I am going to go a little meta inspired by my friend Dave over at Maize n Brew. If you have a chance, go over to Maize N Brew (the fine SBN blog covering Michigan Wolverines) and read up Dave’s detailed thoughts on the state of sports journalism in a blog post entitled, "The Death of the Print Media and the Birth of the New Blogosphere." The whole post is a must read which actually echoes a number of points we have made before when thinking out loud about bloggers, traditional media and what we do here on BN.
I do think Dave’s post is particularly poignant because it cautions folks about celebrating the death of "print media":
Bloggers have more at stake in the papers successful transformation than they think. Bloggers have mostly been on the outside of established journalism. We have lain in the woods taking pot shots at the media. From time to time we've even marched triumphantly down Main Street flaunting the fact that we are not the media when it screwed up. We are not the hacks in the print press. We are independent. We are a collaborative voice of the fan; the fan that has been left out in the cold too long by the press.
Now the press as we know it is dying and our positions have changed. All of a sudden the information or commentary we relied upon for content is disappearing. In some cases we're gaining a new responsibility to provide information whereas before we simply commented on it. Bloggers will find they can no longer hurl stones at the print media; it's no longer there. We're not counter culture anymore. We're mainstream. Hell, some of us are the establishment now. But this is what many have fought for. Respect and relevance. It's closer than you think.
I couldn't agree with more. On BN time and time we have hit the local traditional media (and the national ones) for weak journalism. However, what I don't think I have ever advocated is doing away with the traditional media. I have to be honest. I sometimes get kind of tired by repetitive comments here on BN with constant attacks on Brian Dohn from the Daily News and how we need to ignore him.
Let me make something clear. I actually think Dohn is helpful. He is valuable to us in a sense that he is providing information from his UCLA beat every day. He is doing something I and rest of frontpagers have no interest in doing. When we do criticize him, it is about his opinions on UCLA athletics and I think that is fair game. More importantly what we want is for him and his colleagues covering UCLA beat via the traditional media to do a better job.
It was about three years ago Peter Bean from Burnt Orange Nation made a great point how both traditional media and new media can fit in with each other. He wrote:
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.
We pretty much agreed with Peter that time and ended our observation back then with this:
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.
Guess we are still around while number of print media outlets are having a rough time. However, that doesn’t mean we should be celebrating the demise of the print media.
As mentioned above, I believe the work beat writers like Brian Dohn does is indispensable. However, what we really need is for them to do their job better because most of them are downright lousy and often totally lazy at.
I know I have no desire to be a sports reporter. I think none of my colleagues on the front page have any desire to be sports reporters either (they can correct me if I am off on this … lol). None of us really have any interest in getting press credentials to UCLA's Morgan Center or athletic events. We do this on our spare time because we are addicted to UCLA sports. We might do an interview here and there because we are very interested in finding out something specific or want to learn more about a particular storyline because we have opportunities to explore them. However, we will never up sports reporting as a profession. At least none of us are really planning on it.
So we need our local beat reporters to provide good, solid info. Sure invaluable recruiting information from scout.com and rivals.com and other sites help but news from old fashioned news never hurts.
I just think it's interesting how bad and awful the media in Los Angeles truly is. They have no clue how to interact with new media (we have had more fruitful and substantive give and takes with national ones and outlets from other states in the background). I think it is a matter of the traditional media outlets figuring out how to productively engage with this community and others where fans talk about local teams. I think our members here and online communities in general would be more than happy to embrace the traditional media if they went back to doing their actual jobs and offer commentary/opinion based on reality and facts.
I mean I know I will be paying closer attention to the LAT if they start offering commentary like the ones we got from Jim Murray and offered unbiased and detailed journalism (often doing some actual investigative reporting) that would cover the local teams and programs in a substantive way. I know … it will probably not happen given the way the LAT and other papers are being managed today. However, if those guys figured out how to get back to doing their jobs , which is to provide accurate, fair and substantive reports, I am sure all of us here would be more than happy to pipe down the cynicism with which we view the traditional media today. Here is to hoping they can figure it out because I think everyone would be better off if both traditional media and new media found a way to supplement each others efforts.