Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Internet is Accused of Ruining Something Else Again

I wish that this blog entry could be a Choose Your Own Adventure blog. If you want to read the serious, thought-provoking (errrr, maybe?) blog entry then turn your monitor upside down. If you want to read my somewhat flippant and possibly uninformed opinions about this topic, keep your monitor right side up and continue.

I get tired of debating “new media” vs. (whatever else isn’t “new media”). The transition from publishing ideas on a sheet of pulp paper product or publishing them on a website is NOT a tectonic shift. If there were journalists who were able to write in-depth pieces that were well-researched and well-written in a print product, there will also be people who can do the same in the new medium. I get that the criticism is “hey, anyone can just start a blog (hi!!!) and they don’t have to be well-informed or even a decent writer and they can put stuff out there and people will take it to be truth!” Yes, that’s true. Just like how (and I’m not making this up), the local newspaper in Barnesville, Georgia ran a piece that I cut out and kept that was written by a woman wearing a cat sweater. The basic premise of her article was that the rising price of gasoline was not a big deal because the Lord is sending us signs that the End of Days was nearing and so we really shouldn’t worry about how much gas costs since we won’t have to buy it much longer. So it’s not like print journalism is, across the board, some prestigious bastion of truth, fact and reason.

But clearly, no one was confusing the Barnesville Herald Gazette with the New York Times. Or if they were, they were stupid enough to deserve to believe that they needed to start getting their Rapture plan in place. And so it is on the internet. As many wing-nutty, poorly-spelled, crazy-ass blogs as there are out there, this should not cause anyone to see any and every online new source as just another decibel in the pointless and deafening white noise of the internet. Recently arrested child kidnapper and confirmed fucking lunatic Phillip Garrido has a website that claims “the Creator has given me the ability to speak in the tongue of angels in order to provide a wake-up call that will in time include the salvation of the entire world.” It’s not as if I have afforded the same credibility to Garrido’s that I do to

Let’s get back to the funny stuff here though. The two things that lead me to writing this missive were the fact that Buzz Bissinger is going to be promoting his new book on Deadspin and a comment I read in regards to the recently-launched Dallas-centric ESPN sports site. The Buzz Bissinger thing is hilarious to me on many, tiramsu-like levels. The most obvious being this clip from Costas Now where he goes on a tirade. The theme of this entire blog entry is neatly summed up by the always-better-at-summing-it-up Will Leitch who observes that “the internet is a meritocracy.” As a side note, the video also makes me laugh because it’s always funny to hear someone so caught up in their own vitriol that they start using phrases like “pisses the shit out of me” or incredulously asking if someone is named …”Balls Deep?!?!”

The second thing from this week that has made this whole topic simmer in the Crock Pot of my mind is this comment, which was left on the Observer’s Sportatorium blog:

Shitty journalists killed journalism says:
I still receive the WSJ daily. Still read the DMN. The issue is profitability. The problem is stupidity.
Journalism/reporting has been capsized by the blog. Blogging is, by and large, ill-informed opinions.
Those who participate in "bloggery" are not Journalists or reporters. They are lazy.
Look at the Huffington Post. All opinions. Same thing on the other side of the political fence.
The same slipshod writing exists under the sports mantle.
It's all shit.

Ending with “It’s all shit” makes me think of a rubbery-faced Walter Matthau typing this out (on the comment forum of a blog, which is extremely confusing to me) with one hand as he shakes his other hand in a fist at the no-good kids who keep stepping on his lawn.

I know I risk pulling some ageist, “get with the times, old man!” card out by saying all of this. And I really do think that print is still the preferred medium for in-depth pieces, photography and non-breaking news stories. But I think that when it comes to instantaneous updates on breaking news and a place for discussion and less-than-reverant (read: funny, clever or slightly entertaining) writing, the internet has print whipped, hands down.

Let’s boil this down to second grader talk. I read because I like to learn stuff and be informed or entertained or both simultaneously, even. Meaning, if I can go to a website that covers, say, sports and know that there will be an article about how dumb Michael Crabtree is acting right now and I know that there will also be witty responses to that article which will cause me to chuckle, guffaw or even Laugh Out Loud, I’m probably going to visit that website a lot. If that website also offers up-to-the-minute breaking sports news, even better. Now, say that website has also recently done things like break the story of Josh Hamilton’s Redi-Whip-Gate or Sean Salisbury’s apparent ungluing following his departure from ESPN radio, beating print, radio and televised media to the story? Well, that sounds like a one-stop shop for me.

So that leads me to wonder why Buzz and Shitty Journalists Killed Journalism, henceforth known as SJKJ, are so upset about blogs. SJKJ says that the Huffington Post is just pure opinion and that’s why the internet is bad. He says that there’s just as many conservative sites that are just as opinion-plagued. So I guess that when the Dallas Morning News runs which candidate they will endorse in their print edition, that’s like them being all internet-y with their dirty, unwanted opinions?

Let me make this clear, I’m not writing this because I think I am a sports journalist because I write about the Cowboys or anything. I feel okay about claiming to be a blogger because, as I type this, I see that “blogspot” is in the URL of this site. So I think that means I am on Team Blogger, right? But I don’t hate non-laptop-based media. I respect the hell out of the journalists and radio guys and all the people who went to school and, as they would say after long pulls off a Camel Filter and a swig of Glenlivet, “paid their dues.” Guys who didn’t just hit “publish” on their self-congratulating rants about the Mavericks prospects this year and sat back and smiled smugly. But I also don’t think that’s what real (read: not me) sports bloggers do.

I started this blog because stats, frankly, give me tiredhead after a few minutes. I can read the box score of a game and see the mathematics of what occurred during the assigned allotments of time in the given sport. And that leaves me kind of cold. Do I care about Romo’s accuracy rating per game? Yes, absolutely. Do I care that, with Marion Barber injured and Felix Jones leaving the game in the third quarter, the Cowboys were still able to have a second 200+ yard game in a row, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since the days of Tony Dorsett? Yes, I care hard. But I don’t listen to sports talk radio shows where caller after caller phones in to break down the statistics on the offensive line’s effectiveness in protecting the quarterback in the pocket when the temperature on the field is anywhere between 62 and 75 degrees. I love football but I guess I don’t love it enough to care about that stuff.

What I do care about? Figuring out what kind of vehicle could be approved for use on commercial highways and residential streets AND be able to transport Leonard Davis without using two lanes or getting a police escort. I care about animated GIFs of Wade Phillips shaking his Cracker Barrel-loving body in a euphoric dance of triumph over something as mundane as the other team missing a field goal in the first quarter. I have a sense of humor, I like football and I have multiple electronic devices which afford me the ability to obtain almost round-the-clock updates on the tragedies, triumphs and paternity lawsuits of professional sports. I’m sorry if some people feel like this has cheapened an entire profession and lowered it to the level of hookers who give mouthlove in abandoned outhouses. But I’m a-ok with being entertained and informed by someone who may or may not be named Balls Deep. I guess it’s just a sign of the times. Maybe the cat sweater lady was right and the Rapture really is coming soon. I just hope the Cowboys can win one goddamn playoff game before it does.

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