Trash Writing in MMA

Sunday, August 14th, 2011 by Tony Reid

I recently read an article by Gareth Davies in Fighters Only Magazine. (Yes, I do read other MMA Magazines. Actually, I buy and read most, if not all other magazines on the newsstand every month. I’m a big fan of many writers and other magazines within our great sport.) In a recent issue Davies wrote column “Trash Talking? What About Trash Writing!” in which he discussed the benefits of “trained journalists” in MMA and “journalism as a profession” and spent a good bit of the article trashing the current state of journalism in the sport, citing “citizen churnalism”, “schoolboy errors” and “fanboys” as the root of this evil. He further trashes wannabe writers, potential writers and upcoming journalists alike, stating that he gets a “steady stream” of requests, consisting of “about 10 a month” in which the poor kids ask for advice on breaking into the game and offer services in the name of MMA journalism. He shoots them down and dashes 2.5 dreams a week on average by offering this advice. Go learn the art of journalism, the English language and get yourself an internship (traineeship in England, I presume) and then and only then can you qualify to write about MMA. Really?

Let me throw my uneducated, uninformed two cents into the mix. First of all, Davies pens this piece in Fighters Only’s “Trash Talk” Issue. So the entire magazine was dedicated to trash talk and the like. Does anyone else see the irony here? Trash Talk, by nature, is full of exaggerations, embellishments, half truths and bravado filled tirades and cheap shots from one guy to the other. If some truth happens to find its way into the conversation its an added bonus. In the bigger picture we are talking about sports journalism, this isn’t Shakespeare so ease up on the holier than thou journalistic elitist approach. That being said, of course we want to be able to trust and believe everything we read online or see on TV for that matter but that’s just not the case…anywhere in life. As a contributor to a number of high profile MMA Magazines as well as running my own websites it is of the utmost importance to be 100% honest, 100% accurate every time (A very short list of beliefs and in a nutshell for times sake.). But is everyone else of that same belief? Of course not. It’s up to the individual to make their way through a ton of information in any aspect of life and determine what to believe and what to discard. That may sound harsh but its true. And churnalism? How many times have you noticed the same fighter on the cover of four or five different magazines in the same month? I have noticed just that on a very regular basis. They are all telling basically the same story about Brian Stann even though each one thinks they are doing something unique, special and amazing. It may not be churnalism but to the average reader it is from the same family.

I would much rather have passionate, knowledgeable, loyal, die hard fans of the sport doing informed work online and in print as opposed to “trained” journalists whoring themselves out to whatever happens to be the hot button or hot topic at the moment covering the sport, pretending to be experts. Have you ever heard some of these “trained” journalists try to hold a conversation about the sport of mixed martial arts? Many times their lack of knowledge in said situations borders on embarrassing. Good Lord, I have been in conversations with a few of these masters of the language and I would much rather talk to my 7 and 6 year olds about the most recent UFC Event. And as far as the point he makes about being shocked finding false information on the internet. You where shocked to find lies and rumors on the internet….really? After all, we are talking about anyone with a computer or phone and internet service jumping into conversations on forums, blogs, chat rooms and the like. And yes some of these Neanderthals may even be able to get enough dough to create their very own MMA news site. But by now, don’t we know who we can trust? Of course there will be a certain percentage of exaggerations, half truths and even lies stirring around the rumor mill online but to say you are “shocked” by such findings is ridiculous. By the way, this is MMA. This is not every other sport you may cover. This sport was built on the fighter/fan interaction. This sport was kept alive online during the darks days by said fans and it prides itself on the accessibility of these great athletes to the fans. From the UFC Fight Club, to Sherdog, to The Underground (The UG if your nasty). If you visit the most reputable, trusted, highly trafficked sites in the industry you will still find a “Rumors” section at the top of all of their homepages. It’s the nature of the MMA beast. This includes sites such as MMA Weekly and MMA Junkie just to name a few. This sport thrives on this dynamic and everyone involved knows it. Where else would you find the president of the most powerful organization in a sport responding to some random dude that happened to make a YouTube video about him? In the NFL and Roger Goodell? The NBA and David Stern? Nope, only in MMA and only Mr. Dana White…he gets it, he understands. Was every word uttered by Bloodstain Lane 100% complete truth and gospel? Probably not, but Dana responded anyway. If you are looking for prim and proper journalism with proper grammar with all your T’s crossed and I’s dotted maybe you should go back to covering Tennis, Ice Skating or the Spelling Bee. We may not write with perfect usage of the language but I guarantee you we will get our point across and after all that is the goal in any form of communication. I want to hear from passionate people in the sport whether or not they have a Masters in English and not whoring journalists that jump from subject to subject in order to cover the sport because it’s the thing to do right now.