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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sports Blogs under fire

This clip is painful to watch (mainly because of Buzz Bissinger's absurd anger. This is a guy who absolutely never exploited athletes in "Friday Night Lights," by the way) but it's absolutely fascinating.

Coming from a journalism background, it's easy to understand some of the fears the old folks have regarding the blogosphere. The sad fact of life is that 90 percent of that fear comes from a combination of a) fear of what they don't understand and b) fear that they will be rendered obsolete.

That being said, it's not so simple as to just shout "Blogs are totally awesome!!!!!!11" when it's obvious that there are flaws to any process with few to no boundaries. There is, honestly, a value to having fact checkers, editors and accountability.

Of course, that also tends to filter out the fun and, most troubling, the courage from what you can write. Either way, the statement that the children blogging is the future is undeniable. God help us.

Check out that clip (thanks Pensblog for pointing it out) from the belly of the beast itself, Deadspin. It's a must-watch clip for anyone with even a passing interest in blogs.

18 comments:

brokeyard said...

Interesting video. I understand where the anti-blog argument is coming from, but saying it's bad because it's opinions is suppressive of free speech.

Earl Sleek said...

I have to be honest here: I don't read a lot of Deadspin, and other than Bob Costas I don't really know who the rest were.

Still, while it's inflammatory, I'm shocked at the lack of research. They were making one guy answer for posts and comments that he didn't write? They couldn't find anyone to point that out for their attacks?

Whatever. It's hard to take it that seriously. Much better to criticize something you actually know how to read.

k.m.stiles said...

Why can't the old guys be like Barry Melrose and ask "What's a blog?" and then shrug it off rather than get so pissed about it. The way I see it, journalists are still getting paid whereas the (I'm assuming) majority of bloggers don't so they should just stop complaining or else complain and attack certain blogs that consistently post incorrect facts.

Mike said...

I don't read Deadspin, but I do read Kissing Suzy Kolber, and that's some of the funniest stuff I've ever read on the tubes. To say that either's mission is to provide information is a joke- they are humor sites. Maybe low or bad humor, but they provide about as much insight as Mad Magazine.

I did watch this live two nights ago, and the irony of the situation hit me like a brick. Buzz's main point was that the level of discourse and quality of conversation of blogs is horribly low, yet he expresses this by saying Leitch is "full of shit", and calling him all manner of names. Classic.

RudyKelly said...

The problem I have with the whole thing is that there's this implication that a journalist's opinion is somehow more accurate than anyone else's because they've spent years talking to players and perfecting their writing. Knowing what a predicate is doesn't make your opinion better. No one is saying that journalists like Rich Hammond are obsolete; it's the columnists who should be worried about their jobs because a lot of them suck, especially when they talk about hockey.

And that clip is bullshit. I think Bissinger knew he had Leitch there captive and took the opportunity to dish out all the abuse he feels bloggers give journalists. But usually when someone like Ken Tremendous of Fire Joe Morgan heaps scorn on a writer, he brings up valid criticisms as well. I guess Buzz missed that part. Plus, he's actually funny.

But then again, I've never heard of George Plimpton, so I have no right to say anything about Marc Crawford's propensity for line mixing.

Ian said...

There are some valid issues with the lack of editorial vetting in the blogosphere, but it's also pretty clear the traditional media has some pretty gaping holes in their track record there as well.

We're in the period where everything is being shaken up, and the old guys don't understand why the rug is being pulled out from underneath them. But I also imagine that the cream will rise to the top once things settle down, and there's going to be more to blog journalism than "hey look, I've got opinions and a web browser!"

Want a good example of what the future looks like? PJ and Sharkspage do some fine reporting.

Stevens8204 said...

I know a few journalists and actually most of them welcome the bloggers as competition. Then there are some who just absolutely abhor us as a whole without even doing any research. Most of us are more than just a bunch of opinions and slowly some journalists are realizing that...bit by bit. Ian is right...eventually the cream does rise on up.

RudyKelly said...

I don't think the lack of an editor is that much a problem. Yesterday I fucked up and wrote "Mary Brodeur" and I had 2 people correct me in a span of 5 minutes. If I'm wrong, someone is going to call me out on it and they're going to call me out on it publicly for everyone to see. That makes me much more diligent in my writing.

Mike said...

Sharkspage is a great example. But as great Sharkspage is, and I read everything they write, I still think the best Sharks blog out there is David Pollak's- the beat writer for the Mercury. And that's precisely because of the access he gets to the team. The stuff that Buzz says doesn't have value anymore to the reader. Total BS.

Earl Sleek said...

I think Bissinger knew he had Leitch there captive and took the opportunity to dish out all the abuse he feels bloggers give journalists.

And that's maybe the puzzling thing to me. I mean, why the anger at bloggers themselves? They're easily avoidable, if they don't meet your fancy.

If his anger is because so many people do read blogs, well it's tough to throw the blame there at the blogs themselves. He should have just stood up and challenged the crowd, "What the hell is wrong with you people?!"

It at least would have made more sense to me than attacking a blogger for his popular style.

Ian said...

I don't think the lack of an editor is that much a problem.

What I mean by "editorial vetting" isn't casual mistakes or factual errors that can be spotted by a reader and put in the comment section. That's line or copy editing, and is very different than the type of role an editor plays in the old media.

Ian said...

And that's precisely because of the access he gets to the team.

Right, but it seems to me that eventually the best bloggers will likely have the kind of access the newspaper writers have. In the case of hockey (and other less mainstream sports), that's probably going to happen sooner than later, as more newspapers and magazines cut their coverage.

Vic Chi and Ross McKeon heading online is an example of the transition. But it's only a matter of time before someone that was never connected to the old guard gets full press access.

Earl Sleek said...

I know a few journalists and actually most of them welcome the bloggers as competition.

I know I don't speak for anyone except myself, but I've never hoped to be competition to MSM journalism. I value what they do, and hope that readers aren't coming here to learn the news. Sure, we'll react to or highlight BoC-specific news, but our specialty is not reporting.

Sure, we're not "legitimate" or anything, but I'm comfortable with our situation. I think legitimacy would only water down the fun in our humble internet offering, which is freely accessible and freely ignorable.

But it's only a matter of time before someone that was never connected to the old guard gets full press access.

A matter of time? Hell, I think Eric McErlain has pretty much accomplished this through the Caps.

Ian said...

A matter of time? Hell, I think Eric McErlain has pretty much accomplished this through the Caps.

Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Well, that's Leonsis for you. He definitely gets how to use the 'net to connect with his fans.

Jeff J said...

...I've never hoped to be competition to MSM journalism.

Like it or not, you are. I used to read tons of columns. Now I have none of them bookmarked and only read them when a blogger links to one.

The thing that pisses me off about the msm is how badly columnists get their asses kicked by the good blogs. It's ridiculous that bloggers with day jobs can write more intelligent and more relevant pieces than the pros. Obviously the front line media who have to interact with people and gather information will never be obsolete. It's the people who are supposed to analyse that material and think and write critically about it who should worry. Established journalists with the chops to do that part well are exceedingly rare.

In defense of journalists, the good ones rarely* wind up as sports journalists. Sports is the newspaper's playroom.

* - that's "rarely," not "never."

Mr. Plank said...

Buzz's inability to weed through the "muck" on the internet is exactly what makes his argument so invalid. By more or less generalizing all bloggers as committed to "cruelty" and "dishonesty" it really shows a lack of intelligence in the matter.

And bringing up Deadspin as your prime example doesn't really capture the whole blogosphere. That site is based off shock and compromising pictures/articles. Hand-picked to suit their argument.


That being said, Bob Costas is still money in the bank.

jamestobrien said...

The beauty of blogs is the variety of styles and tones. The goal of many sports blogs is to cover many MSM roles (and since newspapers are rapidly diminishing their hockey reporting, many NHL cities actually need bloggers to drum up some interest among the diehards).

Some, like Deadspin and Kissy Suzy Kolber (my favorite parody blog) are in it for the laughs and are damn good at it.

I think the BoC has a solid mix of the silly and the serious. Even if the silly usually wins.

jamestobrien said...

Er, Kissing* Suzy Kolber. My inner copy editor was guzzling Jim Beam during dinner...