Thursday, August 26, 2010

Journalism At Its Worst

A year ago a blogger by the name of Jerod Morris suggested that there was something fishy about Raul Ibanez and the big first half he had for the Philadelphia Phillies. Morris made a huge splash and was invited by many media outlets to attend interviews. Morris, no doubt, figured that this was the kind of exposure all bloggers dream about. What Morris didn't figure on was the roasting he took from major media journalists and rightly so. The episode was the supposed dividing line between professional journalists and the rest of us bloggers. But now, a year later, a journalist...a writer for a major newspaper has done the very same thing.

Damien Cox writes for the Toronto Star. That's a newspaper. Therefore, he is a journalist...a professional. The blogging revolution has turned bloggers into stars and supposed journalists into bloggers. But the trouble with the latter is that the simple reader can't tell the difference between a news story and a "blog." The Fan asks you to click on this link for Damien Cox's "post" concerning Jose Bautista's sudden rise to power king of the majors. Right click here and open the thing in a new tab. Go ahead, the Fan will wait.

Okay? Got it? Now tell the Fan how this is any different from what Morris did last year with Ibanez? There is no difference. And the thing is, this is a Toronto writer bringing up this crap with a guy who is thrilling the hometown fans!? Correct the Fan if he is wrong, but the idea of a journalist speculating on something so arcane without a hint of evidence or backing information (other than the obvious stats), reeks of everything against what they teach at university. The problem for Cox is that he thinks he can play both sides. He feels (obviously) that he can be a journalist sometimes and a blogger sometimes. As a blogger, he is free to shoot the scat-write. He feels this is different than his "serious" reporting when he has to get his facts right and check everything twice.

The thing is, journalism doesn't work that way. And again, the difference is how people read newspapers or what newspapers post on-line. They expect to get the news from writers they trust. They expect sourced materials and accurate sources. They expect the utmost professionalism from the writers in newspapers. If Cox wants to blog and shoot the breeze, he should get a separate site where he can talk about anything he wants. But if he wants to raise the specter of steroids on a player who, as far as we know, is tested regularly and has never failed a test, he can't do that in his professional capacity.

Putting aside the lack of professionalism of a paid journalist, how irresponsible is it for anyone to hang an accusation on a player? Would it be any different if his column speculated that Vernon Wells was gay or that Kevin Gregg was a communist because of their actions on the field? Right. It's the same thing and it's irresponsible. Now multiply that by putting this label on a player for his hometown team. Jose Bautista is one of the best stories to hit the Blue Jays for a very long time. And this guy is going to tear it down?

Guys like Rosenthal did their best to paint Jerod Morris as the reason why bloggers will never be journalists. Where are those guys with this story? Who among his peers is going to call out Cox? Bloggers have won folks. We have taken over the world. Because of what we do, respected journalists have become bloggers and the lines have become blurred. But if that's going to be the case, wouldn't you at least expect journalists to take the higher ground? Cox should go back to the school he graduated from and let the dean there spank him until he bleeds.

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