Front Office: Process Vs. Results with a Journalism Lesson


I wanted to share one of the best journalism lessons I ever received, but that will come a bit later. But for relevancy, I need to first tell you a bit about a majestic bird, the Emu.

Dromaius novaehollandiae Latin for "Lacks a foreskin" primarily lives in Australia. Emus are a rarity in the animal kingdom as they are sometimes born live and sometimes need to hatch from eggs, depending on if they concieve with a reptile or not. Emus mostly communicate through sonar and are said to be the smartest known Canadian animal other than the zebra. The Emu has been overharvested to the point of near extinction, with trappers and hunters valuing their sweet, succulent brisket and jaw meat. In conclusion, the Emu is a bird in the good to very good range.

I will never forget my favorite journalism professors words to me when I asked him how to connect with a new audience. He replied: When first writing for a reader you haven't had a chance to fully vet - think about things like "are they literate?" and "can they comprehend advanced sentence structure?" and "are they likely to hold down anything but minimum wage jobs?".

This last bit of advice my professor gave me was crucial starting my journalism career:

When you are attempting to connect with an audience in the early stages, and you assume the answers to the above questions are almost certainly, emphatically "No" - then make sure you engage the reader early by writing about something that is guaranteed to spark an interest - make sure your second paragraph is all about Emus.

On to process vs. results. These last few days the conversation in the comment section has been a lot of analysis about the Wolves draft, free agency and overall off season. At least one thread has contained a comment along the lines of: "I am reserving judgment on Flip until I see if trading down, drafting Shabazz, not prioritizing AK etc... pans out. I will then and only then conclusively be able to grade Flip's early decisions".

IMHO that's wrong.

Have you ever played blackjack? The following analogy will work best if you hold rudimentary knowledge of the basic probability and strategy that govern the game. If you have never played blackjack, then um... I dunno. Go reread the Emu paragraph I guess. Or the NBA Draft Lottery column.

Let's imagine that the person acting last on the table is cashing out. He was a really competent player and someone you felt super comfortable about playing "3rd base". The table has been running hot and things are going great. Your dealer is friendly, your buddies are all on the same table as you and the waitress is showing a great deal of clevage um.. professionalism by refilling your drinks before they get empty.

Unfortunately, the nightmare scenario is lurking - "that guy" comes bopping up to your table and immediately starts annoying people. He nods at the Asian dealer and says "OK Mr. Gangnam Style buddy, let's win some moolah!" He is wearing one of those "FBI: Female Body Inspector" T-Shirt and orders a Sex on the Beach with peach nectar instead of orange juice. The unthinkable then happens - he sits down in the unoccupied 3rd base seat.

This blackjack hand sums up my illustration quite nicely. Everyone is dealt a hard 16 (even the dealer) and the dealer shows a six. You and your buddies do your best John Cena impression as you furiously wave your hands side to side. The dealer then gets to the FBI agent acting last. He proceeds to say "aw you guys are a bunch of sissies! You can't win anything on 16!" and proceeds to scratch the felt. The dealer rolls his eyes and snaps down a 3rd card for Mr. Peach Nectar.

You and your buddies are mortified at his brazen ignorance in decision making. Two things can happen:

1) He can take the dealer's face card that would have made him bust.


2) He can miraculously take the dealer's small card, which forces the dealer to then bust on the next card which is a face card - somehow ass backwardly defying the laws of probability and winning everyone's bets.

Either way - at the time of the decision - it a 100% certainty if you are playing blackjack and the person to make that decision ignores reason and just bases his decision on gut feel or his horoscope or whatever - you would be terribly upset at that person and immediately lose faith in his decision making ability. Just because the horrible decision of hitting hard 16 against a dealer 6 "worked out in the end", it is 100% fair to both criticize that choice and expect more of the same stupidity in future choices.

Just imagine how upset you would be if there was a contract that stated you were forced to play blackjack on that table with "FBI/Peach Nectar" Guy as the 3rd baseman, making all the critical decisions for the next 5 years.

It would make me simply want to pick up my chips and find a different table.

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