Thursday, August 02, 2007

No Mike, You Step Away

There's some cheese waiting for you somewhere

The Washington Post's Mike Wise today became the latest practitioner of the traditional media to tell bloggers (and presumably by extension anyone that writes or opines non-professionally) they need a nap, the inference being that we should relax, step back from the keyboard and let the professionals handle the hard and complex topics such as how the upcoming Redskins 2007 season should be shaped in the minds of fans.

There are three possible explanations for this behavior because bloggers are a columnist's best friends.

1. This is a joke, an attempt at humor. Because there's no way a guy from a major media outlet would want to piss off or disrespect an entire chattering class of reporters, opinion writers and thought leaders that have access to the same audience he does because the internet has leveled the playing field. Serious bloggers publish a lot more often than Mike does and have long memories. As an example, in just a few years Sports Illustrated's Peter King has gone from high on the mount of sports media to the butt of jokes, self-important and an example one of the 'media elite' that still believe our opinion is their birthright.

If this is the case then I say bravo, Mike, it worked. By pretending to dictate what the 'bloggers' and commenters should and should not say, what we should and should not write about and how seriously we should or should not take the Redskins (or any other blogworthy topic for that matter), with a wink and a nod you've aligned yourself to the new power in sports journalism and in the future we'll be looking for those subtle clues that the power of the blogosphere is seeping into the newsrooms of the world.

2. Sadly, he means it. This is the reverse of number one, that Mike honestly thinks that because the Post's imprimatur (or that of some 'reputable' outlet where they employ 'professionals') is not on the braying and paranoid coverage of the Redskins that it cannot be validated. That the 'blogosphere' (cue image of nerds in parents' basement with lots of free time and no girlfriend) is not to be taken seriously, because, well, they don't have press passes and don't get paid to type. So don't pay attention to them, just pay 35 cents (25 if you subscribe) for the Post and read what they give us or go to the website and read, just please click through some advertisers.

If this is the case then you just laid an egg. Even if you don't get it, the Post corporation does, as evidenced by the fact that the the Post uses Technorati to tie its pieces in to the bloggers that are writing about the same topic or using the Post as a source. That means by the end of the day, because I linked to your piece my name will be at the bottom of your column and you just gave me the platform I needed to get to Post readers and tell them why the Post is now just another voice in the conversation.

3. He's just doing a job. Mike may be a sports columnist, but I am a Redskins fan. I take my football very seriously and I don't write about them to get paid. I write about them because there are many like me, some that write, some that just want to sample the diversity of opinion. Every little thing that happens leading up to and into the NFL season matters to me and the more citizen journalists that keep doing this and the longer they do it, the better the historical record of the NFL and the Redskins will be. The Post may be the source of record for the actual happenings, because we all can't get credentialed, but the range of voices ensures that over time the real picture of the team as they move through history is preserved.

Lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery had this to say, this morning in real time, about traditional media concerns about bloggers needing to take a break, bloggers overblowing everything, bloggers blah blah blah:

That's [the bloggers'] job

Oh - wait they actually have other jobs

and still cover this shit because... they give a shit

A quick Google search on the terms 'newspapers losing readers' returns these two links (Wired Magazine / Project for Excellence in Journalism) in the top ten, and they are from 2004. Things are worse for newpapers now, three years later, and I am proud to be part of the movement that is dissolving the perception monopoly the traditional media has had for one hundred years. It's a trite aphorism now, but Mahatma Ghandi once said
First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.
Welcome, Redskins bloggers, to stage two.

And PS, who the fuck wants fans that quiet down and go along with blind obedience? If that's what you want in a sports fan, move to Dallas.

Update: Jamie Mottram at Mr. Irrelevant also has a take on Mike and whether he was Wise.
Update 2: another good entry on this, from a hilar non-football blog run by a couple of Redskins fans.

Mike Wise and cheese: Washington Post uncredited photo from here.