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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

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Seasoned writers learn not to lock horns with readers.
Seasoned writers learn not to lock horns with readers.

I'm talking back to Wilde's Talkback blog

I don't know Jason Wilde, but I know a lot about him.

I know he's a sports writer from Madison. I hear him on the radio with Drew Olson and the boys and with Homer on 540 ESPN. I see him occasionally on some sports television show.

And I'm impressed. He's young, smart, hard working, young, ethical, careful and young. In case you missed my point, Jason Wilde is young. I was struck with how young when I read his blog about readers this morning.

Here's what it said, in part.

"As a writer, I crave feedback. That's why what readers can provide at the click of a mouse -- both positive and negative -- is so valuable to me. Because I know I can get a lot better at this, and that's the only way to improve. So the negative feedback is especially valuable -- even though we all like it when people say nice things about us -- so long as it's constructive and not the name-calling, shoot-the-messenger, misdirect-your-anger-about-the-Packers-at-me kind of thing.

Wilde has twice been named Wisconsin Sports Writer of the year, so he must know something about this business. But I have just a couple of words of advice for him, that might stand him in good stead as he grows older.

Forget "craving feedback." If that's what you crave, you need a little attitude adjustment.

There are two types of jobs in this world.

One is a consumer service type. The customer is always right. We will bend over backward to keep our customers happy.

The other type is a performance job.

The doctor who is taking out your appendix. The guy who builds housings for transmissions for new cars. And sportswriters.

The doctor doesn't much care about how people feel about him. He operates with a personal conviction and occasionally consults with his peers.

The guy who builds those housings does it with the conviction that he knows how to do it better than anyone, day after day. He talks to co-workers, but doesn't bother much with customers.

Sportswriters operate out of conviction. They work to find the
information they need and then they write about it. It's not all that complicated. But the one you have to please is yourself first, and maybe a little conversation with other sportswriters is appropriate.

If you start worrying about what people are saying about you, you are going to turn gray way too early, you'll begin to bite your nails again, bifocals will be in your future and you will suffer from chronic stomach upset.

You're good at what you do, Jason. That's enough.

Now, let the ripping commence.

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