Reader comment: “Could it be a MSM ploy to divide the emerging blogosphere?”
The Big Lead: “They definitely want this. Some of them. I think someone wrote about this.”
What the hell is going on?
Discussion arose on the merits of posting scandalous or potentially humiliating material in the fashion of sites like TMZ, or thedirty.com, on sports blogs. [It should be noted that the discussion spurred from the LAT piece with the disputed quotations.] While this dubious material is useful in gleaming interest and market share within a crowded niche, the integrity of this practice has long been questioned by those morally opposed to 'publishing' information of objectionable content. But in the digital environment alongside bestiality and ruthless Nigerian spam there are few rules and fewer lines one risks crossing.
Ok, so you're the New York Times and he's Egotastic – why do I care? You care when it influences peoples livelihoods; when entertainment becomes questionably lascivious and defamatory. Or you roll with anything that might make a few bucks on your website (Note: this blog is still (foolishly?) Ad-Free). Regardless of your position, never has the decision to publish been so weighty.
I disagree with posting defaming and humiliating material because most of it shouldn't reach the public record. We have spies that profit greatly from candid photos of famous people, and that we somehow endorse this practice is disappointing. Imagine having your privacy eliminated following your success?* A terrible fate unfit for most peoples' enemies, our interests are casually justified: it's the path they've chosen.
Your feelings on the paparazzi/celeb-sports culture aside, there is a reason people publish ruinous or embarrassing material: traffic. Readers already off the ESPN-beaten path are scanning the dense shrubbery of the blogosphere are looking to get more entrenched in the lives of their favorite athletes. They aren't about to glance over the headlines describing the a Yankee crushing strippers and or a Cardinal getting wasted with barely legal tail, would you?**
The reason is simple: As much as fans desire greatness in athletes, nothing is more satisfying than a complete personal disaster. We love a good train wreck. It's why we have Celebrity Rehab as a reality TV show; why Jerry Springer's bodyguard is still on the air; why Vick's dogfighting and Rose's gambling are immortalized by the sports media.
But scandal comes in many forms. What the MSM craves (see: Vick) is almost G-rated to bloggers -- the murky rules and skewed lines deem it such. Some suggest that change is afoot and I say no chance. The allure of others failures is too strong and agonizingly persistent; when coupled with limited eyes reading yet fewer blogs, you'd be a fool to predict a reversal in this trend. As far as some of the big players changing their tune? It's the path they've chosen.
*I acknowledge the existence of certain celebrities who's sham careers are dependent on, and in some cases owing to, the presence of the paparazzi-generated, or gossip-type material. These people are often more worthless the ones with the cameras.
**Reading this confirms you know what I am referencing, hence your admittance of guilt.