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  • Threatening The Media

    "My gawd - THEY are afraid of US? Really?"

    That's the thought that went through my head last night when a flame war broke out on Twitter between two local groups that had established a uneasy truce in recent years: corporate media and independent writers, commonly labeled bloggers. The critical topic? Baseball.

    Or rather, thatís the subject matter about which the involved parties write. The topic was the power of independent writers and the checks and balances from which they are seemingly immune.

    Concern 1: Independent writers are just fans who benefit from having a very large platform.

    It's true. Some independent writers have very big platforms from which they can distribute their messages. In fact, yesterday, Twins Daily, a site that hosts independent baseball writers, announced they have drawn 34,000 unique visitors to view half a million pages since they launched five weeks ago. So yeah, they have a hell of a big soap box.

    But that platform was not handed to them by a media entity established decades before by writers who built up an audience. Rather, the independent writer IS the person who built up the audience. They find themselves free to do with it what they want.

    Concern 2: Independent writers don't have the same accountability of corporate journalists.

    It's true. Journalists can be fired for their mistakes, but not independent writers. Know why? Because independent writers never asked to be hired. They are not dependent on pleasing anyone other than their audience. Their livelihood likely isn't even dependent on that. Their audience decides how accountable they need to be, not their corporate masters.

    Like any writer, if they screw up, they can publicly mocked and condemned. I wonder if they'll be able to handle that?

    Concern 3: Independent writers don't appreciate the value of Access and the accuracy it brings.

    It's true. Access can increase accuracy, provided those being interviewed feel like telling the truth. But one cannot have that Access without accepting compromises, whether it be trying to steer clear of a public relations doberman or hesitating to criticize a player whom one personally admires. Indeed, navigating these challenges is the art of journalism.

    Since the independent writers don't have that Access, they've taught themselves how to live without it and still find compelling content and an audience. In fact, most who have achieved a certain level don't want that Access. They'll trade any accuracy it includes for objectivity, thanks very much.

    (Incidentally, the people who want the independent writers to appreciate that Access are precisely the same groups that work so hard to deny it: the baseball teams and the journalists.)

    The bad news is that the concerns are real. The media is damn astute to be nervous about the power the independent writers wield right now. They're popular, they don't give a crap about Access and they're beholden to no one.

    The worse news is that they helped create them.

    But I do have some good news for concerned corporate journalists who want to enjoy all those same benefits. It's one easy step away.

    Just quit your jobs.

    After you find other income, devise compelling stories which are not fed to you by player or coach quotes, and write independently for several years with no compensation, you might just establish an audience. Then you too can be criticized by the corporate journalists.

    And feared.
    This article was originally published in blog: Threatening The Media started by John Bonnes
    Comments 42 Comments
    1. LimestoneBaggy's Avatar
      LimestoneBaggy -
      I've given this quite a bit more thought than I intended when I originally read the piece. I consider myself a gatherer of information. Thus, I read as much of the mainstream stuff as I prefer, and a large chuck of the blogging. To me, the imporant "access" is the connection point between bloggers and the audience. We feel as if we are "one of you", and can readily comment to or against the bloggers thoughts (this, by far, is the principle greatness of this website; the bloggers actively read and comment on others). I most often come to the blogs to share in my love for the sport and "our" team. I want to hear others similarly situated discussing things I find interesting. Access to the players is a great thing the mainstream has, and I will not speak against it, but access to a community of like-minded individuals is where I can hang my hat. In essense, in Twins Daily, I am home, with friends, colleagues, and for the most part, a community of people who don't call the last comment/commenter a ....

      There thought expressed, now back to why I can't beleive no one else thinks Benson looks way too much like James Van Der Beek.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      a community of like-minded individuals is where I can hang my hat. In essense, in Twins Daily, I am home, with friends, colleagues, and for the most part, a community of people who don't call the last comment/commenter a ....
      I want to burst out into the theme song for Cheers!! But thank you so much for the kind words. What you wrote above is exactly what we described when we set about on the trek to building this site. That's exactly what we wanted, a Twins community where we can talk about our favorite team. May not always agree, but can do so in a respectful manner. Thank you for verifying that we just may have done that!
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