20 Second Timeout is the place to find the best analysis and commentary about the NBA.

Friday, April 04, 2008

An Example of What is Wrong with the Blogosphere

Last year, I wrote a post titled "Why Blogging is Booming and Newspapers are Struggling to Catch Up." There is a lot about blogging technology and the people who are using it that is fantastic. One downside, however, is the reality that anybody can post anything at any time; people who are immature and, quite frankly, not very intelligent or professional, can say whatever they want. This can lead to petty back and forth feuds that resemble nothing so much as elementary school children who are bickering. I try to stay above the fray but unfortunately I have been drawn into some exchanges that I later regretted; moving forward I intend to avoid pointless exchanges with people who do not take their work seriously.

Before I participated in the Pat Croce conference call I did my homework not only about the sport but also about Croce. I tape recorded the entire call, transcribed the questions and answers and constructed a very thorough post that provides a ton of information about SlamBall and Pat Croce. Not everyone took such a professional, serious approach to this conference call. One person who--to borrow an old lyric--is so wack that I won't even call out his name phoned in after most of the other people covering the event were already on the line and did not bother to record the interview. Not surprisingly, his account of what took place is riddled with inaccuracies. In his post he also criticized me for asking Croce questions about the time that Croce spent with the 76ers. I posted a comment at this guy's website pointing out that he had attributed questions that I had asked to another participant and attributed questions that another participant had asked to me; I also reminded him that I saved the questions about the 76ers to the end of the conference call when the moderator opened the floor to all of us and there was general silence. If Croce had felt that the questions were inappropriate then I am sure that he would not have given lengthy, enthusiastic answers to them. Instead of apologizing and fixing his mistakes, this guy deleted my comment. So I sent him a personal email asking why he deleted my comment without fixing his mistakes. I also said that each of us asked the questions that we thought were most relevant and/or of interest to our readers so I did not understand why he singled out my questions for ridicule. I told him that I don't really care what he thinks of my questions but that he should at least get straight who said what.

Instead of acting in a professional manner and addressing his mistakes, he replied with a couple insulting emails and then made a post at his site calling me a "toolbox" and quoting from my email to him--out of context of the rest of my email and without asking my permission or even telling me at all. He mockingly said that the Croce conference call was not an interview about Darfur for Newsweek, as if that justifies his sloppy work and total lack of professionalism. Then he bragged about how his post about the Croce conference call has been linked to by more websites than my post has. That is actually a very interesting point; it is also worth mentioning that on Ballhype both his inaccurate account of the conference call and his post mocking me have been "hyped up" more than my detailed post about the conference call. What does that mean? He obviously believes that this proves that his work is great and my work is trash. The reality is that Ballhype is a social networking site. Friends "hype up" each other's posts. As I write this, the number one NBA post at Ballhype consists of the photos from DeShawn Stephenson's birthday party; that post has already received more Ballhype "love" than anything that I have ever posted at 20 Second Timeout. Does a post with those photos have more intrinsic value and merit than articles about Hall of Fame players or articles that provide in depth analysis of NBA games? Popularity and quality are not the same thing. The formula for creating a big, popular website is not hard to figure out: post pictures of scantily clad women, employ "edgy" humor and suck up to the bloggers who run the biggest sites in the hope that they will acknowledge your existence by linking to you. As Howard Cosell said in a different context, I never played the game; my approach is to do thorough research and write carefully crafted articles for intelligent readers--and I have no intention of ever changing.

I wrote the article about the conference call that I would have wanted to read if I had not been able to participate, an article that provides insight into who Croce is, how he became interested in SlamBall and what exactly his duties are as SlamBall Commissioner. I am not part of the "cool group" that hypes up each other's posts. I don't have much interaction with other bloggers, certainly not nearly as much interaction as I have with NBA players, coaches, scouts and other people who are directly affiliated with the sport. That is why it is so ironic that some of the people who are in the "cool group" have sniped at me that I am a self-promoter as if they have accused me of a deadly sin; these guys promote each other far more than I promote myself and they do so for reasons that have nothing to do with the intrinsic intellectual quality of the posts. It is hypocritical of them to criticize my efforts to promote my work when they work together to promote each other. Furthermore, what difference should it make to anyone how much or in what way I promote my work?

I promote my work because I am producing high quality articles and interviews about the game of basketball and I believe that there is an audience that is more interested in understanding the sport than in looking at Stevenson's birthday photos. Maybe I am wrong about that or maybe the audience that is interested in my kind of writing is much smaller than the audience that is interested in the Stevenson photos.

I don't care if the people in the "cool group" mock me and I really am not interested in joining the clique (as if they would want me in there anyway). All I politely asked in my comment at this guy's site is that he demonstrate enough professionalism to not misquote me. It is a sad commentary on the state of the blogosphere not only that he refuses to honor this request but that the blogosphere rewards his conduct instead of condemning it.

posted by David Friedman @ 12:15 AM

11 comments

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11 Comments:

At Friday, April 04, 2008 1:20:00 AM, Anonymous smokie said...

great post! keep doing what you do and f*** what the haters say. The real basketball junkies know where the truly great writing and analysis is. Thats right here at 20secondtimeout for the slow people out there.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 2:55:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

You are absolutely right about the blogosphere. Here we are talking about sports, but these same problems appear in the discussion of much more serious issues, like politics.

With the exception of your blog, I don't read sports blogs because I expect low quality material. Though it's easy to look at what's popular with most of our society and feel discouraged, there's still a large demand for quality work. Please keep it up.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 6:10:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Smokie:

I wouldn't trade my readers for anyone else's or for any amount of money. The vast majority of the comments that are submitted here are well thought out, even the ones with which I disagree--and I try to be patient with the few comments that don't strike me as being quite as well thought out because I still appreciate the passion that those people have for the sport even if I see the game differently.

I only had to resort to the comment moderation mode due to one obnoxious person who briefly visited here awhile ago and kept posting obscenities. Since going in to this mode he disappeared and I have been able to publish probably 99% of the comments that are submitted.

I also have some very devoted readers who don't post comments but sometimes send emails directly to me about various posts or with suggestions for future topics.

My thing is I just imagine NBA coverage the way that I think it should be done and then, with whatever access and resources I have, try to produce it. For instance, I have no idea how many people read the Scout's Eye View of the Game articles that I did for PBN but for me that was one of the coolest stories ever because I had the opportunity to pick the brain of an NBA scout and get a glimpse behind the scenes of the talent evaluation process. Scouts and coaches are not going to waste their time with someone who does not know his stuff, so when these bloggers who can barely write come out of left field firing insults at me it is comical at one level but it is also sad to the extent that some people who think this way have managed to obtain wide audiences.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 6:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

You are right that the exact same problems in terms of level of discourse, lack of professionalism and inaccurate reporting are rampant in discussions of issues far more serious than sports. The way that the media operates--both the bastions of the old MSM (mainstream media) and the newly emerging blogosphere--is most unfortunate.

I don't read that many sports blogs either, which is why I only gradually realized exactly how cliquish this whole deal is and who is on the inside; a few different situations and incidents clarified matters.

I do still believe--as you do as well--that there is a large demand for quality work, though some cynics have expressed concern to me that there is not a big audience for the type of writing that I am doing here. I also think that there is an audience that is not explicitly demanding such work because it does not even know it exists but would be interested in such work if exposed to it. That is the trick--to find a way to connect to the audience that is interested in intelligent NBA coverage.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 11:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanna say that I've been reading you for some time now, and although I get tired of your continuous Kobe praising (I agree he deserves the MVP, but come on, let's aknowledge the guy is not perfect in all ways !), and although you're not necesarily the most fun to read, you are definitely the most profesional and interesting I've found in ballosphere. And your posts always bring up something new and worth thinking of.
So cheers, and hopefully the internet will expand towards knowledge rather than hype.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 11:34:00 AM, Anonymous warsaw said...

I found your web from another blog emptythebench, so don't you think your work here is not appreciated in the blogosphere. It is.

Keep up the good work.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 4:23:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I'm glad that you find something of interest here even if my style seems a bit dry to you. I interject humor where I can but at heart I am an analyst, a researcher and an interviewer, not a comedian or entertainer, so I try to play to my strengths.

Part of what I am doing when I write about Kobe is trying to counterbalance all of the false and negative things that are said about him in outlets far larger than 20 Second Timeout. His flaws--real and imagined--are well documented, so I focus more on what he is doing right and on trying to correct false things that are said about the way that he plays. I did criticize him about his excessive technical fouls and I do think that he shoots too many three pointers at times, though I understand why he has done so: there have been stretches (not just this year) when he was playing through injuries and could not get to the hoop easily and there have also been times (more so in previous seasons) when his teammates were unwilling/unable to shoot, so he preferred to take an early three before the defense set up rather than a late "hand grenade" three when his teammates gave him the ball back with little time remaining on the shot clock.

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 4:25:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Warsaw:

Good to hear from you and I'm glad that you appreciate what I am doing here.

 
At Saturday, April 05, 2008 1:27:00 AM, Anonymous DHSmd said...

Fortunately for me, I don't waste my time reading the tripe produced by people whose time is so cheap, they can waste it on pointless ad-hominem attacks in posts allegedly centered on SPORTS.

Honestly, I don't think you are enough of a "public figure" that your status would protect them from legal action. If the buzz they create threatens your livelihood in any way, I encourage you to notify them and their hosts of the problem, demanding a public correction/retraction, and warning that you will take action if these actions that you are legally entitled to are not fulfilled.

The professional journalist world is disciplined by competition, supervision, and in some cases, the law.

Everyone should use whatever tools available to discipline others who irresponsibly slander their reputation, then childishly refuse the opportunity to correct their error.

Relative anonymity is not a shelter from responsibility. But these spaces will never be cleaned up until that is made clear.

 
At Monday, April 07, 2008 5:15:00 AM, Blogger beep said...

hello,
I really appreciate your work. Here, in Poland, such analysis are very hard to come by. In fact I haven't found any so I search american blogosphere for it.

I just omit Kobe praising posts as they are annoyingly repetitive even if true. I guess ppl who read your work are already aware of it. At least I am :)

 
At Monday, April 07, 2008 7:31:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Beep:

It's good to hear from you. When I write about Kobe I try to not be repetitive but to rather provide a different perspective than the one that is pushed by many media outlets. For instance, once this idea about Chris Paul having such a weak supporting cast started gaining traction I pointed out that Paul's core players--particularly his two best big guys--have been healthier and played in many more games this season than Kobe's two best big guys. I try to not simply say exactly the same thing over and over. For a fan, it is enough to just say "Kobe is the best player" or "Kobe is my favorite player"; I marshal evidence to support any contention I make, whether it regards Kobe or the Suns after the Shaq deal or anything else.

 

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