I wrote a bit about my frustration with the amount of stuff available on the internet on Friday. The gist: There are so many voices competing for eyeballs on the web that it’s becoming exponentially more difficult to sort through everything and find just the good stuff. Quantity is burying quality. Instead of passing time on juicy baseball rumors, I’m being tricked by deceptive headlines and heavily-qualified articles, and I find this annoying and somewhat depressing. I have come to the point where I would be willing to pay a small amount of money every month to block out all the noise, so I can just see worthwhile stuff.
Now, apparently a number of persons disagrees with me. Quoting bits and pieces from the comments section of the aforementioned post, a theme begins to emerge:
I prefer a quantity approach. If someone tweets/links/writes something, and I don’t immediately recognize the topic, or the author, as something I’ve enjoyed in the past, I skip it. If i see other people start to refer to the same piece, particularly people I trust to like the same sort of stuff I do, then I click it and read it.
For me – and maybe for some others – it’s called discipline. Just pick the handful of sources you deem creditable and stick to that. No one is putting a gun to any of our heads to read every tidbit on the Hot Stove rumors we might be interested in.
I think pay is a possibility of working in the future, but the simple solution for now is to be more picky about where we click.
I know what each Met’s site has to offer…some are cynical and some optimistic, some are analytical some are bar fights over the internet. I know who’s good and who’d bad. I check a Sports Spyder website (like sportspyder.com) and get what the story trend is and then judge what’s garbage or not.
It seems that many are still willing to sort through the stuff on their own. Most of the quoted comments come from readers I am familiar with and whose opinions I value. I really do like you guys and gals; you’re all cool in my book. I do, however, have some more thoughts on these ideas, which I’m not going to put in any order because there isn’t a natural order:
1. For everyone still willing to sort through on your own to find what you’re looking for — is there some point when you will no longer be willing to do this? It seems that for many of you, we haven’t hit that point yet. But does that point exist? Or will you always been willing to sort through the mess yourself? Is it just that sports writing is something people just aren’t willing to pay for anymore, after having it freely available for so long?
2. I see a real problem as this: Intentionally misleading headlines and drummed up articles are bad in a way that goes beyond basic deception; they’re bad in a moral sense. The loyalty of any journalist, writer, or blogger should first and foremost belong to the reader. Honesty, journalistic integrity, objectivity — these ideals are, I believe, aimed at serving and protecting the reader, and they’re important in a way that goes beyond simply retaining readers. Journalism, literature and blogging should be free from the interests of anything other than journalism and literature itself, because truth is important. It is through these things we look for the truth. This is why we put such a high value on the freedom of press and free speech. Misleading headlines and heavily-qualified articles run counter to these ideals. Sites that produce these misleading pieces are no longer loyal to the reader, but to the producers of the article, who are attempting to trick readers for the sake of increasing traffic. When this happens, it’s not journalism/writing/blogging anymore, but advertising. Or at least it’s not purely the first anymore and is now partially the latter. There is some value in keeping these lines distinct.
That said, there is probably more grey area in this matter when it comes to sports coverage. First, because sports don’t really matter. If someone wants to publish a truly bad, misleading article in a newspaper, we’re all better off when it’s in sports. Second, because almost all sports coverage is indirect advertising for a team or sport anyway, the line is already blurry. For example: This site is part of a network of sites associated with Sportsnet New York, a regional cable network. The New York Mets own 65% of said cable network; I almost exclusively write about the Mets on this blog. This page itself is on some level an indirect advertisement for the team, and I myself am an advertiser of sorts. I can’t really separate myself from that, which probably makes the above paragraph hypocritical. I claim the low importance of sports in my defense.
3. I could be really wrong about the idea of paying for sports media in the future. Here’s the deal: I don’t think the as-many-pageviews-as-possible model works, or at least is imperfect, if only because it’s horribly annoying. All the awful, annoying things — that is, the things I find awful and annoying — about the internet derive from this model. Slideshows are born out of this model. Misleading headlines are born out of this model. Heavily-qualified articles are born out of this model. These things are annoying, and we tend to do away with whatever annoyances we can do away with. Popup ads, for example, have mostly been eradicated; we’ve mostly taken down spam email. We like to stamp out the stuff that benefits few and wastes everyone else’s time.
But I don’t know what the answer is to the current issues. Maybe we’re not going to start paying for stuff. Right now, it’s like staring up at the sky 65 million years ago, looking at an approaching meteor and saying, “gosh, things are probably going to be different.” It seems that things are going to change, but I don’t know how they’re going to be different. If anyone were around 65 million years ago, I don’t think they would have guessed that those fuzzy, nocturnal scavengers would eventually evolve into the dominant form of life on this planet. Someone using the internet in 2001 would have no idea what the internet in 2011 would look like; I don’t know what it’s going to look like in 2021. The future is always different, and it’s always different in a way no one expects. I don’t know what the future of sports media is going to look like.
But I am curious what you, the readers, think about this. I am a consumer of internet, as you all are, but I’m also a producer of internet and this colors my vision such that I need your honest opinions. Am I totally off base with these things? What do you like about the sports blogs/sites you read, and why do you avoid the ones you avoid? What would you change about the internet and why? Please show all work and write only using blue or black ink.