Over the past two weeks, there has been plenty of discussion surrounding blog ethics (The Blogs with Balls 3.0 convention in Chicago), mainstream media reaction to said blog reports and if the two sides are still drawing closer and closer to each other as they had been for the majority of the last half decade. Buzz Bissinger’s latest column at The New Republic is just another board in the bridge between the new mediums, but that was just one man’s thoughts. Thankfully, WFNY had the recent pleasure of discussing the two sides with CBS analyst and Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis – a man who was also one of the louder voices in the more recent debate.
A quick look through Davis’ Twitter feed may have given the impression that the SI.com journalist was anti-new media. Undoubtedly, harsh words were thrown about, but as the Bissinger column points out, the beauty of Twitter is the unfiltered, potentially impulsive tweets. But as Davis pointed out, the heat of the moment may have lead to a bit of misconception.
“Contrary to the impression that was taken from my initial tweet, I really enjoy reading blogs and find them helpful for my job,” said Davis. ”You all really enable me stay on top of things. Moreover, I am in awe of the passion and hard work that goes into these things, especially since I am so un-web-savvy myself. I know the vast majority of you guys have regular day jobs and just do the blogs on the side with no income from them whatsoever. So I am a consumer and a fan as well.”
But calling a spade a spade, Davis’ initial tweet – as referenced above – used the words “idiotic blog report.” Most of his followers, especially those of the blogger variety chose to link the descriptor to the word that immediately followed. Davis, rather, went out of his way to ensure that it was not the blog, or the medium per se, that he was deeming “idiotic.”
“I would also like to point out that in my initial tweet about your report, the word “idiotic” was referring to the report — not to your blog, or you personally, or to blogs in general,” Davis clarified. “While I will grant that my language was over the top, at least I didn’t go the Full Bissinger!”
Full Bissinger, he did not. Granted, the medium of exchange may not have provided the stage for such a rant, but all it takes is a quick read of the two journalists to see that word choice has not been exactly identical over time. But while he did not use some of the terms of Mr. Bissinger, and was not on stage with printouts of past WFNY posts and comments, Davis was undoubtedly frustrated with what had transpired over the period in question.
“To the degree that I was angry/annoyed, there is reason for that,” Davis stated. “First of all, I have three young sons, one of whom is 6 months old and I am very sleep deprived. Okay, not your fault. But my deeper concern is that the media – and I am mostly referring to the so-called mainstream media here — has gotten more and more sloppy over the years in the race to beat the competition by five minutes on stories like this. That means more risks are taken, which results in more things being reported that turn out not to be true — and in turn it hurts the credibility of us all.”
Davis discussed the fine line between reporting speculation and reporting a breaking item. Whether it falls in the lap of the reporting party, the style in which it is reported or simply the wording, the fence between the two sides has unfortunately become a lot easier to jump over time. Informed speculation, as Davis put it, can often be a distinction without a difference – but it is a distinction that understandably provide an entirely different take on the subject matter at hand.
At the most recent Blogs with Balls gathering, it was the panel on blog ethics that has received the most attention. As we discussed with Davis, the blog world unfortunately has a variety of standards based on the type of site and the standards at which it adheres to. The common theme, however, was that there was a difference in “making a mistake” and “being reckless.”
With reference specifically to WFNY’s hand in the matter, Davis stated that he did feel this site fell more on the former than the latter.
“I have no doubt that it was an honest mistake and that you will learn from it,” said Davis.
“That is the beauty of the blogosphere. It is an open and free market, and the cream eventually (albeit slowly) rises.”
Many thanks to Seth for taking the time to discuss a perpetually evolving topic. For all of the NCAA hoops coverage we can’t provide here, be sure to check out his work at SI.com. Go Bucks!