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Blowhards, bloghards and genuinely awesome people

August 24, 2010

First, my four readers, a challenge. This appeared on Twitter yesterday:

  1. Black Aces Hockey
    BlackAcesBlog i don’t care where you live. Toronto has the most ridiculous. ill-informed, egotistical sports media hacks anywhere in North America.

You know I’m all about BAB, but I respectfully disagree with him in this case. Most of the four of you are from Montreal and Toronto, but people in Boston and New York might also have something to say about this. In fact, you could make a case like this for a lot of sports media hacks in a lot of sports cities in North America. I’m not sure what specifically prompted BAB to tweet that so quickly and so angrily, because at any given moment some sports media hack somewhere is demonstrating how ill-informed and egotistical he or she is, but BAB probably had good reason. He might even be nice enough to tell you and give you a book recommendation in the comments.

As long as we’ve been watching sports, we’ve had a problem with a few of the people who cover said sports. We’ve always had the people we go to , the people we can’t help but go to, and the people we wish would go to hell.

But they’re not all self-important egotistical attention-whore hacks.

My favourite cuddly creeper from the whole internet, DHSpeedwagon, made a few good points at about the same time BAB’s blood was busy boiling. Here’s DHS’s essay in under-140-character bullet points, because wordpress is currently being a jerk and not letting me embed his tweets:

  •  Stop painting “MSM” with broad brush. There is a vast amount of “old boys” unwilling to accept new media and then there are the good guys.
  • Guys like @Damospin [Damien Cox] and @simmonssteve [Steve Simmons] aren’t interested in reporting and engaging readership. They’re interested in preaching their word.
  • People who’ve been at it as long as some of the traditional media aren’t familiar with readership having an avenue to engage and debate.
  • Reason guys like @wyshynski [Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski] succeed is because they don’t put themselves on pedestal. Traditional media pretends they are the ONLY source.
  • Media who succeeds, whether it be new or traditional, does so because they interact with their audience and give them what they want.
  • It’s the traditionalists who somehow equate quality with being paid to write. They are the ones damaging the relationship.

I posted something a while ago about how  some “MSM” guys didn’t get it. It gets a little hazy, as my rants often do after the fact, but think I was arguing a little bit of what DHS is arguing, which is that old school journalists need to get with the program and start engaging their readers on the interwebz (new media, yo) if they want to be successful. I think that’s a common argument. I think, however, I have come to a slightly different conclusion now:

Hanging out on the internet “engaging” with people isn’t going to make a giant blowhard any less of a blowhard.

If Jack Todd were to get a Twitter account, his writing wouldn’t magically all of a sudden become palatable. Come to think of, it, I’ve never checked if he had a Twitter account, and it’s probably best that I don’t ever know.

The point is, guys like Bob McKenzie or Greg Wyshynski or Jeff Marek aren’t “the good guys” because they engage with us on Twitter. It’s the other way around: they successfully engage with us because they’re the good guys. Damien Cox on Twitter is still Damien Cox, just in fewer words. He once tweeted, after blocking some Leafs fans that… er… enthusiastically disagreed with him a couple of times, that to him, a follower should be a friend. I replied that a follower should be someone who wants to hear what you have to say, regardless of whether they agree with you. He agreed. (That, my non-nerd friends, is what you call a ‘facepalm.’)

The “good guys,” as we’re going to call them from now on thanks to DHS, like to spend their time and resources informing us and our arguments, rather than trolling for attention, hits, and controversy. Guys with thousands of followers must get thousands of messages and questions a day. I’ve seen all three of the above, plus guys like Dave Stubbs, try and address as many of their followers as possible. Just by giving all of us a little bit of respect, they manage to stay relevant and part of the conversation.

The blowhards, on the other hand, use social media like Twitter to try to be relevant. Their “engagement” is about them, not us. They’re either defending their writing, defending their blowhard colleagues’ writing, or offending someone in an attempt to get attention. Eventually people get tired of disagreeing with them or trying to meaningfully engage with them and start ignoring them.

I guess I’m saying that the key to successful engagement is being one of the good guys to begin with. And if you’re not, don’t try. I’m content not to follow you or read what you have to say. I probably never learned anything from you anyway.

On a totally related but totally unrelated note, for those of my readers who aren’t Twitter/Blogosphere nerds, the guys I’m not stalking at PPP are also not being stalked by a writer from the Toronto Sun, who’s been borrowing their work (and that of their members) without crediting them. I came home after a night out this weekend and sent said writer and his editor an extremely vicious letter about what they’d done. For those of you who aren’t all internet-nerdy like I am (and only read this blog because my mommy makes you), here’s PPP on what’s up and also an excellent piece from Blueshirt Banter about how this was all about the lack of respect “MSM” guys have for bloggers.

Respect. Which is what I think this rant was all about.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2010 2:59 pm

    I adore this. Truely. Wish I’d written that one.

  2. August 24, 2010 3:00 pm

    This conversation seems to be popping up more and more lately.

    As guys like Cox try to find ways to stay on top of the heap (at least in their own minds), in reality they are losing relevance among the masses, especially online.

    As we become more and more connected and get closer and closer to a “real-time internet”, the less and less we need these MSM bozos to feed us stories. There are enough intelligent fans out there (I know, crazy, right?) that we don’t need to wait for their columns or tweets to begin contextualizing information for ourselves.

    It’s the whole concept of groundswell, and the MSM has yet to fully embrace it. As many of them build little fiefdoms consisting of their own buddies in the media, they entirely miss the point of what twitter is about.

    While the average bloggers gets that its about “everyone”, the MSM still insist on drawing a line in the sand and acting as if the blogosphere and twitterverse are just more places for them to practice broadcasting.

    They need to know that just because they’re on twitter, doesn’t mean they’re engaging, or current.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      August 25, 2010 7:11 am

      Kyle, I have to confess, whenever I post something like this I always hope you’ll chime in. Your comments never disappoint.

  3. HappyGirl1029 permalink
    August 24, 2010 3:04 pm

    Suddenly BAB’s head asplodes! Great article.

  4. August 24, 2010 3:12 pm

    The pretentiousness of Damien Cox sickens me. A lot of writers fight hard for readers and appreciate every one they get. Cox is just the neighborhood twerp, pushing a bunch of people’s buttons and hiding behind the Twitter “block” function when things don’t go his way. It’s incredible how badly he treats his readers, whether they simply disagree with him on a single point or read him for posterity purposes.

    With the way he’s treated Jose Bautista over the past couple of days, I’m wondering whether he is a baseball fan? A Toronto sports nut would be a Blue Jay fan, if anything, but he apparently isn’t since he’s flat out slandering the team’s biggest star right now. Does he watch baseball? Has he followed and chronicled Bautista’s rise this summer? Probably not to question one, and definitely not to question two. This leads to question three… who at The Star decided that Cox was qualified enough to comment on Jose Bautista?

    He’s not a fan, he’s not a former player, he’s a self-serving asshat, whose first impression is already ruined by that smug-looking picture of him that accompanies his columns, blog posts and tweets.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      August 25, 2010 7:14 am

      “who at The Star decided that Cox was qualified enough to comment on Jose Bautista?”

      Exactly. I want to know if he’s watched baseball games this season or just dreamed up the idea for a controversy and then looked up some stats… “hey, this Bautista guy’s stats fit my argument… let’s go with him.”

  5. August 24, 2010 3:13 pm

    I really enjoyed this. There’s been way too much focus lately on whether an outlet is a blog or a newspaper or whatever. Much better to focus on whether the people who create its content are any good.

  6. August 24, 2010 3:20 pm

    brilliant post. glad my unhinged raving in some way inspired it.

    for context, i was blathering about Damien Cox and his “gotta at least ask the question” entry regarding whether Jose Bautista’s home-run-hitting prowess is chemically enhanced. he may be right, for all i know, but he crossed a line in professionalism by just throwing something out there without any research, quotes or evidence. and that pissed me off.

    every town has hacks. i guess our problem here in Toronto is that we have almost no reporters who cover our team who aren’t hacks. and Cox is the worst. arguably the most petty, negative writer i’ve ever read in a major newspaper. i can’t think of anybody he’s had anything nice to say about anyone, ever.

    so, there’s that. you’re right, but i’m right too. hey, we’re both right! wooo!

    great post, as always. more, please.

  7. August 24, 2010 3:52 pm

    “He once tweeted, after blocking some Leafs fans that… er… enthusiastically disagreed with him a couple of times, that to him, a follower should be a friend. I replied that a follower should be someone who wants to hear what you have to say, regardless of whether they agree with you. He agreed.”

    It’s things like this that make me wonder if Cox is dumber than a stereotypical Flyers fan…

  8. August 24, 2010 8:00 pm

    Outstanding piece! Wow! You really summed it up well, imo, and I think the timing of your piece is a propos.

    I think your point about just being a “good guy” to start with is salient. At the end of the day, that is a key to success in whatever a person chooses to do in life.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. August 25, 2010 8:03 am

    The “good guys,” as we’re going to call them from now on thanks to DHS, like to spend their time and resources informing us and our arguments, rather than trolling for attention, hits, and controversy.

    Absolutely bang on. Those who spend time and effort attempting to inform, rather than inflame, are the “good guys”. Because we know they’re trying in good faith to bring us the information, and trying even harder in forums like Twitter to have a two-sided conversation about the material, we’ll even cut them some slack when we disagree with them.

    Incidentally, two more of the “good guys” that you missed (I know you weren’t trying to provide an exhaustive list) are Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) and Greg Brady (@gregbrady71)

    • theactivestick permalink*
      August 25, 2010 8:24 am

      You know what, I wasn’t originally trying to provide an exhaustive list but there REALLY should be one, so thanks for mentioning those guys, also great follows.

      Feel free to suggest more, everybody.

  10. Harry M permalink
    August 25, 2010 11:19 am

    The hacks who write for the Boston Globe and Herald are simply part of the “old boys” network. They are lazy and tenured. They don’t have the creativity & passion the bloggers and beat writers have.

    Great post Active Stick!

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