We were going to look the other way on this whole Buzz Bissinger vs. the Blogs nonsense, until we saw the overly sympathetic treatment that Buzz and his pathetic, howly, angry old man routine got from the Globe's Bill Houston. Now that we have the local angle, let's dive in.
We're sure that this has been pointed out in about a thousand other sports blogs by now, but somehow, it's hard to take someone seriously who professes to be shocked and appalled at the profane and thoughtless nature of the vast majority of blogs by spitting out profane inanities like: "This pisses the shit out of me."
Bissinger cried and moaned about how Leitch's stated preference not to have "access" and his aversion to the press box mentality somehow equates to an aversion to the facts. And yet, as this interview with Boog Sciambi from a couple of years back painfully demonstrates, Bissinger is as averse to doing any legwork as anyone, preferring to lord his access to the anecdotal thoughts of Nolan Ryan or Tony LaRussa over anyone who would dare question his "facts". When confronted on what seemed to be a lack of real information about pitchers allegedly being rushed to the majors, Bissinger scampers and bites like a cornered ferret, calling another host a "slimebucket". So, yeah, Bissinger is doing a great job upholding journalistic civility.
In the aftermath of the televised battle royale, Bissinger is doing little to make his own case, telling Dan LeBatard that "I never want to be an expert in the field of blogs. That would be way too pathetic."
Well, that's fine. But why present yourself as a dissenting voice against them if you don't really know much of anything about them? If you can't distinguish between the content and the comments, then why set yourself out as a the voice of authority on all that is wrong with the blogosphere?
Between Costas and Bissinger (and to a lesser extent, Houston), there seems to be this generally accepted notion that the huge, vast majority of sports blogs are ugly, crass, poorly written, mean-spirited and ultimately detrimental to society.
Then again, maybe these aging journalists would do well to look back in their own lives, when a multitude of other media were referred to in the same way. Movies, television, rock and roll, Pop culture, talk radio...hell, even newspapers if you go back far enough...all of them have been singled out as a corrupting influence at some point or another.
The reason why blogs raise the ire of these types is that they are struggling to preserve what they view as an inherently good thing (sports journalism), and yet they look out every day and see this sacred thing being undermined by the fast, quick, profane poor quality blogs.
But they're missing the point.
Blogs haven't caused the decline of sports journalism. Sports journalism has caused the decline of sports journalism.
The reason why we now are as likely to seek out information on blogs every day isn't because we want to take glee at the misfortunes of others. It's because there is so much more out there than the perfunctory ramblings of the columnists in the daily papers.
The whole idea that bloggers are somehow going to eat the lunch of newspaper writers is ludicrous. We'd suggest that Houston get on the horn with the web crew at the Globe and see how many in-bound visitors they have received over the past year to their website courtesy of the Tao, or the Drunks, or the Mockingbird, or the Southpaw, or whoever. Then tell us what the value of those links were to Globe. Because the fact is that we're not making a cent on this, and as Leitch quite rightly pointed out, this is hard work.
We link to the Globe or the Star or wherever because we want to continue the conversation on our own terms. We don't want to sign in to your site to make a two line comment. We want to go on at length, and examine and discuss. Journalists don't have an inherent right to the last word on any subject, and there is immense value to the extension of the dialogue beyond the newsprint and ink. Sometimes we want to hold up your writings to be praised, and sometimes we post them out of scorn. But it's ultimately healthy to have someone out there watching the watchers.
As to the quality of the writing, we'd point out that we don't have the luxury of sitting in a newsroom, formulating our thoughts, running our work past an editor and then past a copy editor to ensure that all of the kinks are ironed out before our posts get sent out into the world. So "professional" "accredited" newspaper writers shouldn't get all up on their high horses about the low quality of the writing on blogs unless they'd like to share with us their unexpurgated first drafts.
And as for all of this talk about your sanctified "objectivity"? Get over yourselves. The truth is that there is no such thing as objectivity, just shared subjectivity. And the reason why we read the blogs we do is because on some level, they share an interest or a viewpoint. They provide further context (sometimes statistical, sometimes historical, sometimes hysterical) that help amplify our ability to defend our own position, or completely tear our arguments down.
We love that. That's a good thing.