Bloggers vs. Reporters: Why Can't We Be Friends?
Much has been made about the perception these days of bloggers, tweeters, and everything else in the sports journalism world in this day and age.
Many of you have probably seen the infamous Buzz Bissinger blow up on Will Leitch, Editor and Founder of the satirical sports Web site Deadspin.com.
Bissinger's qualms with Leitch and Deadspin were that the writers for the site are, for the most part, "average joes"—guys who aren't necessarily in the journalism industry, guys who are fans, have an opinion, and want to express it (albeit not always in the most flattering way).
Now Bissinger has a point.
For a guy who made his career being one of the most in-depth, analytical, research heavy reporters of his day, it is understandably frustrating to see guys make a career out of something that seems so shady would be angering. Bissinger is right in saying that Leitch and Co. are hardly credible journalists.
But what these guys are, are educated fans with opinions, and where is the harm in that?
To call bloggers and writers for sites such as Deadspin (and Bleacher Report, for that matter), journalists is a stretch. Yes, there are exceptions.
I know a number of writers for this site and others either dabbled in journalism at one point or, like myself, are aspiring journalists trying to wade their way through the competition to a well-paid job in a floundering economy.
But for the most part, sites like these are nothing more than sports versions of US Weekly, and I say that, believe it or not, in a non-degrading way.
We don't sit in the pressbox. We don't go in the locker room. We don't interview players, coaches, executives, trainers. We simply don't. And because of that, we're not on the same level as the beat reporter for the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, or the USA Today.
Like it or not, it's simply the truth.
It's like comparing a reporting for Time Magazine to a reporter for US Weekly. Are writers for Deadspin and Bleacher Report the same type of journalists as writers for ESPN.com?
But in any given month, the amount of hits Deadspin gets rivals and sometimes passes that of ESPN.com. So it's not necessarily a bad thing.
It's not degrading for bloggers like ourselves to admit we're not on the same level as reporters for professional publications. We simply aren't. And the sooner we admit this, the sooner we start being accepted on a more public level by the professionals we emulate and often criticize.
Regardless of this, we deserve our credit. Why shouldn't bloggers be given press credentials to cover opening day at new Yankee Stadium or the Super Bowl? Just because we don't work for ESPN or the New York Times doesn't mean we don't deserve to be there.
So Bissinger is right in saying we are different. We're obviously different. But he's not right in saying we're destroying the industry. We're simply adding a different, stranger element that, as Leitch says, those 50 years of age and older simply don't understand.
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