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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Your Blog Is Showing
2006-02-17 09:19
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

So there's all kinds of talk this week about the establishment starting to blog, from Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark on ESPN to the new Inside the Dodgers house blog, hosted by team public relations guru Josh Rawitch, historian Mark Langill and vice president of scouting and player development Roy Smith. And meanwhile, bloggers like myself and Alex Belth have been writing for the establishment. What gives?

It was inside of two years ago that I was still embarrassed by the word "blog," and now it's as if Oprah has made it her Word of the Month. Perhaps the newest mainstream media blogs are a sign of the inevitable jumping of the shark - but it's possible we're witnessing a truly transformative moment in journalism. We're at the point where we no longer need to define the word "blogging" for the uninitiated - although it's clear to me that not everyone agrees on what it means - as much as we need to come up with a good word that stands for mainstream writing. "Non-blogging?" "Columnizing?" "Burnishing your cat?"

Despite the crossover, there's definitely a difference between the two. When I write for SI.com, I try to stay fun, but my style does become a bit more formal. This comes partly out of consciousness of a wider audience that doesn't know me as well as some of you; it comes partly from just the glare of being on a larger stage. SI.com didn't hire me as a blogger, they hired me as an occasional columnist. I'm talking to you - at you - not initating a two-way conversation. There is no comments section for you to respond and no chance for me to write short follow-ups to the orignal piece (though I create those options back here on Dodger Thoughts). As exciting as the SI.com job is for my present and future, it feels a little like a step back into the past.

Something tells me that there are a couple of unsolved mysteries about the future integration of blogging and mainstream media. One is whether instant feedback - instrinsic to many blogs - will be manageable at the most widely read places. Another is whether there will be a full triumph of informality - the same way that men no longer wear fedoras to the ballpark and women don't mind a thong or bra strap peaking out from their clothes.

The challenge is for that informality to serve a purpose, to not be a crutch for mere irresponsibility. What's important for writers is whether they give you something of value that you are encouraged and enabled to comprehend and contemplate, not necessarily how they deliver it. Blogging has been a pathway toward that goal for me, and it looks like it will be for others - even 40-year journalism veterans. As long as there are newspapers, where blogging is impossible, non-blogging will remain. But blogging, rather stunningly, has proven its mettle as a writing style.

I'm left wondering this: For those of us writing online, for SI.com or ESPN.com or NYT.com or whatever, should we be blogging or non-blogging? If you grant that we are capable of applying the rigorous standards of non-blogging to blogging - interview the appropriate people, research, fact-check, engage, entertain, think - what do we gain by not doing so? All things being equal, is one approach superior? Maybe we just need to blur the lines even further, eliminate the distinction between blogs and non-blogs, and just write in the style that feels right for each given article.

(I certainly hope there will always be a place for this.)

Comments
2006-02-17 10:14:39
1.   gcrl
i was born the same day and year as lady burp.
2006-02-17 10:17:18
2.   Daniel Zappala
What I'd be curious about Jon, since you have done both styles, is how much your blogging has influenced your SI columns. In particular, your recent column comparing DePodesta and Colletti seems to have benefited from the many posts and comments on this site that examined their moves. It's as if this site was the incubator for the ideas, and the SI.com article is an expression of the conclusion of those ideas, more of a "pronouncement" than a dialogue. (Though a column is somewhat limited in this regard due to the space allowed for a column.) I wonder if in the future a blog and a column end up being rather complementary, the one acting as the creative input for the other.
2006-02-17 10:19:16
3.   Linkmeister
"As long as there are newspapers, where blogging is impossible"

Not so. The WaPo has various specific blogs, as well as a general one which suffered a self-inflicted brouhaha of tremendous proportions a few weeks ago.

And I do think there are some bloggers who actually DO fact-check, report, make calls to principals, etc. It's mostly been the province of political bloggers (or maybe that's just what I read, so I'm aware of the phenomenon there), but it happens. I think the line is blurring.

Jay Rosen at Press Think has been talking about this for a couple of years.

http://tinyurl.com/2c7fc

2006-02-17 10:22:27
4.   Linkmeister
Everyone should take a look at the wonderful satirical column/blog form that Jon's neighbor at Cub Town just put up (the You. Are. The Blogger! entry). It's funny and it has a little (a VERY little) tangential bearing on what Jon's talking about.
2006-02-17 10:23:24
5.   Jon Weisman
3 - I'm talking about in print. And by my definition of blogging, blogging in print is impossible. Unless Herb Caen was the original blogger.

There's no doubt that there are bloggers who report. I'm one myself, though not on a regular basis.

2006-02-17 10:30:37
6.   Jon Weisman
2 - Yeah, the blog piece did serve as a de facto incubator for the SI column - though I had not been hired by SI when I blogged about Colletti and DePo.

I think the styles can be very complimentary. But frankly, it might be more fun to blog for SI. I think there's still a feeling for now, though, that a piece in a non-blog style will be taken more seriously.

2006-02-17 10:42:36
7.   scareduck
And here I thought the "jumped the shark" meme had jumped the shark. Oh, did I use the word "meme" again?
2006-02-17 10:48:47
8.   Steve
If you grant that we are capable of applying the rigorous standards of non-blogging

Please.

2006-02-17 10:51:07
9.   bhsportsguy
2,3,5,6
I agree with you Jon that as we move down the trail of blogging, how long will it be, before we start having classes and ethics attached to it.

I just have to believe that any media outlet that allows "official" blogs applys certain standards and I know that there is a big concern about personal blogging about work matters.

2006-02-17 10:59:01
10.   Jon Weisman
7 - LOL

Meme seems pretentious to me somehow, I don't know why. But you're right - jumping the shark has certainly left the building.

2006-02-17 11:02:32
11.   Sam DC
Not sure if I've figured this out right, but it looks like the mlb blogs only have sidebar links to other mlb blogs. whatever.

on the "Steroids in Baseball" mlb blog right now, there is a google ad to buy steroids.

2006-02-17 11:06:29
12.   Tangotiger
I trust newspapers, magazines, TV news, and blogs equally. They each have an editor or producer that directs us to what we are about to read. Just because CNN and Fox News has 1 billion$ doesn't mean they are going to be more right or have more incentive to be right. They are the networks that carry Bill O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs after all. No one here would ever have given Cristian Guzman 17 million$, but that doesn't mean the Nats knew what they were doing.

Money + experience does not trump wisdom + intelligence. The eventual result will be a "Wisdom of the Crowds", like my Fans' Scouting Report, or the Amazon "you may be interested in", where a person of a certain style will be directed to a certain blog that others have established is trustworthy.

2006-02-17 11:16:01
13.   Linkmeister
5 Ah, print. Okay, I'll go along with that argument. And I can just hear/see Caen having fun with the word "blog." After all, he loved words (anyone who popularized "namephreakisms" must have, right?).
2006-02-17 11:20:28
14.   Kurt
The thing is Jon, wouldn't you say most of the "mainstream" blogging is an extention of their news reporting? The LA Times is doing something a little different with its Laker blog in the sense they hired two other guys not on staff to write it. But while the style is less formal the opinions are fairly mainstream.

Bottom line is the addition of blogs does not seem to be bringing new voices, new perspectives to the table.

2006-02-17 11:32:05
15.   Andrew Shimmin
Blogs are better. More efficient, more up-to-date, lower cost of entry encourages more competition, much more specialization (so that people who know nothing about the Olympics, like, say, Plaschke, just don't write about them), and, what you're calling informality isn't just that. It's the proper aportionment of space, and permitting the assumption that your audience isn't stupid/incapable of some basic research. You don't have X column inches that you have to fill, no matter what. You write the post that the topic deserves, and don't feel compelled to repeat the context every time you bring something up.

It's possible that my childhood with the L.A. Times unfairly biases me against newspapers, but I'm still pretty sure I'm right. Now, if only there was a way to make real money doing it. . .

2006-02-17 11:34:04
16.   Kurt
That's the other question: Will the big media move away from blogs once they see they can't sell ads on it well?
2006-02-17 11:35:46
17.   Andrew Shimmin
Apportionment. It was stuffy, anyway, and then I misspelled it. Oh well.
2006-02-17 11:49:09
18.   Vishal
i think "jumping the shark" is more of an idiom than a meme. idioms are meant to communicate an idea through language. memes are meant more to perpetuate themselves.
2006-02-17 11:54:18
19.   Bob Timmermann
on the "Steroids in Baseball" mlb blog right now, there is a google ad to buy steroids.

I've come back from a trip to the doctor with steroids.

They're the kind for asthma though. I do think my mixutre of phenobarbital, steroids, and consuming copious amounts of coffee would have me flunk any Olympic drug test.

2006-02-17 11:54:28
20.   Sam DC
Well, I know I wasn't smart enough to comment in this thread even before I got to Vishal's lesson.

15 Anyhow, as much as I love this site, blogs are clearly not the perfect avenue for all baseball information for all readers. My wife enjoys reading about 3 minutes about what happened in the Nationals game the night before over her morning coffee. She wants those minutes to be well-spent. She wants some context. She doesn't want to read about what happened to the Nationals draft pick when Jeff Weaver signed from the Dodgers to the Angels. Occasionally, she's happy for a detailed look at a particular character or a summary of an important stretch of the season.

Maybe that's not a point against blogs as much as a suggestion that there would need to be a lot of different kinds of blogs to work for all readers, and the one that a lot of casual fans are going to be looking for is a lot like a daily newspaper.

2006-02-17 12:06:36
21.   bhsportsguy
20 - On that note, the Dodgers are confirmed to have 3 picks in the first 31 and no picks after that until 4th Round (2nd Round pick to Braves for Furcal, 3rd round pick to Boston for Mueller).

So in the end Picks 26 and 31 for Weaver...

Okay, now back to discussing blogs

2006-02-17 12:08:47
22.   Andrew Shimmin
20- Blogs would fill that need, if papers didn't. Probably. There's no way to know, until the papers fold, and bloggers rule the world. G-dspeed the day.
2006-02-17 12:23:24
23.   Bob Timmermann
If there weren't newspapers, what would I link to on the Griddle? I have a finite amount of stuff to write about that's an original thought.
2006-02-17 12:28:53
24.   Sam DC
Boy, you can buy a lot of different customized baseball schedule magnets if you click the ad link after this post. The featured schedule appears to be the Modesto Nuts.

Sure can't get that from the paper.

2006-02-17 12:31:58
25.   Ben P
I interrupt this baseball discussion to post some important Cal-Stanford news:

"University's tree mascot gets the ax for drinking on the job against Cal"

http://tinyurl.com/7fpwg

2006-02-17 12:34:41
26.   Sam DC
"baseball discussion"?
2006-02-17 12:38:14
27.   Ben P
Okay, so I guess it was more of a "blog discussion." Anyway, a tree just got fired for drinking.
2006-02-17 12:39:50
28.   Bob Timmermann
25
That was yesterday's news. Jon issued a preemptive strike.
2006-02-17 12:50:31
29.   Ben P
Ah, I just saw it. My apologies -- I hadn't read that thread. I'm trying to think of a pithy statement to make about the difficulties of posting original blog comments.
2006-02-17 13:20:20
30.   Vishal
[25] it must have been a wood alcohol :)

rimshot

this picture is great though:

http://tinyurl.com/9zu6x

2006-02-17 13:20:46
31.   Bob Timmermann
Jon released the info about The Tree quickly after learning from recent events in the news that it is important to control the spin on the story.

He knew that the University of California (speaking for all campuses, even Merced!) people here would twist the news to their own nefarious ends.

2006-02-17 13:44:36
32.   Ben P
I was at Cal in 1995 when the tree and Oski (the Cal bear mascot) got in a serious fight during a basketball game and were both thrown out of the arena. Great memory.
2006-02-17 13:56:31
33.   Bob Timmermann
In my senior year at UCLA, the first Pac-10 basketball tournament was held at Pauley Pavilion (1987). As I was walking back to my apartment on Levering Avenue, I passed Oski walking by. I guess Oski was staying at a friends place and dressed in costume before heading over.

Oski waved hello.

2006-02-17 14:15:08
34.   Vishal
[32] this one?

http://gocyberbears.com/links/stanfurd/DOCS/fight.mov

2006-02-17 14:39:52
35.   deadteddy8
9 - I have a friend at NYU who is taking a Journalism class that has the word "Blogging" in the title.

I've stated it elsewhere, and I'll keep saying it: the biggest difference between Dodger Thoughts and Plaschke is not an ideological difference or stylistic difference, but the author's access. In theory, Plaschke can speak directly to players and management types with relative ease, just because he has the LAT logo on his card, and that leads to people like David Stern saying that bloggers don't have the burden of truth. In reality, though, bloggers have a bigger burden of truth, because BS immediately leads to fewer readers.

I wonder, if a baseball blogger-type were to follow a team every day like a beat writer does, sitting in on pressers in the clubhouse and manager's office and everything else, but wrote about the games for the team's major newspaper from an explicitly subjective point of view, how would the team react? How would the readers react? I think a model that treats the beat writer like the play by play TV announcer would be fascinating. In most places, the announcer can have his opinions and express them, go on tangents... he has all sorts of leeway. But his opinions' worth are based on his honesty, and I give credit to the masses for having decent BS detectors, especially when the vast majority of them have actually seen the game on TV or listened on radio or have some level of sophistication with statistics. Therefore, free the beat writers! Let them write whatever the hell they want about the games and then let social forces do the rest. Just imagine if the people who have the most access to players and watch the team every day were allowed to muse.
--David

2006-02-17 15:09:37
36.   Sam DC
something in the water -- LA Observed is sort of talking about this kind of a litle too.
2006-02-17 15:09:50
37.   deburns
35 Newspeople (print and most TV) can't say what they think or ask uncomfortable questions of the authority figures on their beat for fear of being cut off either by those figures or their superiors. Look at how Gov. Ehrlich of MD's office has cut off two reporters at the Baltimore Sun due to their allegedly "hostile" attitude. The Sun's lawsuit to stop the ostracism was not successful. Look at the White House's reaction to David Gregory of NBC and the press corps in general. I'm not making a substantive point about the perspective of those reporters, rather more a realpolitik point of what can happen. Plaschke and his ilk could not ply their trade (such as it is) without access.
2006-02-17 15:41:56
38.   Formerly R
This a bit of an odd tangent but here goes.

I read lots of different blogs almost every day. Something I've noticed is that, in the interest I'm sure of sounding more conversational (or because it's a crutch), a huge number of bloggers start entries with the word, "so." As in, "So I was watching Good Eats last night and I got to thinking..." That type of thing.

Obviously Dodger Thoughts is several cuts above most typical blogs. Still, it's funny, Jon, that you would start this particular entry about blogging with the ubiquitous "so."

Great topic, btw.

2006-02-17 15:55:19
39.   deadteddy8
37 - Thank you for being clear about the point I was trying to make with the "let social forces do the rest" line. I'm not so naive as to think that writers could become openly hostile and still do their jobs, but I do think that when a writer is open and honest, it doesn't matter if he or she writes in the detached third person with requisite sourced quotes, or the first person with tangential meanderings and informed opinions. Objectivity does not equal honesty. In fact, the most fiercely partisan writers can be the most honest about the shortcomings of their subjects. So, writers would definitely be limited by considerations for access, but I guess my ultimate point is that I don't think they should be so limited in form.
--David
2006-02-17 15:55:21
40.   Linkmeister
35 The Jay Rosen I mentioned in 3 is a journalism professor at NYU. I wonder if Jay is teaching the course your friend is taking.
2006-02-17 16:49:27
41.   Jon Weisman
test
2006-02-17 20:49:08
42.   Andrew Shimmin
I think press conferences still exist only because they have for so long. The reporters seem (by and large) to think of them as opportunities to trick people who matter in to saying stupid things. When was the last time some bit of news that wasn't of the, "Can you believe he said this?" variety came out of a press conference? Even those are getting more rare since the people who matter have, more or less, caught on.

T.J. Simers thinks he's kidding, but he's exactly the model of the modern major news outlet scoundrel. I don't remember if Jon's interviewed a player, but I don't feel as though I learn nearly as much about the players (the parts that matter, i.e. how they hit, field, or pitch) from people who do interview them.

I guess I'm not the target audience for that stuff (I have no interest in Human Interest), but that only means that people need to start being more like me! It's like the Olympics (not that this is new, or that everybody on earth hasn't noticed yet)--all of a sudden I have to know which skiers have overcome asthma, or dylexia. I don't care. I don't need these people to be my pretend friends. I don't want to know what's on Condi Rice's iPod.

If, instead of worrying about their access, reporters learned to use Excel or (ooooooh. . .) Access, their copy would more likely be worth reading.

Sorry if this is off topic. It's sort of near the topic, though, right? Anyway, the thread is probably dead. So, there you go.

2006-02-18 05:36:15
43.   Idealist
Blogging and jornalism should be kept in two separate dug outs. Just as the two teams have different uniforms, the two styles of writing should be distinct to that purpose. The blogosphere was intended for 'naked' conversations, whereas journalism is to 'spoon feed' information.
Shameless plug....I consult with businesses on strategy and content of a blog, visit me at www.mindblogging.typepad.com...
2006-02-18 05:36:45
44.   Idealist
Blogging and journalism should be kept in two separate dug outs. Just as the two teams have different uniforms, the two styles of writing should be distinct to that purpose. The blogosphere was intended for 'naked' conversations, whereas journalism is to 'spoon feed' information.
Shameless plug....I consult with businesses on strategy and content of a blog, visit me at www.mindblogging.typepad.com...
2006-02-20 00:04:29
45.   Thomas Naccarato
Jon,
I don't think you have anything to worry about!

For me, I think those types of corporate blogs are almost as if they are ghost-written hubris. What makes Blogging popular is that its more of a rebel, off-the-reservation, shoot straight from the hip-tell it like it is-sort of opinion, which is fresh and doesn't follow a company mantra or plan of PR.

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