As our nascent blog grows and matures feedback will be critical in our improvement as writers and as a blog. To this end, I have been tasked with analyzing a sample of writing from Joe Wirth (aka Hitchner). As Joe has nominally been a journalist at one point or another, one would have thought this a pretty cherry assignment. One would be wrong.
The article which I was given to analyze was Joe’s “Is Eli Manning the Most Overrated Player in NFL History? A Report from The Otter Room Investigative Team”. I will begin by looking at the structural flaws pervading this errant piece of pomp before moving towards the unavoidable substantive flaws. For the close of this piece we will rent out the Hubble telescope to search for positive aspects which must be somewhere in this piece.
The first structural issue evidences itself early on as I found myself jumping from one-sentence paragraph to two-sentence paragraph and back again. This article is essentially a compilation of shock value headlines with no support to speak of. As an example, Joe writes, “Any Eli basher will say that his Super Bowl wins were flukes built upon some of the luckiest plays in NFL history – they are right, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of evidence proving his overall mediocrity.” Firstly, this is a run-on sentence. Secondarily; in this ‘paragraph’ he introduces an idea, admittedly from ‘Eli bashers’ and validates it by simply saying, ‘they are right’. He presents a shaky argument at best.
In addition to the strange structuring and lack of follow up on assertions, Joe also seems to change his point of view at various times to better suit his argument. Early in the piece, Joe asserts that all of Eli’s wins were flukes and that Eli had no agency in these endeavors. Later on, Joe changes his tune when every loss is suddenly laid at the feet of Eli. Is Eli capable of influencing a game or not? Joe gives us no definitive answer.
Joe’s piece demonstrates its impotence early on when it states that Eli Manning may have Down Syndrome. As a person who shared housing with an individual who had Down Syndrome for multiple summers, I find this to be not only offensive, but lazy writing. It is not an insult to say that someone lives with Down Syndrome. Those who that I’ve met who live with Down Syndrome are much braver and kinder than myself, and I would only hope to emulate their positive life outlooks. Joe’s attempt to shock the reader and cast aspersions on Eli only serves to highlight the author’s desperation and lack of substantive arguments.
The final substantive issue is that Joe finishes a piece titled, “Is Eli Manning the Most Overrated Player in NFL History? A Report from The Otter Room Investigative Team” by saying, “I’m not saying Eli is a bad quarterback…”. Really? The whole article is haranguing a man who has won two Super Bowl titles more than any recent Cowboys quarterback. The argument could be made that Eli was not important in those games, except for the fact that he was also MVP of each game. Does Joe know something that those who choose Super Bowl MVPs do not? If I’m not mistaken, MVP still stands for Most Valuable Player? Joe’s article raises more questions than it answers. He is truly the J.J. Abrams of puff pieces.
As promised, I want to finish on a positive note. Despite my criticisms of Joe, he is one of my closest friends. Joe’s family has taken me in on multiple occasions and never failed to show me incredible kindness and generosity. For this reason, their is an incredible silver lining to this article; it proves that Joe Wirth’s family exists. Without Joe, I would have never encountered proof of the kind of pure goodness which his family and extended family bring into this world. And hey, despite his woefully misguided articles, Joe is a pretty great guy himself. There are few people in this world with whom I could spend multiple 10+ hour drives and still see as a friend; Joe is one of those people.
P.S. Pittsburgh girl, never forget.