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ESPN eschews cliches and does Yo justly in Pavlik piece

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published October 16, 2008

They roll through town for various reasons.

It may be job losses.

It may be Kelly Pavlik.

It may be crime.

It could be NAFTA.

It could be angry white male voters who might not vote for a black guy.

Whatever the reason, national media finds Youngstown fairly regularly. These days, they’re almost daily visitors: CNN, ABC, CBS, BBC, Wall Street Journal, etc.

And without fail, they bite on the easy target of closed mills, boarded up homes, chained businesses and whatever else makes for a great Hollywood backdrop.

Rolling Stone magazine bit last week.

They did a piece on our Bonnie and Clyde armored car thieves, Roger Dillon and Nicole Boyd. “Armpit of Ohio” was one of the terms in their piece. There were others. Read our story about their hatchet job here. We also wrote an editorial, too. Click here.

A year ago, for Pavlik-Taylor I, HBO had several ugly, rusted-factory scene shots for its fight hype preview. Heck, our veteran staffers who roam these streets daily had to work hard to piece together where the images came from.

So this week comes a piece from “ESPN The Magazine,” a print companion piece to ESPN’s “E:60” news program piece that aired Tuesday night.

Finally, a national media outfit that avoids the easy, cheap, down-and-out cliches plucked by so many other media members and, instead, grabs on to the Valley’s spirit of survival and loyalty, and the good, solid character (and characters) within.

(Note that trainer Jack Loew calls this place a “s—hole." And “Struthers’ Own” Mike Cox, the Pavlik bodyguard/cornerman, opines “I love this place. But it sucks." However, it’s all about context, and you have to read their context to fully absorb their descriptions.)  

The ESPN writer actually called The Vindy last last week as he was finishing up his piece.

He had just finished reading our Rolling Stone-armpit story, and it gave him a gut-check moment, I guess. He admitted that the same cliches and stereotypes were on his mind as he was settling in on writing his piece.

But I sense that amid his notes, he had a pause; a “something’s not right with this picture” head-scratcher.  Perhaps this was evidenced in the loyalty of Team Pavlik or in the dedication of the Valley folks who packed Atlantic City to the tune of 6,000 people. Or was it 8,000 people? Or was it 10,000 people?

Ah, who cares? What’s the significance of an accurate attendance figure when you’re talking 450 miles to travel and sold-out beer in Jersey arenas?

"Youngstown, baby" is the phrase the ESPN writer goes back to several times in his piece. In fact, it’s the prevailing theme to his piece.

And in using “Youngstown, baby” over and over, it’s a more realistic literary vehicle than closed mills, boarded up homes, chained businesses, which I’ve seen in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indiana, Illinois and New York. Such scenes are America, not just Youngstown.

Cheers to writer Tim Keown. The piece he wrote for ESPN The Magazine is here.

 

 


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