We The Journalists: Dan Le Batard
Dan Le Batard has been a columnist for the Miami Herald for over 20 years. He hosts the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on AM 790 and FM 104.3, and hosts Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable weekdays on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m.
By Ryan Cortes
Dan Le Batard’s columns in the Miami Herald for the last 20 years have sometimes angered readers — like when he said that some sports reporters were lazy and hypocritical — and sometimes brought them joy, like when he called out the Miami Marlins management and defended fans, but they’ve always made readers think. We talked to the columnist about the biggest misconceptions with his writing and how his journalism career took off. You can read his columns in the Miami Herald, listen to his radio show on 790 AM and 104.3 FM The Ticket, and you can check out his TV show weekdays at 3:30 on ESPN2. He is also on Twitter.
SPJ SoFla: What’s one part of your job that most folks don’t realize you do?
Dan LeBatard: I’d go another way on this one — the part of my job I don’t do that people think I do. That’s the largest misconception about me, that I provoke for the sake of provocation, that I take counterintuitive stances for ratings and readers. I say what I believe, genuinely, and without any thought about whether it will lure readers/listeners/viewers. Nothing is contrived. If I must answer your question, I’d say that people don’t notice that I’m trying to make them think.
What’s your career highlight and lowlight?
Highlight? Getting to be a voice for Miami, and representing Miami, with my family and friends. It is all I ever wanted. I can give you 100 moments I thought were cool and absurd, from traveling to China with Michael Jordan to seeing my Dad’s giant cardboard head bobbing at a college game, but getting to have platforms in the city I love with the people I love is higher than I ever thought I’d climb. Lowlight? Having to choose between job and friend with Ricky Williams story.
Most frustrating part of your job now? Most fun part?
Frustrating? I don’t know that I actually feel frustration very often. I mean, what I do is silly, and I know it, and I’m grateful for it, and I don’t know how frustrated you get when covered in gratitude. I could say dumb analysis or people who don’t listen but I kind of need them to shine a light. Fun? All of it except writing, which is lonely and hard but more fulfilling than anything I do. Daily laughter.
Give us your weird dues-paying story.
I covered city-council meetings about sewage for $20 an article for a community weekly. Not easy to apply my goofy sensibilities there.
If you had to do your journalism career all over again, anything you’d do differently?
I’d eat less. And I’d find a way two years ago to combine radio and tv so I wouldn’t be working quite so much, which leaves my life lopsided.
One piece of advice you wish you could surgically implant into college students and young professionals?
Ask good questions, of everybody, as many as you can. And listen, really listen. And read, everything you can. That’s more than one, I know. Eat me.
The future of newspapers (radio, broadcast etc) as you see it?
There will always be a need for the information. We just won’t throw yesterday’s news in your bushes anymore. That’s a pretty bad modern business model. But the content will have value online. I don’t see newspapers vanishing, just changing.
Throughout March, April, May and June, SPJ South Florida Pro will feature Q&As every Friday with South Florida’s most prominent journalists. Want to see someone featured? Want to join SPJ? Email us.
Ryan Cortes is the student board member for SPJ South Florida Pro. Follow him on Twitter.