Bloggers, traditonal media, and the Bruins Nation ...

I meant to chime in on this topic a while back, when a huge bruhahahaha broke out in the blogosphere during the heat of March Madness stemming from this (from HousethatRock Built (great ND blog)]:

Just to bring everyone up to speed, the incident started on Colin Cowherd's national radio show on ESPN-Radio on Wednesday afternoon. Cowherd had a lengthy segment with a caller where he read a funny fake version of the Wonderlic test that he had found "on the internet", much to the enjoyment of his (I can only assume) throngs of listeners. The problem was, the piece wasn't written by "the internet", it was a fine piece we all enjoyed several weeks ago on the M Zone Blog. After being called out via e-mail, Cowherd fired back with a hastily-worded and quite immature bit of snark unbecoming of someone who has just been caught plagarising. EDSBS broke the story, Deadspin broke the story, and next thing you know, the entire internet was aware, mobilized, and infuriated. By the beginning of this week, the cooler heads prevailed and Cowherd issued a meaningful, albeit slightly terse apology and retraction. The M-Zone took it in stride and has now deemed the matter closed and resolved, with the added bonus of the throngs of attention and free publicity they received.

This led to some great observations from some of our colleagues who - I believe - are the very best the blogosphere has to offer.

From theFightingAmish, who in his "blogifesto", laid out the reasons why sports blogs have become relevant in today's media:

[T]he information, creativity, and overall presentation of information (in sports blogs) is superior. It's dynamic, constantly-changing and adapting, sharply and intelligently opinionated, and, at times, downright hilarious shit. My RSS reader has several dozen feeds for sports blogs (which I don't have room to list by name here -- although the bookmark bar on the side is a pretty good cross-section, and everything I've said above is applicable to those sites, too), and I spend a good amount of time reading through those feeds in an effort to become a better-educated sports fan.

And that's the point that ESPN and Cowherd don't get. You can't just say you found something "on the internet" anymore. These sports articles aren't like the "50 Reasons a Beer is Better than a Woman" e-mail your annoying co-worker forwards to you once a month, they're well thought-out and work-intensive observations that somebody worked very hard on and published to the world, free of charge, because they felt it was worth saying. All bloggers ask for in return is an appreciative audience and credit where credit is due. Text "from the internet" is not a free donation to the public domain, and certainly isn't a free donation to ESPN to assist in their commercial endeavors. I think the incident this weekend sent that message loud and clear. The days of ignoring sports blogs is over, and so are the days as dismissing it as anonymous internet chatter made available for the benefit of commercial networks.

Sports blogs are here to stay, and I predict we will see more clashes with the mainstream as the two media begin to compete with each other directly as bloggers move up the food chain in the sports journalism world. My fellow bloggers, keep blogging away. Your time is near.

He has a point. However, before we here get a little too full of ourselves, we should remind ourselves of this sober note from Brian at MGoBlog way back (at least in blog years) from May, 2005:

Yes, blogs can provide coverage that the MSM has no interest in providing. Blue-Gray Sky does it almost every day with obsessive detail. iBlog For Cookies busts out sweet charts that tell me something interesting about Michigan's past, present, and future. EDSBS swears really effectively (that's no backhanded compliment, mgoblog loves EDSBS). mgoblog has been known to drop knowledge on suckas and fools from time to time. And none of us are so full of ourselves to declare that it's time for "accountability." None of us follow that up with a condescending lecture on what "Independent Knowledge" is. HP helpfully defines it as "coming up with your own, original thoughts." Excellent. Thanks. I was thoroughly enjoying the mindless parroting of Politiburo opinion forced upon us by the big bad MSM but now... I'm free! Free as a bird that is not a parrot!

Gee ... I wonder who Brian may have been referring to as being a little too full of himself. Building on the point Brian made - Peter over at BON has a pretty balanced (and healthy IMO) view on what is going on in the internets:

On the one hand, folks like Bill Simmons lump all blogs into a shadowy netherworld of gossip, innuendo, and hyper-criticism of others, when in fact, that characterization only applies to a certain kind of blog.

On the other side, bloggers tend to become overly-defensive or self-defeatingly critical of mainstream writers by throwing out the baby with the bath water. Yes, there's a difference between Peter Gammons and Woody Paige. Between Tony Kornheiser and Colin Cowherd. Sports journalists making a ton of money and having a wide distribution come in all sorts of different flavors, just like blogs. Some are great, some suck. You can learn a lot from some. Others make you want to set yourself on fire. (See, we can even write like Bill Simmons!)

That's one aspect of the current tension between these two forces. The other interesting aspect that's worth commenting on is another tension that gets overblown both ways. On the one hand, so many sports journalists fail to see the ongoing media revolution that's going on right in front of their very eyes. It's like a General Manger reading Moneyball and then saying that there's nothing to learn from it. On the other side, so many bloggers are awfully quick to dismiss the mainstream media as "soon to be irrelevant." And this, I'm afraid, is like reading LD's Gunslingers and saying that there's nothing to learn from it.

So again, you have a bunch of people on both sides taking things too far, to the extremes, which avoids the more nuanced truth of what's actually happening.

In reality, sports journalism -is- changing, it's changing very, very rapidly, and those that understand how it's changing will survive, and thrive, and those that don't, will be obscure in what's quickly becoming a very, very saturated market. Mainstream media executives that understand this know that the fan's perspective is an ideal compliment to the "expert" or "insider" perspective. Dismissing one, or the other, is not only pointless, but counter-productive.

The real revolution in sports media is underway, both among the smart folks that run the better mainstream media services, as well as the most poignant and thoughtful blogs here on the internet. The best news is that for the fans, the best is yet to come. This tension will resolve itself in some form, the result of which will be an ever-expanding universe of first rate places for fans to congregate and talk and read about sports.

I couldn't have written that any better (and BTW if you haven't read "Money Ball" yet, you should. It will change not only how you think about baseball, but sports in general). Since Peter chimed in, a few others have commented on the interplay between the traditional and the increasingly relevant blogosphere. Kyle over at Dawg Sports argues that college football bloggers should impose a certain disclosure standard upon themselves if they wish to hold the reporters in the traditional media accountable for their reporting:

The same forthrightness and accountability that we demand from the mainstream news media must be expected of our fellow webloggers, as well.

Kyle?s thoughts generated an interesting response from the guys at EDSBS, who referred to an earlier post at MGoBlog. I agree somewhat with Kyle?s argument that there has to be some sort of disclosure standard on bloggers. But I am not really sure what that standard really is. I do think background information is important when any purported impartial/objective sports reporter or even a blogger hold himself or herself out as on objective commentator. For i.e. when Dan Wetzel wrote his hit piece on Coach Wooden, we went after him not only for his shoddy and inaccurate reporting, but also exposed his background information which detailed he had connections to a sleazy and corrupt college basketball figure like Jerry Tarkenian, who was always envious of successes of Coach Wooden. Similarly, in college football blogosphere, I take observations from bloggers like MGoBlog and BON seriously because they don?t hide the fact that they are still loyal to their alma maters (Michigan and Texas) when it comes to commenting on nuances, and every day happenings in college football. I don't worry about those guys offering partisan takes before they make that clear in disclosing their rooting interests.

As for us ? everyone knows why we are here and what we are trying to accomplish. We are proud alums (all of us) of UCLA who just loving writing and talking about the Bruins and are always thinking what is the best way to advance the interests of UCLA athletics. Oh, I know certain bloggers may have certain pet peeves about using the term ?we? when a blogger is writing on a team blog. Well in this case consider how this place is becoming a community of Bruin alums, students, season ticket holders, and fans, I think we are more than justified when writing as if we are writing representing an entire community. There is a reason behind why we chose the name "Bruins Nation," however unoriginal it may appear to some folks.

When we first launched BN back in July of last year we got some really angry emails - dismissing us as bunch of crazies - who got our start here. They dismissed us as bunch of haters. Of course given what went down over here during the basketball season it is going to very hard for anyone to paint us as bunch of haters. Yes we are 'crazy.' We are crazy about UCLA. We are crazy about that magical four letter in blue and gold shining on our football helmets and stitched into the jerseys of the greatest basketball program of all time. And we are not going to make any apologies about that.

We are going to be here. All of us are going to be here every day - offering our thoughts, views on anything related to UCLA and trying to share latest ongoing in Bruin sports. We are going to do this on the home page, in the diary section, and in the comment section. This place has become a lot more than just few posts from three of us who started this thing back in November of 2004. We are becoming a key part of the community representing the general  conscience of the Bruin Nation. And the traditional media, and other traditional fan sites (of UCLA) will learn how to coexist and deal with the new phenomenon. If they don't they are going to lose out. Meanwhile, we are just going to have fun talking and writing about UCLA. That is really all.

GO BRUINS.

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