Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Blogger?

Over the past few years, there has been a debate about blogging verses mainstream media. Many prefer one avenue while others choose the other road. Is it a matter of morals, points of view, credibility or what? And what should we as bloggers accept as our responsibility when we post an opinion?

Last year, I posted my reasons for why I thought Greg Robinson should no longer be coach of the Syracuse Orange football team because I was frustrated with the direction the program was going. Did I take into consideration that this outcome involved someone and their livelihood? Yes but I was so aggravated over the constant losing that I did not care and just wanted some reasonable proof that this team could improve and lacked any. Was I negligent in my writing? I am sure in the minds of some I was but I can offer this, I would have been more then thrilled had Coach Robinson proved me wrong and turned this program around, even go so far as to publicly humiliate myself to receive his forgiveness if it meant Syracuse football was a winning program again. Needless to say, he was later fired (with absolutely nothing to do with my post I am sure since I doubt Dr. Gross gives a damn about this blog) and is now happily a member of the Michigan Wolverines football coaching staff.

Recently I have noticed amongst many within the Twitter network, a battle has enraged over a blogger speculating as to the possibility of a MLB player using steroids. I will not name the blogger or the player that is involved because it is not relevant to the circumstances and I prefer not to get it anymore attention either. This has also launched further debate as to the credibility of blogs verses mainstream media which as I mentioned happens from time to time as it is. The issue at hand is whether or not such speculation is proper to do in a public forum because even though I knew Dr. Daryl Gross would not read my blog, it is still posted publicly for anyone to read, as was this blog post. Am I as careless as this blogger for trying to affect the outcome of some one's livelihood though? Where do we cross the line from allowable public opinion into none of our business?

I contend my statement was acceptable because in fact, Syracuse's program was struggling at the time. I did not imply that he could not coach or that he was doing anything illegal or against rules within his sport. I was just frustrated but did my best not to make the post a personal attack. On the other side of this coin though, when you assume someone is using PED's (performance enhancing drugs), you are not only implying an illegal action, you are also calling them a cheater.

Yes, I know MLB screwed up in the past and should not have allowed the players union, which many call the strongest union in America, to prevent testing for as long as it did but that is still no right to throw out accusations without proof. Most reputable journalists will not print a story of such magnitude without checking numerous sources and seeing proof firsthand if possible because it could have an adverse effect on some one's life and possibly lead to legal implications. Shouldn't we as bloggers consider that at times as well when we throw around accusations?

Look, I like to pick and have fun at some one's expense, as well as even at my own at times, and can take a joke but there is joking and then there is stuff like this. We owe it to ourselves as sports fans and people who are so passionate about it that we love to write about it to uphold certain standards as well. I am not perfect by any means, as anyone who has read this blog long or my book will attest but I do try to do my best to not report stuff that I can't back up if asked to do so. I wish Greg Robinson had been able to make Syracuse a bowl contender and I may have even persuaded my children to name one of their kids after him had he done that but that did not work out and I am sorry for being so negative about the whole ordeal. At the same time, I would never insinuate illegal activities or cheating unless I had factual information from more then one reliable source that it was occurring and even then, I would have to weigh my options before printing it.

We are sports fans who love the games and became fans because it was part of our lives for so many years but when did we become so skeptical about everything that we shine the light on the negative side of the sports more then the positive? So where do we draw the lines? I know mine is to prevent personal attacks and implying illegalities in people but I guess not everyone has the same lines. While I would love to just nod and everyone become positive, I know even I can't do it all the time so that's unreasonable but can't we try to remember these are people too and sports figures who make escaping into a fantasy world away from the harsh realities of the real world at times, so much more fun and have some respect for them. If you have news, report it but report it responsibly and if you want bring up stuff like PED's, I hope you truly have proof because one day, that could turn around to bite you for it one way or another.

No comments: