Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brewers and Blogs

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal beat writer Tom Haudricourt caught up with Doug Melvin to ask him about the team's attitude, Ryan Braun's comments, and that rumor floated by Badger Blogger that Ned Yost was about to be fired.

In response to that last bit -- the Yost rumor -- Melvin said this:
Melvin was aware that a blogger had posted a supposed news scoop late Sunday night claiming he had a source that told him the Brewers were going to fire Yost today. And Melvin said any radio station or TV station or newspaper that responded to a blog site as a news source -- and that includes me because I did so today -- should seriously question themselves.

"I have too much respect for newspapers and news stations for them to respond to a blog for their news," said Melvin. "When they do so, they lose their credibility. I refuse to respond to blogs because anybody can put anything out there."
Why is that when a reporter gets something wrong that reporter, and possibly his newspaper, are the ones that take the heat, but when a blogger gets something wrong, every blog is lumped together as unreliable?

Haudricourt -- who also blogs, by the way -- gets it right. He shames Badger Blogger by name and says he won't cite him again. Thats how it should work: direct, name-brand accountability designed to let people know that which is wheat and that which is chaff. When you dismiss all blogs out of hand you not only unfairly tar the ones who do a good job, but you dilute the scorn that should be directed at the irresponsible blogs, thereby giving them a blobby anonymity under which they can continue to peddle this stuff.


Tim Dierkes said...

Haudricourt also wrote:

"I agree with Melvin whole-heartedly, and it's one of the main problems I have with blogs and responding to blogs."

He is right to call out Badger Blogger and admit his own mistake, but Haudricourt seems to be lumping blogs together himself.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I saw that Tim. My sense of that was that he was doing a bit of apple polishing for Melvin's benefit, but maybe not.

Matt said...

This is the problem: A newspaper has facilities, stock holders, and so forth. A newspaper has risk. If a blogger sullies his reputation, he closes down, changes his name, and opens up shop with a new blog tomorrow, his reputation reset.

Conversely, a blogger stands to gain nothing, in most instances. Some bloggers have something to sell, and their blogs act as promotion. That gives them risk. But others merely self-promote with no avenue for profit. If you can't profit from your blog, you can't be risking anything, either.

You should never just believe anything you read, but in relation to a newspaper, a blogger risks so little when posting something, it is natural that many would view their posts with additional skepticism. Melvin's comments are brief and miss the point somewhat, but extrapolating he might be saying, "In general, you can never trust blog posts like you would a newspaper article. Blogs have little to gain and little to lose, and therefore, if you don't consider morals and ethics, less accountability."

I do not read newspapers. I haven't read a newspaper article in years that interested me. At least there are some bloggers with talent and something interesting to say.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I guess what I would say is that while a blogger risks nothing, he should also have nothing in terms of credibility when he's just starting out. If anything, I was surprised that Badger Blogger even got cited yesterday, because no one could point to anything he's ever written about baseball that would entitle him to any bit of deference or benefit of the doubt on a rumor like that.

There are two ways to go about this for blogs: (1) if you have no track record worthy of trust, you have to report with as much transparancey and belt-and-suspenders support as the newspaper guys do, and probably even more so. That way, anyone else out there can check your work, quiz your sources themselves,and make sure that what they're passing along is good stuff. This solves the problem of the guy who sets up shop under a new name the next day. If he's unknown and it's blind, caveat emptor. If he's unknown and its reported well, who cares who writes it?

(2) if you've been around a while and have developed that reputation, people will be far morew likely to go with your blind items the way we'd go with Gammons or Rosenthal's or whoever.

The point of all of this is that the medium shouldn't be the most important thing, the product should. We have very well-developed means for deciding which newspapers to trust, and there's no reason that this can't apply to blogs as well.

Matt said...

Agreed. I think it just boils down to, "You can't believe everything you read." The fact that a blogger wrote it is irrelevant. It was written by someone with no credibility or reputation, and therefore predictably inaccurate. Everywhere I saw it posted, I read "The Badger Blogger is saying," implying the take this for what it's worth mindset.

Should we be more upset with mainstream media for publicizing it? The Badger Blogger has his audience, I am sure, just like the "Milwaukee Elementary School Tribune" does (if it exists). Mainstream media sort of used the Badger Blogger as a source in this 'scoop.' Isn't that ripe with an alternative agenda?

Craig Calcaterra said...

I don't know if we should be upset with the way it was picked up. If I'm a MSM editor I don't know if I'd pass it along myself (I'm a terrible blogger: I ran it yesterday because the JS picked it up, and I assumed that maybe the JS did so because it heard the same things). Ultimately I have nothing wrong with rumors floating around -- muckraking is fun. I think we all just need to consider the source of what we hear and give it the appopriate weight.

When it doesn't pan out it should be met with a roll of the eyes. It should not constitute an indictment on a medium.