Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bridging the Nerd to Nerd Gap

Alternative Title: From Nerd to Shining Nerd

I have a lot of political/newsy nerdiness in me and quite a bit of sporty nerdiness in me. Well today I'm introducing one to the other in this post. If you happen to be a non-sports nerd who's reading this blog... Educate yourself on what went down last night between one of the best bloggers in the sports world (the Deadspin guy) and one of the best journalists sports world (the guy who wrote Friday Night Lights, not the TV show, the book).

Now here's what I think... Since none of you asked...

Comment Sections
The comment section of a blog has little to do with the blog, no blogger should be held responsible for anything that's said there. Stupid people say stupid things, and even stupid people are welcome to read most blogs. I must admit though, I think more can be done by bloggers to make better use of the comments space. I don't think this is the bloggers responsability, but I think if I received even a quarter as many worthless comments as Deadspin does, I would moderate the comments and only show them if they added something to the conversation. For example, if I covered Sean Salsbury leaving ESPN, I don't think I would allow someone to comment, "Good Riddance you Fetus Faced Fuck." My reluctance has nothing to do with making the blog child proof and everything with making it worth reading, even the comments section. If the comment instead was, "I think ESPN had to do this because that Fetus Faced Fuck couldn't appeal to 35 to 38 year olds, a major demographic for ESPN's Monday Night Countdown" then I'd be happy to have it on the site. It's all a hypothetical game anyway, as I don't have the broad appeal of a deadspin, and so am free to leave comments wide open without having very many that don't add to the conversation.

I think the real problem with the comments debate in this clip is that both Costas and Bissenger have no idea how a comment section works. Costas even referred to comments as "posts" (quite the opposite, what you're reading now is my "post." Down at the bottom you or anyone else can provide "comments"). It is unfair to say that just because something appears at an address that starts with "burgherjon.blogspot.com", I am responsible for it, think it is well stated, or even agree with it. Yet both of them cited comments extensively and then asked poor Will Leitch to defend them. Furthermore, since most of Costas' audience has no idea what a comment section is either I'm sure they shut off their TV thinking Leitch said those things. You want to know what irresponsible journalism is? Costas and Buzz "the respected sports journalist" Bissenger did it in this clip, through their own negligence they allowed people to walk away with the wrong impression.

Public Figures and Cell Phone Cameras
Did sports figures in the 50s, 60s and 70s misbehave and not have every transgression show up on youTube or Deadspin? YES. Did they make the same money as guys do now? NO. Listen if Braylon doesn't want to be on Deadspin he can go catch passes in the Arena Football League or Canadian Football League and no one will bother to take his picture. As it is he makes about $8,000,000 per season or roughly 25 times what Lynn Swann made in his prime. They act like they can't control wether they're on the net, they can. There are other leagues that pay you to play football and don't have the publicity. You're living in a different era for football then the 50s, 60s and 70s, if you don't like it, give that $8,000,000 back cause you can't have one without the other.

Blogs and Traditional Media
There has to be room for both, this blog wouldn't exist if it weren't for newspapers. The P-G online is the source for half of the things that appear here, at least. This post itself wouldn't exist if Costas hadn't done his TV show. Might it distract some people from parts of the newspaper, particularly editorials? Of course. Might that lower readership, lower revenue, lower the number of newspaper writers and their salary? Yes. Deal with it. That's the price we pay for a new, faster, better world. I work in IT... do you think my salary has been helped by off-shoring? H-1b visas? Of course not, but I still argue in favor of both. If this country and this world are going to continue to get better we can't throw the baby out with the bath water when we look at technical innovations. If your column can't compete with blogs that are put up for free, in the words of one of Deadspin's commenters... "have fun managing a Denny's."

This Story and Non-Sports Blogs
The reason I decided to run this post is that I don't think it's a sports question alone. I believe that the partnership between traditional media and blogs is going to develop very similarly both in politics and in sports. I also think that Luke Ravenstahl could easily understand where Braylon Edwards is coming from. Who knows what Tom Murphy got away with in the days before Bram and MacYapper.

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