapers making a comeback? Maybe. Maybe.

* The glorious return of Arrested Development is a week away. Like TV, Will Leitch liked the show the first time around – before it was cool.

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I had three hometown newspapers when I was growing up. The Janesville Argus was the most literal representation, its small offices located on Main Street one block from our house. The quality of the Argus was totally dependent on the quality of the paper’s publisher. As a kid the paper was blessed with great publishers and editors, making the weekly Argus a great read. That quality declined over the years until the main question about the Argus wasn’t “What’s in it this week?”  but “Is it still alive?”

The Waseca County News was a bit bigger, but still a weekly. Twice-a-week when I was a kid and was a paperboy raking in the big quarters while lugging my heavy bag around Janesville, avoiding angry dogs and grouchy widows.

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, currently ranked 25th in Q&A RPI. If you have time to spare or want to abuse your printer privileges at work, check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby and Will Leitch.

This week’s guest is Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse, a Minnesota newspaper legend and one of the best columnists in the country. I grew up reading Reusse’s stories and hearing classic stories about Reusse — my parents are of similar age and are also from Fulda, the small town in southwest Minnesota made somewhat famous in countless Reusse columns over the years.

Reusse got his start in newspapers just after high school, when he landed a job as a copy boy at the old Minneapolis Morning Tribune. His boss was a middle-aged guy who’d go on to become a rival, peer, foe, foil, subject, colleague and friend — Sid Hartman. That gig started a love affair with papers that continues 50 years later, even if the business looks nothing like it once did. After stints at the newspapers in Duluth and St. Cloud, Reusse came back to the Twin Cities in 1968, spending 20 years in St. Paul before switching to the Star Tribune in 1988.

Reusse worked as a beat writer in his early years — along with a brief tenure as a morning editor that, he wrote, was a “failure, since it put me in charge of my drinking buddies” — before becoming a columnist in 1979. Reusse’s a versatile writer, but there’s no doubt he excels at those pieces that are the most-read for any big-city newspaper columnist and attract the most praise or vitriol from readers and fans, depending on whether they agree with his view: the rip job. He wasn’t impressed with Gophers football coach Tim Brewster’s intro. He pleaded with the NCAA selection committee to keep the Gophers hoops team out of the tourney. He said goodbye to the Minnesota North Stars, those losers. Today’s Twins are a lot like the miserable Twins of the ’90s. Then there are the Turkeys. Since 1978, Reusse’s picked a Turkey of the Year and the committee’s decisions always spark controversy.

But a one-note columnist would become a boring read, and what sets Reusse apart from so many is his love of the stories that are rarely in the spotlight, along with his ability to spin yarns on everything from John Gagliardi’s retirement to the legendary Edgerton basketball team from 1960 to the Fulda-Slayton Goat to an old Star Tribune copy editor named Bud Armstrong. Read his piece on Walsh Field in Gaylord and his column on Danube legend Bob Bruggers. Or his column on the Vikings’ Weeping Blondes.

These days, Reusse spends more time on the radio than he does at the paper, as he’s a daily co-host on 1500 ESPN with Phil Mackey. Reusse’s an early sports-radio pioneer — he started in 1980 with longtime friend and fellow columnist Joe Soucheray, a combo that’s still on the air today. Anyone who’s heard Reusse tell a tale on the radio — which is often punctuated with his distinctive cackle — knows his on-air style is as unique as his written one.

Check out Reusse’s column archive and blog and follow him on Twitter. And for a great story about Reusse, be sure to read this 2009 piece from David Shama.

Here, Reusse talks about his writing style, Turkeys, Sid, controversial columns, town team baseball, life in newspapers and radio, saying goodbye to Minnesota legends, what motivates him today, and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Patrick.

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A newspaper world without agate

Posted: February 25, 2013 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Considering how many big things newspapers have cut back on the past decade — paper width, publication dates…people — plans to eliminate the tiniest type in the paper doesn’t seem like a major thing. But you’d be surprised how sentimental people can be about sports agate — and how much readers miss it when it’s gone.

LA Observed reported that the LA Times will eliminate about eight pages a week from the sports section, and that agate will be a major part of those cuts. NBA boxscores will be reduced, as will boxes for baseball, hockey and college hoops. A memo promises “other significant agate cuts.”

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Sunday morning I woke up in Minnesota for the first time in seven months. With my wife half a world away in 80-degree Cape Town I’m back home at my parents’ house, just in time for a week of weather that will feel 120 degrees colder. But it’s plenty warm in the old home I grew up in, though not as warm as it might be if a less-stingy man was in charge of the heat.

A lot has changed in the Fury home since the last time I was here. There’s new carpet, new paint jobs in the bathroom, living room and dining room and a new table and chairs that hosts our dinners each night. But one thing remains the same: No house in this town — in this county, state or country — is doing more to keep the newspaper business alive. And while they’re at it, they’re doing their patriotic best to prop up the book business and magazines.

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On Monday the day job presented some deadline drama, a common Monday night occurrence in the magazine world, although it was an every-night event in newspaper land.

The phrase “What will production say?” was tossed out more than once and we all imagined the curses and sighs that awaited us from that side of the publishing family, which always waits impatiently for the pages, whether at a weekly glossy or a daily tabloid. The whole thing brought back memories of the paragraph factory.

Know this about newspaper people, specifically those on the copy desk: They live in fear of production staff, sometimes known as the camera plate crew or various other titles. These people wield remarkable power, though they operate completely out of the spotlight. Sort of like copy editors in that way, which perhaps makes it strange the two parties are often involved in verbal combat that sometimes threatens to turn physical. Oh how I have feared these men.

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The latest edition of the Fury Files – the most popular Q and A in the history of the InterTubes – debuted Monday. This week’s guest: newspaperman Michael Kruse. It was a fascinating read, one that forced me to dwell on my craft even in a week crammed with the fervor of national signing day and a bunch of basketball games.

A couple of reflections. Oh, and you non-writers might want to turn away; we’re about to talk shop. Unless you’d like a glimpse inside our warped, ink-stained minds …

* Kruse’s writing process is somewhere between mind-blowing and just plain admirable. It’s unfortunate there aren’t more jobs like that out there – the enterprise beat. Sure, I do research, I write rough outlines and I think about my job when I’m not on the clock (which isn’t all that often). But as someone with a daily beat and in an era that’s all about immediacy, I don’t have time to fully digest anything let alone everything. And I dislike that.
Actually, I had a mini-opportunity to try the enterprise thing over the summer, filing a series of stories on sports psychology. It was daunting, despite being chopped into newspaper-sized bites. But it went reasonably well. (more…)


Welcome to the seventh edition of The Fury Files, the most popular Internet Q&A in South Africa, at least according to my Cape Town in-laws. Check out previous versions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman and Kevin Van Valkenburg.

This week’s guest is Michael Kruse, a writer on the enterprise staff for the Tampa Bay Times. If you’re unfamiliar with that paper, it’s because it was called the St. Petersburg Times until January 1, when it changed names to reflect changing times. But no matter where Kruse’s byline appears – and it’s appeared everywhere from ESPN, to Yahoo! to Charlotte Magazine and on Grantland, not to mention on the cover of a book – his work stands out. Kruse has been honored by a variety of news organizations for his writing, from the Associated Press Sports Editors to the Society of Professional Journalists to many more. It’s impossible to classify him as one type of writer, because he excels in every genre. As comfortable writing about sports as he is a fallen political leader, Kruse has a knack for finding unique stories that no one else wrote about or a unique angle on a story everyone’s written about.

For his newspaper, he’s written about the loneliness of a monkey on the run and the odd case of a Bruce Springsteen fan who faked his own death on a Boss message board. During LeBron James’s infamous first season with the Miami Heat – when everyone with a laptop or a microphone offered opinions on the superstar – Kruse profiled sports reporter Brian Windhorst, who has covered James since his high school days and left Cleveland for a job with ESPN when LeBron took his talents to a beach in Florida. He’s also passionate about helping other writers and championing the work of his peers, such as serving as a writing coach at a workshop in memory of the late, beloved editor Mike Levine (the video above is a piece of Levine’s).

In the last few months, he’s contributed to Bill Simmons’s Grantland, including a piece on the influence of the Oregon football team’s uniforms.

In 2008, Butler Books published Kruse’s book Taking the Shot: The Davidson Basketball Moment. It profiled the Davidson basketball team’s run to the Elite Eight in the ’08 NCAA tournament, which ended with a heartbreaking loss against eventual national champion Kansas. Kruse graduated from Davidson in 2000. All he’s done since is establish himself as one of the best feature writers in the country.

Here, Kruse talks about what he would change about his book experience, the value of silence, the thrill of discovering a long-lost police report, loneliness, the St. Pete Times – er, Tampa Bay Times – what he means when he talks about writing, and a whole lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Michael.

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It’s time for the latest edition of The Fury Files, WordPress’s third-most popular Q&A, even though I still can’t quite decide if I should capitalize “The” before Fury Files. Check out previous interviews with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski and Pat Coleman.

This week’s guest is Kevin Van Valkenburg, who is, according to his Twitter profile, a “Scribbler by trade. Montanan by birth. Baltimorian by marriage. Baltimore Sun feature writer at the moment.” He’s also one of the best writers in the business.

Van Valkenburg arrived in Baltimore shortly after graduating from the University of Montana in 2000. A Missoula, Mont., native, Van Valkenburg’s writing has earned him numerous awards, including four honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors. A 2004 story he wrote  – “Rayna’s Second Season” – was honored in the 2005 edition of The Best American Sportswriting (Here’s Part 1. And Part 2.). The profile told the story of former Virginia Tech basketball player Rayna DuBose, who suffered devastating injuries after being afflicted with meningococcal meningitis.

The man can tell a story. But he's even better at writing them.

Van Valkenburg can write in any style – short or long, in print or online. He dissects Ravens games for the Sun with the skill of a seasoned football analyst. He’s a funny blogger who can write about Project Runway but also pen poignant pieces on everything from playing golf with his dad, to taking a memorable road trip with former Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen. But he’s at his best when writing long features, where his reporting and writing skills truly shine. Van Valkenburg also isn’t limited to the pages of the Baltimore Sun. Earlier this year, he wrote a piece for a blog run by Esquire writer Chris Jones, where Van Valkenburg looked back on a memorable night at Elaine’s, the once-legendary, now-closed New York restaurant that was always home to actors, artists, editors and writers.

He’s also a bit of a dreamer, a romantic when it comes to the art of writing, whether you’re talking novels or nonfiction, newspapers or magazines. I could listen to him talk about writing for hours. Here, he writes about writing for thousands of words and I couldn’t be happier.

Van Valkenburg played football at the University of Montana, where his mom, Carol, a former reporter herself, served as a distinguished journalism professor. His dad, Fred, is the Missoula County Attorney. Read below to find out why Kevin became a writer and not a lawyer.

Perhaps most importantly, Van Valkenburg is a Lakers fan.

Here, Kevin talks about growing up with an editor mom, life as a college football player, literary heroes, leaving Montana and living in Baltimore, his story that made it into the Best American Sportswriting book, The Wire, David Stern’s ego, the writing life and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Kevin.

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Many people hate looking at old photographs of themselves. Maybe it’s a picture from elementary school, a prom portrait or a family photograph filled with five frozen faces and an infinite number of unspoken resentments.

No one wants to see ridiculous mullets or bizarre crew cuts. If it’s not the hair it’s the clothes – red and black parachute pants, gray moon boots and short-shorts on the basketball court that leave no doubt you played for the boys’ team. And if it’s not the hair or the clothes or the acne or the braces or the stupid grin it’s the company. Who did I hug in that picture? And why? Which prison is that person incarcerated in again?

I actually don’t mind pictures.

But I do have some negative reactions when looking back at my early stories as a sports journalist, when I possessed big dreams and a love of tortured metaphors and similes. I had a lot of questions back then, but also thought I owned most of the answers.

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