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Invasion of the Blogger Snatchers
2005-02-16 19:00
by Jon Weisman

Beat writers with blogs. Life just got more interesting.

On the plus side, the more information the merrier, especially if it's entertaining and informative, as this new blog by Cincinnati Reds beat writer Marc Lancaster of the Cincinnati Post might turn out to be. (News learned from The Red Reporter via Baseball Musings.)

Lancaster's doesn't figure to be the last beat writer blog we see. Rather, it's probably a sign of something that has become inevitable as blogs evolve from a medium derided to a medium respected. (Heck - bloggers might even get to go to jail for concealing a source, just like grownups.)

Like Blockbuster aping Netflix, the big boys have discovered value in what the little guy is doing.

With the access and time available to them, unconstrained by space limits in the printed version of the paper, beat writers with blogs can produce some good stuff. It won't change the world, but two paragraphs of Lancaster's entry today illustrated the potential.

Healthy position players don't have to report until Monday, but Adam Dunn strolled through the door this morning. Not long after, Dunn expressed mock dismay that in the brief time he'd been in camp he'd seen Graves run on a treadmill, then go play catch with Eric Milton.

"They said I was fat," said Graves. "And fat guys can't get people out ..."

If people like Lancaster combine insider anecdotes with any amount of thoughtful analysis, their blogs will be huge hits.

Newspaper blogging will make it harder for those on the outside. Potential new readers will discover the newspaper blogs first, providing them the extra sustenance that independent bloggers otherwise could have. That makes it more difficult for outsiders to grow an audience. That in turn will slow the progress for those hoping that blogging will cease to be a largely volunteer endeavor.

Right now, independent bloggers blog for the love of it. And readers read for the worth of it - no one reads out of charity or pity. There is value in the outside perspective, away from the newspaper confines, as long as that independence isn't abused. And there is value in being experienced with blogging, which after all is a unique medium with its own idiosyncrasies to master.

But if blogging has been a new frontier of communication, staked out at first by individuals on foot, look out - because here come the big covered wagons. Bloggers are going to have to work ever harder to hold on to their claims.

Update: Mark Cuban - that's right, Mark Cuban - writes that it's in the establishment's Machiavellian interest to credential bloggers. Keep your enemies closer and all that. Thanks to Will Carroll for pointing it out.

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