Where Blogs Fit In The New Media Landscape

There's quite a commotion on many of the internet sites we enjoy about "mainstream" sports media and their general disdain for sports blogs like this one. Over at M Zone, as we reported last week, an ESPN radio host spitefully dismissed the authors' complaints that he used their published material without crediting them. The rapid, fierce response in the blogosphere set off what is only the latest round of criticism of mainstream media types, as well as a general discussion of blogs' place in sports journalism today.

In reality, were many of the contentious figures in the mainstream media to read our little Longhorn blog here, I'd guess they would find very little to object about. And that, I think, is where the heart of this whole issue lies. Folks on both sides of the issue tend to lump everyone on the other side in to one category, when in fact this is no more instructive than what those they are criticizing are doing. (This is not a phenomenon unique to this particular divide. I live in Washington, D.C., where it's far worse since there's, like, stuff at stake.)

On the one hand, folks like Bill Simmons lump all blogs into a shadowy netherworld of gossip, innuendo, and hyper-criticism of others, when in fact, that characterization only applies to a certain kind of blog.

On the other side, bloggers tend to become overly-defensive or self-defeatingly critical of mainstream writers by throwing out the baby with the bath water. Yes, there's a difference between Peter Gammons and Woody Paige. Between Tony Kornheiser and Colin Cowherd. Sports journalists making a ton of money and having a wide distribution come in all sorts of different flavors, just like blogs. Some are great, some suck. You can learn a lot from some. Others make you want to set yourself on fire. (See, we can even write like Bill Simmons!)

That's one aspect of the current tension between these two forces. The other interesting aspect that's worth commenting on is another tension that gets overblown both ways. On the one hand, so many sports journalists fail to see the ongoing media revolution that's going on right in front of their very eyes. It's like a General Manger reading Moneyball and then saying that there's nothing to learn from it. On the other side, so many bloggers are awfully quick to dismiss the mainstream media as "soon to be irrelevant." And this, I'm afraid, is like reading LD's Gunslingers and saying that there's nothing to learn from it.

So again, you have a bunch of people on both sides taking things too far, to the extremes, which avoids the more nuanced truth of what's actually happening.

In reality, sports journalism -is- changing, it's changing very, very rapidly, and those that understand how it's changing will survive, and thrive, and those that don't, will be obscure in what's quickly becoming a very, very saturated market. Mainstream media executives that understand this know that the fan's perspective is an ideal compliment to the "expert" or "insider" perspective. Dismissing one, or the other, is not only pointless, but counter-productive.

The real revolution in sports media is underway, both among the smart folks that run the better mainstream media services, as well as the most poignant and thoughtful blogs here on the internet. The best news is that for the fans, the best is yet to come. This tension will resolve itself in some form, the result of which will be an ever-expanding universe of first rate places for fans to congregate and talk and read about sports.

For now, we're very thankful for all of you that come to Burnt Orange Nation, and we look forward to the future. Longhorn fans need this, really. We're crazy. We're Texas. Thanks for all the great diaries, comments, and emails. The community makes the site what it is.

--HF--

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