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More on Bob Costas

Mike SteffanosSaturday, March 15, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

I don't know about you, but I feel like we've reached the "dog days" of spring training. That's the time when I stop being grateful that there is some baseball to watch and long for the real games to start. I guess I should just be thankful that the injured Mets have another couple of weeks to heal.

Some interesting back and forth on Bob Costas' unkind words for bloggers that we discussed yesterday. Costas may well have had a good point about how the ability to weigh in anonymously on a subject leads to all sorts of abuses of that privilege, but his intellectual elitist attitude towards an entire community falls flat. I don't know how you could read his full comments linked to in the original piece and not see them specifically and quite insultingly as a slam to sports bloggers.

Costas clearly seems to feel that real journalists exist on a higher plane than the folks who are consumers of the product, and that allowing the great unwashed to append comments to these articles on a newspaper's web site is somehow sacrilege. Frankly, I fail to see how much of what appears in these papers is of any significantly higher quality than what is produced on the better blogs. What is printed in newspapers and magazines runs a gamut from absolutely terrific to scandalously terrible. From a technical standpoint, the overall caliber of the writing is obviously better in the professional media than to the blogosphere as a whole, but in both types of outlet the quality of the ideas being shared varies just as widely.

I guess Costas is insulted by our temerity in believing that our views are equal to those who he considers his intellectual equals. The idea that the writings of sports journalists are somehow defiled when non-professionals weigh in on them is just laughable. We're not talking the Magna Carta or Solzhenitsyn here, Bob. We're talking about some journalist's view on who should be the fifth starter for our team.

For what it's worth, I don't believe that bloggers will ever put the traditional media out of business. We depend on their work of reporting to give us things to talk about. I respect them for the work they do, even if I don't always agree with their conclusions. However, I'm tired of this stupid stereotype that journalists are all responsible and accountable and the rest of us aren't. There are plenty of professionals that are neither, and there are many of us who take our responsibility to our audience very, very seriously.

As for folks like Bob Costas -- who would like to return to a world where only people like him have a forum to share their thoughts on sports -- I can only shake my head at their egotistical elitism. People don't want to be talked at any more; they want to be part of the discussion. If Costas doesn't like it, he should retire and live off the money he earned many years ago when he was actually relevant and still brought something worthwhile to the table. Jerk...

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (3)

Costas sounds like a sorry old man. What he doesn't realize is that the same readers of his stuff have the ability to recognize a good blogger from the get-a-life loser he refers to.

To me, a good blogger is someone you want to read every day. Someone who is putting his thoughts out there out of love for his subject matter, rather than to meet a deadline.

One thing I disagree with you, is that bloggers will indeed eventually put the traditional media out of business.

Mark - Someone has to do the actual reporting, and that will be done by the traditional media. No one wants to open the can of worms of giving press credentials to bloggers. There are too many for all to be credentialed, and some are borderline nuts. But if you do it on a case by case basis, it's only a matter of times before someone sues over being denied.

Like I said, I respect the job of reporters. My problem is when people like Costas, who I believe is around my age, use bloggers as convenient scapegoats for the growing nastiness in the coverage of sports. I believe it is quite the contrary. Bloggers are only reflecting the growing nastiness and sensationalism that traditional media outlets are resorting to in the desperate quest for consumers of their product.

Of course, not everyone in the media is guilty of this, but if you listen to some of these guys they are singling out the worst of the what's happening in the blogosphere to represent all of us. This is what I resent and why I felt compelled to write on the subject.

There are good bloggers and bad, and probably more bad bloggers than bad news reporters. The big problem is finding which are good and which are bad, coupled with the fact that some bloggers get scoop crazy and report things in order to make their blogs stand out. Also, without any access to the lockerroom (I'm not talking about sportwriter blogs here), bloggers are at a disadvantage when getting news, and often repeat baseless rumors just because another blogger mentioned it.

Consider the recent Crisp for Pagan rumor. It seemed to originate at a sports call-in show (and sports call-in hosts are nor really journalists, either -- I know because I worked as one professionally for several years). Then someone repeates the rumor. Then it gets on blogs and blogs and blogs and blogs and everyone starts talking about it as though it's a done deal.

The real reporters, who could ask the Mets front office quashed the rumor. That's a reporter's job, and only a handful of bloggers are willing to do it.

Blogs are not very good news sources, but are good opinion sources. As long as bloggers stick to opinions or even Sabermetrics, they can be on solid ground, but once they start talking about news, then in over their head.

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