Why are Bloggers’ the Rodney Dangerfield’s of Journalism ?
I was sitting here thinking today as it was raining, what do real “journalists” think of bloggers. I got to attend the NFL’s Media day this week as a non- media credentialed spectator. I saw members from some of the world’s best news organizations from the 4 corners of the earth trample and exhaust player after player with great, and also stupid questions about the upcoming Superbowl game. I even heard some questions that got me to thinking that the average “Joe/Jane” would be able to decipher this media frenzy better than some of the high priced talent I saw hanging on some player’s every word looking for a lead or a sidebar story.
It was at that moment that I wondered why there were not more credentialed bloggers with established sites or even talented new bloods with fresh outlooks in attendance. Now I am currently trying to find a way to get credentialed by a major league team, and I do have a journalism background, and at least 4 years in the industry, but I am also a blogger, and that has put me at a disadvantage. Even some of the media giants do not have respect for blogging, and in some cases it is totally warranted to think that way. ESPN’s ” Pardon the Interruption ” co-host Michael Wilbon said, “”The notion of blogging scares the hell out of me, and … this is why. There’s no accountability … stuff isn’t edited. It just goes out there as gospel. What it is is opinion, there’s way too much rumor.”
And with this fact comes the question, If I am qualified and able to produce a good article, or even submit a entry to get out another aspect of the team without bias or prejudice, shouldn’t I have the opportunity to showcase my talents too ? Why do I have to work for a large Fourth Ward employer to even get a taste of a pregame or post-game interview. I may not want to ask a single question, but it would be nice to get a quote, or even a comment from someone and fashion it into a great blog piece for everyone to enjoy.
A great example would be doing a piece on Scott Kazmir and why he felt the Rays had the right stuff in Spring Training to go to the playoffs. Or maybe even survey the players and get their favorite cities, or activities on the road and transform it into a nice article for traveling fans. I know in the future, every so often I am going to write a fan-based travel blog on the stadiums I have been to in the MLB. It is more for my enjoyment, but could benefit someone down the road. Okay, lets get back to the issue here.
Blogging is not found to be totally ethical at this time. That might be another reason that Mark Newman, our MLBlogs.com professor is doing the Jblog school of learning for us. If we are to put blogging up there with the media, we have to adjust our thinking and educate ourselves to bring reliable blogging to the forefront. We are not held to the copyright or even basic fact gathering guidelines that the media must endure and do daily. We are our own editors and copy clerks, and in that some people become nervous about blogs. We gather, interpret, and send the articles to the Internet without remorse or consequences. We can harbor frustration and lash out without worrying about the pulling of our credentials or sanctions from the league or team. But is it right that the big guys get all the fun ? I know I got into a Rays staff party after Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series .
I was given a wrist band to attend the open bar event, and I saw people from the Rays executive offices who could not figure out how I got into the event. But could it also be the fact that a blogger was there and might have dealt out falsehoods or even misconceptions without a PR department there to do positive or negative damage control. I was there like them to celebrate, but a few people did phrase their words differently to me that night.
So why not let bloggers have limited access, or even day-today credentials to help demonstrate and produce articles about the games and team that can be viewed in a positive nature by the Public Relations department that most of us are not looking to do hatchet jobs on the team or players’. But that might be the reason we have a bias, or a lack of trust towards the blogging community. There are people out there who are waiting for the bad news and pounce like a cat on a mouse. Also the fact of “on the record” and “off the record” comments can be confusing to someone who doesn’t have the experience.
That is a good example for reasons not to give credentials right there. A player joking about a situation could be written as a credible quote, when in fact it was sarcasm or even a comment made in anger at the moment. That is why I love the fact that Rays manger Joe Maddon, and a lot of team have a “cooling off” time before the media hits the clubhouse or interview room. I know personally I got hoodwinked one time on a story by a guy looking to make bulletin board fodder for a team. It never happened again, but I lost a little credibility with myself and that team.
Just because I want to cover your team does not mean I want a seat in the Press box. I love my seat at the Trop., and would love to casually stroll up there, but I do not want to sit up in the Press box. I would enjoy using the Wifi so I can rewrite and retransmit by blog throughout the game. To be able to get a printed copy of the pregame notes that other journalists get on a game basis would be a blessing. Even the option to contact the P R department and request an interview with a player would be a great step in the right direction.
ESPN’s Basketball guru, Stephen A Smith also had a comment about blogging, he stated “And when you look at the Internet business, what’s dangerous about it is that people who are clearly unqualified get to disseminate their piece to the masses. I respect the journalism industry, and the fact of the matter is …someone with no training should not be allowed to have any kind of format whatsoever to disseminate to the masses to the level which they can. They are not trained. Not experts.” Okay, here lies the full ruse for all of us. Since we are considered unreliable and unbiased by politics, are we the new evil to teams, or just a fresh alternative to the newspapers and media giants?
I understand Smith’s comments, I truly do. I have said the same thing when I was younger working on an afternoon newspaper writing human interest and in-depth stories on sports. The fans always have an opinion, that is true in any circle of life, people love to give their opinions. But why is it that in sports blogs we are more condemned, less of a reliable source. I have a journalism background in the media, but I am still considered to be unqualified. I would think that being in the top 25 on an MLB-supported website for blogging shows I might have some sense of credibility or even popularity.
But the end result is that teams and the media now have their columnists and staff ” blogging ” and writing about the team in their daily editions. Is the fact they have a banner above them proclaiming they work for a Fourth Ward credentialed media member make them anymore reliable, or that their opinion is gospel. I understand that blogging can be viewed as a new and unreliable source of journalism. I also think personally that most sports bloggers do perform a simple set of journalistic reporting methods, and adhere to principles in their submissions.
But should they be biased based on age, content or even views. Do people really read blogs with the same intensity that they do their local medias stories? I would hope that they do. Sometimes we can hit upon issues and also events that happen away from the reporters eyesight. We are the ones in the stands and know if the energy is out of this world ,or it is just the anticipation of the free concert after the game. We are the ones who speak to other fans and team personnel and hear and see things that the Press box crowd never get to know before we write about it. Some of my best blogs and ideas have come after in casual after game conversations with fans and team members.
In past few years, blogs have become a media giant that has not been regulated to the satisfaction of the journalistic giants. More and more people are reading blogs, and some bloggers have been granted the access to cover live sporting and news events. Blogging is not the true vessel of journalism, and it should never attempt to be. It’s a completely different media outlet that has absolutely nothing in common with the current media sorts. They aren’t the same types of writers, and they aren’t supposed to be.
Here lies the true evil or good of the news source. A blog is a blank website entry until we write our words and post them to the Internet. We can post personal events, activities, or even that trip to your favorite ballpark, but we still are not held liable for a fraction that the media is in real life. No ethics, no A P style book, and a basic empty space to be filled by any array of words. In this way, blogging is not journalism, we are not held to time tested sets of rules dictating how to practice the art.
The basic reason for journalism is to inform, and also interpret. But why is blogging not offered the same sources and be able to grow to be a Fifth Ward, or protector of the journalistic integrity of the media. Maybe it already has reached that point, and that is why it is feared vy some. Sam Smith, of the Chicago Tribune might have a point, “How is it I can work for decades developing contacts around the NBA and traveling regularly around the NBA and talking with the decision makers and some guy in his basement in his underwear is writing something that has credibility?”
But in the age of computers and instant connectibility, can’t we evolve the blogging community to become more accepted and viewed as a possible public relations marvel. MLBlogs.com’s Jblog school is a great start in the right direction for blogging online. With more reliable and more concise blogs, the sky is the limit in the future for blogging and sports. There will always be blogs that want to tear apart a team or bring out negatives. But should this hurt those of us who can bring insight and afresh spin on a team? Maybe not in the future, but right now, being in the stands and believing in the team is the closest some of us will every get…………..and I am not fine with that, but I understand the rule and will play the game by them.