Wednesday, April 30, 2008

APPARENTLY, THEY SHALL FIGHT US ON THE SEAS AND OCEANS ... WITH GROWING CONFIDENCE AND GROWING STRENGTH IN THE AIRWAVES: Every time I get close to weighing in on the Great Mainstream Media Vs. Bloggers Smackdown, I stop myself. There are plenty of bloggers out there with audiences several orders of magnitude larger than ours who marshal the proper arguments: bloggers are not a monolith; bloggers supplement, rather than compete with, mainstream outlets; the blog medium enables kinds of discourse and participation that professional journalism does not (though that's the criticism, I suppose); many bloggers (statistically-savvy baseball bloggers, to name one example) are better-qualified to comment on their subjects than many professional journalists (John Kruk, to name another); many other bloggers have no pretension of credibility and just want to create a virtual sports-bar or bleacher environment; very few bloggers live in their mothers' basements.

More importantly, though, it doesn't really seem that blogging needs to be defended. Because the Bissinger-Costas-Plashke-Steven A.-Kimmel coalition doesn't intend to repeal the First Amendment and can't convince people not to read WithLeather or Gawker, the entire "debate" really boils down to: "resolved: I dislike your leisure interest." Since, as you know, I usually take "pro" on that one, consistency suggests I should sit this one out.

There's a nagging question that I've been feeling like I have to ask, though. Why do so many professional sports journalists make such a big deal out of this? Granted, the media always overestimate the importance of media-related controversies, but where's the angle in this for people like Costas and Bissinger? And why is it so much more pronounced in the field of sports journalism than in other fields? The last time I checked, Alan Sepinwall, Carrie Rickey, and Daniel Fienberg weren't hosting panel discussions about how ALOTT5MA and its commenters are debasing the whole field of popular-culture criticism (which, admittedly, may be true). The whole idea that this is actually a controversy just confuses me.

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