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TK Continues to Win Argument Against Nobody

I'd like to be measured here, because soon this will be posted on The Big Lead, and then some producer from PTI will see it, and then maybe that producer will show this to Tony Kornheiser, and maybe he'll call me again and I'll get all cowed and declare my fandom for all things Kornheiser, and it will just be awkward.

So anyhow, here's what Tony said yesterday morning as part of his speech praising the Washington Post for its Pulitzer haul:

We are--let me be very, very clear on this--we are in the age where newspapers are dying. It's the last dying days of newsprint. And, in fact, I believe within 10 years there won't be any newspapers. I believe they'll all be gone. And I believe you'll get your news from what are called newspapers, but you'll get 'em online, or you'll get 'em in just a different way. The ink and paper stuff I think is dead, and I think it's just a question of when papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post one day don't appear at your door. And you'll go, 'Wow, it's over, huh?' Because, I mean, we're making buggy whips, while the cars are rolling off the assembly line.

Sure. No argument there. But what of the actual newspaperpeople?

It's not something that people do for money. And I don't want to say they do it for love--although most of them love their jobs--but they don't do it for money, they do it because they think this is what I really like to do, and I'm doing good work, I'm doing the Lord's work here. I'm doing something that's good.

A bit unctuous, but an accurate assessment of the old-school newspaperperson's mindset. Although I'm not sure this applies to, say, NBA beat writers. Or high school volleyball reporters. I never thought my Calvert-Chopticon volleyball game reports were exactly the Lord's work.

And for all the bloggers that are out there--and here's where Tony, you know, takes a shot at somebody in the head--for all the bloggers that are out there who do fine work, all right, essentially what they do, essentially what MOST of the ones that I've read do, is they wait for somebody else to get them the news--right, this would be fair Tracee?--and then they comment on the news.

[Confirmed by fellow panelists, who describe blogs as "links."]

Very sarcastically. And often in a very funny manner. But without the news, they ain't got NOTHING. They wait for somebody else to do the heavy lifting. And then they stand there like snipers. And by the way, I've done that a lot in my latter career. You know, I haven't reported anything in 25 years. I haven't gotten a story worth reading unless somebody calls me, and even then I don't even pass it on, I'm just tired and I go to sleep. [hearty laughter]

So I'm not holding myself up as anything special here. But the people that win the Pulitzers ARE special. And by and large they go out and they GET the news. And they don't just stand on high and take shots at everybody else after the news is delivered to them in a newspaper at 6 o'clock in the morning, or online whenever they can get it. The people that win the Pulitzers are in the front line of reporting most of the time. Almost all of the time. And they do great work. And they are to be applauded today.

So the point is, there are maybe, what, 20 full-time salaried non-newspaper sports bloggers in the U.S.? I've met a good number of these folks, and have corresponded with virtually all of them, and I've never once heard a full-time sports blogger suggest that what they're doing is noble, world-changing, brilliant, worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, or equivalent to a multi-part series exposing the mistreatment of vets at Walter Reed.

Some bloggers, perhaps, might argue that what they do is of similar import to the world as the televised waving of a head-on-a-stick in front of one's face. But Tony readily grants that point. Which leaves his basic point being: Anne Hull + Dana Priest >>>>> Big Daddy Drew + Unsilent Majority, I guess. And find me the person who disagrees with that.

Interestingly, just a few short days ago Tony seemed to be the voice of reason on this whole "bloggers are worthless nerds!!11!1!!" debate.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 9, 2008; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  Media  
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Uh oh, theres the shot across the bow.

Posted by: JDP | April 9, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Don't make me come down to your cubicle cheeseboy!

Posted by: TK | April 9, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand your point. Which may be another reason you haven't won a Pulitzer.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

You had to bring me into this? Now I'll never get the Columbia invite!

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | April 9, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Drew's expose on Walter Reed included far too many dick jokes for the committee's liking.

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | April 9, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Tony watch The Wire? He should know that even the "Scott Templetons" of the world win Pullitzers.

Though Gene Weingarten's piece that won was pretty good.

Posted by: JDP | April 9, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I certainly don't disagree with anything Tony said.

At least he wasn't talking about Idol.

Posted by: Big Daddy Drew | April 9, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Tony's point: Major A1 Washington Post investigative pieces do more good for society than sarcastic sports blog entries.

My point: Duh.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | April 9, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

This is like what Wilbon said the other night on PTI that people should be more upset about world poverty than about Roy Williams wearing a Kansas lapel sticker.


Posted by: JDP | April 9, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I am more outraged by child molesters than bloggers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Rather than a sarcastic blog entry about TK's statement, I was really hoping instead to read a hard-hitting look at sports bloggers that really got to the Dickensian aspect. Tsk tsk, Cheeseboy.

Posted by: mrlogical | April 9, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if those bloggers over at Slate (owned by the WAPO, right?) do any original reporting or do they just make boobie jokes about hillary and ruth bader ginsberg?

Posted by: odessasteps | April 9, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

I just want people to realize I don't go by ScottVanPeltStyle anymore.

Posted by: | April 9, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Well that explains it! I was wondering why someone who wasn't svpstyle was talking about Morgan State in a previous post. Thanks for the clarification. I was actually interested.

Posted by: Max Wass | April 9, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Christ, another KSK dick joke reference! so funny, so witty!

Posted by: Christ | April 10, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

KSK is terribly unfunny. Steinberg, get of their jocks.

Posted by: Big Daddy Jew | April 10, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

And to suggest some of the bigger sports blogs aren't interested in "credibility" is a complete joke.

Kind of like this being on the sidebar at Deadspin: "Receive breaking news and weekly top stories."

Breaking news? From Deadspin? Hahahaha.

Posted by: Big Daddy Jew | April 10, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I think Big Daddy Drew and Unsilent Majority are > than Dana Priest and Anne Hull.

I think the main problem that bloggers have is that they've got much more important things to do than "report" or focus on "credibility". In a few minutes I'm going to convince my mom to buy me more bagel bites and reinvest in Cinemax. I'll be back later.

Posted by: Skin Patrol | April 10, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I like this entry a whole lot. It's funny.

If people can't figure that out -- and that in some weird way, TK is very funny and just calling out to be called out -- there's no figuring people.

As to what happens to the actual newspeople: Robert Frost once said all news was basically gossip that someone thought was verified. I think newspeople means good writers who gossip. There will always be a need for good gossipy writers.

The transition away from print has already happened. The Post, I assume, is already preparing to charge us a small monthly fee to come to its website. It's been so good for long and it's so useful to all us, it should know we would pay it.

Me, to read good writing on the Wizards. Carter, Lee, Steinberg.

Posted by: Nancy | April 10, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Oh snap.

Hurray for Pulitzer Prize winning journalists. Too bad that most sportswriters turned ESPN talking heads tend to focus on the superficial and the sensational, instead of in depth reporting.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalists > Bloggers > People getting paid to yell on TV about stupid stuff.

Maybe it would be a good thing if sportswriters would embrace the Pultizer Prize winning style of journalism instead of emulating the worst and superficial of the internet world.

TK admits his standards have slipped, and most sportswriters' standards have slipped. I believe that bloggers are the subject of TK's loathing and rants because they represent what TK loathes the most in himself:

* That he is not reporting the news.
* That what he is doing contributes to the death the inked word.
* That he engages too much in the superficial and the sensational.
* And that he is pandering.

Sorry about the generalizations about journalists but I suppose that's what you have to do when all bloggers are clumped in the same category as "people who do not gather news" which is factually inaccurate.

Here's the news cycle as I see it in the modern age:

1. Blogger connects the dots on something obscure. Writes.
2. Talk radio hosts and journalists read the bloggers because it is easier than searching for this stuff themselves.
3. Days later they talk/write about the stuff the bloggers wrote about.
4. Maybe it ends up on PTI and other ESPN entities. There is much yelling.

Insecure people are the ones that take potshots at bloggers. If you are doing great work as a journalist, why would you care at all what bloggers are doing? Actually, you would probably like bloggers because they would be saying, wow, what great hard work this writer is doing.

He needs to lay off the bloggers. He will not win.

Posted by: Steph | April 10, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't fully understand Mr. Steinberg's point of view. Kornheiser's remarks seem to me to be both irrefutable and incomplete: Kornheiser makes laudable points about the future of investigative journalism; what he doesn't say is that bloggers arose not just because the new medium gave them a platform but because they were necessary to correct for the intellectual laziness and conventional wisdom-spouting of many established newspaper reporters and columnists. You cannot have bloggers without journalists, but I no longer would wish to live in a world of journalists without bloggers--that way lies Judith Miller et al. I guess Steinberg is responding to the implication that bloggers are parasites. What needs to be said is that they are the rare parasites that keep the organism to which they are attached healthy.

Posted by: Jason C. | April 10, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

To blithely suggest that bloggers don't do anything but comment on the news shows how tone deaf and out of touch Tony has become. Matt Drudge was dismissed as an internet hack before the Lewinski scandal by most print "journalists." Conservative bloggers were responsible for the unraveling of the CBS reporting on Bush's National Guard service. Especially in sports there are many instances where newspapers and main stream media get scoops off of message boards and the internet. Collectively bloggers are hardly Woodward and Bernstein and no one claims as much. Many bloggers are not worth reading but then again that describes the majority of print journalists as well. There are some really knowledgeable bloggers out there that are worth reading if you can sift out the internet flotsam and jetsam.

Posted by: Matt | April 10, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Tony's main point -- that bloggers generally react to what traditional journalists have uncovered -- is spot on. That may not be the case among the sports bloggers that Mr. Steinberg reads, but maybe he needs to expand his reading material. The question is, when those newspapers finally die, who's going to do the heavy lifting, and spend the money, on uncovering stories like Walter Reed? The bloggers? Maybe. There are some notable exceptions out there in which bloggers have done first-rate investigative work, but they remain exceptions. Most are exactly what Tony called them -- snipers.

Posted by: KC | April 10, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, thought Tony's comments made sense. His point was, I believe, that the newspaper business is in trouble, in part because of the advent and popularity of bloggers. Bloggers rely on the newspapers for the raw material of their blogs, especially those that offer mostly links rather than in depth analysis. If newspapers die, blogs will die too.

It's kind of like the relationship between movies and movie reviewers. If movie reviewers rip all the movie, causing the movie industry to fail, movie reviewers are out of a job.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 10, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Yea, Steph, I agree.

Gossip is fueled usually in part by the blogs, which the PTI producers pick up and put into the show. It's great how Tony seems to bite the hand that's feeding him.

Posted by: Blackaces | April 10, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Kornheiser is wrong -- newspapers aren't dying, they are committing suicide. Advances in technology should enhance the product and sooner or later, when playtime is over and the whole blog thing is (even more) compromised, people are going to wonder where the adults are. You know, who will report the real news?

The problem is it won't be professional journalists because they were forced to take the buyout.

Posted by: jrf | April 10, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Since when has any blogger claimed to be a journo? Nearly all the readable bloggers are ones who are either giving their opinion on news or are having a good laugh at things.
When satire is no longer a valid form of expression then THEY have won.

Posted by: SAE | April 11, 2008 3:41 AM | Report abuse

Dan, you clearly missed the point of the diatribe. If you think TK was talking about WaPo Pulitzer Prize winners as simply being better writers and doing better work than bloggers then you need to take a deeper look. He was clearly talking about how bloggers threaten true reporting yet are completely reliant on it, and how the nature of the relationship threatens both. It was actually an insightful comment (though not entirely original), one not worthy of your condescending "Duh."

Posted by: DC | April 11, 2008 5:19 AM | Report abuse

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