M.A.A.D NBA City: Filtering Through the Sports Media Mess
If reporters and bloggers believe what they wrote
They’d probably troll me down by the end of this post
Seems most media mistake what they saw
Every time I read a story I hear blah, blah, blah, blah
(Apologies to non Kendrick Lamar fans. Here’s the song I’ll be referencing off and on in this post in bold/italics)
Brace yourself, I’ll take you on a trip with Lois Lane
My first season as an NBA blogger is complete. I felt like Superman. Not the strong, superhuman dude flying in the air smashing through buildings. I was more like the young Clark Kent on his first day of school; his super senses overwhelmed by the new surroundings. Every noise magnified, the skeletons, veins and organs of his classmates pulsing through their skin as he looked on in horror. Clark had to hide in the janitor’s closet until his mom arrived to comfort him.
I jumped head first into my new sports media surroundings, trying to take in as much as I could. I read nearly every NBA blog and followed just about everyone on Twitter.
Sensory overload. Like kindergarten Clark, I also ran and hid in the janitor’s closet.
Fresh outta school ‘cause I was a high school grad
Gonna be a writer with no training pad
The sports media world is a mess, but stars can rise in a world of chaos. Anyone can start a blog and claim to be an expert. That’s good and bad.
The good? Writers who previously wouldn’t have received a chance, now have a soap box to stand on, providing the sports media world with fresh new talent.
The bad? For every valuable blogger like Zach Harper, Myles Brown, Tom Ziller, netw3rk and, locally, Bay Area Sports Guy, there are a thousand writers out there who are, simply put, garbage.
There is no infrastructure in place to train these bloggers. Each is on his/her own. No proofreaders, no editors, no mentors. And for many, it’s a side gig, so articles can be rushed and not given the proper attention.
As my colleague Jordan Ramirez might say, the sports blogosphere has as much trash as the Bay Area rap scene (I, for the record, don’t condone his local hip hop hate).
However, many of these bloggers are trying to make sports writing a career, so the good ones understand the importance of writing well and editing themselves; they stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, they are like 2Pac and Too $hort – shining amongst a few in Jordan’s version of a dire Bay Area rap history. (Who is the blogging version of MC Hammer in this scenario? Mac Dre? E-40? That could be a whole separate post)
At least mainstream media has a structure in place. But you can argue they are just as inconsistent. With so much free content, mainstream media is driven by advertising, ratings and page views.
Like blogging, for every Marcus Thompson, Henry Abbott, Tim Kawakami (yes, he is hated by many, but he is very good at his job), Chris Ballard, Marc Spears, Sam Amick, Jonathan Abrams and J.A. Adande, you have to deal with some irritating non-professional mainstream “professionals.”
Reporters love taking a controversial stance, even if they don’t believe it to be true, just to get attention. They are quoting unsubstantiated sources to be the first to report news. But there is no accountability when they are wrong – which happens way more often than getting it right.
Reporters love to credit themselves for having a story first. Yet, the other hundred times they were wrong is not brought up. Maybe it’s already out there, but if not, I’d love to see a blog that tracks media member stats like players, tallying all the reports; both right and wrong.
Every since that day I been looking at him different
After jumping into the huge media gulf at the beginning of the season, I quickly learned to filter out the garbage. I created lists on Twitter so I didn’t have to see every tweet from those I followed.
I went from drinking straight from the fire hydrant, to standing back, grabbing a cup and selectively filling it with only the water I needed.
Twitter has been my cup. If you’re a sports fan who is not yet on Twitter, I highly recommend it. While overwhelming at first, once you figure it out, it greatly enhances the experience.
When you follow the right people, you will come across great writers, stories, videos and other miscellaneous nuggets that previously would have gone undiscovered. One of my favorite things about Twitter is coming across a story, emailing it to myself and reading it later.
Warriors and their fans
Hope euphoria can slow dance
The other great thing about Twitter is the interaction with fans. I mainly write from the perspective of a fan. That’s what I am, first and foremost. I had no idea there was an amazing community of Warriors fans on Twitter that expanded my writing perspective by leaps and bounds. And it’s like this for every team across all sports.
Most are informed, educated and appreciate receiving Warriors insight. Of course, many are not, but you can quickly disregard them and only interact with the cool ones, not the fool ones.
Ahh man, g*@damn I’m retweeted the most
You wanna interact with 50 followers, man f*#k your post!
What’s a bit disheartening on Twitter is the weird Downton Abbey class warfare going on between sports bloggers.
Many bloggers trying to make it in the game are either attempting to show off or kiss the backsides of the bloggers who have made 8it. Some of those bloggers who have “made it” act as though they are too good for those below them; only interacting with those at or above their level.
For example, I’ve seen time and time again a less established blogger try to interact with a more established one only to receive no response. Yet, that same established blogger is quick to reply and interact when it’s someone more reputable.
Once you reach a high number of followers, I understand it is difficult to interact with everyone, but when you rarely do it with people who don’t have many followers and always do it with those who do, it comes off fake. Especially when mainstream guys like Ballard, Thompson and Matt Steinmetz* interact with so many people on Twitter.
But I should note the established bloggers who have interacted with a guy like me in the less ascertained camp – Russ Bengtson, Shea Serrano, netw3rk, Myles Brown and WarriorsWorld’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss.
Also, many up-and-coming writers have an air of desperation about them. This can lead to trolling – where people say something ignorant and far-fetched to create attention, arguments and more followers. It’s extremely annoying but also an easy way to filter out people you don’t want top read.
* Warriors fans should consider themselves lucky. Since the 1990s, they have had two of the best beat writers in the NBA, starting with Steinmetz and now with Thompson. Neither lets page views or controversy dictate their coverage. They have key sources to provide relevant breaking news for fans and both possess knowledge of the game that far surpasses the average media member. Lastly, their work reflects the pride they take in their writing and the respect they have for the game. Steinmetz’s daily insight on the beat is definitely missed, but Thompson does a great job making up for it.
When you hop on that laptop
Make sure your filter’s correct
There’s gold in them thar interwebs. Like a miner panning a river, sports fans today must sift through a lot of garbage to find the nuggets. The coverage of sports is massive and much of it is ignorant trash. But there is also more great coverage of sports than ever if you use the proper tools to find it.
We live in the best of times and the worst of times of sports media. Take advantage of it.
If you’re new to Twitter or thinking of joining, I have created a list of tweeters that may be helpful if you’re a Warriors, NBA or Niners fan. Go to my Twitter page (@gsw_jessetaylor) and click on my “Lists.” You can choose who you’d like to follow from that list.