Analysis of writer's "apology"

By: Wayne Gilmore, Team Kong Editor
Sep 26, 2013

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For a Pitt State enthuisast and for someone who operates a Gorilla fan site yesterday was crazy.  This blog page itself was read 6676 times in 24 hours!  Included in that number were 5299 shares via Facebook, Twitter and email.  Obviously his editorial touched a nerve with the Gorilla faithful, as well as most readers in Chanute and the surrounding area.  Even Chanute high school's journalism class posted a statement, that his views did not reflect their own.   As predicted based upon no reply from the publisher and the two sentence reply from the writer, a follow up piece was ran,  It ran on Wednesday, and was more of a light-hearted disclaimer rather than an apology.

Todays Kongblog will comment on the follow up piece, with my comments in red, their words will be in black.

Brian McDowell often writes columns on the sports pages of the Tribune. Some are done in jest, others are serious, none is meant to offend. The regular readers and subscribers of this newspaper have become accustomed to his writing style, his sarcasm and his “snarkiness.” In fact, we receive positive feedback on his columns from readers every week; they have become a favorite. Tuesday’s column about the Pitt State game was read by many people who had never read his column before and therefore, some of the meaning was likely lost in translation. The Tribune apologizes to anyone who was offended. -Tribune publisher Shanna Guiot

KB:  As a publisher and business manager, Ms. Guiot is loving this.  First, she approved the column before it was published.  He may not know the people of the area, but she does not have that excuse.  She knew this would be a lightening rod.  It certianly did offend. The Chanute Tribune has a complete pay wall newspaper site.  No one is able to read more than a couple of sentences without a subscribers login.  With the attention the original article drew on Tuesday, the publisher made a business decision to open up the pay wall.  Writers write and publishers make decisions.  Ms. Guiot decided this was good journalism and better business. 

As a local sportswriter, it is often difficult for me to go out in public these days without being mobbed by throngs of screaming women. Unfortunately, they aren’t being motivated by my good looks; they just want to yell at me for insulting Pittsburg State.  I’ve gotten plenty of that type of reaction in the last couple of days because of a column about my trip to a Pittsburg State game that ran in Tuesday’s edition of the Chanute Tribune. What I wrote attracted a record number of both website page views and hate mail to this newspaper. As much as I appreciate being widely read, my bosses and co-workers are getting slightly annoyed by receiving these hateful phone calls and emails about a personal opinion that they don’t share and played no role in expressing. So I feel there are explanations owed and clarifications to be made, before people work themselves into rabid anger over something as insignificant as one lone opinion column.

KB:  As I wrote in my last blog, alumni and friends of Pittsburg State University  and Pittsburg High School are very passionate about their school, and their community.   The last sentence above shows me he just does not get it.  In his mind he did nothing wrong.  Both of them obviosuly feel it is ok use inaccurate statements, insults and exaggeratiaons about a neighboring community and the only university in this region.  He is a sports writer in a town, where most of the coaches he covered are PSU Alums. 

First, I want everyone to know that I didn’t misrepresent either myself or my intentions to anyone who worked at Pittsburg State. I told them I was visiting their football stadium to write my observations of what goes on there during games, and that’s exactly what I proceeded to do. I put these musings in the form of largely snarky jokes, and that apparently made a lot of people upset.

KB:  The writer requested press credentials from PSU Athletics Office of Sports Information.  He misrepresented himself as a sports reporter coming to write a fair, objective story.  When an accredited regional newspaper sends their sports editor there is a level of professionalism expected.  Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (all 2662 pages) does not contain the word “snarky.”  But a quick internet search,  ( defined it as “slang; Rudely sarcastic or disrespectful”  Therefore his publisher is perfectly fine witih her sports editor having a column composed  entirely of rudley disrespectful jokes.  (your words not mine).

It was an attempt to include a little laughter and mirth in an opinion piece, but apparently a certain segment of the southeastern Kansas sports reading public views this as verboten. I also greatly underestimated how much some residents of this region would care about what some sports-writing jackass in Chanute thought of their school of choice.  In a world full of tragedies - mall-shootings, wars, and One Direction movies - I am frankly surprised that the contents of a silly, joke-filled sports column would rate that high on people’s list of concerns.  

KB:  By the sheer number of page views, shares, comments, emails and calls it is obvious (by almost everyone) this “certain segment of southeastern Kansas” is a quite large segment.  As someone wrote yesterday, “The article was written to offend anyone living in this area”  Someone else replied, ‘It takes effort to offend the city of Pittsburg, its residents, Pittsburg State, Southwest Baptist, and d2football in general in 722 words.”  Thanks to social media this story was shared with Gorilla fans across the world, so he can pat himself on the back for offending all of Gorilla Nation.

Pitt State fans seemed to be really offended by certain items in the column, some of which were purely sarcastic and none of which was meant to offend. I noticed that not many of the hate mails that both I and my employers received had any disagreements with the specific observations included in the story; the stadium does indeed feature cemetery views and little leg room, that Guns N Roses song is heard way too often there, and Pittsburg does in fact have a very delicious Arby’s.

KB:  The entire column was genrally offensive, and he pretty much had an insult for anyone who would be reading.  Teamkong’s writer talked to others who sat in the press box with him.  He did not sit in the stands and therefore had no personal reference for the leg room during the game.   Obviously, he had never been to the Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium (LSU), or Rosenblatte Stadium (College World Series).  Now there is some tight leg room in those venues.  This was one example of him not being accurate.  In addition, he did make an extremely complimentary comment about the atmosphere to a writer in the press box but apparently that would go against the theme of “snarky” humor so it didn’t make the paper. 

The letters I received mainly contained either personal recitations of Pittsburg State history and loyalty or personal attacks against me, vague personal threats, and calls that I be fired. I have no doubt that people have a very  positive experience attending Pittsburg State; there is nothing in my column that suggested that this wasn’t the case. I also had a good time in college. I attended Southern Illinois University, a venue that provides plenty of practice for anyone who ever aims to make a living writing jokes about watching bad football games.

KB:  I need to state here, I have no reason to know if he graduated from college.  I made my statement based upon his lack of understanding the passion an individual has for their alma mater.  He didn’t state he is a graduate of  SIU, so I will assume he was hired based on his past experience, and not his diploma. 

I didn’t aim to specifically hurt anybody with what I wrote, so if anyone was grievously insulted by my words, I apologize. I’m sorry.  I hope this sincere gesture greatly improves the lives of everyone in “Gorilla Nation.”

KB:  As many others have commented the last 24 hours, this paragraph has absolutely no amount of sincerity.  None. 

I wish that everyone who is upset with me would understand that I am sarcastic by nature and have written similarly silly editorials about other schools in the area, mocking both the Jayhawks and the “Mildcats.” Those columns barely registered any complaints at all, even among hardcore area supporters of both teams. No one put these columns on social media or on their fan sites. I am honestly surprised by the reaction to this column.   guess I’d hoped that fans and alumni of Pitt State would take a little good-natured snarky criticism; I apologize for being so very wrong in that assumption.

KB:  I was reminded this week that the writer has a total lack of understanding about writing satire and using sarcasm.  Mark Twain understood that satire had to revolve around truth.  The writer has confused satire with cynicism.  (thank you Mrs. Ryan)  Again, "snarky" is slang for  "rudely sarcastic or disrespectful."

KB:  The writer  and publisher accomplished their goal.  To generated one hell of a lot of traffic to the Chanute Tribute (and even more to Teamkong).   However, They miscalculated the ramifications of his actions.  It will be interesting to see how he is he accepted by his peers, by the schools he covers, and by the city of Chanute.  My guess is he will keep to himself on the Chanute sideline Friday night at Hutchison Field.  I hope he learns all actions have consequences.  Who knows, if he is intellectually honest with himself, and has the ability to critically look at his work, he will grow from this experience.  I really do wish him the best.   

Now a little Gorilla Football. 

We now can get back to Gorilla Football.  The Gorillas have a very easy September, and then an extremley difficult October.  Hopefully this week the Gorillas do not look past the Blue Tigers, and take care of busiiness to prepare for the next four weeks.  

I guess if there is a positive to all of this, hopefully many Gorilla fans found ‘Teamkong’  We have been doing this for thirteen years, and offer a place for fans to get unique information about Gorilla football and a place to share your opinion on our Forum.  When this issue goes away and his 15 minutes of fame are over, Teamkong will still be here for Gorilla Nation. 

The Gorillas kickoff at 2 PM in Jefferson City, MO. If you are able to go be sure to listen to Eddie and AMac on KKOW and discuss online during the game on the forum on 

Go Gorillas. 



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