Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Continued Blurring of New & Old Media

Show of hands: How many of my fellow bloggers out there are aspiring authors or journalists? How many are already in the professional writing ranks? Hell, one member of our motley crue is among you.

Last week, I posted a screenshot from CBS NY's website noting how its content was in many ways similar to that of the average sports blog.

I read today at Awful Announcing that "ESPN.com has finished its roster of ex-newspaper reporters and has officially what it's calling the "ESPN Football Blog Network". There are eight NFL bloggers, one for each conference, and seven (soon to be eight) College writers for specific conferences."

Maybe I missed something.

I always thought the appeal of blogging was that it gave the average joe a medium by which to publish his thoughts to the world.

ESPN's "blogging network" seems merely an extension of Page 2, an online Around the Horn, an emporium of professional writers. Only instead of calling their work "columns" they are calling them "blogs."

A blogger, to me, is a guy like meech.one at The Fightins'. Regular guys with regular jobs who rant online in their spare time - that's whats appealing about them.

But think about the blogs you read. Those popular blogs I enjoy online and read faithfully - the Mottrams, The Big Lead, Awful Announcing, Brooks, Yardbarker Dewey are professional writers or commentators and are very good at what they do. But they blur the line between average fan and professional journalist. There has to be an inevitable disconnect between them and their readers.

Take Joe Sports Fan, for example. How can you be an average sports fan as your name implies if you spend your days not much differently than Bob Ryan or Woody Hayes - reporting on and opining on sports for a paycheck?

How different, really, is Will Leitch from nemesis Buzz Bissinger? They do they same thing, only in a different medium. They are both professional writers. Just like the crew assembled at ESPN's Football Blog Network.

The average fan doesn't go to Super Bowls, doesn't receive leaked memos from worldwide leaders, doesn't write books and isn't a part of a media syndicate.

Meanwhile, those who actually read these sites swing hammers, crunch numbers, fetch coffee or dig ditches. Some of these laborers and blue collar daydreamers spend company time giving their own thoughts and views, begging to be picked up by the Deadspins of the world, if for nothing else to humor themselves.

How many sports blogs are there out there? Half a million? 5 million?

Yet, to fill their roster of bloggers, ESPN in many ways did what Deadspin did - recruited from within their own ranks.

So, are bloggers really journalists; or are journalists really bloggers?

Would anyone argue that Deadspin's new head honcho isn't a journalist? He may or may not take offense to that.

Would you call the ESPN's new network of newspaper alumns, with resumes that include some of the biggest print publications in the country "bloggers?"

Seems to me it really doesn't make a difference to them, they are still getting paid to be employed in their chosen profession.

Just like some of your favorite bloggers.


Rupert Entwistle said...

Great read guys.

DMtShooter said...

A blogger, to me, is someone who has the freedom to say more or less what they really think, because it's self-published.

What the Lemur does is no different from what they do already. And when you take the Mouse Money, you play by the Mouse Rules.

That doesn't make you unreadable, though it does seem that you'll get there by and by...