Intelligent Discussion and a Sense of History on BTSC: The State of 'Internet Journalism'

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: It doesn't take a person with a journalism degree to see Ben Roethlisberger is in pain. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

At Behind The Steel Curtain, we follow a mission statement of sorts, one that was bestowed upon us by Art Rooney Jr.

"Thoughtful discussion with a sense of history." To that, we explain the 'thoughtful discussion' piece as community involvement. We pride ourselves in having an active, intelligent, humorous and overall entertaining fan experience. We feel our site captures that at least as well as any other Steelers site available.

Part of that is to discuss not just the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, but the league in which the Steelers play, and even the landscape of current events.

I've received some email from readers over the last day in regards to a blog entry by Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette sharing his thoughts on what's sometimes called "internet journalism."

Those are my words (Internet Journalism), and not Bouchette's.

Some background: A reader emailed Bouchette following up on a video interview he did with Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, perhaps the king "Internet Journalist." I won't post the specifics of the question (it's technically exclusive content, but it does have a certain amount of free viewings each month), but essentially, the reader is asking Bouchette his thoughts on bloggers and the validity of their place in today's modern journalism culture.

Bouchette doesn't go as far as dismissing bloggers (a very popular stance not even six years ago), but he does point out his opinion there are four kinds of bloggers: Ones who gather topical news, creating a one-stop shop for readers; ones who give their opinions; ones who rip off the opinions of others and refer to them as their own; and ones who blend the reports of others, and opine on that.

I disagree with the letter of his opinion, but the spirit of it is true enough. For whatever reason, he feels as if all four of those groups represent themselves independently of each other, when it's obvious to me all four of them can be represented in as few as two posts, spaced 10 minutes apart.

In my useless opinion, the best bloggers are the ones who do all four of those things, perhaps with one or two of them featured a bit more prominently than the others.

Bouchette admits his post-secondary education is in business management, not journalism or communication, and some would feel that makes him less qualified to report news (I have a journalism degree and disagree heartily with the notion one needs formal training, but more than anything, the training in communication and journalism ethics is critical, however one would come across that education).

The wicked truth; Behind The Steel Curtain is a blog. It seems the only definition of a blog today is the lack of a hard copy version of a publication. Aging and fading is the art of the feature story, and while investigative journalism still maintains a strong presence, what's become paramount is 140 character reports, giving way to the overwhelming desire of the readers; to give their own opinion on the topic.

Is Tim Tebow half of what he is today without the combination of immediate access and wide open platforms intended for mass opinion distribution? Would we still be talking about Tiger Woods' collapse if every Joe Sweat Sock in the world didn't have the capability of posting every witty barb, t-shirt idea and re-hash of the precise moment his empire collapsed?

How much of Ben Roethlisberger's saga would we have learned if not for bloggers?

To suggest bloggers and Internet Journalists are anything more than people who want to artistically express their views is giving bloggers the power they now have. Obviously, there was a want - if not a need - in our society to get past the era in which only a very select few are establishing the opinions of our public figures - in our case, athletes.

We immediately know when any athlete gets a DWI, and the reaction is generally based in pure hatred, judgement and ridicule.

What would have happened if Mickey Mantle, a well-known late-night carouser played in this era?

Those are just some off-the-cuff thoughts; something afforded to bloggers far more than mainstream media types.

Those thoughts are often shared by people like myself, thus further enhancing the opinion bloggers are typically bitter, single men in their parents basement scrawling out copy based on someone else's thoughts.

Bouchette mentions this phenomena in his post as well. And guess what? I don't live with my parents. I am writing this in my basement. Maybe something to do with must and darkness makes blogger flourish, like mushrooms. I just think it's the area of the house my wife hasn't taken over. We'll ignore the fact national writers oftentimes work out of their own houses (whether they're blogging or not), thus negating the pointless stereotype that location of writing somehow dictates quality. Most of us would be bad writers whether we were in a basement or in an office.

The point is mainstream media types (I've been one of those) don't inherently know more than bloggers do. Having been on both sides of it, I can assure you newspaper guys fit the stereotypes of bloggers just as often as bloggers resemble beat reporters. It's all merging together now, to the point both sides are doing both.

I'll tie all of this back to my original sentiment. We're bloggers here on BTSC. Some of us have formal reporting and writing training, some of us do not. We want to write stories to illicit intelligent discussion, and we want to provide a sense of history. Not sure about Ivan, Rebecca or Tony, but I write mine in a basement (while currently listening to "Little Suzy" by Tesla).

I'd love to get your thoughts on how you feel our final product fits in with our mission statement, and what else we can do to improve your overall experience on our site. I hold Bouchette in very high esteem as a reporter (an extremely difficult job), and I hope my efforts fit more in his fourth group. I'd rather take it a step further, though, and talk with all of you about your opinions of not just this site but of the overall landscape of modern journalism.

Feel free to post a comment here or email me directly (address is in my profile, which you can access by clicking on my name at the top of this post).

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