By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Columnist smackdown!

Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen responds to John Gonzalez’s Boston Magazine piece, making up for any perceived bile shortage in rather spectacular fashion. And Boston Magazine blogger Amy Derjue responds to Cullen’s response with applause, urging Cullen’s metro-columnist stablemates, Yvonne Abraham and Adrian Walker, to get similarly worked up.

A note to the Globe’s Web folks: If Cullen thought Gonzalez’s critique was worth expending 660 words, don’t you think you should have linked to it?

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  1. Greg Reibman

    Those of us in the business of writing and commenting about others, need to be willing to take our punches too. When it happens, you’re supposed to get back to work, keep doing what you do best and, ideally, prove your critics wrong. This is a textbook example of what not to do.

  2. mike_b1

    Wow, how Shaughnessy-esque. Hypersensitive and unfunny. All it lacked was some reference to Gonzo living in his mother’s basement.KC should take a look at what Mike Royko’s son penned in response to a heckler while he was a columnist at the Daily Illini in college.

  3. Adam Gaffin

    Kevin seems to have forgotten that the only people who care about whining journalists are other journalists. He would have better served his readers by spending the 15 minutes it took him to write that column by dashing off a letter to Romanesko and finding something else to write about – as hard as that always is in such a boring place as Boston, where nothing ever happens.

  4. Peter Porcupine

    DK – I disagree! Cullen’s column made me laugh out loud! Er…that IS what he was going for, right?

  5. Brian Keaney

    The Globe never puts links in their text. They might just as well upload pdf copies of the dead tree edition to their website.Also, Adam, you should know better than just about anyone else that bloggers take shots at each other across the blogosphere all the time. Why should it be any different for journalists?

  6. MeTheSheeple

    And, again, I’ll say that Cullen and Abraham are the few things in the Globe my wife will read. She’s foreign born. She was -really- into the Abraham citizenship columns, which were promptly ridiculed by the magazine.Census 2000 said there’s 31 million immigrants in the United States. There’s certainly a significant number that did not register for the Census Bureau. Tens of millions of people — say, more than one in 10, most of whose lives affect others’ around them.Anyone who’s had the faintest connection with the immigration service knows what a bureaucratic nightmare it is, but most of those people still believe in the American Dream. Abraham nailed it.To anyone disagreeing with me at this point: I surely didn’t see you standing out there at 5:45 a.m. in February.

  7. Anonymous

    Not to mention the fact that like the best of its ilk, it didn’t address many of the valid criticisms raised in Gonzalez’ article.

  8. Mr Punch

    Nobody’s actually expected to read these columns, you know; each of the columnists is there to serve some organizational purpose of the Globe. Cullen’s professional Irishman slot, for example, exists for the editors to point to whenever they are accused of being anti-Irish/Catholic/cop. It’s not exactly like the Jacoby situation, but similar.

  9. adamg

    True that, but I never said bloggers couldn’t be just as self-absorbed as columnists – and most of us don’t get paid a hefty salary to educate/enrage/entertain a few hundred thousand people twice a week, either. What annoys me about seeing his diatribe in print today rather than on is that it does nothing to tell me something I didn’t know about the city or state I live in. It just tells me he has no future as a humor columnist.

  10. Anonymous

    Not much of a smackdown. And while I didn’t read Gonzalez’s article, and don’t intend to, I agree with the fundamental premise: none of the 3, particularly Cullen, are compelling.As others have already noted here, Cullen’s piece is unfunny and an unsmart move for a journalist in his position. I’ll just add, lines like this one break one of the cardinal rules of comedy – if you have to explain it, it isn’t funny:”Being called soft by Boston magazine is like being called fat by Carmen DiNunzio, the 400-pound Mafia boss.” Spell-it-all-out-for-you-in-black-and-white passages like that are one reason I never read Cullen.

  11. Anonymous

    Cullen has been a great reporter, but his jokes could use some work.”Being called soft by Boston magazine is like being called fat by Carmen DiNunzio, the 400-pound Mafia boss.”That’s about as funny as a prostate exam, which is the portion of an over-40 male’s annual checkup in which…Bob in Peabody

  12. Anonymous

    EB3 hereI liked it and saw the joke.Gonzo called him a wuss because he won’t fight.So Cullen punched him in the do you spell touche?

  13. Anonymous

    Good column by Gonzales.As others have pointed out, the Globe seems to be petrified these days of doing anything that might drive away a reader or an advertiser. But you can’t run a paper that way,It’s true that you may lose if you lean too hard on offense, but you’re guaranteed to lose if you only play defense.

  14. Anonymous

    My question is: Is it Boston Magazine, Boston magazine, or (italicize)Boston(unitalicize) magazine? I say Boston magazine, only because no one uses italics anymore. But Dan the journalism prof says Boston Magazine. The publication’s web site uses all three. Cullen says Boston magazine, but I don’t trust him because his head’s obviously still spinning from the hits Gonzalez laid on him to fire back in his column with something a limp as that.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 8:44: Oh, goodie! A style question. You correctly observe the the folks at BoMag don’t seem to care whether we call their publication Boston or Boston Magazine. Given that, I’ve opted for what’s instantly understandable, which, to me, is Boston Magazine.Some publications do use italics for the names of magazines, books, newspapers, TV shows, films and the like. I write for two of them — CommonWealth Magazine (there I go again) and the Boston Phoenix. The Phoenix is always quite persnickety about referring to BoMag as Boston magazine, or just plain Boston.Why don’t I use italics? As much as possible, I try to use the AP Stylebook for Media Nation. We use AP style at our School of Journalism, so it’s easier for me to follow along. AP style does not allow italics for anything (I’ll make an occasional exception) because of the old-fashioned notion that the wires couldn’t move italic type. Seriously.

  16. Keohane

    The Phoenix is right, the proper name of the mag is Boston. The “magazine” (lower case) is added because saying you “saw something in Boston” is altogether unhelpful. Same reason people call New York “New York magazine.”

  17. Dan Kennedy

    Except that BoMag refers to itself as “Boston Magazine” in all kinds of contexts. And the folks at New York Magazine do the same. They’re the keepers of the flame. If they don’t care, I say it doesn’t matter.

  18. Anonymous

    Seems to me that Cullen has fallen victim to the Streisand effect.

  19. Anonymous

    Gonzales has no experience in city reporting worth a damn. How on earth would he know what it takes to be a good metro columnist? how is it that these people with no knowledge of newsrooms and coverage matters become media critics? (Dan is a true exception – he was a longtime news editor at the Phoenix and developed his media criticism voice ably and deliberately over the years.) Gonzales did a “whither the herald” piece recently that featured exactly zero interviews with herald newspeople. What kind of crap is that? it’s no great insight to note that Walker stinks, Yvonne is still very green and searching for a voice, and Cullen lacks the bite of a Carr and the profound empathy of a Gelzinis. Here’s a piece of advice for Globe columnists: people make a decision to read the column based on the headline, topic (if there is one) and the lead. Do better there and good things will follow.

  20. Anonymous

    Um, when did Gonzalez do a whither the herald piece? Also, it’s spelled with an “z” not an “s.” But go on…

  21. Anonymous

    There is no creature on this planet with thinner skin than a journalist. Cullen’s column was boring, in that it was an entirely predictable response.

  22. Keohane

    Anon 11:05, granted I’m a coworker of his at Boston mag, and though he can be deeply unpleasant to be around, due to general attitude and hygiene issues, Gonzalez is an award-winning city reporter with ten years experience in magazines and dailies across the country. Way to do your research, though, before attacking a journalist for not doing his. Also, I wrote that whither-the-Herald column. This is a piece of information which you could have obtained via that rigorous investigative tool known as “Googling it.” As to the matter of the piece itself–I offer no defense.-Joe Keohane

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