Stephen A. Smith Wants to Silence the Bloggers

According to a recent Stephen A. Smith interview, bloggers such as myself are grossly irresponsible with what we produce on our blogs and should all be shut down before we drive Western civilization to hell in a hand basket. Or something to that effect. From Farther Off the Wall:

And when you look at the internet business, what’s dangerous about it is that people who are clearly unqualified get to disseminate their piece to the masses. I respect the journalism industry, and the fact of the matter is …someone with no training should not be allowed to have any kind of format whatsoever to disseminate to the masses to the level which they can. They are not trained. Not experts. More important are the level of ethics and integrity that comes along with the quote-unqoute profession hasn’t been firmly established and entrenched in the minds of those who’ve been given that license.

Therefore, there’s a total disregard, a level of wrecklessness that ends up being a domino effect. And the people who suffer are the common viewers out there and, more importantly, those in the industry who haven’t been fortunate to get a radio or television deal and only rely on the written word. And now they’ve been sabotaged. Not because of me. Or like me. But because of the industry or the world has allowed the average joe to resemble a professional without any credentials whatsoever.

Wow. Glad to see Smith was able to find time to attend the employee seminar at ESPN called “Blogs and the Evil They Have Wrought.” It would appear he has gotten the company line down pat.

I am pretty sure the last I checked, the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteed free speech to those with a willingness to express themselves. Secondary to that I also wonder where Smith gets off saying bloggers are “not trained” and “not experts.” Allow me turn that around and ask what makes Smith an expert on the NBA? Did he play basketball? Did he coach or have some sort of management role on a team? What activities in his life have vested him with the knowledge to call himself an expert on the NBA and sports in general? This is a serious question on my part because I do not know. If the answer to the final question is that he loves the game and has covered it as a journalist i.e. written about what he has observed then please tell me how this differs from what most bloggers do?

Speaking for myself I hold a BA in English which for most people constitutes training as a writer. In terms of my field of expertise, I am a lifelong UNC fan and observer of ACC sports in general, particularly of basketball and football. I not only have a passion and love for my Heels and their exploits on the court/field but I also read a fair amount of analysis from smart people as well as a excellent grasp on how the games I am watching are played, especially as it pertains to basketball. Granted not all bloggers are created equal and some do cross the lines of decency in regard to whatever agenda they pursue. In some other cases, the blogger is just not very capable. However, the really serious ones who write daily and have an active blog are usually also very good writers. Also, the ones I read, like myself, cherish their personal credibility and the integrity of their blog to be a firm source of information and analysis for their readers. From my perspective, my readers validate my work not that page hits make you legitimate but the opinions they give about your blog both in the public comments section and with personal emails tells me whether the work I do has quality.

Smith, like most media elites love to toss around words like “total disregard” and “wrecklessness” when they discuss blogs. The effort to demonize blogs is as comical as it is sad because the real reason behind the established media’s disdain for blogging has nothing to do with the sacrosanct values of journalism but rather petty greed for the almighty dollar. In short, blogs are competition but more than that because blogs are unfettered by certain traditional restraints they are more than willing to break with the accepted narrative about certain things and tell a different story. This break from the narrative often does not coincide with whatever agenda conventional media needs to pursue to satisfy their bottom line. Having someone who routinely appears on ESPN complain about the behavior of blogs is laughable given the propensity of ESPN to prostitute large swaths of it’s own integrity to make a profit for Disney.

History is replete with stories of established entities controlling the flow of information to the masses and when a different voice tells a different story or is overtly critical of the establishment that new voice is automatically demonized. This is a classic ploy practiced by dictators and facist regimes who wish to dominate how issues are discussed in an effort to shore up their own power. The traditional media, that of television and newspapers, have long been the only voices heard on the issues, especially in sports. Now bloggers come in on the grassroots level with viewpoints unmolested by a corrupt media empire. It is an inescapable fact that many bloggers simply pick up of various issues the mainstream media either does not care or is too wrapped up in their own narrative to seize upon. And while it is true we are “average Joes,” that does not make our opinions and analysis any less valid than those postulated by individuals paid to provide them. The real issue Smith has is not that common people are viewed in a professional light without established credentials. No, the problem Smith and others have is common people are viewed in a professional light because the work they do has a professional quality about it which in some cases outshines their own efforts.

Basically it is fear that the people will turn off ESPN or put down the newspaper and read blogs for the deeper insights. Bloggers, for the most part, do not have the sources and access to be primary news providers but they have all they need to contribute insightful opinions. And I am beginning to think this is what the media elites fear most where blogs are concerned.

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17 Responses to Stephen A. Smith Wants to Silence the Bloggers

  1. Andy says:

    Hear, hear! THF, you have a good blog that doesn’t spread gossip or rely on gimmicks. Stephen A. is just bitter that his journalistic technique of screaming at the camera only resulted in “Quite Frankly” tanking in record time. Meanwhile excellent blogs across the country roll on unabated – Quite Frankly, that’s justice.

  2. Wayne says:

    I’d like to silence Steven A. Smith, Dookie V., Sean Salisbury and a few of the other more annoying idiots who pass for “experts” on TV.

  3. Josh Bowling says:

    I support people saying whatever they want, when they want, whether it be gossip, truth, fact or opinion. The reason people have a format is because when there is interest, there is a market. If people want to hear ignorance, they will cater themselves to a niche that provides it. Good for those who are able to take advantage of that market. Personally, I do not want to silence ignorance. If I feel my opposition is ignorant, then I want my opposition to speak as loudly and often as possible. Most only want to shut people up when their argument is not as good as those they want to silence. STEVEN A. SMITH has just indirectly said to me that since he has no market for his opinion/ideas, then he wants to shut others up that do have a market. Sorry Steven A. Shutting up THF does not make your blabber seem any more viable to me.

  4. 52BigGameJames says:

    from the Don King of sports/talk hisself…what a jhoake!

  5. Tar Heel Fan says:

    The first problem with Smith is he is woefully misinformed about blogs. My first challenge to these guys who make these claims is “Please provide examples of blogs that are all these things you say they are.” I would be interested to read these blogs because the ones I read are nothing like what these people describe. Secondly, you are talking about a guy who is put on TV because he supposedly “tells it like it is” and he is not afraid of “speaking truth to power” and he is allegedly entertaining for his passion and loudness about sports. Someone tell me how this differs from bloggers? The reason bloggers resound with their readers is because they give you the straight talk and are wholly unafraid of speaking truth to power.

    As I said, it is about competition and silencing a voice that people just might be more willing to listen to than you. ESPN has only themselves to blame. They created a vacuum when they began abdicating journalistic integrity and substantive opinions in favor of raising the entertainment quotient in an effort to enhance the bottom line. Bloggers are simply stepping in and filling the vacuum and giving the people what they want and that is insightful commentary with substance that in many cases also happens to be entertaining.

  6. C. Michael says:

    “Please provide examples of blogs that are all these things you say they are.”

    The DailyKos???

    I kid, I kid…

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Political blogging is a different animal and for some reason the fringe elements on both sides post some stuff that does not pass the smell test. If we are looking purely at sports blogs, I am hard pressed to come up with a list that matches the kind Smith describes. I also would point out that Smith acts like we bloggers fancy ourselves as pros and want the credentials. Guess what, we don’t in most cases. I have toyed with the idea of wanting a press pass for UNC games but at the same time I think that might impair the independent nature of the blog. We prefer operating at the level we are and the reason we do what we do is for the love of the game and to have a forum of expression.

  8. C. Michael says:

    I agree completely.

    I think Smith, like too many others, confuse blogs with message boards, or even comment sections on blogs. In these arenas, I do believe that it is reasonable to say that there is a fair bit of misinformation spun, but it is completely unfair to lump blogs into this as a generality.

  9. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Granted the owner of the blog owns the comments. Then again 99% of the stuff that shows up here is level headed so I have very few worries.

  10. C. Michael says:

    Yeah, didn’t mean to imply this blog. Posting here is a treat compared to another blog I post on (Metsblog). Some of the stuff that gets posted there is incredible/humorous/sad/scary…

  11. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    As someone with more than 20 years experience as a newspaper reporter and editor (after attending UNC School of Journalism) I can say with confidence that he is full of crap (and himself). Traditional journalism for years has unsuccessfully tried to get involvement from their audiences, usually with meager results – look at any letters to the editor page. Blogger journalists have broken a number of major stories and my view is that the more voices and perspectives out there the better for our society. Obviously there will shaky and outrageous efforts, but figuring out what is legitimate and phony is the job of the reader/viewer. Corporate news organizations, fat and happy with their monopolistic control of news up to now, are so confused by online journalism that their kneejerk reaction is to recommend that only they be trusted. Sorry…..

  12. Wayne says:

    Imagine my surprise. I just visited http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/2007/12/talk-about-credibility-stephen-smith.html and unless I’m mistaken, Steven A. Smith was voted “AA and AOL Sports Worst Announcer.”

    Congratulations, Steven!

  13. Wayne says:

    Oh, and I DON’T apologize for misspelling Smith’s first name. I see it’s Stephen, not Steven.

  14. Andy in Omaha says:

    Stephen A is a joke. I get sick and tired of his pompous “I’m the only one right” attitude. Unfortunately, ESPN has gone down the tubes employing more people like Smith who are more interested in putting on a good show rather than getting to the story and putting a little bit of sizzle on it. I’ll watch the sporting events, but turn off SportsCenter, NFL Live, and at times mute Monday Night Football so Tony Kornheiser doesn’t drive me to drink any more than I already do.

    By the way, I know this isn’t related, but we had a tragedy up here in Omaha today. Some 19 year old kid opened fire at a shopping mall five minutes from where I work and eight people lost their lives. Please keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers. This is something you really wouldn’t expect to happen in a town like Omaha.

    I will say with all that’s happened today, it’s good to get away from the news coverage and read something enjoyable for a few minutes.

  15. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Will do Andy. My condolences to those in your community affected.

  16. Howard says:

    As a UNC School of Journalism grad and a veteran of some 30 years with newspapers, I find one comment in Smith’s comment troubling:

    “They are not trained. Not experts. More important are the level of ethics and integrity that comes along with the quote-unqoute profession hasn’t been firmly established and entrenched in the minds of those who’ve been given that license.”

    Now this comment would be valid IF those in the business with the training and credentials were indeed ethical and working with integrity. I recall being excited during my J-School classes at the ideas, the history, the reasons for journalism. BUT, starting with my first day of actual work on a newspaper, I quickly realized that those in the field could care less about what “training” they had. The issues quickly boiled down to personal preferences, advertiser desires, money, money, money. Ethics and Integrity were the first things tossed out of the window.

    So, although I agree that many bloggers should be taken with a grain of salt and seen mainly as expressing personal rather than objective views, I completely disagree that what we read/see in the “main stream” and “credentialed” world (is that a word?) has a higher degree of validity. Validity, whether about blogging or the “main stream”, has to depend on the integrity of the reader/viewer. We have to do our work to make sure what we are reading/seeing is correct or incorrect. To trust anyone in the media completely is dangerous.

  17. Don says:

    Stephen A, loved the blog in awfulannouncing! Take all your professsionals at DSPN and jump up my arse!!!!!!!!

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