An interesting article written in the New York Times (yes, they sometimes accomplish the impossible) discusses the divisions between bloggers and mainstream media with sports.
The article doesn't specify mother-cellar dwelling bloggers, just the art of it and how intellectual property thus becomes a bane to those that conduct "acceptable" monopoly practices -- such as Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Which to me provides a sort of irony. Freedom of information, the act not the amendment, is only available to those that permit such information to reach the ears of knowledge hungry dogs while exempt from federal laws. Billionaires without competition feeding information at their will reminds anyone of an out-of-control government or a do-as-I-please corporate monopolist. That, along with the tiring spin of mainstream media, bore a new bread of media that has the wealthy, the privileged and the snakes of policy spinning with the question: what to do with those damned bloggers. The media, a bedding partner of those that favor them, has long enjoyed the prosperity of feasting with their bedmates. Thus becoming a target of bloggers -- like corporate, like government. More specifically to the above article, with franchise.
The Bengals do not like me. Beat writers despise me. Why is that, you think? Is it fear of a simple keyboard stroke? Perhaps it's personal taking a piece of their pie -- though it would be a mistake to think that money is a motivation, or even a reward, for blogging except for a small, small few.
Nor are bloggers completely without their faults. Some portray themselves as the gift to your prayers, to publish what fits their means; and their means are to entertain you, perhaps inform you when the issue is proper. Some are for fun, some for basic current events, all for slight or suffocating agendas. There's little accountability while a majority of people keep their real names private, hidden and unavailable. It's not an indictment on the anonymous, some just can't afford to. I had a friend that blogged politically but risked being fired if his employers knew that it was him that wrote condemning words. Others simply don't like to be Googled. In the end, it's the observers that see this as doubt that potentially curses a single man's opinion -- no matter how well it's written.
Lately, I've learned two problems with the mainstream media and blogger divide summed in one pretty word. Crossover.
I don't have a problem whatsoever with people that want to go beyond the momma-basement character gaining press credentials for Presidential campaigns or a team's lockerroom. Everyone should have their ambitions. It makes people happy, goal worthy and strong. At the same time, I don't believe the art of blogging should find goals to replace the mainstream news medium. Bloggers are the mainstream media's bane. We are their Darth Vader -- I was always partial to the Sith. Lately, both sides are changing through a silent crossover movement. Bloggers are becoming mainstream and mainstream are becoming bloggers. The irony is never lost while the line between both becomes more grey, thus, less definable. Then again, is it really a problem? Why not simply group everyone as Internet Writers and decipher that yourself? That is if you consider bloggers as writers -- which many do not.
For a time, that line was so well defined, that any web site with an unrecognized URL could be define as an independent "blogger" having their way with the pen. With mainstream media adding blogs for their writers, that focus has blurred. Some have thrived with it. Hal McCoy is not only a tremendous beat writer for the Reds, but an ace blogger. He keeps facts with his beats, opinion with his blog. Few have made that transition, like Mark Curnutte who writes facts but rarely opines in his blog -- it's like an extra inning place for writers with overflow, but a blog by name only. Again, the irony isn't lost when mainstream media blames bloggers for their lack of successive welfare thus becoming bloggers themselves. It's the can't beat them, join them mentality.
First, something you may have concluded already, but a quick explanation nonetheless. I've never scoured or soared when the Cincinnati Bengals do not provide press access. In fact, I've never even tried to gain access. I never wanted to have a pen scribbling on my paper asking the same redundant questions to the same talking point athletes. I'm not a reporter by rights and refuse to take what's not earned to me.
Furthermore, I'd understand if they didn't want someone that blabbers sourly about the team's horribly run franchise. "Hello, Mr. Brown. So tell me, why do you always suck at this front office gig?" Paul Brown, he might not be. But a punch in the eye would be well deserved. At least I'd have him sign the black eye. That would make me a celebrity and hero, surely.
And surely athletes want, and to many degrees deserve, a small piece of seclusion instead of 20 team bloggers rambling off the same questions. I'm not without my understanding or sympathy. I find myself the model blogger, fat slob that dwells in his basement reflecting, reacting and sometimes creating.
Second, I hope to god that bloggers like me are never a source of unbiased news and reporting -- we're not journalists. I would take a guess that -- a made-up percentage (for you Todd Snyder fans) -- most bloggers are as perfectionist spin doctors as columnists in the New York Times or editorials on the Fox News Channel -- just read your sort of political blogs and see how different they are as left is to right. Friends joke with me that I can twist so many words to make them believe one thing, when in reality, I'm just baiting them for a good ol' fashioned Irish pub debate.
Bloggers are not here to state facts, or report the latest happenings -- though the anti-blogging faction would have you believe differently. When I first ventured in blogging at the turn of the century (when blogging was purest) I reacted. I opined. Nothing more. And nothing's changed since. Sure, I may write about what's going on without opinion, but rarely am I the only one. I'm not here to inform you totally. I'm here to take that information that's in your mind and inject a perspective you might not see.
In the end, going back to the New York Times article, when you start entangling yourself in a multi-billion dollar business, you start pissing off suits. And while the thrill might motivate or refresh you, in the end, it's in their right to exclusively hold their material. As it is ours to bash and slain them for being such fickle pricks who claim to you that freedom of press and speech are strictly a restriction of government action while they bask from the same government exceptions that any other corporation would be in court for.
Blogging is still in its infancy compared to the long-tenured print newspapers. We've been alive for a minute in a 24-hour day. We're revising, growing, focusing, shifting and keeping those mainstream mediums, and to many degrees, corporate and government, in check. We're simple folk doing simple things -- pissing everyone else off. And we're getting damn good at it.