|Vin Scully Press Box at Dodger Stadium|
Friday, May 25, 2012
"Bloggers" - I Get Why a Legitimate Journalist Might Be Bitter
Imagine pursuing a career in something you are passionate about. Your dream job in the sports industry as a journalist. You get good grades in school, qualify and are accepted at a top notch university and enroll in the journalism program. There you learn the nuts and bolts of the profession. Interviewing techniques, proper writing formats, syntax, grammar, ethics and citing sources, balanced reporting, factual reporting, editing, and more.
You take your lumps in the writing world. It’s sort of like riding the buses in the minors. There are the lows. The criticisms. That professor that hates your style and tells you you’ll never make it. There is the occasional article that you publish in the school paper that is shredded or critiqued by readers in a negative light. You make some mistakes along the way that you learn from. You learn to be thick skinned.
You also have your supporters. You know you have talent and you’re aware that you can come up with interesting stories or that uncovered angle that nobody addressed. Deep down, you know that there’s a Pulitzer in your repertoire or an amazing novel inside of you. You are creative and insightful. You put out a good product. You just need to be given the chance. Hard work and perseverance will pay off in the long run.
You write some very well received stories and positive feedback comes your way. Your confidence is lifted and upon graduation four years later, you take a job in the minors. Some small newspaper that is willing to take a chance on you. Sure you start with writing obituaries and covering high school sports in a region of the country that was unknown to you, but eventually you believe that your talent will get the attention of someone out there that will give you a shot at a national level or with a publication with more notoriety. You put in years worth of work in a low paying job but you understand that these are the growing pains of advancing in this industry.
You work your way up as so many talented writers do and eventually land your “dream” job. Perhaps in a city like Louisville, Tampa, Houston, Denver or even Los Angeles. You may be assigned to a professional sports team. You now have readership. Your name gets known and a few of your works are well received. You are in the inner circle of the sports journalistic world with access to coaches, team administrators and athletes. You write a cutting piece on a controversial and high profile subject. You are interviewed by others, your opinion is respected and actually matters. You may even be assigned a daily column.
But along the way, while all this is going on, something is happening in the industry, The internet emerges and becomes a major source for information and news. The world wide web has created openings for every Tom, Dick and Harry to express their opinions to audiences that you always dreamed of having early on in your career. Suddenly you are competing with people who don’t understand the rules of journalism. People that lift quotes or photos from you or your colleagues without citing the source or because they can simply cut and paste like anyone.
The worst part of all this is that they are getting popular and gaining readership. Now, via twitter, they are able to actually scoop you on stories, and sometimes they get the facts correct. They don’t have to go through editorial checks and get permission to publish stuff. They just do it. You realize how unfair this all is as these amateurs gain more respect and access to your profession. You have spent years honing your craft and being rigidly thorough to ensure accuracy in your work and now these uneducated and inexperienced writers are swooping in and writing stories irresponsibly without accurate fact checking. Worst of all, you are expected to work side by side with some of these guys.
They don’t face deadlines. They don’t have editors. They aren’t subjected to legal departments and the fears of lawsuits. They aren’t given assignments that are uninteresting. They simply write about what they want and sometimes very recklessly. Some have little education other than watching the game and having opinions. Never in their lives have they been required to scholarly research a story. Some don’t even know what microfilm and microfiche is. Others have never slaved over a typewriter and dealt with the difficulties of footnotes/end notes. Many don’t even know what any of that is.
As a blogger, I see where I fall in all of this and must say that I understand why a journalist would be bitter. I’d be bitter. I face it in my vocation, where there have been promotions of individuals that weren’t qualified who were suddenly ordering me around. It is difficult. It’s hard to take the high road. Pride gets in the way.
Legitimate journalists, the men and women who have paid their dues in the industry and dedicated their lives to become proficient at it, are now being asked to share the press box and interview room with bloggers. Some accept us and are actually helpful and complimentary. Others give us the silent treatment and cold shoulder. To the latter group I must say that I understand. To the former all I can say is “you’re a better person than I am and thank you.” To all of them I say that you have my respect and admiration. Additionally, you keep the profession honest and legitimate, often correcting the mistakes that an errant blogger makes.
With the advent of the internet, the world has changed and there will always be room in the industry for us both, but in my opinion, writers such as Bill Shaikin, Tony Jackson and Dylan Hernandez will always carry the credibility and respect that many a blogger only can wish to have. It is my hope that the product I come up with can be viewed with some legitimacy as I try to match their journalistic integrity and competency.
For the first time in 16 days, the Dodgers actually lost ground in the standings yesterday. With the team idle and the Giants winning in Miami, the division lead decreased from 7 games to 6.5. Call it luck, good fortune or just playing good baseball all around, this Dodger team is not only winning, but when they lose the occasional game it happens to coincide with a Giant loss.
Received this signed photo (below) in the mail. Mike Marshall was true to his word. Is this cool or what? It is hanging in my office now.
So in the interest of fair competition, let me throw out these questions to you all. Who are the players in the photograph? Where is it taken? What significant event just happened? Give the particulars: Who was pitching, hitting, etc... The first person to accurately answer all these questions wins a: Opinion of Kingman's Performance t-shirt (size large, my last one) or a OKP authentic softball jersey (that was a left over from the Dodger Bloggers Tournament in February)- never worn. The winner chooses.