Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What's it gonna Costas?

king of the mountain, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Any of you folks watch the Bob Costas "town meeting"-style fiasco last night in which a Pulizer prize-winning author with a blog-style name (Buzz Bissinger) unleashed a torrent of anger and abusive rhetoric at sports blogger Will Leitch, taking him to task for the evils and destruction that will be visited upon the entire field of sports reporting as a result of the uneducated and unskilled rantings of the unwashed public having louder voices than his compatriots, thanks to the home computer and the trendy new venue we all call blogging?

*Stops to take in air*

Bissinger lambasted Leitch on live television, and quoted at length and verbatim from the comments section of the fan-style Web site Leitch edits. His mission, presumably, was to point out that the unvetted thoughts of readers were not only classless but also debased the integrity of the media as a whole.

It was ugly.

I don't usually watch much sports television let alone sports commentary, but I had a hard time NOT watching the segment.

As someone who has thrown about my own tale of woe with respect to the decline of journalism, I couldn't help but recognize this Buzz fellow as a man who only sees an industry in danger of collapse, and who views himself perhaps, not as a passanger on a sinking ship but as one of the last, true sailors willing to go down to a watery grave if need be. The Hey Day is over.

I can't help but think, though, that Bissinger hit the airwaves swinging at the wrong guy.

He should have landed a punch or two in Costas' direction. Or maybe at one of the industry fat cats who pay his own salary. Maybe he should have sucker punched one of the same folks who started dumbing down the news when they voted to go for public offerings and promised shareholders 30 percent returns.

He should have gone a few rounds with the folks at the helm who, for the sake of saving money, cut spending on reporting staff and started developing infotainment. He should have taken to task the folks with the ratings meters who became successful in making entertainment look important. The people who saw dollar signs through gotcha journalism.

I believe Mr. Bissinger is mistaken when he said blogs are all about hatred and misinformation. I mean, Fox News certainly doesn't have ANY of THAT in its FAIR AND BALANCED reportage now does it?

It would be equally misguided to think news outlets such as the New York Times and The New Republic are merely rags of fabricated information. And yet, shit does happen, though, doesn't it?

Bloggers didn't cause the demise of the journalism. The industry started the mortal spiral at its own hand. All you need to do is watch the segment that followed, the one on how paid and educated sports journalists are seen by players as smarmy and disingenuous characters. You will see that a durable press card is the least of the industry's troubles.

In this particular horserace the winner will end up being the one who makes money. Period. And bloggers haven't pulled into the lead just yet. News outlets are still making money even if they're happily telling you they're dying. Bloggers? Some make cash, that's true, but most have day jobs.


Andrea said...

You said it. Though I'm of the opinion that the mainstream media news industry will eventually pull its collective head out once it's humbled enough and actually begin to evolve before it will completely die. Once they realize that the people consuming the news no longer want to be lectured at and might actually like some participation in the way their news is handled. That's what blogging gives.

On the other hand, there's a balance. Bloggers don't always keep to the accountability that is integral to journalism. Aunt Sally can say anything she wants on her blog and is not bound to write and publish corrections for misstatements.

In short, it all has to be taken with a grain of salt.

toyfoto said...

See, I'm increasing coming to the conclusion (in my own mind) that traditional media outlets are not dying. They are still making money no matter how small they are. They just aren't making the HUGE profits they once did. The pie has been divided up and the CEOs/shareholders are itching to find the next most lucrative thing they can destroy.

Thing is BLOGS have no journalistic credibility BECAUSE they are largely opinion. One can't hold a blog up and compare it to the reporting standards ideally demanded from the New York Times.

I'm not even sure I LIKE the fact that there is no editorial control (other than the obvious delete button) for comments that are abusive and have no basis in reality when newpspapers open up their Web sites to straight comments.

But I know the score. I think it's a mistake to think other readers can't make that distinction, either.

Anonymous said...

Amen... Long live independent media, corporate media results in the dumbing down of the population. Especially when they are concerned about profits, it cost money to run a pressroom that checks the facts. Most network news programs just run with the story they heard and DO NOT correct their errors if wrong. So they are no better than blogs in that sence.