Blogging akin to conversation on barstool or in schoolyard?

On National Public Radio’s All Things Considered yesterday, Stefan Fatsis, who covers sports and the business of sports for The Wall Street Journal, spoke with Noah Adams about sports blogs.

As a former newspaper reporter and editor and now blogger, I’m quite interested in the intersection of blogging and professional reporting. This 4-minute story is set in the sports world,
but it’s still about that junction.

NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently banned three bloggers — who work full-time for The Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times and ESPN — from the locker room.

It’s interesting to note that this defensive new policy is instituted by a dot-com billionaire (although I personally didn’t know his name until he was on Dancing With the Stars).

Apparently Cuban’s rationale is that the locker room is too small to accommodate everyone. He wrote on his blog that blogs are bad marketing, bad branding.

“More and more sports blogs are thoughtful, they’re smart, they’re sophisticated, they can be adjuncts to the mainstream media, but they’re very, very worthwhile, they’re useful. And some of them are getting bought by the mainstream media. This week three bloggers in Dallas were barred from the Mavericks locker room. They work full-time for the Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times and ESPN. They use a different kind of software to write, and this newish medium seems like an absurd rationale for banning them from one particular place in an arena,” Fatsis said. (Emphasis mine.) Makes sense to me.

Sportscaster Bob Costas, in the Miami Herald, called blogs “a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on barstools or in schoolyards if they were schoolyard bullies or on men’s room walls in gas stations. That doesn’t mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.” Adams seemed to agree with much of this.

Costas gets called out online, like all announcers, Fatsis explains. Costas is referring to the snarkiness that comes out, particularly in the comments section of blogs.

OK, sure. But people should be able to separate what is said in the comments from what is said by the writer. A newspaper isn’t criticized based purely on what’s in the letters to the editors. I strongly disagree with what Costas — and Adams — said about blogging vs. writing. Blogging can be writing. There is no inherent dichotomy.

“When you step back you’ll realize that value … will be determined not by the medium but by the message, what people are writing,” Fatsis said.

Blogging should not be compared, as a medium, to conversation on a barstool. Blogging can be done professionally, and probably is done professionally especially if the writers have full-time positions at news organizations. Sure, that may not be the case in every instance. But that doesn’t mean that the medium should be dismissed or dissed. That argument is even more ludicrous in light of newspapers’ current financial situation that’s directly related to the institutions’ ability or inability to adapt to the internet. Newspapers must be blogging, and blogging must be taken seriously.

As a side note, Fatsis points out that the blogosphere’s anonymity is going away; bloggers are realizing that they need to be held accountable if they want to be taken seriously.

Note: Here‘s where Dallas Morning News blogger Tim McMahon discusses the new policy.

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2 responses to “Blogging akin to conversation on barstool or in schoolyard?

  1. Thanks for putting this out there for those of us who don’t catch NPR as much as they’d like to. Good for Stefan! I’ve always liked him! He’s the only guy who has ever captured my interest when it comes to sports reporting. Probably because of the business crossover.

    Anyway, I side with you. He is a fool who discounts or downplays the importance of the internet in their business. Blogging exists. Use it wisely or unwisely but don’t dismiss it. It will not go away.

  2. Bob Costas’ remark that the blogosphere is “……..a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on barstools or in schoolyards if they were schoolyard bullies or on men’s room walls in gas stations………” is at least partly true.

    How better to describe those “rants”, which so many blogggers are proud to admit to?

    To parody opening lines of Charles Dickens “Great Expectations”, the blogosphere contains the best of writing and the worst of writing.

    The blogosphere is the new reality, the new vox populi, and it is already revolutionizing the way we all disseminate and assimilate news and opinion.

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