Do fans’ blogs threaten sports journalism?

By DAVID FURONES

With the perpetual development of technology over time, the Internet now offers virtually anyone with access to it a degree in journalism. Well, not quite, but with the average Joe’s ability to create and manage his very own blog, he receives just about the closest thing to it.

Countless national and international sites of the likes of ESPN, SI, Yahoo, and CBSSports provide a professional staff of sports journalists for their readers and the information they acquire free of charge. Big-time corporations like these are able to support themselves through the ad space they make available for other companies looking to market their products to a sports audience. While scrolling down ESPN’s NFL page, I see ads for GMC, “Town” (the movie coming out this Friday), Halo Reach (the new video game for the XBOX 360 console), Snickers, and StubHub, in addition to ESPN promoting its own programs and products.

What occurs with this phenomenon is that people feel entitled to free information and rightfully so. Now let’s take a look at a more specialized unit of sports coverage in CaneSport.com. CaneSport specializes in coverage of Miami Hurricanes athletics; the staff updates the site daily with new headlines and writers are constantly active on the fans’ interactive message boards where they offer as much insight as possible to the fans’ questions and concerns. CaneSport, the Miami Hurricanes subdivision of Rivals’ college football coverage (powered by Yahoo) does not get nearly as much income from ads as one could imagine due to their very limited readership. They charge their members a monthly or yearly fee in order to gain access to a majority of their articles, as well as access to the message boards and insider information. ESPN even does the same with a number of their articles through what they call ESPN Insider.

That’s where the blogs come in. Several fans attempt to maintain their very own blog, granting their readers free information with no incoming profit for the writers. Take The 7th Floor for example, a fan blog dedicated to the Miami Hurricanes updated predominantly by a fan under the alias of The Great Barstoolio (at least I hope that’s an alias). While deviating greatly from any journalistic standards, the site’s mission statement pleads otherwise while proving itself wrong nonetheless:

The 7th Floor is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth journalism about the Miami Hurricanes. And dick jokes. Lots of dick jokes.

Not to bash The 7th Floor specifically. It’s actually a blog that provides ample insight and its humor is an enjoyable alternative to the always-serious journalism you find in many other places. But the question remains: Do blogs such as these threaten or interfere with sites such as CaneSport, who have a paid staff that goes out and gets the interviews done and formulates articles based on facts, statistics, and information straight from the players, coaches, and front office/athletic department of the school? In the meantime, bloggers’ posts are often heavily opinionated, editorialized, and biased, with minimal objectivity.

The truth is it can interfere with sites that utilize journalistic standards from time to time. But simultaneously, it’s important that the public has a voice too. We should get to hear what the fans have to say — it’s called freedom of speech and, in this country, we’re kind of big on that. In the long run, the true sports journalists should end up winning out and there’s nothing wrong with a little competition for them. They’re getting paid for what they do and have received an abundance of education and preparation for their jobs.

About David Furones

David Furones is junior at the University of Miami majoring in journalism and sport administration. He was born and raised in Miami-Dade County and has always considered UM to be his dream school (minus the hefty tuition price). He was born to Cuban parents who immigrated to the United States (legally of course) about a year and a half before his birth. He holds aspirations for a career in sports journalism upon graduation. Furones, who loved reading the sports section and watching ESPN as a child, knew that's what he wanted to do with his life at an early age.
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