The Convergence of Blogs and Mainstream Media Continues…

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio dropped what might be considered one of the bigger sports media bombshells this past week, announcing that his site would be joining, on a formal basis, NBC Sports.

Mike Florio represents the sort of middle ground between mainstream media outlets and blogs that is slowly emerging as more prominent blogs begin to receive more widespread recognition and acclaim.

With his content now contractually under the NBC masthead, I guess you could say he’s permanently joined the other side.

Pro Football Talk has a bit of a unique history and you could argue that it’s not really a sports blog at all, though clearly it maintains (and celebrates) an outsider’s viewpoint that is privy to a great deal of insider information.

Unlike most blogs that rely on a stream of commentary and live by their personality, Florio has managed to develop a steady group (you’d have to think) of official sources around the NFL, allowing him to not only stay up on the latest league news, but to routinely break stories that other mainstream media sources are just beginning to work on.

I would like to know how stringent he is in his editorial process, though. Clearly a site of his size gets a large number of tips each day, and he has developed a little bit of a reputation for running with theories that might not hold a ton of water in the end, but Florio is usually first on the ground for most of the big, breaking news stories in a way that traditional media can’t be.

His rise to prominence in that regard is an interesting story, especially given his ability to cultivate sources—that all-important journalistic talent—from a position of relative distance.

I’m excited to see what Florio can do in his new digs. The early shots at him have been largely over concern that appealing to a more mainstream audience won’t allow him to inject his usual flavor of opinion in each story, but he insists that won’t be the case.

In the ongoing transition into this new media age we’ve got here it’s certainly interesting to see the lines between mainstream media and blogs continue to bleed into one another.

Certainly, Florio brings a quality of reporting, writing, and information that you just don’t find with most internet sites, which is why he’s had such continued success.

But the move does allow a greater possibility for outsider sources to get a piece of the mainstream media pie as we systematically draw new lines about what we will and won’t accept from those that cover sports professionally.

Success for Florio, working in an official, national capacity could purchase more opportunity for other sports writers working primarily online to be adopted on a full-time basis.

Tom Curran, formerly of the Providence Journal and now of NBC Sports, has a good reaction post about the move, bringing up the transition that popular professional opinion has undergone regarding Florio’s site and, in some ways, sports blogs in general.

I remember when PFT was still largely considered “That NFL Blog” but was always seen, if only quietly, as a place that was not only a reliable destination for breaking information, but was widely being read by those who actually make  a living at this sports media thing.

Clearly, it’s not a change that has happened quickly or without reason, since Mike has put in years now of continued quality work to get where he is; now able to move out of his day-to-day work as a lawyer and become a member of the real life sports media—as if he wasn’t already.

In the end, I think it bodes best for the audience, though.

Having  more quality eyes and ears focused on covering sports is, generally speaking, a good thing—especially when it’s at a level of professionalism that not only allows for exceptional reportage, but demands it.

So count me among the excited to see Florio getting the widespread recognition he deserves as one of the best sources for NFL news anywhere.

Maybe he can’t unleash the full Florio vocabulary on the Peacock, but he’ll be a more visible presence than he, or anybody who began covering sports from a non-traditional source, has ever been before.

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