Friday, October 12, 2012

My Letter to Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist Dan "The Ripper" Shaugnessy called out "the bloggers" again the other day.

Shaughnessy brought up the issue of civility in sports after Kansas City Chiefs' fans cheered the injury to QB Matt Cassel.
"It’s an issue about civility in America today. It’s about accountability. It is about angry fantasy football players who do not know how to look someone in the eye, or hold a face-to-face conversation. It is about fanboy bloggers who kill everyone and everything under the brave cloak of anonymity. It’s about instant tweets fired from the safety of your basement. It is about anonymous bullying with the World Wide Web serving as the new bathroom wall."
I agree that KC fans were out of line booing Cassel. Someone just got hurt.

But I don't think it is right to blame bloggers for this problem. And a lot of other Boston bloggers felt the same way.

So I sent Dan a letter.
Hi Dan, I am a blogger as well as a graduate student in journalism at BU (Frank Shorr is one of my professors.) I grew up reading writers like yourself, Bob Ryan, Charlie Pierce, etc. I have a lot of respect you and your colleagues, but I think your attitude towards internet sportswriting is antiquated. I listened to your segment on Toucher & Rich this morning. 
I also read your Matt Cassel column and enjoyed it. I agree with you that it was absolutely terrible to cheer Matt Cassel getting hurt, but I disagree with you that it's mainly bloggers who fuel this sort of thing. I think your point that there are lots of anonymous bloggers out there taking pot-shots at sports stars and professional media members is way off. 
There are many people writing on the internet. However, a lot of anonymous bloggers don't get read. It takes a lot of work to develop a blog. You have to be constantly posting, interacting, updating. If you don't have something new, you're dead in the readers eyes. The idea that bloggers are just unemployed 20-something sitting in their parent's basement isn't really an accurate picture. The blog I edit, is run by a group of us that have real jobs. We have to provide new content every day. It's a lot of work. (We were also just named one of Time Magazine's 50 best websites of 2012.) And our names/emails/twitter handles are all right there on the front page if you want to get in touch with us. 
Stuff like SB Nation, Deadspin, Awful Announcing update regularly. And they are quality blogs. While they may have controversial content at times, they at least stand behind their work. I can't think of a single anonymous blogger I read regularly. I believe the real problem is with people who comment on articles on the internet. I wish more sportswriters like yourself would acknowledge that. Anyone who writes on the internet has experienced the wrath of internet trolls. That is where the real hatred is spewed. Those people aren't held accountable by readers. They don't even have to know how to write well. They can just throw their opinion at the wall and leave. 
Bloggers are, for the most part, good people. Thank you for your time. 
Sincerely, Nick Hansen
 To Dan's credit, he responded to me.
Thanks, Nick. We agree. Good luck with your work
I'm sure he's a busy guy and I appreciated that he sent me a note.

I'm not a big "calling out" guy like Shaughnessy. So my point here is, let's not insult anybody who works hard and stands behind their work. Both bloggers and columnists.

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