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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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Good points, J. I think that the "problem" has actually been created by the 'mainstrem' media, who decided about 5-10 years ago to deviate from just reporting the facts to reporting the facts while putting opinion, counterpoints, and multiple takes into the equation (go watch Sportscenter 10 years ago - there was no "4 Downs" or "PTI" or any opinion-related content).

In doing so, they evolved away from unbiased reporting to a culture that lives and breathes on debate and discussion. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Throw in, however, technology that allows everyone a public voice and the ability to be heard and chaos can often ensue.

Blogs are the result of the culture created by the mainstream media. They are in no way out to kill it. It's all about perspective. Methinks someone is feeling a bit jealous that his ability to connect with an audience and sell books is being compromised because worthy stories, discussion and debate are no longer confined just to the 'good ole boys' with Communication degrees and/or publishing companies.

Power to people is what I say. We don't need people to tell us what to think!

I'm not much for blogs, but I like this one very much. It's the Beerleaguer's insight and intelligent conversation of the posters that keep me coming back. Good point about good journalistic reporting being as important as it has ever been, since it's mostly the original reporting by hard-working, employed reporters that produces the grist for the blog mills.

Colin Cowherd was talking about bloggers / newspapers yesterday. The gist of what he was saying was, just like your children don't get what a cassette tape was, in 15 years they won't understand why anyone would've wanted a newspaper.

The questions they'll ask:
- So, the newspaper provided up-to-the-minute news? No, it was often 18 - 24 hours behind.

- So, it came right to your door? Well, my paper boy didn't have the greatest arm.

- It was free like the internet news, right? No, you had to pay for the out-of-date news.

You would also have to tell him that you often got ink on your fingers, when it rained it was wet and soggy, and you couldn't click on it to find out more information.

He went further, but you get the idea. I agree 100%

Eskin has made a living simply because he's polarizing. So have Colin Cowherd, Stephen A. Smith and any number of other "media types" who offer nothing more than their take on a story and then argue it to the bitter end.

Funny, isn't that the concept of a blog to begin with?

Thanks, again, Jason.

Sensationalism and commericalization have hurt the media more than blogging.

And even in a post-modern world, where we understand that there is no such thing as completely unbiased reporting, the extent to which opinion covers up the information distracts from the ability of people to understand that information. (So much editorialized reporting is like slathering cheap canned frosting over the entree.) It is a small wonder that people spend more time looking to access data and less time listening to rants by people whom they increasingly know not to trust for more than "entertainment."

Well said, Jason.

One of the more overlooked points that Leitch made in that segment was this: yes, there are some terrible blogs out there that rely on hearsay and sensationalism, but those are the ones that get weeded out because they can't develop a readership.

As an aspiring blogger myself, I look to Beerleaguer and Bleeding Green Nation and Depressed Fan and a bunch of other blogs that do things the right way. I just hope people like Bissinger can see that the voice of the fan isn't always as crass and lowbrow as he thinks it is, and that there are excellent blogs out there that appreciate the necessity of journalism.

What Bissinger believes about blogs can be said about all other media -- most of it is crap. Quality television? You've got to be kidding. Sure, there's some good stuff, but you've got to search for it. Radio? Ugh! I'm still trying to figure out why my car radio accommodates 15 station presets since I can only find use for about four of them. Newspapers? Some are better than others but even the good ones publish a certain amount of garbage. While news holes get cut back, the comics pages and gossip columns continue unabated.

The funny thing about Bissinger's rant on the Costas show was that in emphasizing the negative and sensationalistic he seemed to be committing the same sin that he ascribes to bloggers. He would serve the public better by doing a little "real reporting" and bring to light some of the better blogs -- like this one -- instead of driving up the hit count of a blog he apparently hates.

And the funny thing about his Eskin interview is that I rank Howard in pretty much the same range as the lower end of the sports blogosphere. With the exception of Ray Didinger, there isn't anybody on WIP that I might pull over into a mall parking lot park to give my undivided attention.

But what do I know? I'm just an ignorant blog commenter.


I run a fairly successful poker blog and it's amusing to me to see this debate. In the poker world, the best "reporting" is often done by bloggers... some who don't make very much money. There are some reporters out there, but poker reporting isn't a big deal for most news or sports news outlets.

But when you look at poker blogs, there is a huge difference between the good ones and the bad ones. And, frankly, there are a lot more bad ones than good ones.

That's the nature of something that's so easy to do. Anyone can create a blog. Anyone. All you need is a working email address. And when it's that easy, you'll get a lot of people who are pretty bad at it.

That shouldn't overshadow, however, those that deliver great blogs, like this one.

Nice write up Jason. When I first viewed the Costas Now segment with Bissinger I was outraged, but he does make some good points just in a pompous offputing way. As many know I run a Phils blog too, but it's much different than BeerLeaguer. Weitzel keeps it mostly civil with shades of journalistic style writing. I on the other hand are more in-your-face and am not afraid to let my biasis come through. I'm not going to sit here and pretend I've never said any desparagin comments about an athlete, because I have and will continue to do so, but it's entertainment that I'm providing (at least in my opinion) and that's what sports is- entertainment.

Good call, Nat, on the irony of Bissinger appearing on Eskin's show decrying the sleaziness of blogs. Eskin is all about image and slime and is the worst of the worst when it comes to "journalism"--he makes it all about himself.

I've always noted the parallel in the animosity between sports blogging and sports journalism and political blogging and political journalism. I think the fear and suspicion of bloggers by journalists is the fact that the journalists spent years in school and years building their credibility and suddenly here comes Joe Shmoe who's built up just as much of an audience in a very short amount of time while not doing the "hard time" that used to be required to make it in the industry. It's an ego thing.

Someone brought this up in the last thread but last nigh Swindle had a great performance in relief. I was watching it on TV up here in the LV and Swindle just absolutely made the Columbus hitters look silly. On the first batter he faced he struck him out with his 54 mph pitch and it was just incredible how confusing that pitch was. His 2 innings of work were a bright spot in another loss. He displayed good control and an amazing change of speed.

Despite what some may say about RJ Swindle's chances in MLB, his success in the minors cannot be denied and the man has earned his shot.

I dont look at any other blog on the internet. I just find them cumbersome.

Beerleaguer is the best Phillies site there is. Blog or not.

Carson - Yeah, I don't know how well his slow pitching translates but I was was definitely impressed at his ability to just completely baffle hitters. To go from 81 mph to 55 mph is just insane. He certainly deserves a shot. RJ is also the youngest player on the Pigs at 25...crazy.

Some have called it the best place to receive Phillies’ information and insight, but I’d bet 9 out of 10 click Philly.com for the real scoop before they check here.

Actually, I always come here first. The only reason I ever go to Philly.com is to read a game recap, which you don't do. But besides that, they're usually way behind you on breaking news and not nearly as insightful.

All the comments here have been good ones, but I think Matt nails it most succinctly: this is the usual, tired case of the 'professional' journalist looking down his nose at those without the journalism school credentials, feeling undermined and threatened and not even pretending to be objective enough to acknowledge that, while the 'blogosphere' (I hate that term) does of course provide many shoddy forums for the ignorant, there are also certain blog sites that supercede the quality and information of conventional media reporting.

Beerleaguer and its ilk may ultimately be derived from 'second-hand' sources, but then why is it that I seem to get so much information here first (the recent performance of J.A. Happ, for example, or any number of minor league goings-on) before someone on Philly.com finally gets around to latching onto it a week later? The beat writers provide us with quotes, of which maybe one of two per week are of any use or insight. The rest of their accounts merely regurgitate what we've already seen. The columnists? They've been too busy frothing over the Flyers to have paid a whit of attention to the Phillies between the first week and today, when Conlin and Ford finally saw fit to weigh in (and without much distinction, at that).

Given this, who else but journalists would see fit to criticize the improved viability a blog is capable of providing?

I agree wholeheartedly, especially when we're talking about stories like J.A. Happy and RJ Swindle. They'll get their coverage in the Philly press, but only when they're an issue they can't ignore anymore. For now, it's up to the smaller papers, the minor league PR directors, and the blogs who scour them for information to get it to us. A casual fan can get by on reading the major papers, and it would be awful if they were to entirely disappear, but a Phillies fan who really cares can turn to Beerleaguer for considerably more information.

Bissinger certainly doesn't seem to mine the spotlight at all that has been generated by this and has been appearing on every media outlet it seems the past month.

The one thing that really bothers me about the whole Bissinger thing is that he did no real research on the topic of blogs in sports. None. Just some anecdotal evidence from personal experience.

Kind of ironic that Bissinger decries the lack of professionalism among bloggers yet his rantings/ravings about sports blogs are almost entirely based upon just his own personal observations.

I think blogs are more likely to break news that simply requires many eyes, rather than credentialed journalists. Beerleaguer readers are scattered around the country (some even overseas), so reporting something like Happ's last minor league start isn't out of reach for a blog. On the other hand, player interviews and inside information will be restricted to major media outlets for the time being. In an ideal world, I believe both blogs and mainstream media complement each other. That said, JW does a terrific job hosting us and keeping things interested 162 games a year. As an out of market fan, Beerleaguer game chats bring me home again, cursing and cheering our favorite team amongst friends, albeit online.

Guys, I wouldn't pigeonhole all reporters into this mindset that they're looking down at the bloggers threatening to take over the medium. I would say many of these reporters are older, more traditionalist (a la Conlin). Younger reporters I bet are quicker to appreciate what bloggers bring to the fray, long as they uphold journalistic standards. Ask Zolecki for one.

As long as news is printed on newsprint, there will be this struggle. But I think in time, once the old newspaper readers of the past move on, you'll see a more full-scale movement toward instant media. We are in the transition phase, like it or not.

As a Phillies blogger, and one who at least would like to think does a good job presenting news and opinion, I love this time. I'm not out to be a beat writer and I'm not out to break stories. I'm out to offer my opinion (as someone who follows the team's play every day) and give Phils fans the news and notes they want and need in quick time. There should be nothing wrong with that.

Amen Malcolm!

By the way, when's the next Phils Blogger Roundtable?

Jason,
I must compliment you. this is the most thoughful thread you have written in quite some time - perhaps since I've been coming to BL, which is about 2 years.

I saw the Bissinger interview on Costas' show. (I did not hear him on WIP because I don't listen much anymore - but I'll get to that later.)

What struck me most about Bissinger was, as Carson put it, the "pompous" way in which he attacked. It was the most narcissistic display of arrogance and I have ever seen from a journalist. Ever.

When he asked Will Leitch whether a blog could "convey" a game the way 'whoever the sportwriter was he mentioned', my first thought was "who cares?". The self-importance inherent in the question was quite revealing.

Bissinger is a Prep School/Ivy Leaguer. One wonders whether the "elite" education he has received really qualifies him to talk about anything other than tea and croissants.

OK, that was perjorative, but you get the idea.

I think the reason he's running around doing damage control (being aided and abbetted by his fellow 'club members' like Eskin and Cataldi) is his true character and attitude came out on the show:

"We're journalists - the elite. We went to school to learn this. We're serious writers - you're not. We can't stand that you idiot bloggers are looking over our shoulders all the time, commenting on what we write and say, and even [gulp] criticising us. It's not fair. We've had the forum, and you don't deserve the audience that you have. We have access - you don't - so your opinion doesn't matter. Damn you!!! Etc., etc., etc. Blah, Blah, Blah."

It became clear after watching that Bissinger just doesn't "get it". He really doesn't. Either that or he's in self-imposed denial. For that matter many of the talking heads on WIP don't get it either.

It really is very simple:

The internet and blogs, in particular, have exploded because they provide a forum for anyone, regardless of the topics (sports, politics - take your pick), who wishes to be heard.

Yes Jason, it is like being in the local pub, where the day's game or events of the day were/are discussed ad nauseum. The web brings the pub - and fellow pub goers - right into our homes, where ideas and opinions can be shared, discussed and dissected.

The "value added" to the average fan is tremendous, even exponential, with links to other sites and ideas that are at ones fingertips.


The second reason the web has become so popular is that "NOBODY HAS A MONOPOLY ON GOOD IDEAS" - not even Ivy League journalism school graduates.


Take BeerLeaguer as an example:

There are many posters on this site that provide better insight than most of the beat writers and talking heads, and certainly seem to know more about baseball.

Many probably actually played the sport in HS or college (unlike some of the local journalists and mouthpieces who will go unmentioned) and actually have a better understanding of the game than the "elite" do.

Additionally, the SABR posters on this blog provide insight that you NEVER EVER see in the local papers, or hear on WIP.

I imagine blogs of all types provide the same 'stuff' to their readers.

To wrap up, IMO the Bissingers of the world are upset mostly because they have lost control of the forum. They can no longer control the audience, direction of the debate, act as the moderators, or shape opinion as they used to. Their value is diminishing, and as a result, their incomes may suffer.

BTW, Jason, I'm with Tray. I always come here first, where "the real scoop" resides.

I don't need to read a game recap, because I watch the games.

JH2 is right:

"We don't need people" [the Buzz Bissingers of the world] "to tell us what to think!"

Like the rest of BeerLeaguers, a fellow nemesis of the MSM, I am...

Carson: We can actually do one for the quarter pole. I'll send off an e-mail. (I was going to do one for May 1, but some big personal things kept me away from things for a good couple days.)

Good points, Jason.

I saw the Bissinger segment and found it mostly humorous, a little bit sad. He was a guy whose writing I once admired very much--not his sports stuff, but the excellent "A Prayer for the City," about Rendell's first term in Philadelphia. But the guy on Costas's show seemed more like Clueless Idiot from Central Casting, tossing verbal bombs in every direction and ultimately getting his tuckis handed to him by Leitch.

Sites like Beerleaguer and TGP and Crashburn Alley and the rest of the Philosphere not only pose no threat to the "established media," but almost could not operate without them. About half the non-event stuff we do at TGP pivots off this or that piece of coverage; the rest takes the same data available to everyone and tries to put a different analytical frame on it. One distinction might be that those of us on the outside are somewhat more liberated in our opinions--in part because we don't have to depend on anyone for "access" we don't have, and in part because that greater distance might confer some additional degree of objectivity. (The flip side to this is that we might miss something for lack of pertinent info: if Tom Gordon blows a late-game lead because his curve doesn't break, we might say that he's ready for the glue factory when it's actually that he tried to pitch through tendinitis.) But that's a far cry from an oppositional relationship.

I think CBru's comment gets at the real truth here: we're in a period of transformation, and these arguments will seem utterly quaint in 10 or 20 years. Already, the Conlins and Bissingers are fading out, and the Zoleckis and Radanos--who don't feel threatened by outside voices and even see a professional advantage from utilizing our arguments--are more than picking up the slack.

"I’d bet 9 out of 10 click Philly.com for the real scoop before they check here. This is where they come to debate the issues in a controlled, fun environment."

Not me. I may check out the boxscore before coming here, but I rarely go to Philly.com.

I don't read Beerleaguer for the facts. For me the facts are in the boxscores and the stats. What a player, coach, manager or GM says has to be taken with large grains of salt. They are not facts.

AWH beat me to the punch with the pub analogy. I never frequented a pub, but I've been in many a bar room. This place is like a bar where you meet your friends and shoot the breeze about the Phillies. It's all opinion, but it's great opinion, even sometimes backed with stats, but often just gut reaction or feelings. We don't need facts to see that Eaton Crap is just a flat tire on this playoff bound bus.

This also serves the out of area folks that can't go into the local watering hole and talk Phillies trash. By being a Beerleaguer, I am more knowledgeable about all of the Phillies roster and prospects than I ever was when I lived in the area. In those days, the talk was about the starters and a few backup players. Now, I know about the Lil' Piggies and the Reading Phillies.

Thank you, Jason. This isn't a blog. It's a watering hole for all of us that thirst for Phillies knowledge and opinion.

for the record, it's a 50/50 split between here and philly.com on which site gets my first page view of the day.

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