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Taking It To The Next Level
2004-09-21 23:20
by Will Carroll

Blogs are big.

That's no secret. With the CBS scandal spearheaded by conservative bloggers that pushed a story (and agenda), bloggers are going around patting themselves, saying mainstream media is dead or dying, and generally, making asses of themselves.

You broke a story ... or did you?

Someone did. I'm not sure who was first. Honestly, it doesn't matter because I don't want to discuss this case as more than a symptom. Blogs - and many web sites, but I'll stick with the blog term for ease - work at the second level. They find news, they comment on it, end of story. Beyond a few interesting examples, most blogs operate at this level and even at the third and fourth level. As TBogg said in a recent piece, bloggers are not reporters, they're electronic op-ed pieces or letters to the editors.

Baseball blogs are guilty of this as well. There are whole sites that do nothing but link to things and comment on them. Fine. Good. It doesn't TEACH us anything. It doesn't expand the pool of knowledge at all. Many are essentially assassins - looking for the plethora of stupidity in the mainstream baseball media and poking it with a sharp stick. BP did this with an early column focused on fact-checking Peter Gammons.

There's plenty of room and interest for this type of content, but where does it lead? Is Peter Gammons less respected now because some web site jabbed at his grammar? Is Joe Morgan smarter because so many anonymous surfers stare longingly at his ignorance?

I've been guilty of this - and I think there's always a place for reasonable criticism - but I'm starting to think that, in the end, we may show productive outs are bad, but we're not very productive ourselves. There are great minds and great writers out there -- and for several of them recently, my advice (as if I'm in any place to give it) is simple:

"Quit blogging. Start writing."

There's a lot of talk on the 'net in every space, every niche, every possible subject. There's not a lot of real content, real talent, or real value. If blogs are going to take it to the next level, they need to follow the examples of someone like Jay Jaffe with his great series on Gary Sheffield or Rich Lederer's series on the Abstracts.

Bloggers, become writers. Writers, we can do better.

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