Ritch Winter’s take on a recent blog post on Pass It To Bulis led to a minor brouhaha on the Internets today.
Winter, who took issue with the theory being floated that he was the unnamed person in a Tony Gallagher column talking about Cody Hodgson’s icetime, went on at great lengths to express his disdain for the current state of journalism, narrowing his focus more specifically on sports journalism and how they’re constantly in a rush to be first and not factual.
Of that, there can be no dispute. Plugged-in hockey fans have sniggered over TSN or Sportsnet passing on an Eklund rumour or, worse, taking a completely made-up rumour and passing it along like it was the gospel truth. There were a group of folks on a hockey board I used to frequent who fabricated a ‘hockey insider’ personality and used careful planning and organisation to make him seem legitimate.
Bob McKenzie, arguably the top hockey writer in Canada, even gave this person a shout out.
We’ve also had unfortunate incidents like when CTV Ottawa had reported that Pat Burns had passed away, only to receive a phone call from Pat Burns correcting them of their mistake.
More recently, there were the rumours regarding contract extensions for Ron Wilson and Steve Tambellini. Wilson’s eventual contract was nowhere near as long as the original, but folks picked it up and ran with it like it was the gospel truth.
I joked about Tambellini, but made note that this wasn’t confirmed and that it was very much a rumour. I had no idea of knowing, and no legitimate hockey press was corroborating my story.
Winter wasn’t happy that he wasn’t contacted regarding his story and that the speculation upon which the entire blog post hinged on, that he was the one who was griping about Hodgson’s icetime, wasn’t immediately diffused.
I love Pass It To Bulis. Harrison and Daniel are great guys who churn out a ridiculous amount of content. I have nothing respect for them, and the fact that Harrison’s taken on responsibilities at Puck Daddy is awesome. Makes me think I might be able to make something of myself one day.
I also love Ritch Winter. Anyone who can rip the Calgary Flames in the manner he did gets a gold star and a beer of his choice any day of the week. It makes for great reading material and copy.
So, in a situation like this, it’s like Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart, or CM Punk vs. Brian Danielson. Pitting my favorites against each other. Not cool.
That said, I have to agree with Ritch Winter.
The main complaint from bloggers is that they aren’t taken seriously. Damien Cox rails against ‘bloggers’ (like we’re a collective, organised mass, or an easily constructed, easily dismissed stereotype.) The Edmonton Oilers want nothing to do with bloggers. Steve Simmons, based on my experiences with him, isn’t a fan, either.
There’s a desire for legitimacy from bloggers. For good reason. In this day and age, we live in such an information rich society, newspapers aren’t really the gatekeepers that they once were. Information flows a lot more freely, and it’s entirely feasible that you could ‘compete’ with a legitimate organisation if you find the right niche or area to specialise in.
And I get it. Pass It To Bulis isn’t a 100% serious blog. There is a strong comedic element to their content (heck, in a discussion that’s going on AS WE SPEAK Harrison jokingly asked me if I even read his stuff when I asked if bloggers want to be taken seriously) and, to be entirely fair, the PITB Twitter account did acknowledge that they may be more careful moving forwards.
That said, when you offer up serious criticism about someone like Damien Cox (random note: I didn’t know there was a shout-out to me in the linked post until just now) or write the black players/Atlanta Thrashers story, and delve into ‘serious’ blogging, you can’t hide behind ‘we’re all about the Photoshops. Honest!’
A lot of people have been dismissive of Winter’s complaints, though, and I think it’s doing a disservice to the blogging community and the people who are cranking out solid content. When a blog like Pass It To Bulis gets a stamp of legitimacy from the Vancouver Sun, reader expectations rise. People may (arguably unfairly) put the Bulis Boys on the same level as the Sun and, as a result, have the same expectations.
And, unfortunately, legitimacy isn’t going to be handed over to you. Otherwise Eklund would be God-Emperor of the Internet and I would have ended it all in a tragic bloodbath by bludgeoning people to death with an oversized letter E. Harrison and Daniel have earned their little corner of the Internet by cranking out solid material that is well written, funny, insightful and engaging.
But getting that endorsement from a legitimate media outlet, you still have to be careful, in my estimation. You have to give Winter a chance to respond, mostly because that’s what a legitimate newspaper or news outlet would do.
The other issue is that blogging and online media is still very much a developing medium. I don’t think blogging-as-news (or as a substitute, depending on your views) has been completely fleshed out yet, and we’re probably one website or app or idea away from really solidifying things. So there’s still a lot of finding your way.
I’m not saying that PITB was doing anything intentionally malicious or duplicit. There’s no way that would be the case. I do think that there are considerations to be made and that it isn’t fair to dismiss Winter as being another out of touch ‘old’ person who doesn’t ‘get’ blogs.
It’s awesome that PITB is taking this in stride. I just think other folks out there need to be cognizant of this as well.