Amateur Journalism: First-person Storytelling in "Making a Homicide"
For this assignment I went back to my sports roots and looked at the source of some of the highest paid amateur journalists in the world; The Players’ Tribune.
The Players’ Tribune offers first-person stories from athletes around the world from a bevy of sports, ranging from Mr. #MambaDay himself, Kobe Bryant, to college athletes writing heartfelt letters to their fans or future employers, and many more. The site aims to “bring fans closer than ever to the games they love," by showcasing the personal musings of pro and amateur athletes.
Now on to the specific example of amateur journalism I looked at. There’s an incredible amount of content on The Players’ Tribune, including a cool piece about NBA star Kevin Durant working as a photographer at the Super Bowl and another topical feature about CJ McCollum’s penchant for journalism. I was going to choose one of those stories until I read this one, the story of streetball legend Corey “Homicide” Williams as told by the man himself.
On a scale of remarkably good to particularly bad, this one was incredible. It was particularly bad….ass. It was badass. This story is fantastic and the epitome of, at least to me, what amateur journalism is meant to be. It’s someone talking about their life using their own words. It might not be the most refined, rule-abiding piece of writing (he writes the F word nine times), but Homicide tells the story in a personal, intense, amusing way that a beat writer meeting him for the first or second time couldn’t possibly come close to. He communicates his intensity, love and passion for basketball through his writing. If you read just the words alone, you know he'd kick your ass in basketball.
While I do LOVE this piece and many others like it, journalism relying entirely, or even mostly, on amateurs is not the way to go and would make the world of journalism worse off in the long run. Pieces like this offer different perspectives and can be eye-opening or enlightening and make for great columns or features, but when it comes down to hard news, a journalist is needed. Getting first-hand accounts are valuable, but journalists should be counted on in situations that require an informational, unbiased explanation of what happened. Journalists are responsible for learning everything they can about a topic, talking to people from both sides and translating that for the layman. If all or most journalism was like Homicide's story, the world wouldn’t be as equally informed because it'd be way easier for amateurs or untrained journalists to let bias or opinion sneak in to stories and those hard, straight news stories wouldn't be communicated as effectively.