A Reply To Eric Smith in the Matter of 'Bloggers v. Mainstream Media'

On April 7th 2010, friend of the Raptors: Eric Smith wrote an interesting Blog Entry on Raptors.Com concerning a lively debate. A Question often asked of him on his radio show by listen-eers concerning the matter of the Mainstream Media v. Bloggers (click to view).

I have compounded Mr Smith's argument (without spellcheck) and I hope my depiction is acceptable to him, and to those interested in this topic. I state Mr Smith's argument thus:

1. Being a 'Fan' of a certain team is acceptable;

2. Writing a Blog which shows your 'love' of that team is 'Great';

3. But: Thinking that by producing a mere blog entry that this should grant you access to players, locker rooms is another thing entirely; These are rights and privelidges reserved to members of the mainstream media that are 'legitimate' and are 'legitimating';

4. Further: While a blogger has a right to blog, there exists a problem; and this problem is vested in the lap of the 'reader' of the blog. For this 'reader' may be unable to discern:

  • a) The expertise of the Blogger (which is justifiably questionable or may not even be known);
  • b) A blog is usually mere regurgitation of material obtained from 'TV, radio, and newspapers' (if not direct plagiarism),
  • c) There are concerns about the access to the 'inside' of the story that a blogger in question has; and the reader may not know which blog entry is genuinely establish in fact; the routes of its sources; and if the blog is created in a professionally supportive surrounding environment. These are the ingredients that he posits that all help to make a story 'legitimate'; The difference from 'just mere opinion'.

5.  Blogs and bloggers must ultimately be judged by the quality of their research, the reliability of their sources, their training, their schooling,  and the 'respect' that the blog/blogger commands.

6. Some blogs/bloggers are better than others; These can be put into discernable groups:

  • a) 'failed' journalism students who never got their shot in the biz;
  • b) a 'fan' who simply wants to let it beknowst what they think and feel;

7. In the case of 6.b) above, where there is a warning. If a fan in making their voice heard should be 'interpreted by any reader' with the same weight as an accredited member of the media (for example, say the much admired and loved Paul Jones) - then an immoral act has occured - or to quote Eric Smith " ...that's not right";

8. Smith points out that like it or not, legit media personnel have far deeper access to the world they are writing about (noted above); and that the average fan doesn't have this. This results in the following:

  •  a) 'Legit' media have significant and justifiable power;
  •  b) 'Legit' media are accountable in several ways for what they produce; most notably the imposition of editors and being held accountable to higher level of accumen than a blogger that comes with professionalism;

9. We are then given a case study of one Holly Mackenzie (herein referred to as HM) who illustrates everything Mr Smith has written above to perfection (quote). The case study proceeds as such:

  • a) Mr Smith first learned of HM when she was a 'blogger' with SLAM magazine;
  • b) But here Mr Smith concedes HM is some hybrid of the 'Joe the Blogger' and the 'legit' version because she was employed by an appropriate 'legit' organization, and held to account by editors etc.
  • c) Mr Smith doesn't consider her a blogger now, nor has he ever done so since she has been granted access to Raptors practices etc etc, and how this 'legit' experience has 'improved her skills' while not 'tainting' her.
  • d) Because HM worked for an 'industry leader', Mr Smith won't include HM in the theory he is about to propose. HM, as a 'perfect' example, should be exempt from the following:

10. Mr Smith's THEORY states:

  • a) this theory walks a fine line in the same way that 'The Score' is walking a fine line by handing out its 'legit' industry name to several bloggers - mostly in the questionable practice of trying to stay ahead of the industry - by pursuing some 'novel' innovation;
  • b) 'The Score' is using this expansive method to gain entry into new sports and new territory;
  • c) There is inherent danger in this behaviour because a 'deputised' blogger could be confused as having the same credibility as a sherriff, cardinal or monk from TSN, Toronto Sun, FAN590 etc.

11. Mr. Smith's conclusion is to reinforce the 'motto of the media industry'. 'Buyer Beware', but especially in the case of joe the blogger, failed journalist bloggers, and bloggers 'deputised' in the way 'The Score' is doing it - but not by 'SLAM'. The reader must be compelled to recognize the hard work of those who face editorial accountability, and accorded 'insider' status that comes with professionalism, and that the consequences of worst side of blogging world threatens the integrity of the 'whole'.

I would be happy to reply to Mr Smith, and barring that I may have mis-interpreted his blog of April 7th 2010; I will attempt to do this in a timely manner at some point during the summer.

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