Also, much thanks to Joel, our wonderful "Jr. Papa" for the invitation to guest-blog! A beverage of your choice awaits you at the O&WG, my friend! The pleasure is all mine!
Now, onto business...
Yesterday in the link dump, an article/interview by Volquest.com revealed UT Athletic Director, Mike Hamilton's aversion to new media (e.g., blogs, message boards, text messages, etc.) and its apparent ill effects on the athletic department. Myself paraphrasing, Mr. Hamilton is greatly concerned about the vast amount of misinformation, rumor, and innuendo that is often times posted online anonymously and with no accountability. He makes it clear that much of his and his staff's time (official or otherwise) is consumed by extinguishing (with a heavy French accent) le rumour du jour, which is a tremendous waste of valuable resources. Additionally, he points out that in some instances the lives of individuals are adversely affected as a result of these malicious and baseless rumors. Employees may unnecessarily forced to resign, student-athletes may unnecessarily transfer, and people's reputations can become unnecessarily, permanently damaged for life.
Mr. Hamilton is dead on. But what can be done to fix this problem?
Misinformation has existed since people started communicating. I'm certain that more than several cavemen have had boulders tossed at them after their cavewomen misinterpret his "I love you" grunt for one that sounded like his "My, how your thighs have grown" grunt! Fast forward a few thousand years and we have the invention of the printing press which, in its day, was a revolution that created the concept of "mass media". Newspapers (and other forms of "old media") evolved as a fairly reliable source of controlled information, given that the journalists are educated professionals, paid for their services, and thus have certain standards/expectations placed upon them. When the standards and expectations are not met, enforcement can be enacted to remove the "bad apple" from the information stream. Speaking of an information stream (high speed or otherwise)...
The internet is simultaneously the best and worst invention of all time. Where else can people from all walks of life, separated by tens of thousands of miles gather to share thoughts, ideas, and opinions on an infinite number of topics? Specifically, blogs and message boards provide a mean for anybody (Yes, even YOU!) to electronically document, well...whatever. Often times, a particular shtick is used on the blog, be it straight fact, comedy, sarcasm/satire, horror, straight crap, or any combination thereof; thus the onus is on blog reader to determine the shtick. Easier said than done, my friend. I would venture to guess that the majority of sports-bloggers (and commenters) are interested in facts. However, there will always be those in the gene pool that get their kicks out of distributing completely baseless rumors for the simple sake of being an electronic arsonist. You know who you are Mr. "My best friend's roommate's brother's sister is dating #1 QB prospect [insert name] and she says that he's absolutely going to play for [insert school]!!" Unfortunately, there is no way to deal with such blatant attempts of rumor mongering since most blogs operate anonymously or through a pen name and have zero accountability (HELLOOO, 1st Amendment Rights!!). However, for those wishing to blog about facts, solutions do exist.
Our very own "Jr. Papa" weighed in on Mr. Hamilton's sentiment with the following:
There's an ongoing debate about whether credentials for bloggers would even be a good thing for the blogger. Perhaps having creds would turn him into a journalist and impose the standard of objectivity upon him. The view from the press box is surely much different than the view from the nosebleeds, and that unique perspective is one of the things that makes blogging a much different medium than MSM news-gathering and commentary.
I'm torn on the question. But it sure would be nice to be able to listen to conference calls and be able to take some pictures from closer than 50 yards.
Although I'm not sure my proposed solution was well received, it did get me thinking: Why not have tiered credentials? One set, perhaps with the most amount of access, could still be reserved for the traditional media types, but then offer a limited access credential for bloggers. The National Conference for Media Reform already does.
So I say to Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ford, the "Instant media" age is here to stay. In fact the More-Instant media age is presently peeking around the corner! Symbiotic relationships are a good thing, nay, a GREAT thing. (That means: "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours".) If you desire better information on the world wide web, then you must take appropriate strides to disseminate better information. It's time to embrace instant media, be an active supporter, and to use it to your advantage...or maintain status quo and be a passive detractor. Just don't expect anything to change.