Friday, October 31, 2008

Taking on the "bloup think" - Bloggers v Berger

There is little doubt that traditional media can be insulated, arrogant and just a little too pleased with itself sometimes. I say this as someone that has shuffled around the outskirts of the discipline in the past and, provided someone is stupid enough to hire me, will do so again one day. This popularity of this whole blogging thing is a direct result to people feeling talked down to by those blessed to go to j-school at the right time.

I was slow to take to the blogosphere. Although I chuckled at Deadspin from time to time and I'm far from a prude, I just found that there was a little too much lets make fun of the drunk athlete with a 22-year-old-stripper photos, and not enough quality reporting/commenting out there. I appreciated the irreverence--it's needed--but I needed depth too.

And, I found it. I hope I contribute to it. But, no matter how much quality I find out there, I can't turn away from the traditional sports media. I'm not sure we, as bloggers, can exist without it.

Which is why I can't support efforts like this. It's not that I don't support the right of the bloggers to take issue with Berger's comments--send him nasty e-mail, write indignant replies, take him down with a pointed FJM-like post. Nor, do I agree with the thesis of the original column. It was mail it in journalism at its very worst. Yes, we get it, Leafs fans show up regardless and it doesn't offer any incentive to MLSE to put a winner on the ice. I've heard that before (I don't agree, but I've heard it before).

Deadspin famously claims that it provides sports news without "access, favor or discretion." I've never understood why we are supposed to be impressed about the lack of access. I, for one, would love to see a Deadspin reporter lobbing in questions at the next presser. It might shake things up a bit and help everyone--reporters and athletes--realize that we aren't talking about anything that's even remotely important. This is the future of sports journalism. Sports bloggers as reporters. It won't be for everyone--there should always be room for Joe or Jane Fan to put his or her opinions out there and, if they are good enough, find an audience--but access for the best bloggers benefits everyone.

But, for that to happen we have to move away from the us versus them mentality that seemingly defines the blogosphere--let's call it "bloup think." The traditional media is not the enemy, but when it's treated as such it makes sense that it responds in kind. The truth is bloggers need the traditional media and the traditional media benefits from bloggers. And both sides need to develop thicker skins.

Related: Neate's original post on the proposed boycott

8 comments:

eyebleaf said...

You make some good points. But don't you think there's more of a wall up on the side of the MSM when it comes to bloggers?

Damien Cox won't even respond to comments on his own blog. As if being paid to write it is all he'll do, God forbid some actual back and forth.

It goes back to the point of the old guard. Berger writes drivel such as he wrote because he knows we're going to pick up on it, and call him on it, and it's going to increase his traffic. I would say there is zero respect for bloggers in what he is doing. It's deliberate.

Duane Rollins said...

I think it's (slowly) changing. And, I think it's an age thing.

Not to speak out of turn, but I've interviewed for a few daily sports positions over the past few months. I can tell you that my Internet/blogging experience has been a major topic of conversation in the interviews. The traditional media realizes that it has to adapt (it doesn't know how, but it's trying to figure it out).

I agree that the old guard needs to evolve (and in some cases retire). At it's best, journalism today should be a conversation with the readers rather than a lecture at them. Cox, for instance, isn't a bad writer, and I still read him. But I respect, for instance, Doug Smith a lot more because of the work he does on his blog. Smith interacts. He seems to get it. Cox...not so much.

(There are a lot of others that do great work--Wilner, obviouslly, Brunt will often return e-mails..not sports, but I have a lot of time for Roy MacGregor a guy that is at a point where he has a right to be arrogant, but isn't. I think there are more that get it then don't, actually.)

eyebleaf said...

You're absolutely right about it being an age thing. It's going to take time for media to adapt, and we'll see major change a generation from now, when said old guard is retired.

Journalism should be conversation, that's what it is morphing into, and to see Cox write his blog, but refuse to comment with his readers infuriates me. It's half-assed. He won't bring down that wall, and I think it's because he knows so many people in Toronto, and beyond, disagree with him on so many fronts.

I still read Cox too. For me to say that I've abandoned Cox and the MSM would be a complete fabrication. As for Smith, he's replied to my comments in his blog, he's responded to emails (as has Michael Grange, Cathal Kelly, Richard Griffin) and you're right, I enjoy and respect his work more because him reaching out to me in return shows me that there is some level of respect. That he's not lecturing to us, or looking down at us, the casual fan and/or casual blogger.

Guys like Jeff Blair are the same. Blair has responded to my emails and given me clearance to post replies on my blog. He's said he spends a little bit of time per day perusing the blogs. He's part of the "old guard" but he's adapting, and the blogosphere absolutely adores Jeff Blair for it. You've got to be able to change in this industry, because the industry itself is going through so much change. To refuse that change is just downright silly.

I would have to still say that there are more that don't get it, than do. When I read bullshit like Berger's, it sets us all back, "real" journalists and bloggers as well.

sager said...

It's all about a conversation.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

Duane - You make a lot of good points in your piece as well as in your reply to eyebeleaf. The age gap definitely plays a massive part in the disconnect between journalists and their readers.

The firing of Christmas Ape from his journalism job was a great example of how often the traditional media can't see the forest for the trees. All they saw was a guy that wrote about football on a blog using foul language. Meanwhile, they missed an opportunity to grab on to one of the most popular (and knowledgeable) football bloggers around at a time when they were starting an NFL blog!

But, for that to happen we have to move away from the us versus them mentality that seemingly defines the blogosphere--let's call it "bloup think." The traditional media is not the enemy, but when it's treated as such it makes sense that it responds in kind. The truth is bloggers need the traditional media and the traditional media benefits from bloggers. And both sides need to develop thicker skins.

It's not bloup think. Suggesting that it is completely misses the point of the entire Dave Berry episode (which Craig Custance managed to do) and suggest that it was about blogs versus the MSM.

Bloggers uniformly recognize that they can't really function completely without the information that they glean from the traditional media but when you have journalists like Howard Berger that literally bring nothing to the table other than constant attacks on the fans then why shouldn't we suggest that rather than subjecting yourself to his drivel that you read blogs that do a much better job of covering the team than he is willing to do?

Some of the Toronto guys in other sports that you mentioned (and some hockey guys) do an excellent job. There is no denying that guys like Smith, Wilner, Brunt, and Campbell all do great jobs covering the team. Sadly, the Leafs' guys almost uniformly do not.

Cox, for instance, isn't a bad writer

That's true. He's a horrible writer with the memory of a gold-fish and the super human ability to argue himself.

Not to speak out of turn, but I've interviewed for a few daily sports positions over the past few months. I can tell you that my Internet/blogging experience has been a major topic of conversation in the interviews. The traditional media realizes that it has to adapt (it doesn't know how, but it's trying to figure it out).

That is great to hear and reading about your change of heart is good too because it's not just journalists that have a skewed view of blogs. For the vast majority of the uninitiated 'blog' is just another four letter word.

eyebleaf said...

Conversation rules. Sager, how are you?

sager said...

I'm great, since I have been suggesting more collaboration for what, a year and a half.

MF37 said...

I agree that traditional media isn't the enemy. That said, traditional media is quite clearly struggling to provide much of quality these days.

For every Brunt, Duhatschek or Hornby, one can cite six to ten bad journos who phone it in.

That's not a good ratio and that's one of the reasons for the group post. That's the message, and if it got lost in translation, I'll repeat it for you: if you're tired of being insulted by the media that covers your favourite team, there's a host of blogs that would love your eyeballs, comments and contributions. Here they are, go check them out.

If you're happy being fed a diet of drivel and useless info, keep reading the MSM.

No one called for a boycott, no one said stop consuming the MSM, we just want people to know there are other sources of info and insight out there. Sources that would love to have a conversation with you about a sport we all love...