Commence The Blogger Circular Firing Squad

A curious thing happened to my RSS reader in the past couple of days: there was this article in the L.A. Times on Sunday that basically was the same old “us v. them” narrative about the mainstream media and sports blogging, and it made me yawn, because it was stoking the fires of the whole Buzz Bissinger vs. Will Leitch mess from Costas Now awhile back and I simply found it boring and innocuous enough. This is probably because I have very little professional investment in any “movement.”

I must have missed something. because the quotes provided by The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre in the piece have managed to piss off Leitch, who wondered why McIntyre (or anyone else) would admit to changing based on Bissinger’s ranting. Following suit are Matt Ufford of KSK/With Leather and the eponymous Dan Shanoff. Will’s missive is now getting blowback from SML over at Sports on my Mind and Dave Lozo.

Frankly, it’s starting to make me a bit ill after reading all of it. So, McIntyre speaking for the blog world is a problem with a bad quote, but Leitch’s poor defense of blogging during Bissinger’s spittle was any better? For most of the media, Will Leitch is still the face of sports blogging and not too many have made forceful and loud objections about that (I’m thinking SOMM and Can’t Stop The Bleeding are the obvious exceptions.)

Look, the quote itself by McIntyre isn’t good: what proof do he or PFT’s Mike Florio have that there was this massive self-assessment post-Bissinger? I don’t see it. I think the medium was always fluctuating, well before Bissinger spewed — because page views and outside factors changed; people got book deals, decided to not use pseudonyms, got offers to get paid for their work, etc.  Deadspin brought back A.J. Daulerio and has a ton of outside contributors now, and Leitch wrote a book (which, in full disclosure, I helped review for the site) and toured for it.

I totally agree with Leitch on this part: do it because it’s fun. So, with that in mind, try not to listen or read the BS articles and tripe pushed by media forces who probably don’t get it, and don’t get so upset about it. I’m not quite sure why everyone presumes McIntyre thinks he’s speaking for everyone now, and it’s not like a lot of the same people criticizing him now had as sizable a problem with Leitch being the one to speak for the medium. (Please see Shanoff’s endorsement of Leitch to replace Rick Reilly on the back page of Sports Illustrated.)

I’ve said before that Bissinger had a salient point: he undermined it with his language and anger.  But why can’t writers alter how they do things to be more professional, to have more confidence in what they stand behind and write?  Anyone advocating the essential position “don’t change what you do because of the loudmouths” has a point, but what if those loudmouths happen to have one of their own?

In a 24-7 cycle for both mainstream news and blogs, sometimes both mediums ape the worst of the other: feeding off the cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel stories and instant speculation. This leads to the perpetuation of established media narratives on every platform (favoring management and teams over players, presuming the arrested athlete is guilty until proven innocent, etc.)  Very, very few of the sports blogs that are popular are immune to this.  Maybe some sort of self-examination of what you post and why you do it isn’t such a bad thing.

As usual, when this sort of thing happens, the real truth is probably somewhere between the sides taken on this.

10 Responses

  1. I can understand that Will has to protect his business. If I thought another blogger was infringing on my right to be a sports blogger and post in my style, I’d go after them too. But the way he went after TBL was just so off. I try not to go after anyone who I can’t knock out with one punch, you know? Cursing and carrying on looks a lot like something Bissinger did…

    I just don’t know, S2N. I try to hang out on places like Deadspin and TBL while still recognizing that there’s a lot of bias out there, which is why I write for SOMM. I know you do much the same in your own way. But arguments like this about who the King of All Blogs is are so worthless!

  2. I really think these arguments bore more readers than they engage, MC, no matter who starts them or who is involved.

    I don’t give a shit if McIntyre is really “respected” or “well thought of” by the big-blog peers or seen as an “MSM suck-up” by Shanoff.

    We’re all free to judge the merits on our own and visit the sites accordingly. I understand taking people to task for bad assumptions, faulty logic, etc. — blogs do it for MSM, and checks and balances in this environment is needed. But this all feels like insiders sniping at each other.

    Do we really have to discuss so much of the “future” of the medium in such a reflexive manner? Arguing over market share is silly. Do your work and do it well and there will hopefully be a place for you.

  3. My blog is more legitimate and/or interesting than your blog, and the only way your blog would be more legitimate and/or interesting is if you totally sell out / suck up to local columnists / pawn your work off on other, hungrier writers. I mean, holy shit.

    Anyway, Dave Lozo (whose site I have never read, and I don’t mean that in a snotty way) is 95% correct about Deadspin (which we haven’t read in about a year).

  4. Deadspin 2005-2008 = Ain’t Cool News 1998-2002

    Really.

  5. (And that is not a bad thing. It’s just a comment on how we as entertainment consumers are seeing how the mediums for our fandoms have changed.)

  6. RUTS – hah.

    TSW – it does feel like that, right? But I hate to even get into that talk sometimes because it has a “back in the day” feel.

    These mediums change. The circle jerk firing squad is completely funny — there’s not much of a leg to stand on to call McIntyre a suck-up to media when those attacking you are making TV appearances and promoting books.

  7. […] choosing sides for the impending, not-so Civil War. I’ll spare you the synopsis because Signal to Noise did a great job. This is on the heels of the sexism in blogging controversy at FanHouse, which grabbed my attention […]

  8. As a non blogger and an avid reader of the blogs I dont like the fact that TBL was picked as the voice of the blogs. Why not quote TBL, Leitch and others. I dont think the more popular blogs need any cleaning up to do or were under any self search mode. I dont always agree with the commentors but I do like to hear different opinions. But I also see 2 distinct camps here the TBL guys and deaspin guys. Me I lean towards the KSK,Ufford and not a big TBL fan. Basically because he puts too much politics and social commentary into it. If I want to read that I will go to those type if sites. But TBL should just say what he feels for HIS site and not come off as speaking for all of the sports blogs. I hope this made a little sense.

  9. […] tirade against Deadspin’s Will Leitch (so eight weeks ago), and what my old colleague Signal To Noise aptly described as the Blogger Circular Firing Squad that re-ignited the blogs vs. MSM debate this week, here’s a link to a Q&A between myself […]

  10. Watch a Nerd Bend WordPress Blogs to his Will!

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