While I’m not one of those who is particularly outraged over the Paper Of Record giving the death of James Gandolfini less prominent coverage than the passing of Amy Winehouse, Grantland’s Bryan Curtis pens an obit of sorts for the New York Times’ sports section of sorts, complaining the paper’s “Sports of The Times” column only appears a couple of times a week these days. “One measure of a column’s alive-ness is how it engages with the news. The Times didn’t publish a “Sports of the Times” column about the Manti Te’o scandal, the result of the BCS title game, the result of the Super Bowl, Oscar Pistorius, the Boston Marathon bombing, Lance Armstrong’s confession, Jason Collins’s coming-out, or Anthony Bosch’s clinic in Miami. In fact, the paper’s columns about Armstrong and Collins ran on the op-ed page.” Yeah, and they didn’t even touch the David Wright/Cougar Life story!
Did you miss having a column on Manti Te’o? I asked sports editor Jason Stallman.
“No is the short answer,” Stallman said. “I feel with a story like Manti Te’o you have everybody and their brother writing columns based on very little information. That’s a good example of the story I don’t know a ‘Sports of the Times’ writer would be a great fit for. If you look back at some of the coverage, a lot of it is somewhat regrettable.
“Maybe through the Lance Armstrong saga, we’d like to have had a columnist laying in properly. But I look at it that we have Juliet Macur completely setting the agenda on the story, so I’d much rather have that than a columnist.”
Fair enough on Armstrong. But I don’t think writing about the Te’o, um, affair was any more daunting than David Brooks writing about Benghazi. This is what columnists do: They make sense of what makes little sense. And if they fall on their faces, they try again next week.