Newsflash: Reporter hates bloggers

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Chris McCosky, the Detroit News writer covering the Pistons beat has decided to trot out the old “bloggers in the basement” bit. Normally I don’t respond to this type of drivel, and I don’t partake in mainstream media bashing because I generally respect the job that they do. It’s much easier for me to opine behind my laptop while the beat writers are out getting quotes. But this article is a complete joke.

Let’s step through McCosky’s assertions point by point:

But people, let’s not confuse what random fans and wanna-be pundits are tossing out there with legitimate reporting. The line is getting way too blurry now between Internet noise and actual journalism. It’s actually getting to the point now where some (too many) of the bloggers are using cyberspace to discredit the legitimate media.

Actually this a slam on everyone because McCosky feels that the general public with their dinosaur sized brains aren’t able to distinguish between what is reported by a major news gathering source and a blog. I take everything from a message board or blog with skepticism and I hope my readers would view the few times that I’m “reporting” news as the same. At the same time if you’ve been following my site for a while you know that I don’t report stuff that isn’t solid information. I’m wrong on my opinions and analysis all the time, but stuff I report as fact is fact.

Journalism employs trained professionals. We actually have to go to school for this stuff. We take our jobs seriously. There are rules and standards that we are beholden to. There are ethics involved. We actually talk to, in person, the people we write about. If we rip somebody in an article, you best be sure most of us will confront that person the next day and take whatever medicine we need to take.

With blogging and Web sites, it seems the hard work, standards, accountability, courage all of that is bypassed. Who needs to study this stuff, or attend games, or conduct interviews when you can just sit in your basement and clack out whatever comes through your head, right? If I rip somebody, or if I get something wrong, who cares? Nobody will see me.

I don’t doubt for a second that reporters take their jobs seriously, but many bloggers also take their sites seriously and do have ethics. But bloggers don’t have to confront the players/coaches/managers the next day. I’m sure that makes the job much more difficult and it compromises what gets reported and what doesn’t. It’s a tenuous relationship and one I wouldn’t be eager to pursue so I’m thankful for the beat writers who gather the info. An outsiders perspective isn’t clouded by having to maintain a working relationship with a player so the assessments can be more honest. So discrediting an analysis of a situation or being critical of a player because someone doesn’t encounter them the next day is garbage.

And why do I need to do an interview to analyze a strategy or a play or a performance? Sometimes the background is helpful and necessary, other times it isn’t.

A lot of times these bloggers use the work of legitimate reporters. They will lift facts and segments of stories and cut and paste them onto their blog. Rarely, if ever, though, do they bother to credit the source.

They will write something like, “I am hearing the Pistons are going to start Antonio McDyess this year.” Well, wonder where you “heard” that. It was reported in the darn newspaper. Yet, the same blogger will go out of their way to ridicule the source they stole from.

I can speak for myself and other Tigers bloggers when I say that this doesn’t happen. When I’m taking specific information from an article, I link to the article and that seems to be true of all the Tigers blogs that I frequent. At the same time, I can read a press release and I can listen in on a conference call like legitimate reporters and I don’t need to wait for a legitimate reporter to write the article so I can link to it.

Bloggers are having a field day speculating on how Joel Zumaya really injured his shoulder. Nobody believes a heavy box fell on him. So the Internet is rife with stories about how he fell off his dirt bike.

Yes, glad it is only the bloggers who are speculating. It’s not like another writer in McCosky’s own newspaper was also casting doubt on the situation. (hey look Chris, I’m citing my sources)

And what bloggers are having a field day speculating anyways? Now might be one of those times where a real reporter would cite his sources? Right Chris? The Tigers bloggers have been very careful not to report the dirt bike rumor. I didn’t mention it at all in my story. When a commenter brought it up, I provided a link to where the report originated (the comments section of legitimate news gathering agency ESPN.com) and cautioned the source. That actually seems to be considerably more responsible than what McCosky did in his piece today. Instead McCosky practices no journalistic principles when he incorrectly assigns the rumor to bloggers.

If I had to pick my biggest beef with this whole article is that it is hypocritical. McCosky slams blogging as a whole, only cushioning it with the this isn’t true of everyone crap. And yet he doesn’t bother to provide any sort of guidance to the reader in terms of the good blogs, or the bad blogs. Or which bloggers were running rampant with the motorbike rumor. Instead he assigns that crap to all of us. Which is why I want to make it clear I’m not slamming the mainstream media. I’m slamming this piece of drivel written by McCosky.

McCosky talks about how a real journalist would go out and gather facts and talk to the subjects – but he didn’t bother to do that in this case. I would have been happy to talk to him about my coverage of the Zumaya injury. I’m easy to get ahold of via email and the News has interviewed me in the past so I know they have my number. McCosky, practice what you preach.

I know, this isn’t reporting. It’s an opinion piece so do the rules apply? It’s hard to tell because it reads an awful lot like

what the clever dude in his pajamas is doing on his computer, down in his basement.

Bloggers just aren’t journalists

UPDATE: Thanks to all those who have sent emails, left comments, or opined on your own blogs. Below is a listing of sites with commentary or discussion about McCosky’s article: