I wasn’t sure if I wanted to respond to this, because, at this point, this silly media-blogs debate with Mike is more sport than actual debate. Mike gets off on confrontation, and quite frankly, so do I. And the tenor of this squabble is on-par with exchanges we’ve had over the last year. I don’t think any of it is personal, but Mike’s archaic views on new media, blogs, and the Internet in general are public now, so I wouldn’t be holding up my end of the bargain if I didn’t return serve, even if debating Mike is akin to trying to reason with an intractable gopher. Case in point:
Let’s delve into some of his grammatical diarrhea– both the parts about the Eagles and the media, and blogs.
Reuben Frank, who covers the Eagles for Comcast SportsNet, wrote a piece making the point that it’s not the media who loses when executives don’t talk, but the fans.
Hiding behind this bullshit notion that this is about the fans is as disingenuous as you think it is. The obvious counter is that numerous polls – by 97.5, CBS Philly, Bleeding Green Nation – have all returned virtually the same result: about 80% of fans – who, based on the assumed demographics of those three platforms, represent the most passionate and hardcore Eagles fans – don’t care. If they don’t care, I can’t imagine any cross-section of humanity that does. But Mike argues that the respondents aren’t representative of the entire fan base, that the sorts of people who would answer poll questions on these newfangled websites comprise only a tiny subset of the public. For someone who claims to speak for the common fan, that’s a hilariously misguided worldview.
This was immediately met with the typical blog cynicism, especially from Philly’s Crossing Broad and its fearless leader, Kyle Scott, who mocked Frank for implying that the media protects the fans by being their conduit for information.
I think that was more of a shot at blogs, in general, than me specifically. But I’ll defend both. Mike has a point– bloggers typically are cynical, and sometimes we do overreact and shout more loudly than is necessary.* Others do it, I’ve done it. But, more often than not, the cynicism derives from the fact that most of us – the ones with any sort of significant audience – spend a lot of time immersed in a particular subject matter, allowing us to observe patterns in media behavior. In this case, knowing that February is a particularly slow month for anyone who writes or talks about sports for a living, it’s not at all unreasonable to question the motivations behind a column like the one Frank wrote, or an on-air rant like the one Mike delivered the other day. More specifically, I think Mike is butthurt that Chip Kelly won’t accept his request for an interview. If there’s one thing that trumps all else in the Philly sports landscape, it’s Mike’s ego.
*Mike is a sports talk radio host, so a shorter response to his criticism might be: “Well hello, Pot! Yes, I am black, and as a matter of fact, you are too!”
Crossing Broad bills itself as Philadelphia’s most irreverent sports blog, which might be akin to billing Johnny Third Grader as the loudest mouth in class.
Mike has a genuine disdain for new media, blogs, Twitter, email, and basically any form of verbal or written communication that doesn’t require a complex system of antennas or a giant printing press. I may opine from “outside the circle of knowledge” (as Mike put it) when it comes to sports, but, thanks to some of our exchanges, I can say without hesitation that my sphere of intel overlaps with his opinions on several topics relating to local sports and media. It’s a Venn diagram of sorts:
It’s that green star that allows me to be cynical about Mike’s motivations here. He does not like our RADIO WARS coverage. Understandably so. It has amplified the sometimes funny, sometimes tired haymakers thrown by his now-competitior, Josh Innes. Mike’s in a lose-lose situation: taking the bait only helps Innes, but ignoring it means Innes keeps getting the free publicity. Mike probably wishes that I would just stop writing about the damn battle, which he believes doesn’t exist (and his ratings over the last few years back that up). So the timing of this screed against blogs is curious, to say the least. It feels a lot like here’s a taste of your own medicine. Even if Mike would never admit to that.
And yet it’s tough to reconcile his issue with RADIO WARS with his supposed belief that bloggers are nothing more than troublesome school kids bandying about the teacher’s affairs all day long. If blogs are so insignificant, then why all the vitriol?
Here’s what Mike said about new media to my Liberty Broadcast partner, and BGN Radio host, John Barchard:
Mike doesn’t understand new media. He also severely underestimates its reach. It’s as if he woke up yesterday thinking it was 2006, when blogs and websites (more on the supposed distinction between the two in a moment) were nothing more than a niche underground network of fan opinion. That’s simply not the case today.
A September Nielson ratings report estimated that 97.5 The Fanatic has a weekly cumulative audience of 246k listeners between 2 and 6 p.m. on weekdays– Mike’s show. Website stats are typically measured by month (~300k visitors for this site), but Google Analytics puts our weekly visitor total somewhere between 90k-100k. It’s not 246k, but it’s hardly non-substantial. And that’s without a dedicated FM band. Further, if you were to combine our audience with the audience of just a few other local blogs and websites- say, Bleeding Green Nation, Barstool Philly and Broad Street Hockey – you’d be talking about a significant portion of the fan base, and a total audience substantially larger than Mike’s. Not to mention the fact that countless more people will read this post, on this new media site, than will read Mike’s column (or blog, whatever), on Philly Mag’s website.
Still, Mike will dismiss the hundreds of thousands of new media consumers as uninformed pests, or “ingrates.” In emails, he’s referred to the readers of this site as “juvenile,” “not a reflection of the general fan base,” and “20-year-old douchebags.” [A response that roughly 70% of you are between the ages of 25-44 – a prime advertising demo, Mike’s demo – was met with typical non-acknowledgement, as is often the case when you present Mike with, you know, a fact.] Mike, curiously for a prominent media member in 2015, still thinks that everyone who reads blogs, sends him a Tweet or an email, or listens to podcasts, is a mere child whose palate hasn’t yet advanced to appreciate the finer offerings of mainstream reporting. That opinion is a dumb opinion. For as talented as Mike is as a radio host (and, like him or not, he’s very good) and interviewer, he’s painfully unaware of the modern-day habits of his audience.
Today, two species of Internet media are slowly taking over the modern journalistic world: websites and blogs.
His sentiment is understood, but he’s straight-up wrong. Websites are basically the Internet, or at least that’s how it started before apps and such. A blog, technically, is nothing more than a website that is formatted like this one– in reverse chronological order.
But seriously, I’m willing to bet this exact sentence was written by someone, somewhere, in 2003.
The websites normally flow from legitimate journalistic endeavors, such as ESPN.com (which employs more reporters today than the old days when newspapers were king), or locally, CSNPhilly.com, which employs Eagles’ beat writers (as does this site’s Birds 24/7 channel).
1) CSN is about as much “legitimate journalistic endeavor” as a team press release. They’re more of a partner and cheerleader than anything remotely resembling an impartial observer. And that’s fine– their role is obvious to most. But don’t act like they’d ever run their own version of 30 for 30 or Outside The Lines.
The problem with Mike (and many in his generation) is that he actually believes what he wrote here because the word Comcast is in front of Sports Network, or because CSN has big, expensive cameras.
2) It’s funny how he calls Birds 24/7 a “channel,” when, really, it’s a (very good) blog. Technically speaking.
3) The lines between so-called websites and blogs, and journalistic endeavors, are blurring. This site is what it is. But take, for example, SB Nation, which is owned by Vox Media, whose editor just interviewed the President of the United States (as did some famous YouTubers). Are the sites of Vox Media – an online-only media property – blogs or journalistic endeavors? Mike would, disparagingly, call them blogs. But does it really matter? Gawker has a whole team of a “bloggers,” many of whom used to write for newspapers and magazines. Its former editor-in-chief, also Deadspin’s former editor-in-chief, is A.J. Daulerio, who – irony here – used to write for Philly Mag. The Big Lead, founded by blogger Jason McIntyre, is now basically the cornerstone of USA Today’s online sports properties.
Blogs are normally nefarious observers…
Besides making a distinction between blogs and mainstream media that increasingly doesn’t exist, Mike conflates what is often merely blunt objectivity with some sort of sinister plan to bring down everyone else… even though he’s the one who reflexively puts down anyone with whom he disagrees, sometimes unfairly.
… opining from outside the circle of knowledge. What flows from this is a situation where bloggers, folks who have never tasted the field of journalistic battle by neither covering a beat, nor interviewing pertinent parties directly, have nothing left but to try to mock or discredit the actual reporters in the field.
There’s some merit here, I can’t argue with that. But Mike and others like him assume that every blogger is some sort of lesser being because they’ve never attended a press conference or interviewed a coach or athlete (even though most of us have). For some reason, jousting on the “field of journalistic battle” is a more noble fight than, say, quitting your job and successfully building a platform from scratch. Legacy media folks often profess to hate any media endeavor that isn’t solely in service of the quest for truth, and yet many of these people (not Mike, necessarily) survive on nothing more than regurgitated press releases, press conference transcriptions, and hackneyed columns meant to inflate their own self-worth, all the while looking down upon informative, creative, and insightful opinions and analysis just because they came from someone who watched a press conference in HD instead of from a folding chair two feet in front of the camera filming the goddamn thing.
What’s more, is that the goal of us ingrates of the blogger ilk isn’t to mock or discredit certain reporters– it’s to call out the truly horrific ones who, despite their access, somehow manage to bungle their attempts to paint an accurate picture of their subjects. I’m pretty sure Marcus Hayes could write his flaming piles of horse shit from a hot air balloon 3,000 feet over China, or Sam Carchidi, who can barely see, could tweet Flyers play-by-play from a wine cellar in Saskatoon, without us knowing the difference.
It’s not about some weird professional jealousy, Mike– it’s about there being too many truly awful reporters who do virtually nothing with their access, either out of self-preservation, or because they’re too damn uninventive to color outside the lines of their circle of knowledge.
There isn’t a journalist worth their salt who writes in a vacuum. The information he or she publishes is meant to be passed on to other people, i.e. the reader, the viewer or the listener. And so the perception offered by the Crossing Broads of the world is wrong. Somewhere along the line, the media has become the bad guy. They’re the no-goodniks in the locker room who have never played the sport, who look slimy and greasy, who forage for the free food and free entry into games. Maybe some of them are. But the bottom line is they are bringing information to you; the information you rely on daily to follow your team.
Only when they’re not. This whole Eagles-media thing is because the Eagles won’t hold a press conference. Literally. That’s all there is to it. The best Eagles reporters – like Tim McManus – bring us information that the fan can’t otherwise get… through actual reporting. All of the information about a rift between Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman has come from reporters reporting, not by them trumpeting some canned quotes and forced statements from a press conference. What Mike doesn’t understand is that, yes, we would all love for Eagles beat writers to unearth more of this story, but they’re not going to uncover anything at a press conference, where answers would be scripted and rehearsed. That’s the issue. It’s not about bloggers taking down reporters. It’s about the subset of reporters who exist in a tiny bubble, where the conventions of their trade have been codified over years of sameness – go to press conference, write story… talk to player, arrange quotes in readable fashion – and who neither see the forest through the trees, nor realize that their role of repackaging what the rest of us can watch on TV or stream online is an increasingly inessential one.
Even Crossing Broad is writing to its readers. Some of its information is original. Most of it is warmed over crap-spins of already existing stories, troublemaking gossip mongering, or published comments from low IQs that have no shot at a Mensa level.
“Be sure to tune in Tuesday at 5:45 for “Tuesdays with Sal,” in which ESPN shit-stirrer Sal Paolantonio breaks down the Eagles with little original information, recounts already existing stories, spews some troublemaking gossip mongering, and takes a few calls from low IQs that have no shot at a Mensa level! It’s our highest rated segment!!”
So how can Crossing Broad, or any other blog, endorse information not coming to the Philadelphia Eagle fan because the principles don’t feel the need to talk?
You might not like the press. But have a little respect, you bunch of ingrates.
“Have some respect for them, you worthless piles of human garbage!”
These are all things we could talk about and more if Mike would just accept my damn request to come on the podcast. I’d like to get further inside his circle of knowledge.