I don't claim to be a journalist. I didn't go to journalism school, study the craft for years, and work my way up through the ranks. I decided to do this gig because a) I like writing and b) I love the New England Patriots. It's a darn good marriage if I do say so myself. I have no illusions about what I do. Without access, I'm "at the mercy" of mainstream media to feed me tidbits of knowledge that I can comment on. I'm not talking to the actual source, but hearing it through a second party, if you will.
The difference, and I think MSM is catching on to this, is my job is not to regurgitate what I hear from the source. My job is to formulate an opinion and solicit feedback. My job is to generate discussion. The initial story I write is merely the introduction. All of the comments and feedback from participants of this community are what really matters. The story begins to take on a life of its own and that's the coolest thing that can possibly happen. It gives everyone an equal voice and a chance to be heard. I've found some exceptionally smart fans on this site and it's truly a blast to read their comments, both NE fan and rivals alike.
Call it a failure to understand social networking. Call it a failure to understand how the world now interacts. MSM has been online for a while, but has only recently embraced a "feedback loop" to get fan viewpoints. Threaded discussions (called blogs these days) have been around since the Internet's news protocol. If you know what a newsgroup is or have used USENET before, then you're probably as old as me.
Why the tirade? One of SB Nation's bloggers and head writer at Stampede Blue, BigBlueShoe, was accused of being a "weenie" by Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz. Kravitz's big issue? BBS doesn't use his real name when he blogs. Neither do I nor the millions of people who frequent the Internet every day. We all use pseudonyms for many different reasons. Some to protect their personal privacy and some because it's cool to come up with a name that may represent your personality or whatever. In my case, my real name is easily found by sending an email to the site's email address. In addition, when I interact with members of the media, I always use a personal account that has my real name in it. Easy peasy.
Kravitz's contention, how can one have credibility if he doesn't use his real name, is a little silly. Kravitz essentially tried to sandbag BBS on a radio talkshow loaded with his cronies. What he didn't know (interesting that a columnist didn't do his research) was that SB Nation is picked up by so called "legitimate" sports news outlets CBSsports.com, SI.com, and YahooSports.com. Let's not forget two of our bloggers were given credentials for the NFL draft. And there's more to come.
To be fair, there is a huge amount of crap out there. I have never been a Deadspin fan because I think they write to provoke and they allow vulgarity to run rampant. I'm no prude, but my personal writing style lacks vulgarity because it's my opinion that I don't need it to get my point across. That being said, it's easy to lump bloggers into one big, ginormous cess pool of...you get the point. But there's some darn good bloggers out there, providing thoughtful opinion and generating discussion as fans, not as know-it-alls used to espousing about anything they want without fear of feedback.
Credibility has nothing to do with using your real name. Credibility comes from writing good material that gets the juices flowing and makes people think. It also comes from acknowledging that there are a LOT of smart people out there and reading what they have to say is the best part of this gig. SB Nations motto, Of, by and for the fans, says it all.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.