The Sports Blogger 2009- Part 2

smjblogger2009Welcome to the second of our three-part series looking at the make-up of the sports blogger in 2009.  You can access part one of our series here.

In putting together the survey for our participants one of the aspects of their work in which I was interested was how they view their role as a sports blogger.   Just about all those surveyed had a strong opinion as to why they blog.  But do they feel their work makes some sort of difference?

The results of this part of the survey delves a little into this.  As I did with part one of the survey, after each question I will include my answer and commentary…

QUESTION: Do you consider yourself a journalist?

No     65%
Yes    35%

I consider myself a journalist.  More after the next question…

QUESTION: If not, why not?

There is no way I can display parts of all the answers here.  But here is a good sampling of what some of those who voted “No” to the first question had to say;

I don’t like to be bound by the journalistic code of dispassionate coverage. While I can and do incorporate interviews, photos, and recaps of direct experiences, which are journalistic in nature, I also feel free to tell jokes and express opinions that a journalist never could. I am well aware that I am an entertainment option for readers, not a source for hard-hitting information.

To be a journalist, I feel you need to be present an unbiased report on your subject.  My blog doesn’t set out to present such a commentary.  Our research is almost strictly taken from the work of others, many times from what I would call true journalists.  As we don’t break news, conduct interviews or try to fully report stories, I can’t say that we fill any of the perceived requirements of journalism.

Because I don’t have press credentials and because the majority of our content isn’t based on first hand reporting. It’s based on our reaction to things that have already been reported by journalists elsewhere.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re better or worse than journalists. Just different.

Those three quotes pretty well sum up the feeling of those who beleive they are not journalists.  Here are parts one who voted “Yes”;

It kills me to no end when people I critique… question my credentials simply because my views are placed on a blog… My blog and my reporting (actual, real reporting) has higher standards than 80 percent of the mainstream media and is on par with at least 15 percent of the remaining MSM.

I feel strongly about this issue…so I looked up the word journalist and journalism at Dictionary.com.  There appears to be support on both sides of the issue that bloggers are, or are not, journalists.  On the one hand, in support of my argument that they are, we have this definition of a journalist;

a person who keeps a journal, diary, or other record of daily events.

Isn’t what we do a journal, or diary of our thoughts?  Those who say they are not journalists probably base it on this definition of journalism;

The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.

There are other definitions that support each case.

Semantics aside, many of those who believe they are not journalists base their opinion on the fact they do not gather news, they analyze it.  How different is that from a newspaper columnist?  I would suspect they consider themselves journalists.

QUESTION: Is it important for you that your blog attain respectability?

Yes    93%
No       7%

I also say yes.  As a follow-up I asked why the bloogers sought respectability and many used the words “pride” and “acceptance”.  That makes sense.  Very few of us do things in a public way just for kicks.  I would not have started SMJ if I did not seek recognition on some level for what I do…be it either a paycheck or a positive comment.

QUESTION: Should blog writers always identify themselves?

No     70%
Yes    30%

Out of all the questions in this survey, this one perplexes me the most.  I emphatically vote YES!  How can anyone say they want respectability on the one hand when they are not willing to properly identify themselves to get it?

I understand that there may be some people who would find their jobs in jeopardy if they were caught blogging.  We have evidence of this happening.  If you fear that retribution, you should either stand up to your freedom of speech, or not blog.  I understand it’s a difficult decision to make…but a realistic one.

In my mind if you hide behind anonymity you do not deserve respect.  You could be the best blogger on earth, but not putting your name behind what you write in my opinion is a sign of cowardice.  Signed, Keith Thibault.  Off soapbox.

QUESTION: You receive a photo of an athlete at a private party in a compromising position (ala Michael Phelps). Do you publish the photo?

No, athletes deserve some privacy               59%
Yes, but after first authenticating the             35%
photo or attempting to reach the athlete
involved for comment
Yes, no matter what!                                     6%

As much as the identification question made me angry, this one made me smile.  I too vote no…and it is refreshing to see that a majority of the sports bloggers we surveyed feel the same.

One would think that the younger bloggers would tend to answer “yes” while the older ones would opt for “no” because of the media practices we grew up into.  But that was not the case.  There were plenty of 18-25 year-olds who voted “no” and 36-45 year-olds who voted “yes”.

My view is basically that anything that happens in the privacy of one’s or another’s home should be kept private, unless there is some reason for the authorities to get involved.  Then that information is public.  Athletes and other celebrities are fair game when it comes to what happens between the lines.  Just because they are famous does not mean they are not entitled to privacy.

On the other hand events where the press is invited is a different story.   Reporters are there to cover an event…and if someone makes a fool of themselves then reporters have a right to report it.  I’m not sure I would, but others who are there could.  If the event is private, then again the privacy of those in attendance should be protected.  I hearken back to last year’s Dana Jacobsen incident.  I don’ t remember if the charity event welcomed media coverage, if so, Jacobsen deserved the treatment.  If not, then it would make for great office gossip but nothing more.

When we read stories of those in the mainstream media being critical of bloggers, it’s often based on those who tend to have answered, “Yes, no matter what!”.  Thank goodness it looks like they are in the minority.

That’s all for part two of our survey.  The final post will be up on Monday and will include a look at the reading, listening, and watching habits of the sports bloggers as well as their opinion on TV coverage of sports and their thoughts on some of the play-by-play announcers and studio hosts.  Please come back!

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0 comments

  1. So far it’s been an interesting look at blogging but this part is way off base:

    If you fear that retribution, you should either stand up to your freedom of speech, or not blog. I understand it’s a difficult decision to make…but a realistic one.

    In my mind if you hide behind anonymity you do not deserve respect. You could be the best blogger on earth, but not putting your name behind what you write in my opinion is a sign of cowardice. Signed, Keith Thibault. Off soapbox.

    Why should someone put their livelihood in jeopardy because of a labour of love? How is keeping your real identity quiet a sign of cowardice? If anyone has an issue with what I write (so far no one) they can contact me personally but it doesn’t make sense for me to risk my job by putting my name on something that I occassionally do during work hours.

  2. “Out of all the questions in this survey, this one perplexes me the most. I emphatically vote YES! How can anyone say they want respectability on the one hand when they are not willing to properly identify themselves to get it?

    “I understand that there may be some people who would find their jobs in jeopardy if they were caught blogging. […] If you fear that retribution, you should either stand up to your freedom of speech, or not blog.”

    Obviously, this is your survey, and you are welcome to your own opinions, but this — offered up as a one-size-fits-all blanket statement and prescription for everybody else in the blogging universe — is probably the most self-centered and ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.

    There are thousands, probably millions of blogs out there. The purpose and aim of each is slightly different. Why should the writer on each one conform to some random requirement just because someone like you decrees that they should?

    I don’t write a news blog. I write an entertainment-sports blog with some newsy bits tossed in. I have fun with it, and based on my readership numbers over the two years I’ve done this, my readers do too.

    Being anonymous allows me to take that extra step. To be a little bit more tongue-in-cheek, a little bit more outrageous, a little bit more fun for my readers. I couldn’t do this if I had to wonder with each post if what I was writing was going to be a topic of conversation at the next PTA meeting.

    I have a real, non-blogging life. I have a family. I work with people from all walks of life. What purpose would it serve for me to write under my real name, other than making it impossible for me to continue doing what I’m doing?

    And if going public with my identity ended up depriving me of something I enjoy and my readers of something they enjoy, while benefiting no-one… This is a good thing HOW, exactly?

    And I’m not even talking here about being female in a male-dominated area, which complicates things in ways that you as a man could never understand.

    In short, if you’re going to hold yourself out as an expert, you should take a little more time to research your topic. You may know your own blogging experience, but you don’t know mine, or the experiences of the 70% of your respondents who disagreed with you. If the only purpose of the survey was to tell other bloggers how wrong they are…
    Well, I’m not sure I see the point.

  3. On maintaining anonymity or not, I can speak to both sides with some degree of authority since I have been on both sides of the issue while writing my blog.

    When I began the blog, I was a practicing attorney and began writing more as a fun exercise and as a way to keep up with the field (sports business, not just sports) than to promote myself or obtain clients. I stayed anonymous because I had certain client relationship that I did not want jeopardize by accidentally revealing something or writing something that they might take in a different light than intended.

    I am now retired although I do a little consulting. When I retired I decided that the reasons for remaining anonymous no longer applied so I went ahead and “revealed” myself. It just hasn’t seemed to be an issue either way. I still see that client and have had no feedback, negative or otherwise, from them on anything I’ve written. They probably don’t even know the blog exists so the worry about revealing my identity may have been all for nothing in any case.

  4. On maintaining anonymity or not, I can speak to both sides with some degree of authority since I have been on both sides of the issue while writing my blog.

    When I began the blog, I was a practicing attorney and began writing more as a fun exercise and as a way to keep up with the field (sports business, not just sports) than to promote myself or obtain clients. I stayed anonymous because I had certain client relationship that I did not want jeopardize by accidentally revealing something or writing something that they might take in a different light than intended.

    I am now retired although I do a little consulting. When I retired I decided that the reasons for remaining anonymous no longer applied so I went ahead and “revealed” myself. It just hasn’t seemed to be an issue either way. I still see that client and have had no feedback, negative or otherwise, from them on anything I’ve written. They probably don’t even know the blog exists so the worry about revealing my identity may have been all for nothing in any case.
    Should add excellent post. Looking forward to reading your next one!

  5. I think the anonymity isn’t necessarily lack of respect. I let my writing talk for itself. I chose to remain under a pen name to prevent spam email and protect my identity from the public in general. I am a firm believer in privacy, so I have set up several safeguards in the process.

  6. Sadly, I think another plausible explanation for the compromising photo question’s result by age may be that the younger bloggers might idolize the athletes, and be afraid to get them in trouble.

  7. Just because someone puts a name on their blog does not mean that is their real name. They could easily make a name up and use that. People should be respected based on their output and not based on the silly fact of whether they have a name next to their posts or not.

    Just because someone is a blogger does not mean they are not a journalist.
    Just because someone works for a newspaper does not mean that they are a journalist.

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