Several weeks ago, Dayn Perry posted an article on his $8 Beers blog at Fox Sports regarding comments made during a recent interview with ESPN NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith. In addition, Dayn made note of comments by another professional sports journalist, Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. For those of you that didn’t get an opportunity to read the Stephen A. Smith comments, this is a shortened version quoted directly from the interview.
"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. More important are the level of ethics and integrity that comes along with the quote-unqoute profession hasn’t been firmly established and entrenched in the minds of those who’ve been given that license.”
"Therefore, there’s a total disregard, a level of wrecklessness that ends up being a domino effect. And the people who suffer are the common viewers out there and, more importantly, those in the industry who haven’t been fortunate to get a radio or television deal and only rely on the written word. And now they’ve been sabotaged. Not because of me. Or like me. But because of the industry or the world has allowed the average joe to resemble a professional without any credentials whatsoever."
Even more disturbing were the comments made by Bill Conlin in a series of e-mail exchanges between him and Bill Baer of the popular baseball blog, Crash Burn Alley. The abridged but directly quoted version of those comments is as follows.
“The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called “Pamphleteers.” They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites.”
“Most of you guys are unreadable. That’s one of my gripes. And while many of you–not all–can get away with a level of insult and ridicule that would be actionable in a publication governed by standards and libel and slander laws, professionals must abide by those standards and laws. My columns are read by a minimum of three editors for fact, style, fairness and balance. Who checks your facts and deletes a line that is over the edge of good taste or might demean or defame an athlete or subject? Did you take a course in the libel and slander laws? Or do you merely throw it against the wall and see what sticks? That’s what most of you do. I can’t pin that on you specifically because I have never read your blog.”
When reading these comments, the clear underlying theme is that Smith and Conlin don’t have any love for bloggers. In fact, as Conlin mentioned, if Hitler were still alive, he’d eliminate all bloggers.
It gave me pause to ponder these comments, which led me to conclude Smith and Conlin are simply mad and jealous. Based on these truly asinine positions, Smith and Conlin will have us believe that only a true journalist has the ability—and apparently the right—to offer an opinion. For that matter, journalists are the only qualified members of society that should be allowed to write in a public forum.
If that skewed assumption were true, people who don’t have a degree in computer science lack the necessary computer skills to compete in the job market. Those of us not holding a degree in medicine aren’t qualified to perform CPR.
The big bad evil bloggers like you and I have no qualifications and aren’t capable of forming a well written, lucid, and thought-provoking article. Perhaps at this point I should cease writing, and ask Smith and Conlin if I now may begin genuflecting.
I’ve read many blogs on the net and most of them are quite good, and some are exceptional. I’d venture to guess that none of the people writing these blogs have a degree in journalism. Some may not have a degree at all. Point in fact, most of us are doing exactly what is inherent of sports journalism—we’re offering an opinion.
Some of us write articles that require research and we ensure our facts are correct, all without the aid of an editor. Admittedly, I didn’t take a course in slander and libel laws, but why should I? Any self respecting blogger with a modicum of common sense wouldn’t post an article that purposely slandered a subject. It leads me to question why anyone would waste their time attending a university for the sole purpose of obtaining a degree in journalism.
I’d personally like to know where the moral and legal ethics are in the journalism industry. Are Smith and Conlin referring to the ethics of Dan Rather, who falsified and aired a report regarding President Bush’s National Guard service? What about the morals of Marv Albert? Perhaps they rest in Keith Olbermann’s shameful pursuit of his personal agendas night after night.
Where are the ethics and morals they hold so dear? Here in the northern hemisphere, swishing counter clock-wise down the drain.
I’m not suggesting the articles I’ve posted are journalistic masterpieces that revolutionized the industry. I write in hope of presenting the reader an opportunity to give pause for thought and offer commentary. I do this as well as I can with the desire of improving upon every article I write. I believe I just described what all of us are doing.
I’m curious to know what my fellow bloggers think, and especially the professional journalists, other than Stephen A. Smith and Bill Conlin of course.
Dayn Perry’s blog can be found at Fox Sports Blogs at the following address:
Bill Baer’s Crash Burn Alley blog can be found at: