Last week, I drove through the Midwest on a college basketball road trip with three friends from the Post-Gazette. We stopped in for a game at all of our alma maters — Notre Dame, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois — plus Butler for good measure. Obviously, it was awesome. We rented a brand new mini-van that had a TV. We ate whatever we wanted, drank whatever we wanted, said whatever we wanted, sang whatever we wanted.
During our last stop, in Champaign, Ill., I met a couple of young journalists at the Daily Illini. I was detailing to them some of the greats who came before me at the Michigan Daily, and so naturally asked them who the big DI alums were. They immediately mentioned Will Leitch, the founder of Deadspin, and Roger Ebert, the esteemed film critic. Apparently, Leitch and Ebert, despite being decades apart at the DI, had formed a relationship — one that was severed when Leitch, early in his career, wrote a scathing critique of Ebert.
After I got back to civilization here in Pittsburgh this week, I pulled up a post Leitch had written about Ebert for Deadspin (click here), which linked to a profile written by Esquire’s Chris Jones about Ebert (click here), which linked to Ebert’s response to Jones’ piece (click here).
I am a smarter journalist for having read all three, which is no surprise considering the accomplishments of the authors. I’d heard about Jones having written on Ebert in the Twitterverse, where Jones (@MySecondEmpire) had admitted he was crushed that his Ebert story wasn’t a National Magazine Award finalist.
I totally understand the disappointment of thinking a piece is worthy of an award and not getting one. Of course, I have never written something on the level of what Chris Jones wrote about Roger Ebert. Hopefully someday I will.