The Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith, not surprisingly, is unabashed in his disdain for blogs, apparently because most bloggers lack his frequent-flyer miles. When asked what Bulls blogs he reads, he mounted his high horse and enlightened the masses:
I like this question because I don't read any blogs. I find it interesting the way the national political campaigns (my first love and job) have hired people to interact with the blogosphere. You may say I'm old, out of touch and cranky, and I probably would have to agree. I'm also probably resentful on some level as I see this unsubstantiated, personal opinion passing for journalism and weep for America and the world. People do seem to read this stuff and equate it with what we do at The Tribune or other media and don't make much distinction.(Hey, a blogger as "guy in basement wearing underwear" reference! For those keeping score, that's Creativity 0, Cliche 1)
How is it I can work for decades developing contacts around the NBA and traveling regularly around the NBA and talking with the decision makers and some guy in his basement in his underwear is writing something that has credibility? As close as I can figure, these bloggers are the electronic version of the neighborhood tavern. You used to go in and hear people wailing about sports or politics and offering opinions on all the major issues. We did our man in the street interviews when such issues came up. Now, these people we used to ask for opinion started these blogs and are supposed to be experts. How can that be? I never see any of them, I never hear the coaches and general managers and players I talk to saying they talked to them. So where do they get their information?
Looking past the extreme irony of Sam Smith considering himself a reliable source of information (does anyone invent more rumors out of thin air? Maybe Peter Vecsey, but more on him in a moment), let's address Smith's last question.
Dan Shanoff talked about this very issue in an interview with The Big Picture earlier today:
Traditional sports media is primarily (perhaps entirely) valuable for exclusive or breaking news only.Is it then a surprise that a guy like Smith feels threatened? Not at all. If anything, it should push him to do his job better. If any idiot with a free Blogger account can create hypothetical trades out of thin air, maybe Smith needs a new shtick. (Quick aside regarding crediting sources: Dave D'Alessandro, a guy I really enjoy reading, called an interview Rod Thorn gave with ESPN's Chad Ford as an interview with "an online guy." What's so wrong naming sources? I don't get it.)
(And even that gets commoditized, literally within minutes: As fast as a newspaper can "break" a story online, I and 50 other bloggers can poach it. The funny part is that newspapers think that just because we "credit" the paper -- which happens a lot more honestly among bloggers than among mainstream media -- that doesn't mean the paper's competitive advantage was eroded to nearly nil. Fans don't care where a story comes from; they just want to talk about the story itself. That's where blogs surge ahead of the original story source.)
As for Vecsey, T.J. Simers called him out today in the L.A. Times in a puzzling piece that left me with a bad opinion of everyone involved. Simers accuses Vecsey of relying on a blogger for the meat of his Tuesday NBA column in the New York Post. This isn't a plagiarism charge (the blogger emailed his thoughts to Vecsey and gave him permission to use any and all of it in his column) but the similarities between Vecsey's work and the blogger's words (at least in the passages quoted by Simers) are just a couple of degrees away from verbatim.
But, if I read this correctly, that wasn't even what set Simers off -- it was the fact that Vecsey was allowing a blogger -- a mere blogger! -- provide fodder for his column. The horror!
"We talking about blogs, not journalism."
For more commentary on Smith (that's far more eloquent than mine), check out Matt Bernhardt on Blogabull. Also, hat tip to TrueHoop for the Simers link.