For those of you who don’t know, there is a show on HBO called “Costas Now” on which the host, Bob Costas, talks about sports. It being on HBO, there is blue language involved (and no, I’m not talking about the Colts). I don’t get HBO, so I don’t watch it.
Someone in the past several days pointed out to me that the most recent episode included two guests (possibly others, but these are the important ones): Will Leitch of Deadspin.com, and Buzz Bissinger, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist. Here’s the short version: Bissinger went postal on Leitch, spewing forth vitriol about bloggers. I can’t even quote him here because this is a family blog.
I am not saying that I support or endorse deadspin.com, but to condemn blogs in general as sources of information and communication? Sorry Buzz, but welcome to the 21st century. I get the feeling that if Buzz had been born 600 years ago, he would have been one of those priests who didn’t want the peasants to know how to read.
But that’s not all. Bob Costas wrote this back in March: “…it’s one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother’s basement in Albuquerque and they are who they are, and they’re a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability and they can be comment No. 17 on Dan Le Batard’s column or Bernie Miklasz’ column in St. Louis. That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective. It’s just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men’s room walls in gas stations. That doesn’t mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.”
Here is my response to all this:
A journalist is is a person who practices journalism, the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and people. It galls me as an intelligent person to be told that since I don’t have a degree in journalism, what I say doesn’t matter (or at least should not be trusted).
There are professions that require a skill set that is not commonly learned by the majority of society. Medicine, Nursing, electrical engineering, carpentry, rocket propulsion, and piloting are all examples of professions in which you must learn a specific set of skills and develop a knowledge base (including professional jargon) that by and large is not known by people not in your profession.
There are other professions that pretty much anybody could do with little or no training above what the average person receives in our society. Cashiering, telemarketing, sanitation engineering, nurse aide work.
Someone could argue that journalists belong in the second category (the easy-to-learn category) in a society that contains intelligent people. I had to go to school for years to learn grammar, vocabulary, creative writing, etc. It was called “grades 1-12”. I got even more instruction with my non-journalism bachelors degree.
It seems to me that there are three requirements to be seen as a journalist:
1. Be an intelligent person who is well read
2. Have a basic grasp of language and grammar
3. Be trustworthy with the dissemination of facts.
The Deadspin meltdown on Costas’ show just shows how “professional journalists” view those of us who didn’t graduate from journalism school: we are idiots who need to be told stuff by a professional journalist. Well, excuse me, but I don’t think “Professional Journalists” have a market on facts or opinion. I am allowed to possess and disseminate both. So there.