Blogging Outcry….My Response

 

When I first heard the story about Jared Morris, who posted a blog on www.midwestsportsfan.com recently that brought up the “speculation” of the Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez may be indulging in some specially energized vitamin compound outside the rules of the game, I had a eerie recollection of a blog I wrote a few months back about the bloggers being the “Rodney Dangerfields of Journalism”. 

In that blog I was wondering if we did not get the respect for what we did as an underlying check and balance system within the Internet community. I gained a lot more valuable insight on both sides of the issue after posting that article from both websites and media members. Both these entities will be here from now on, the collective joining of the two segments might be the key to everyone seeing and following the same guidelines and beliefs in the new media format.

We (bloggers) have been deemed the  new storytellers of our generation. The way our grandparents used to take us aside and tell us wild tales of the Great Depression. We got a sense of the times that they lived through based on their stories.  Today our recollections and thoughts that are typed onto the Information Highway can be taken with a grain of salt, or taken full bore as the truth or a lie depending on your own personal beliefs and opinions.

I always had the notion that a blogger being basically a buzzing horsefly bothering the cows (media) in the pasture. The cow swats us away at times, but knows we also serve some sort of purpose in the whole scheme of things and basically tolerates us because of it.

I also have to contend with the fact I acknowledge and view the blogging community format a bit different after reading the response blog posting and comments on www.midwestsportsfan.com recently. I see where both side can get a bit animated on the issue posted in the blog. But the fact is the guy was not outright accusing him in any of the chosen words or phases, but the idea of some type of improper conduct seemed to condemn the blog before you even read it. But that is the essence of life in this era that sometimes fast information and recognition along with the lead into a blog posting can be the only thing read nowadays before opinions are based in our minds.

I have come upon the belief that sometimes your true words and thoughts do not fully seem to gel and mesh with your thoughts on paper/net until you hit that “Post” button, then it is too late to edit it.  Once you click on it, the entry is out there for any level of interpretation or dissection it merits. I am not one of those people who posts a blog then re-write it 20 minutes later after second thoughts. The before mentioned blog did cause a bit of a hassle for me for  about one day, then like most online entries, it was yesterday’s news. Since that time, not one comment or even a glance has been made towards that blog. It was now out of sight, out of mind.

I made sure I read the so-called “offending blog” today again before viewing the video about the incident from a recent ” Outside the Lines” show, I can see the views of both sides a bit clearer on the issue at hand. I really do believe as Ken Rosenthal of ESPN and John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer hinted that 5 years ago, this type of “speculation” blog article would have fallen by the wayside and not gotten more than a quick read or even a glance from anyone on the Internet. 

It is the new found responsibility and unwritten status now from all of us to maybe rethink  some of our own boundary lines when we write  accusation or speculation blog entries. In the last few years, most of the countries newspapers, and even blog sites like ESPN.com have made their feature blogs and articles a reading mainstay of their reporting outside of the televised or printed editions of the news. Newspapers are going digital every day. It is for this reason that even a blogger can now be held more responsible, as a kind of “uncarded media member” for their thoughts and comments. Which has its own set of pitfalls and future problems.

Twitter,Facebook, Myspace, and even MLBlogs.com do have people who read your blogs daily. You might be doing it as an added entertainment factor for your love of the game, but “Joe Yankee” fan might take offense to your personal rendition and responses to their heroes Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez being used as fodder for your ever growing blog popularity. I have to admit that I take a bit of a relaxed approach at times to blogging more for the fact that this is not sourced journalism where I have access to players,coaches and team personnel to get added information. 

Most of what I find out is on written media sources or face-to-face conversations with players or team officials. Even my simple sidebar postings of the Rays injury updates daily comes from either the local media members, or from personal comment from players or staff about their injury status. I recently talked to two injured Rays players who told me they are starting their throwing programs this Friday. I am not paid,compensated so to find a nice gem of a comment or can make it all worth it at times.

Sometimes the lines get foggy and muted and to cross them can be as simple as that first step. Accountability and accuracy is the keystone of writing in a journalistic format. To check and double-check is a part of the lifeblood you are taught in that first Journalism class. And to think no one is watching or even reading your stuff is a recipe for disaster. But when a person blogs, most of us know usually only a group of 10-20 people who tend to read our stuff, but every once in a while, someone or some site stumbles upon your writing and either takes offense, or sees your point of view and advertises it to the rest of the world too.

The basic premise is a blog is suppose to be the format for personal thoughts, ideas and opinions. The true nature of the beast here is that the bloggers and their readers have grown tremendously in size and importance to be a unwritten focal point of life today. Perez Hilton and other gossip bloggers like him now have a millions of followers because of their outlandish and sometimes erroneous thoughts online. But they still do the basic sweat equity to find out if there is merit to their posting before throwing someone under the bus.

The odd part of all of this is not words or phrases accused Ibanez of wrongdoing, just a questioning of the state of the sport right now after recent finding of some of our heroes abusing the system, and some getting caught red-handed in unfortunate surrounding and actions. I think it is part of the unchained responsibility of blogging to not always trust everything you read and see, but to research and bring your own side of the story too. I know some media sources have agendas that tend to make them more “homers” when they write blogs or articles about our teams and their players.

Should we get the same treatments that mainstream journalists get if they mess up and write something unsourced and ambiguous. I am more and more  insight into this
subject after erroneous posting and comments. But then again, the “He said, She said” mentality of most blogging communities tends to bring to light the honest facts that personal opinions are fine spoken verbally within a small group of people, but voice it online and you can attract more than just a comment. In the blog written by Jared Morris, it doesn’t scream either libel or slander because the intention here was to voice a concern or speculation and not establish fact or circumstances to even thrust Ibanez into the light for further examination by anyone within or outside of the sport.

But I can see where established journalists can come out and condemn and accost him for his efforts. They might  agree with his logic or opinions in their minds, but their journalistic integrity questions the way it was presented to the public via the Internet. But that is the fine line that we cross sometimes without noticing it until we hit that “Post” button.

What looks great to us on the initial posting can turn into a firestorm just as quickly as this blog’s speculation of adverse numbers because of a suspected PED abuse.  His blog actually reads more to me as a true “tongue-in-cheek” action-reaction to Ibanez’s extreme upward trend in his statistics. But it is also being anointed as the key piece of evidence to why there needs to be change in the blogging world in accordance to unsourced or opinion-based blog postings.

I think the comment by Rosenthal near the end of the video puts it all into better prospective here. “It is the power of the written word. That is what we are all taught. You have to be careful, you have to be clear, you have to be responsible,” Rosenthal stated in the OTL segment. In response to the idea that the blog was written without due thought process he added, “I am sorry, as well intended as he (Morris) might have been, you can’t tell me he met these standards in this case.”

People who write online do have to use a bit more consideration and thought before hitting the “Post” button. I am guilty of it myself. But that is also one of the things that sometimes drives us to the Internet. It is like the reason people slow down to watch a traffic accident, or watch video of celebrities becoming moving train wrecks for their actions.  The basic facts is that opposing viewpoints bring about discussion, which can be great for enlightenment and understanding on certain subjects. But they also open you to huge avenues of opinion and commentary either positive or negative towards your own views. 

This controversy  can be food for thought. Either you are going to see merits, or you will go about your business as usual. Me, I am still riding the fence here, but I also know that this will not be the last time we read or hear about an outburst in the blogging world. But hopefully we can all learn a bit from the experience…or not.

12 Comments

Rays – without a doubt, the “written word” is powerful; whether it is written on paper or out in cyberspace. And I think what we write, at times, in blogs can be taken much to seriously. I write a piece while back where not only was I very clear to identify the piece as “my opinion” and to not specifically cite any one so as not to draw them into my debate, the whole point of the article – that fans need to be nice to each other – was missed. People, because they can respond instantly on blogs, let their tempers flare without giving any thought to it. And I think that happens at time when people write posts; they forget to think “would I want my to mom to read what I wrote and would she be proud of it?” If you can answer yes to those questions that I think much of the speculation that goes on in blogs would end and we all would find that we are proud of what we wrote. Great post to get us all thinking!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Clever post. I agree with all of those points.
-Dillon
http://dillonm.mlblogs.com

Nice post! The thing that kind of annoyed me most when I read that guys post was that it sounded like his analysis of the situation was actually leaning away from the drug issue, but then, he went there anyway. Even went so far as to say, “it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility that “other” performance enhancers could be part of the equation.” You know how you think certain things in your head, but never dream of saying them aloud as it may be crossing a line? This should have been one of those things. It crossed the line. And what is really “foolish” is that a rational person can dismiss hard work as a reason for success. Just makes me sad :O(

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Jenn,
I think the guy had great intentions to begin with, but as the two media members basically tried to say was he just said thing aloud that should have only been said in private.
That is the fine line that we all have to tread but do not always see….. where the common line of rumor and speculation crosses with truth and accusation.
It is one I know I can sometimes have trouble with becuase the line is not defined, but the “gossip bloggers” do not help since they cross the line in almost every post to a degree.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Dillon,
Thanks for that.
When I originally wrote it yesterday no one posted a comment until later in the evening.
I was afraid people were shying away from the issue and the controversy.
It is just something each of us is going to ahve to guage and separate ourselves to decide if we can see that fine line for ourselves.
Hopefully none of us will be called on the carpet like this guy in the video.
But if we are, I truly hope we do not look like a deer in the headlights like Morris.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Julia,
You of all people know I do not have a problem speaking my mind.
That is the essence of this whole situation. We post our opinions, feeling and actions/reactions to things and events we witness.
But when you post, something the simple art of empathy can make you stop before you cross the line.
It shows us all how a simple comment can balloon into a major speaking point and gets you thinking or wondering if you too step over that line at times.
Also Julia, some people just love to come onto blogs and argue with you.
I had a guy yesterday who posted a pretty extreme comment on one of my older blogs.
I did not delete it, and I told him I would leave it up because to delete a negative comment would basically falsify my blog.
There will always be negative energy to any thought or comment online somewhere.It is just to what extent a person will move towards that defines logical or insane.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Interesting topic as always. I try to call em as I see em and never write above my intelligence level which at times leaves me with nothing to write :). I do not believe that I would even speculate that someone was on some sort of “Juice” unless I knew for sure. Those are damaging words whether they are true or not…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

Rock,
That is the problem we are faced with anymore.
The once acceptible adage that you can call someone on something is gone.
In its place is the aspect of libel and slander law and the possibility of public humiliation.
The media s a style book, which maybe someone more adventurios than me can publish and make millions on in publication rights.
That is one of the reason I loved Mark’s J-blog segments. They brought about a new light and thinking into the blogging experience ever time he posted one online.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

My thinking is that blogging gives us a voice. I’m not a baseball expert. I’m a fan with opinions. If I write that something is a fact, it should be a fact. But if I write that something is my opinion, then that’s all it is. I try to use humor to lighten my opinions, but I’m never going to please everybody and I shouldn’t try. I have always refrained from accusing players of wrongdoing (as in the Ibanez case). I just wouldn’t touch that with the proverbial ten foot pole.

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

I finally read the blog that started the whole brouhaha, and I have to say that the way I interpreted it, he didn’t come out and make any accusations, but pointed out that in this day and age, that particular question is bound to be raised whenever a player produces at a level beyond his norm in the past. He certainly seemed to be looking at all kinds of variables in an effort to defend Ibanez’s hot start. As for me, I am no longer surprised by ANY name that comes out associated with PEDs. It just seems to have been way too prevalent the past number of years to not be gnawing away in the back of my mind.
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

Jane, I am with you on that scenario.
Writers write for different reasons.
I know you would not poke at a sleeping dog with a stick, but I would to a point.
I have been on both side of this fence and neither of the sides are totally green.
Just going with a basic Ying and Yang of journalism will keep you safe and secure grasshopper.
Seriously, if you have proof you should not worry about what you write, if you prefabricate some thing, you have reason to sweat the small things. Truth is the greatest divider of people.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Sue,
I actually respect Jose Canseco for not trying to lie to us and even if his book can be made out to be a bit of snake-in-the-grass journalism, I respect his honesty about himself.
But when Rafel Palmero basically lied to our faces, I began to question things a bit even in a honest mans case just for arguement.
I agree, he really did not out and out accuse Ibanez, and that is the reason the media jumped on him………He made a half truth seem more credible than it was in real life.
Working for the Media is fun, but personal blogging is the bomb!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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