Last week on Twitter, I witnessed a rather heated back and forth that manifested itself into one New England sports blogger saying to another, “you give bloggers a bad name.” The statement caused me pause.
I paused because I don’t believe that anyone is a blogger, especially here in April of 2011. We are all writers – even if you are on Blogspot writing grammatically incorrect ramblings about how much you hate the Montreal Canadiens, or on your own domain providing serious and detailed coverage of an emerging sport such as lacrosse. Everyone is writing. Why must we qualify the action by the medium in which it is taking place?
Writing independently of established media outlets and starting your own means to showcase your writing is nothing new. In the mid 1980s, my father and uncle saved money and created an independent music magazine called Rochester Rox. The first and only issue’s cover story was my Aunt Linda’s take on Bruce Springsteen’s influence on current rock music and his most recent concert in Rochester. Sure, she was a tad biased because I think she had a crush on him, but nevertheless. My father desired an outlet for his music writing, but couldn’t find one suitable. Faced with the same desire today, he would open a WordPress account and start writing within ten minutes. But back in 1985, he had to save up money, find a printing press and lay the whole thing out via an X-acto knife and our Sears electric typewriter.
Yes, Rochester Rox only lasted an issue. Dad and Uncle Rich were giving it away for free, and that lone House of Guitars (hop hop, hop hop – a joke all Rochestarians know well) ad didn’t pay all of their expenses. But would anyone describe what my father, uncle and aunt was doing was, “independent music magazining?” No. They were writing.
Thus why am I described as a blogger at times? Why does being a blogger have such a negative connotation? In 2003, just like my father 18 years before me, I sought a venue for my writing and none existed. Thus I started this sports blog. I always fancied myself a writer without a home, not a blogger. I wanted to use a blog – a website – to show what I could do, and hope that someone down the line would want to hire me to write.
Communication mediums have always changed over time. Cave paintings were replaced by books, which were supplemented with newspapers, which were supplemented by magazines, which were complimented with the radio, which evolved into television, all of which are currently being challenged by websites and social media. Blogs are a part of that evolution. But the blog is the noun, not the verb. Writing is writing, and while some writing still ends up on newsprint, other writing ends up online. Some of that online writing ends up on the sites of traditional media sources, while others end up on independent sites – many of which qualify as web logs, or blogs.
Like in any field, there are those who do their job well and those who do their job poorly. In any artistic pursuit, there are those who don’t get a point-of-view of the artist, or those who don’t agree with a style or presentation. Writing is no different. Some sports writers who use blogs as an outlet are awful. They spew rumors. They disparage other fans. They stalk athletes. In the case of Bleacher Report, they crassly build on a natural disaster to relate it to Japanese sports. Those are examples of bad writing. But bad sports writing isn’t limited to blogs. Look at the newspaper columnist who last week claimed the comatose San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally attacked by LA Dodgers fans “deserved it.” He is a writer, albeit a bad one. His medium was a newspaper, not a website. Bad writing, like good writing, can be found everywhere, and is not limited to the blog medium.
And some sports writers will choose to go about their craft in a different way than others. There are those among us who write game recaps and feature stories. There are others who tell personal stories about the sports they love. There are others who create humorous Photoshops to illustrate tall tales that are rooted in a factual basis. You don’t have to like the style they use, just, but you have to respect that they are creating. We are all writing. We all sought an independent outlet for writing. But unlike years past, there is a far easier way to find such an outlet.
I write because I couldn’t imagine my life without the written word. I write what I want to read myself. I write because I love it. If someone else is motivated to write, I can’t ever disparage them, even if I may personally disagree with their tone, methods or point of view. We share a commonality, no matter how grammatically incorrect or how strange that writing may be. No one gives anyone else a bad name as long as our desire to communicate via the written word is genuine.