Let Them Write! Let Them Write!

Oh C'mon! Everyone Loves a Bad News Bears Reference!

I recently read a posting from The Brooklyn View's Ed DeMarche that, ironically enough, was a blog discussing why he feels that bloggers should not be issued press credentials. The topic has been flying around the good ol' InterWeb recently. Sheepshead Bites has a great accounting of the plight of bloggers who were denied credentials. GerritsenBeach.net picked up some editorial content regarding "old media" and their preferential treatment of notable persons that, to say the least, gets a tad controversial.

(Just a word about that latter blog entry - because it has the potential of exploding, in my opinion. When it comes to unsubstantiated opinion, I never blindly accept what is posited by anyone, and suggest that we all deal in supported facts. I also think that at the very least, that much is owed to the subject of the entry - no matter what your personal opinion of that person may be.)

Here's the short version of my opinion for everyone with a short attention span: The days of labeling bloggers in one negative lump are over. Many have earned their stripes and deserve the privilege of credentialing, and traditionalists in "old media" and the gatekeepers of credentialed events should embrace those that have shown they can live up to the standards of journalism instead of summarily dismissing bloggers - and others still should look to their own and not worry about what the "competition" should and should not have, because they're not exactly bastions of journalistic ethics.

Now the long version...

Before you say "Oh no, here comes another big mouth blogger", yes, I have a VERY big mouth, but hold your horses there, pal! I'm newer to blogging than I am to journalism! To the uninformed, I'm part owner of the largest independent sports media company in New York, Gotham Sports Media, and Publisher of Gotham Baseball Magazine. You think living up to city standards for credentialing is hard - try Major League Baseball, which we have now for years! So I know a thing or three about the standards of journalistic integrity, and obtaining credentials not only for city events, but for national sporting events.

Anyways, back on topic... You can't paint all bloggers with the same brush.

Here's an example of a way to decide which bloggers should be credentialed: First, parse out the blogs that deal in current events and handle op-ed from the strictly opinion blogs. Then, parse out the bloggers with an policy agenda from those that go after all news in the interest of reporting local news.

Then look to the work - because in the end, that's what's most important - not the source.

I happen to think that we have two great examples of high-quality news bloggers in our area with Ned & Ray at Sheepshead Bites and Dan at GerritsenBeach.net. They attend as many local meetings as possible, they're respectful and professional in how they go about their work, and their work product is timely and informative. And they're passionate about what they do. I would have no problem recommending them to my editorial board for credentials at any stadium in the nation. (Another side note - sports media has started moving in this direction - look at SNY's Blog Network as a great example. The rest, I'm sure will catch up in the future.)

In fact, I'd take their writing over some of the, well... let's call them "marginal" local newspapers that some neighborhoods are saddled with. Many a time, I've seen stories first reported in a blog lifted by print and become fraught with inaccuracies, and photos lifted from online sources without permission. Hell, even more established "media sources" lift stories from blogs - Mr. DeMarche admits being inspired by Sheepshead Bites in his posting. At least he has the integrity to say that he reads blogs, which many others deny until blue in the face even while sitting at their computer monitor looking for their next "scoop".

Point being, there are bad apples in both bushels. But why is one more deserving of the credentialing process than the other? It's like "old media" is claiming a quasi-monopoly over the news with government's assistance.

How much would it really take to create an examination process whereby bloggers who meet a certain standard for the city to give them a pass? Not much I would think. If "old media" doesn't want to be associated with them or is government is wary of them, then create a "blogger pass" with its owns standards and access. Just don't slam the door in their face! Citizen Journalism is Here, and it's not going anywhere.

Ok, enough's enough - here's the conclusion. If someone has the passion and the drive to blog on current events and to make a commitment to do it as efficiently and as diligently as possible, then what is really the difference between a freelance reporter and a blogger?

Only the medium, and the meager pay - and if they're willing to work for free, then who are we to put up obstacles?

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