First off, if you haven't read today's Scott's Shots, do so first, here, then come back, because this all ties in.
I remember the first time I read the Boston Sports Media Watch Web site, which runs Scott's Shots. I scoffed. As did just about everyone in the sports journalism business in the Boston area. Hey, what did this Bruce Allen guy know about sports media? Is he properly trained? Where does he get off critiquing people?
But at some point I also noticed I was going back to the site daily, even as I feigned outrage. And if I was in the office, I was looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was looking. There's a lot of that going on, there. The site's biggest detractors are the ones who monitor it most obsessively.
And as I kept clicking on the site -- it slowly dawned on me why there's room for such material: Because there's a market for it. In a day and age in which sports reporters are pseudo-celebrities, there is more demand for coverage of the sports journalism beat in and of itself.
Newspapers didn't help their cause by either dropping sports media as a beat, or emasculating existing sports media columns, just as the Internet was coming of age. Most media columns today (not all) tend to blow little wet kisses to their employers' corporate bedfellows, while Joe Six Pack is grumbling more than ever about the garbage that's out there on radio or TV.
Allen certainly doesn't get things perfect, there are times I feel he swings and misses, but he fesses up when he feels he is in error. That's more than I can say for some people. To them, I'd ask, why are you so afraid to have sports journalism covered in the same manner a reporter should cover their own beat?
The nature of the Internet is such that there will always be garbage out there, since anyone can do it. But sites with respectable, and mostly responsible, reporting are gaining in credibility by the day, and they do so in large part because newspapers -- not all, but many -- have lost their own way in relations to real reporting on media-related themes.