Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Costas clarifies

By way of Deadspin comes a clarification from Bob Costas on his comments in last week's Miami Herald article:
I don't have any problem at all with the mainstream media being challenged or supplemented by new media. No entity has a monopoly over good writing from a valid point of view. In that sense, the more the merrier. In fact, many bloggers, on numerous subjects, sports included, are talented, humorous and bring fresh perspectives.

My commentary was aimed solely at a portion of Internet sports discourse, an unfortunately large portion, that consists of nothing more than potshots, ad hominem arguments, ignorance and invective. No one who is familiar with the general tone of public discourse, whether it be sports, politics, whatever, can honestly deny that much. It comes from that direction.

I was absolutely not saying that most or all bloggers were losers. It just seems so often that commenters use insults in the place of arguments. Is there a lot out there that's also well-written? Or course. But forgive me for not placing the exact same value on an comment on a political blog that I would to something said by Ted Koppel. Sure, they have the equal value in a voting booth. But you have to assume that if you've done something reasonable well for an extended period of time, you have some notion of what you're talking about.
I appreciate Mr. Costas' clarification. I've always liked him as a commentator, so I was particularly disappointed to see his comments last week.

That being said, I still have a problem with a portion of what he's saying. He is in essence saying that we need to filter out the good bloggers from bad bloggers, as opposed to credentialed journalists who we can accept because, hey, they are credentialed journalists.

To my mind, the process of determining the worth of someone's opinion has nothing to do with the platform by which one is enabled to speak. It has entirely to do with the content of the opinion. Mr. Costas believes that a large segment of the blogger community is full of invective and ad hominem attacks, and this is true. Unfortunately, so is the journalistic community.

That's the key point and my chief criticism. There are plenty of mean-spirited, illogical, name-calling journalists out there. They deserve the same treatment as mean-spirited, illogical, name-calling bloggers.

Finally, I think it's telling that the chief source of Internet community garbage is to be found on mainstream sports media websites. If you want a mostly intelligent, mostly polite, mostly rational, mostly entertaining community, you look elsewhere.

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