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  • A Blogger's Struggle for Credibility

       November 14, 2007

    The New York Times has a football blog (who knew?) called "The Quad". How quaintly East Coast liberal arts school of them, no? Anyway, since "The Quad's" writers look like college guys, I think we're supposed to buy that they're somehow providing expert coverage. Uh, like this preview of last week's Michigan/Wisconsin game:

    Pete: Michigan. A fully healthy Mike Hart is the difference. Thayer: Michigan. Game’s only highlight would be if “The Great Daynes” are part of the halftime ceremony to retire Ron Dayne’s jersey. Connor: Michigan. A tuneup for next week’s showdown with Ohio State.

    I write more insightful previews that than. And I'm a woman! Compare what the "legitimate" New York Times college football crew wrote to MGoBlog's preview. Like our friend Drew from the Longhorn Mafia, Brian at MGoBlog clearly knows his stuff and how to write about it entertainingly.

    I'm bringing all of this up because yesterday Brian broke the news that Lloyd Carr would retire at the end of the season. Even though Brian is clearly really an expert on Michigan football, the boys over at "The Quad" dismissed his news with this:

    Well, how about the potential of Lloyd Carr’s final game as Michigan coach? A Michigan blog cites three unnamed sources saying, “Carr has made his decision to retire official and people around the athletic department are being told. The formal announcement will come after the Ohio State game, possibly at the Monday press conference, possibly a day or two later.”

    Let’s just say that MGoBlog is not exactly a rock of journalistic credibility, as their site features a picture of a guy holding a “Jesus hates Wisconsin” sign and a cartoon snake bludgeoning a Badger. But there is certainly a buzz. The far-more-reliable Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune writes that two industry sources believe this is Carr’s final year at Michigan.

    Oh, the hypocrisy! While clearly Jesus does love Wisconsin (after all, it is God's country), it's also quite clear that MGoBlog has at least as much journalistic credibility as CBS News, Newsweek, or even Sports Illustrated. In fact, after reading this quote, I think Brian might have far more journalistic credibility than those bastions of the traditional media:

    At MGoBlog, things are different. It is a blog. I am a guy. I float on the internet. So for it to be credible at all it has to be right all the time. And I have to do this largely without ever meeting or talking to the people who provide information. So there are some requirements. Everything I post has to be multiply sourced if the tipster hasn't established a track record. I try to lay out the situation in as much detail as I can, giving a timeline of events and stating what I think and why. (Unfortunately, in this situation all sources have requested no details be relayed.) I am very serious about getting things right. I have to be. It is my sole source of credibility.

    The traditional media want it both ways here. They want to play with new media so they seem hip and cool, but they are also so very protective of their "journalist" status that they'll grab every opportunity to mock a blogger. They still think bloggers are on the fringe, that they're the Ron Pauls of the Internet. They haven't yet figured out that a guy in Michigan with sources in the university's athletic department or that a guy on the ground in Iraq might actually know more than they do or that some of the best information on 9/11 came from eyewitnesses talking to each other on gasp! message boards. Bloggers and the like aren't always right. Sometimes, like "real" journalists, they're irresponsible and careless. But, more than a few of them know how to write.

    Oh, and they also like kittens.

    Posted by at November 14, 2007 07:56 AM

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    #  November 14th, 2007 9:31 AM      kris
    Speaking of kittens, I just got back from taking Zaporzan to the vet. The vet informed me that he has a BCS ranking of 5! Wow, Zappy's better than Ohio State! W00T! I was then informed that BCS stands for "Body Conditioning System" and that his ranking of 5 means that he's "Ideal". I guess that's cool, but not as cool as if he got to go to the Rose Bowl.  
    #  November 14th, 2007 10:26 AM      BVBigBro
    Traditional media have been completely killed in the sports realm. Their web equivalents, trying to be all encompassing, are even worse. Yahoo's sports "experts", for instance, talked about Noah Herron early in the season not knowing he had been on IR for a couple of weeks and was out for the year. This past week one of them descibed the Packers as fluky because of the tipped pass caught for a touchdown, evidently not knowing the score was 27-0 before the fluke.

    The local guys are on a completely different level than the MSM and the local web guys are the best of the best.  
    #  November 14th, 2007 10:31 AM      kris
    Teams are starting to "get it" too. The NY Islanders have a "blog box" on their site and have issued media credentials to bloggers and given some of them expanded player access.  
    #  November 14th, 2007 8:18 PM      themandownthehall
    Isn't that kitten and emo week after App State a hoot. I mean, you can rant on and on, you can call names and cuss, or you can put up pictures of kittens. When I clicked on that on Sunday after App State, it brightened my day immensely. When we lost to Oregon, he put a crying baby up and posted the title line on the blog of "Crying like little girls since Sept 1, 2007". You have to love someone with a good sense of humor when it's all crashing down. When we beat the Irish, he put a picture or Reagan up with the Morning in America slogan.

    And didn't you love the 2 kittens in a cup!

    You and BVBigBro are right on. The media are trying to have it both ways. Hate bloggers, but have your own blog. They are late to the game and I don't think they can catch up. Why go to yahoo sports or the New York Times sports when I can go to and get the gamecast. Or go to MGoBlog and read the live-blog with some fellow fans. Are they always right? No, but they are a lot more fun and I'll wager they are just as accurate if not more so than the old media.

    Brian is one of the best, if not the best of the Michigan bloggers. His "sources" called the Beilein hire as well as several injury decisions that were going to be "game day decisions" this season. He doesn't aspire to be a paparazzi or a mole. He just eats, breathes and lives UM and loves to write about it. No major media site playing in the new media can do that since they have to cover everyone. It's a game they can't win.

    Of course, this is TheManDownTheHall and what post of mine would be complete without a major tangent... The best thing about Brian is that like this site, his site is civil. Sure there's some fun joking and razzing (well deserved for us UM fans this year), but it is a site where the manners are expected to be on display by default. A trait that is lacking on a lot of sites these days.

    You let me come here and ramble on and on and actually let me think I know something when I have no friggin clue. And you do it with out making me wear fireproof clothing. I could post a comment directly confronting your opinions and you either ignore me or kindly rebut. Brian's site is the same way. Maybe a bit more blunt, but still, name calling and insults are very much frowned on. Try that on daily Kos or democrat underground or even If you don't get banned, you will get pounded. As shown in your Quad quote, courtesy is not always mandatory. I'm glad it is here and at MGoBlog.  
    #  November 14th, 2007 8:21 PM      drew
    These two fruitcakes ain't exactly Stewart Mandel.

    And thanks for the props, though and put my blog to shame, in terms of Texas-related sites.  
    #  November 14th, 2007 8:37 PM      kris
    What I like about Longhorn Mafia and MGoBlog are that they combine good analysis with personal stories. I don't really care about Texas or Michigan football, but I do like to read funny and interesting stories.  
    #  November 14th, 2007 8:53 PM      BVBigBro
    The other thing is that when you are writing about a specific team it is likely that the readers are mostly fans of that team, and thus knowledgeable. In the past correcting the writer meant writing a letter to the paper, which few people would do. Today you can leave a comment for the world to see immediately. Or if comments are banned, you can post your correction elsewhere for lots of people to see.

    Ideally, MSM sports outlets should specialize in things they know something about, or have multiple people each of whom is dedicated to a specific team, but I suspect that isn't profitable.

    ESPN gets criticized for being all Yankees, but really, what else do they know?  



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