"I hate bloggers." "Worst development in media business, anyone can be a blogger." "No credentials required, just spouting off their opinions." "Our wives could go on and do it if they wanted to." "I know they're not going away but I wish they did."Oooo-kay. Not sure why he introduced sexism into the equation, but clearly Chass feels even more threatened now that the wolf is at his door. One wonders how well his attitude will go over when his next employer asks him to augment his next column by keeping a blog.
Today on Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner, I was asked to offer my perspective on the issue of blogger credibility and credentialbility. I understand what's prompting the questions: There's increasing discussion on whether bloggers should be allowed locker-room access, in a world where moments before my introduction, New York Times columnist Murray Chass had expressed the all-too-common view basically comparing bloggers to the Ebola virus. Nevertheless, it's fascinating to actually find a need to defend an entire class of people -- especially when the attacks are coming from a class of people that is supposed to be professional, insightful, objective and open-minded. (Yes, that passes muster with the Irony Committee.)Bless Weisman for rising above the fray while some of the rest of us are content to snark away. While I'm still tempted to tappa-tappa-tappa over Chass being run out of the Times, the larger point is that the days when the traditional media held the key to understanding in any field -- or at least sports, politics, and entertainment -- have been over for quite awhile.
...But beyond self-preservation, it's important to realize that condemning a medium, at least in this case, is bush-league. The medium doesn't decide whether to tell a story in a thoughtful, responsible or entertaining fashion; the messenger does... trust me: There are good and bad messengers everywhere.
...If I've done a good job as an outsider looking in, I expect respect, not dismissal. First, some of the analysis done by bloggers is flat-out better than anything you'll see from a major paper -- and it's done without the support system of a major paper, often without any renumeration whatsoever. In some ways, it's harder work.
Second, while there's value in interacting with the players and management of a baseball team, I can testify that there's often value in not interacting with them. It can give you a level of objectivity that is often missing from mainstream reporting. And at a minimum, many kinds of analysis don't require a locker-room presence, yet can be of tremendous value when done right.
There is no good reason for an Us vs. Them mentality when it comes to mainstream reporters and bloggers. The readership benefits from their combined presence, and really, short of the sportswriter who doubles as a great blogger, one isn't going to take the other's job away. (You certainly won't see me on the Dodger beat for a local paper anytime soon.) Bottom line: A multitude of opinions and a more open debate of the issues are good things. We aren't witnessing the downfall of written baseball coverage; we're witnessing a flourishing, a tremendously rich era to live in. We should cherish this time.
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