Blowhards, bloghards and genuinely awesome people
First, my four readers, a challenge. This appeared on Twitter yesterday:
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.