From the category archives:

Blogs & Journalism

With the passing of Kirby Puckett and the Barry Bonds story, the value of ArmchairGM has quickly become evident, there is now one place to track the bulk of the commentary on a given topic. There is a page dedicated to the blogosphere’s tributes to Puckett. I envision a similar page dedicated to the Bonds steroid story as well. While the Bonds story is already listed on the site, I’d imagine the next step would be to gather all the commentary being posted on the web into an easily findable location.

On a related note, I think it would be great if ArmchairGM created a Firefox extension allowing people to easily to post stories (like a BlogThis or Add to Del.icio.us).

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For many sports bloggers, it’s been a struggle to gain acceptance, or at least the acknowledgement of the mainstream media. Some have gotten there, but many of us are still struggling. Through ignorance sports blogs are either associated with yahoos on message boards, or personal diaries that mention sports. That’s why it is somewhat surprising to see the prevalence of blogs int he mainstream media now.

We know that ESPN.com has recently started their most prominent writers blogging, but it appears to be happening on a local level as well. Here in the Detroit market, 3 of the 5 Tiger beat writers are now maintaining blogs. Danny Knobler of Booth Newspapers and Jason Beck of MLB.com are now keeping blogs, and they join Tom Gage of the Detroit News who began blogging last year.

So it seems that blogs are generally accepted now, but it remains to be seen if bloggers will be accepted. Also, I don’t know how much of the move towards blogging is the idea of the mainstream media writers, or of their employers. In each of the cases I’ve mentioned, the writers are blogging under the umbrella of their parent organizations. Also, only time will tell if any of these MSM blogs will link out to independent blogs. In the case of Gage’s blog, there has never been a single link of any sort. Knobler’s blog has yet to link, but so far he’s been posting updates from spring training. On Jason Beck’s blog, he has the other MSM blogs in his sidebar, but none of the independents.

What are your thoughts on this trend? Are you seeing it in other markets? Do you think your site will benefit or be hurt by the presence of MSM blogs?

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ESPN.com has added two of their most prominent baseball writers the their list of bloggers. Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark are now blogging. Unfortunately I just don’t see this as being significant. After reading their initial posts, they don’t read that much different than regular articles. And, like their regular articles both blogs are part of the Insider package. If it means more frequently updated, shorter posts, containing rumors and rumblings I guess that will be a positive.

My main problem with the ESPN.com blogs is their non-linking policy. As Aaron Gleeman pointed out today,

I’m glad ESPN.com sees the value in that as well, and I’m glad they’re willing to take what is a pretty large leap for a major media outlet. Of course, I do have a major criticism, which is that as far as I can tell none of the dozen or so blogs ESPN.com hosts actually link to other blogs. For instance, Olney’s blog is made up primarily of links to outside stories and his brief comments on them, but in nearly a year I can’t remember a single link that wasn’t to a mainstream newspaper.

I know from personal experience that ESPN.com has always had a somewhat stringent policy against linking to outside sites, but embracing the blogosphere is an essential step if they’re going to call what Gammons, Stark, and Olney are doing “blogs.” The value of blogs is in not always having to be like everything else, and while ESPN.com is going along with some of that concept they are still holding back on a crucial element.

That crucial element is becoming part of the conversation instead of just the topic. When Gammons mentions something Pinto is doing, as he does in his first post, there should be a link to it. I don’t fault Gammons for this who very recently has been very supportive of the new online media. But if ESPN is going to go the blog route, then go all the way.

I guess the biggest positive for bloggers is that it is yet another acceptance of blogging as a form of journalism. It is possible that as more major media adopt blogs, it could pave the way for increased access and exposure for the independent blogs. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Stark links out to Aaron and becomes one of us. Now the blogs are just missing identifiable permalinks.

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So I’m a little late on this one. Deadspin’s Will Leitch was the latest guest contributor at Baseball Analysts where he penned/typed A New Way To Look At Baseball Journalism. The article stresses how baseball blogs can complement traditional baseball coverage.

Baseball blogs are the most fun sports blogs to read because great ones have multiple entries every day, and they provide perspective and talking points; they are great because they assume you have already seen the game. We are no longer in the days of radio; if you have MLB.TV, or even freaking cable, you can watch every game. We do not need reporters to tell us the facts; we need people to tell us what it means. Or, more specific, to ask us what we think it means.

Leitch also talks about how newspapers can captilize on these two different worlds, but there is also a takeaway in there for bloggers.

Where am I going with this? I envision a world with two different kinds of beat reporters covering each team. (Except for the Devil Rays; nobody covers the Devil Rays.) One is involved in fact gathering; who’s hurt, who’s dealing with contract problems, who’s tussling with Tony LaRussa because they have a disagreement about the relative value of cute puppies. And another to actually watch the games, without knowing the players personally, without dealing with sports information, without having to jump through all the demoralizing hoops required of those who cover our games.

Newspapers have a chance to take the power back; they can cover their teams without access, without having to suffer through the now-obviously-broken relationship between reporters and the players they cover. And they can provide their readers much better coverage. It’s a matter of breaking loose of the chains and embracing the way this is all inevitably going.

While many bloggers are attempting to get credentials, is it something that we really want? Do we want to deal with players or cheer for them? Do we want to worry about offending someone when we’d have to try and talk to them the next day? There is something to be gained from maintaining some distance and allowing your inner fan to come through in your writing.

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SI plucks another blogger

by Bill Ferris on January 23, 2006 · 0 comments

in Blog News,Blogs & Journalism

Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts had this exciting announcement today:

It comes almost as a footnote that I have begun to freelance for SI.com, a semi-fulfillment of a dream I had two decades ago. Back in college, I had set my career goal as being a columnist for Sports Illustrated, the magazine. And while this isn’t that, while this isn’t 81 points in a game, while it might not even be an 18-foot Nerf swish, it’s somewhat rewarding for me, and I hope you don’t mind the egotism of me pointing it out.

You can find Jon’s first effort here.

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Reds deny credentials

by Bill Ferris on January 23, 2006 · 0 comments

in Blogs & Journalism

Via Red Reporter, it appears that Redleg Nation requested credentials for the press conference introducing the new ownership and was quickly denied. While I appreciate Redleg Nation’s frustration with the situation, I’m not sure that they did themselves, or other bloggers any favors in the aftermath:

We had no expectation that the Reds would grant the credentials; this organization is in the dark ages in nearly every respect, so why should anyone believe that they would be on the forefront with respect to new media? Our only goal in requesting these credentials was to get the Reds on the record, and we have:

The Cincinnati Reds are hostile to online media.

I’m not sure that calling the team you are trying to gain access to hostile is really helping the cause, especially after admitting you were only doing it to get them on the record. I can’t help but think that instances like this are one of the reasons clubs are hesitant to grant access. Bloggers get to say what they want, when they want, without an editor. I can certainly understand their resistance.
Does this mean that I think the Reds were right in denying access? Absolutely not. This was a perfect opportunity to grant access on a test basis. These weren’t game credentials, it was just permission to attend a feel-good presser. I think the Reds struck out in this case. As was also pointed out in the article:

This site and others in the Reds blogosphere are the very heart and soul of…well, of Redleg Nation, the community of Reds fans. We are more passionate about the Cincinnati Reds than anyone around, and we produce more Reds-related content than any press outlet — and the Reds simply have no use for us. They sweep us aside as if we don’t matter.

Teams should be reaching out to their most passionate fans, and blog operators definitely qualify. From afar, I just happen to think that in this scenario neither side handled the situation well.

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Reflections from Matthew Cerrone

by Bill Ferris on January 11, 2006 · 0 comments

in Blog News,Blogs & Journalism

Matthew Cerrone from MetsBlog has written a letter to his readers, a kind of “state of the blog” if you will. For sports bloggers this should be a “must read.” There are so many interesting topics, questions, and issues touched on, it is tough to sum up in a single post, so I’ll hit the highlights and leave you to read it on your own.

The dangers of breaking news

I have no interest in pro-actively breaking stories, and I don’t typically care for rumors. Actually, I have nothing to gain and everything to lose by trying to be this type of writer, especially in the blog format…

For instance, if I break an accurate story the mainstream media will not give me credit for it directly. If they do, I will at best be described as an ‘Internet report,’ which does me no good in terms of publicity. On the other hand, if I break a false story I will be mocked and potentially lose readers. Therefore, breaking stories and trying to be ahead of the curve is a high-risk-no-reward situation for me, which is not something I enjoy taking part in…

Excellent points about something that can be way too tempting. I know in the rare cases where people with certain connections have provided me information, it has taken restraint to show restraint. While it might be fun to break the story, and if you’re right you might get a little bit of credibility, if you’re wrong regaining credibility could be near impossible. Quite frankly, most bloggers don’t have the resources or contacts to confirm information (or the training to know what to believe).
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Will Carroll has a post about the baseball blogosphere. I wont’ try to characterize the post in a single sentence because it, and the ensuing comments hit a number of issues. However one of the elements that at least got my wheels turning was in defining quality and success in a blog/blogger.

First in terms of defining success Will points out that all bloggers are looking for feedback. That feedback could be in terms of visits, comments, money, and praise. I’d also include additional opportunities as another feedback component, but I like the definition as a starting point. At this point in terms of defining success it becomes a matter of magnitude. Caroll points out that with the exception of David Pinto, nobody is making a living blogging about baseball. Also, he notes that no blogs have the followship that mainstream media has. Again, I can’t argue with the assertion. However, I’m not sure that the lack of the above means blogs aren’t succeeding. As a blogger, I’m satisified that several hundred people care enough about what I think to visit on a regular basis. I consider it a success that the voice of the Detroit Tigers lists my blog among his regular reads. I understand that I probably won’t make a career out of this, but I’m satisfied considering this is a hobby and a passion. The income is just a bonus.
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Paying for blogs

by Bill Ferris on December 16, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blogs & Journalism,Making Money

Deadspin linked to information about a potential paid-subscription area of the Boston Globe. The Globe’s considering monetizing it’s sports content by putting their top columnists in a paid area. In addition to the columnists there would be other features. Amongst the proposed features are blogs from players and managers. Which raises the question, would you pay for a sports blog.

Perfomancing took a brief look at this issue a couple weeks ago and found a tech blog that appeared to be successful offering paid subscriptions to the archives. They identified 3 elements that contributed to it’s success:

  • Scarcity of Information on the topic
  • Business Focus
  • Information contributes to profitability

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Interviewing Schuerholz

by Bill Ferris on December 6, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blogs & Journalism,Interviews

Talking Chop has posted part 1 of an interview with Atlanta Braves GM Jon Schuerholz. In addition to the interview, there is another post explaining how they earned the opportunity:

A few years ago I started Baseball Digest Daily, a baseball news and information web site that covered all aspects of professional baseball. Through a lot of hard work and persistence, we managed to arrange interviews with many minor league players and high profile personalities (such as Bill James) across the nation. From there, we became a credentialed affiliate of Major League Baseball, who apparently were impressed by our volumes of content. We jumped at every opportunity and capitalized on our newly accredited status.

In May of 2005, we arranged an interview with Braves phenom, Jeff Francoeur. The interview with Francoeur went so well that we approached Jeff about writing a weekly diary for the web site. Jeff agreed to do the diary, and he posted 6 updates over the next few weeks before his callup to Atlanta.

Our relationship with Jeff Francoeur afforded us the opportunity to get to know many members of the Atlanta Braves staff…who I might add, treated us wonderfully. We expressed great appreciation and began to build on our already strong relationship. To make a long story short, it is this relationship that has enabled us to remain in contact with the Braves and ultimately arrange interviews like the one we just posted with John Schuerholz.

While not all bloggers will be able to get credentialed, there is something valuable to learn here. The site started with a minor league player, Francoeur. They simultaneously built a relationship with the player and they built their reputation. It also gave the author time to hone their interviewing skills and become comfortable.

Like many things, there are advantages to starting small.

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