Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Does Perrault Understand Fan Blogging?

Last week, Matt Perrault of Omaha's KXSP-590 AM radio interviewed Jon Johnston of about the new college football preview guide "A Sea of Red". Perrault's interest focused on the number of bloggers (including yours truly) who contributed to the inauguaral issue. For many of us, this was the first time we were published in a more traditional format. Others, like Jon, had previous experience writing for print. One key difference between blogging and print is that blogging is more immediate. I've had numerous discussions about what blogging is --- and isn't. Dave Winer of Radio Userland fame once referred to blogging as the "unedited voice of an individual."

(I'm not completely convinced of that definition. My writing may appear to be completely unedited, though I do assure you that I do edit it to try and make sure it's somewhat coherent.)

One point is that blogging is almost immediate. Last season, I usually posted my initial reactions to my blog within an hour or so after road games or returning from the game in Lincoln. Certainly print articles require a greater investment in research, and usually go more in depth than typical blogging. The Lincoln Journal-Star does both exceptionally well: blogging on their web site to provide immediate coverage, then expanding stories to full length articles once the story has been developed sufficiently.

Each blog is a little different, though all seem to primarily focus on commentary. The Journal-Star's blog is a combination of news and commentary. Double Extra Point is a combination of analysis and soft-core imagery. Big Red Network and CornNation each publish a network of contributors who provide their own commentary. None of us are really journalists. Our readers may get their news from us since we frequently pick up and comment on items that aren't in their local paper or ESPN. Like Comedy Central's "The Daily Show", we should be secondary sources of information as we typically include commentary in our coverage. Rush Limbaugh may refer to himself as "America's Anchorman" but people need to distinguish between journalistic reporting and commentary.

Perrault asked Jon about how he separated his fandom from the "journalism" of CornNation, which was a question that caught Jon offguard at the time. Frankly, I had to listen to the interview a few times to try and figure out where Perrault was coming from. And I'm still not quite sure, to be sure. (Jon's still somewhat confused by Perrault's question as well...) I think Perrault comes from the perspective that sports bloggers have to put their fandom in check when they publish their commentary --- which is silly and absurd. My commentary, and the commentary of many of my fellow bloggers directly comes from our fandom. If we didn't have our fandom driving us to write, we simply wouldn't do this.

I started "Blasphemy" over three years ago to provide an alternative voice to a prevailing attitude that Nebraska football was on the right track. Some people thought this blog was "anti-Nebraska" because I wasn't toeing the company line. I never stopped supporting Nebraska football as my only offense was in criticizing the leadership in charge at the time. A year ago at this time, I was wondering that if last season went like I thought it could, I'd have to admit that I was wrong about the leadership. Instead, I was wrong about the 2007 season...and the rest is history.

Some of my fellow bloggers didn't share my opinions about the previous regime, which was their right. I hope they didn't consider me less of a fan because of our differences; I certainly didn't hold our differences of opinion against them. By exchanging our differences of opinion, I hope that our readers got a better perspective on Husker football.

The problem with Perrault's question is that he seems to feel that fans aren't able to .. or shouldn't criticize the program they love. Which shouldn't be the case at all. Fanatics may prefer to "drink the kool-aid" and refuse to consider opinions that may be "blasphemous", but in an open society like we enjoy in this country, everybody is entitled to their opinion. People should look at both sides of the issue before making any decisions or jumping to a conclusion. "My country (or team) right or wrong" is never a good thing. When people fail to criticize bad decisions by leaders, that simply enables future bad decision-making since leaders need to be held accountable for their poor decisions.

When a diverse group of bloggers such as the Husker bloggers come to an agreement on something, you can be assurred that there truly is a consensus on it. It's not an Iraqi-style unanamious re-election of Saddam Hussein, but rather a true democracy of ideas. And likewise, disagreeing doesn't make any of us less of a fan of our team.

The problem with Perrault's question is that while we are "homers", we are capable of some objective thought. Tonight, Jon and I were having a little debate over the relative merits of Oklahoma's Demarco Murray and Marlon Lucky. I think Murray's the better back; Jon likes Marlon. Now I admit that I stopped listening to Perrault for the most part after his spin-job over Creighton's absconding of NCAA regional basketball tickets. But I've got to assume that he got more than a couple of negative phone calls from Husker fans over last season. So you'd think he'd understand that fans are looking for the truth too.


Sammy Vegas said...

Mike -
great, great commentary. i actually listened to matt perrault for a few months and then got really turned off when he started calling the Red Sox 'we' and the Patriots 'we'. You are not 'we' until you are actually 'we' and are a part of the team. I can speak for jeffie and the rest of the DXP gang in saying that we love your blog and enjoy what you write. by the way, are we only soft-core? i was trying for hard-core. lol. we'll see you at our tailgate party this fall.

Anonymous said...

Matt P i s a joke. I cant stand hearing about the Red Sox and Pats every day. Nebraska is NOT the northeast. Big Sports 590 needs to can him. Why oh why would you bring someone in from a different region of the country to cover local sports that the person has never had a relation with? Oh, and how funny was it that they sent a bus down to KC for a Red Sox game. Im sure it wasnt because the city of Omaha and the surrounding area was demanding it. Im sure it was a Matt P deal. Any ways, Nebraska sports should be covered by Nebraskan's. Just my 2 cents.

Michael Carnes said...

Word is that Perrault is about to be shown the door at BS590.

Husker_Engineer said...

I hope you are right Michael C. I keep hearing this, but he remains.....

Husker Mike said...

I'm skeptical about Perrault being let go; you'd have thought that if 590 was going to make a change, they would have made it earlier in the spring or summer. With football season three weeks away, it's getting a little late to make a change.

I'm not sure that I agree that Nebraska sports need to be covered by Nebraskans. But by that same factor, anybody covering sports around here needs to recognize that very few fans around here give a darn about the Patriots and Red Sox.

Husker Mike said...

Ouch! The Spring 2008 radio ratings are out, and 590's ratings were down 33% from a year ago. Maybe there is some substance behind those rumors...