The Washington Redskins former Editorial Director of Media, Larry Weisman, has a new website!
Some of us sports fans have been reading Larry’s work for what feels like most of our lives. Larry worked for USA Today for 25+ years, and for this Canadian back then, USA Today was easily the creme de la creme of the football news I could get regularly. So wether an article was about the Redskins or not, I was going to read it. I cut my football teeth in the pages of early 80’s USA Todays.
Sorry kids, this was way before the interwebs, and back in a day where you would actually wait months for NFL Fall Preview magazines to come out in August, so that you could find out what your team did in the offseason – bizarre and antiquated as that seems.
Larry has seen the business grow from that neophyte stage, to the media juggernaut we know today, so who better to ask what the biggest differences between the two eras are:
“Thirty years ago, a reporter could conduct an interview at noon, submit the story sometime before a midnight deadline, and see it in print by noon of the next day. That time lag seems unimaginable now. Today, a reporter would be recording the interview and be instantly sending the highlights out on Twitter, then blogging, then getting something written for the newspaper’s website (or just the website, as there might not even be a newspaper attached to the electronic page). The speed and immediacy of the reporting is astounding.”
Obviously there’s good and bad in that immediacy.
“Getting news faster is great for the consumer, but there has been a rise in pressure on the media to be first. Which often leads to mistakes. So now we see media outlets that attempt to be first rather than correct with their facts and assertions. In the olden times (30 years ago!), there was still pressure to break stories, but there were fewer competing outlets and I think a greater emphasis on accuracy over speed.”
I could wax poetic ad nauseum with Larry about the differences in sports fandom then and now, but suffice to say that times were different, and from my own vantage point, I appreciated a good writer because compared to today – it seemed they were ALL good writers. It seemed the good ones back then, were actually really good. Nostalgic memories only? My recollection is that they had to rely on things like investigation instead of exploitation, and imagery instead of sensationalism.
Regardless, Larry’s work with USA Today always stood out to me, so I asked him if there was a particular special moment that stood out for him:
“I spent about 45 minutes at the Green Bay Packers’ training camp one night, just one on one with Brett Favre, on the night he learned his father in law had died. He was getting ready to go back to Mississippi but he insisted on keeping our interview date. He and I spoke often during his career, and not always about football. On this particular night, we mostly talked about life and family and how to keep the most important things right before our eyes.”
When he got the gig with the Redskins, I was excited. My excitement ended up being justified – he did a great job. Never a pulled punch, always a straight and honest assessment of the team – given the propaganda environment, it probably ended up being his undoing. He was unceremoniously sacked during the 2011 NFL lockout. They even stripped him of his Twitter account as it had been started while he was with the Redskins.
I love my team, but I’m not always proud of everything that they do. This was one instance where I stuck my head in the sand a little bit.
“My two seasons with the Redskins gave me a fascinating look inside an organization that was starting to move away from its old management paradigm to a new and better one.”
Should I file that one under “politically correct answers” Larry, or just “Moved on to Greener Pastures”?
The only thing that one need glean from that is that a couple years later, Larry still isn’t interested in mud slinging, or bridge burning. The mark of a true professional.
In 2012, Larry was named the Executive Director of Communications for the United Football League – a tough gig anyway, but really tough given that the league had it’s second consecutive ‘half a season.’
“The UFL taught me all about crisis communications, which is what happens when there is a crisis every day.”
It’s the sum of all of these sports and journalism experiences that has brought Larry to launching his new website; but why now?
“I’m trying to raise my visibility with my new website and play in a lot of different media fields at once. So my site gives people a chance to see the different types of work I have done and can do, while also hosting my blog.”
And what will he be blogging about?
“I’ve mostly blogged on sports so far, but I may venture down some different roads there. I enjoy following politics and the debates about key issues, but I am not so sure I want to become a public advocate on either side. I am leaning to keeping this a sports-oriented blog with perhaps a few dot-dot-dot asides thrown in.”
And so the journalist has come full circle. Larry’s back online and doing what he does as well as anyone – writing. Have his new and old experiences provided him with any advice for aspiring writers and journalists?
“Be prepared to compete for every inch of turf, every minute of every day. You not only must beat your media buddies to stories, you are now fighting players and their Twitter accounts as well.”
Seems like very poignant advice to me, especially given the change in journalistic landscape over even the last three-to-five years. Surely Larry never received such sage advice 30 years ago…
“Most of the advice I got as a young journalist, when it came from the great old ones, was simply this: ‘Get outta da business.’ They were convinced it was heading in no good direction. I guess they thought their earlier days were the golden era. I probably did too. I’m glad I didn’t listen to them.”
We are too Larry.
It’s great to see him back online, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing him put a pen to paper again.
Or maybe that’s a finger to a tablet nowadays – as kids are apt to do.
Notes: You can catch up with Larry at his new website or via Twitter @MrLarryWeisman and me @TheHogsdotNet