Monday, May 05, 2008

Buzz vs. blogs: Buzz's take

Slow day here at the blog so far, with no Sunday programs of note that I watched and no column to link to. I'll obviously be back tonight (or first thing in the morning) with takes on "HIMYM" and "House" and whatnot, but in the meantime, I wanted to link to the latest stop on the Buzz Bissinger Apology Tour, over at The Big Lead.

6 comments:

boffo said...

In your HIMYM review tonight, could you talk a little about the show's status for next season? Last I heard it was probably, but not definitely, going to get renewed. But that was over a month ago. Is there any news?

BTW, I just read in Hollywood Reporter that Reaper has moved from the "probably not" to the "probably" category, so that's good news for those of us who've noticed the show get much better in recent weeks.

So it goes said...

Boffo - You missed an update on HIMYM in the article you linked to.

As for "How I Met Your Mother," a pickup is considered a given

SR said...

I saw the Costas special and have been reading some of the commentary (though I hadn't seen this extended reply from Bissinger, thanks).

For me, the big elephant in the room here is the idea of "paying your dues." For guys Bissinger's age, the first five years of your career were spent doing the drudge work of a cub reporter, rewriting wire copy and such, trying to get your work published while veteran colleagues got the plum assignments.

For Leitch's generation, there's no such apprenticeship required. You have immediate access to a potential worldwide audience, and your rise is limited only by your talent, your work ethic and your ability to take advantage of technology (social networking, search engine optimization, etc.).

In the interview at The Big Lead, Bissinger kind of ducks the question of what legendary sportwriter W.C. Heinz would be doing if he were 25 in 2008. Bissinger says he would be writing for a newspaper...but Heinz's sportswriting didn't really start until after WW II, when Heinz was already in his early 30s.

If Bissinger is so sure that 2008's Heinz would still be writing for newspapers or magazines, can he name anyone of that age with the potential to become the next Heinz actually doing so? Does Bissinger know of any superstar young sportswriters? I would wager not.

In Heinz's day, and Bissinger's, the keys to the kingdom were held by the old guard, and they didn't let you ascend until you had been tested. There's something to be said for that, but there's also something to be said for the ability that today's sportsbloggers have to bypass all that.

I think on some level it sticks in Bissinger's craw that he had to climb a ladder, while Leitch seemingly gets a free ride. What Bissinger doesn't seem to get is that there are different challenges and tests that Leitch continues to face (technological, sales, marketing) that Bissinger never did.

Alan, as someone with feet planted in both traditional and new media, I would be curious as to your take on this generational divide. Does some of the devaluation of online journalism come from a sense of not having "paid your dues," from an old guard that certainly had to pay theirs?

Sarah D. Bunting said...

"I think on some level it sticks in Bissinger's craw that he had to climb a ladder, while Leitch seemingly gets a free ride. What Bissinger doesn't seem to get is that there are different challenges and tests that Leitch continues to face (technological, sales, marketing) that Bissinger never did."

Leitch tried to point that out -- that you don't just hit "send" on a post and become A Known Sports Blogger. I think Bissinger does resent, and fear, on some level, the fact that "anyone can do it," but not just anyone can "do it" *well*, or have any success at it. It does take time to build a readership, and that's not taking into account technological challenges, design issues, finding sponosors, blah blah blah.

I found his almost hostile listing of his accomplishments (making sure to basically deny that he's a sportswriter as well) nearly as off-putting as the original kerfuffle. It's like he thinks they're going to take his Pulitzer back because it can't go on an RSS feed or something. He is the *last* guy who should feel threatened by the internet; everything he writes gets optioned.

I'm also struck by how careful he was to say that he respects the "information-based" sports sites. In other words, if it's straight reporting like he's so proud of doing, he can live with it, but if it's "just" well-crafted opinion, it's worthless, I guess.

In any case, none of the "apologizing" he's done has seemed all that apologetic. Pretty "I'm sorry you feel that way" from where I sit. Good for his wife for telling him he made an ass of himself, though.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, as someone with feet planted in both traditional and new media, I would be curious as to your take on this generational divide. Does some of the devaluation of online journalism come from a sense of not having "paid your dues," from an old guard that certainly had to pay theirs?

My own professional history is so strange -- basically, I got a job at the Ledger a week after college graduation, and due to a variety of circumstances, was doing TV criticism within a month -- that I'm not sure I can provide the best perspective on this.

I will say that I expected to have to pay my dues and all, but when circumstances allowed me to skip over that portion of the career, I didn't sense much resentment about it, either from other people at the paper or other TV critics. Most of my best friends in the TCA are a decade older than me, if not a few decades.

I think the general resentment from some (but by no means all) MSM members towards bloggers comes from the following:

1)Paranoia that they'll be made obsolete/unemployed by the blogosphere

2)Resentment that bloggers don't have to adhere to the same journalistic standards that they do

3)A combination of paranoia and resentment, in that some bloggers, either by being really good at what they do or by meticulously critiquing the MSM, point out that a lot of MSM people who make a living at what they do aren't any better or more qualified to do it than people doing it for free.

sr said...

Alan, thanks for your perspective. I can understand why anyone working in the newspaper business might feel paranoid. But, to misquote Barack Obama, I think too many of them are "clinging" to their fear of bloggers and the Internet, when the real problems are elsewhere.

I find it ironic that so many newspapers are cutting costs by dropping arts critics. If they're looking to compete online, strong, informed critical voices are one of the few things that have been proven to work.

Sarah, to judge by that interview, I think Bissinger's wife gets a lot of practice telling him he's made an ass of himself .