It is hard to believe that this post (by Jerod Morris) on a blog called Midwest Sports Fans has caused this much of an uproar.
The post is about Raul Ibanez’s hot start. It goes pretty in-depth (park factors, opposing pitchers, etc) in search of why Ibanez is having a breakout season. In the end, even when no real explanation can be found, Morris makes no real claims about steroids, other than saying performance enhancers are going to be considered in this era. He basically says, “I don’t know what’s going on … it’s too early to tell.”
The post was apparently picked up by the Philadelphia Inquirer and, somewhere along the way, infuriated Ken Rosenthal. In the roundtable linked above, the two professional writers criticize the blogger for, apparently, insinuating that Ibanez may be using steroids. Rosenthal, in particular, talks about the “standards of blogging” and the “power of the written word.”
In the end, however, I think the blog post is a great example of the good in blogging. The author took a question and went in search of the answer, using data and reason along the way. He didn’t make any unwarranted conclusions, and basically just threw up his hands and said, “I’m not sure yet.” Meanwhile, the two pros, Gonzalez and Rosenthal, take a few quotes out of context, and use the post and the reaction it created to go into another blogging vs. mainstream media war.
The standards of blogging is an interesting subject. Anybody can start a blog, and they can do anything with it. There is really no ‘code of ethics,’ unless you consider blogger.com’s terms of service to serve as one. What you will find, though, is that the good blogs stick around and the bad ones generally fade away or gain little recognition. The ‘good’ ones generally contain come combination of good writing, good analysis, good reporting (etc.).
The ones that stick around, they have what people want to read. The standards, then, are kind of created by the readers and by the blogs that become successful. You can talk all you want about some hack in his mother’s basement yapping away, but unless that person is creating content that people enjoy, his blog isn’t going to be read by many. So, there are certainly different standards than professional journalism’s. They are two different forms of media, although in many ways they are similar. But there is no reason why both can’t stand side by side, each one filling in the other’s weaknesses.