Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Changing Definition of Media

Get it? Media card? I slay myself.

It's serious post time. We better put on our concentration caps so that we don't hurt ourselves. Try to follow along. I know I'll be winded by the third sentence


There once was a time when the only people in the media were those with a pass and a newspaper gig. I'm talking of course about the folks that are now defined as Main Stream Media (MSM). These days, anyone with a voice can chime in and call themselves part of the media. Everyone who has access to, for example, Blogger can instantly become a full blown member of the media. Whether or not they realize and/or admit it.

You see, while all of us are members of the vast category that has become the media, not everyone is so quick to jump on board. In fact, lots try and shed the imagery and stigma that comes with the title of "media member" in an effort to look cooler and stay more in touch with their readers. "No, I'm not one of them," they would say. "That's why you should listen to me. You and me are on the same level."

It's a neat marketing tactic, a successful one too, but lacks sincerity. And of course, there are those who still, in fact, call themselves non-members and really aren't members. It's all very gray and blurry. But that's not what this is about.

This is about the changing definition of "media." Once upon a time there was only the MSM. But since we now actually refer to them as "main stream" it's only natural to assume that there must be, and is, a sort of "underground". Who's a part of it? That can be hard to say. There are bloggers, bloggers with MSM gigs, MSM with blogging gigs and MSM. As things have evolved so quickly, that likely doesn't even cover everyone. And it's hard to tell where everyone fits in exactly. But at the end of the day, it all falls under the broad definition of "media" whether everyone wants to admit it or not.

Take for instance, Will Leitch of DeadSpin uber fame. Mr. Leitch started writing for the Sporting News this week, and one of the first lines he typed said exactly what he thinks he is -- but really is not.

"I do not consider myself a professional sportswriter, but I’ve met a few of the savage beasts..."

That simple line does a great job of summing up what the sports blogosphere* is all about. It's about begin someone -- part of the media, if you will -- while trying to maintain that you're not anyone at all. This is not meant to bash Mr. Leitch, as I'm a huge fan (who isn't?) but rather use him as a singular example of something you can find all over the internet. Likely even at this very blog. Whether Mr. Leitch wants to admit it or not, he is a professional sportswriter, just not in the old school meaning of the term. He's not the pro sports writer you grew up reading in the local paper every morning. He's the new breed. He's the guy who runs one of the biggest sports websites on the entire internet while dabbling with gigs at the New York Times, Sporting News and, yes, somehow finding the time to become a published author.

So whether you're a card carrying member of the media or someone from the dark and mysterious underground, let's set the record straight right now. From the still casual fan to the serious blogger and the 9-5ers, we're all media and we're all part of the same family. Even if we don't like to admit it.

*- For those of you who hate the term "blogosphere", insert any word you like. Try "baby seal farm," it's funny.


  1. Don't let hardcore press media hear you talk like that. They'll have a coronary that a blogger is commenting on their business without ever being a part of it.

    Personally, whether I'm viewed as media, a blogger, dude-with-keyboard, insane guy who loves hockey, or whatever... it's just a way for me to chat with other people who share the same passion for, in this case, hockey.

    And all I ask for in return is an open mind. :o)

  2. Well said teebz, well said. But I don't think that many of the old grey guard do open their minds, instead viewing bloggers as insolent children who don't know anything.

    The sooner more of the old school guys retire, or just pass away for that matter, the sooner all of the 'amateur' writers on that scary interweb will start getting some recognition from MSM (and professional franchises for that matter). As is, the public has already embraced it, its just a matter of time that the 'establishment' realizes and begins to accept all of us in the warm embrace of media, and thus lend some credibility and access ...

  3. many MSM writers have their own blogs because newspapers cannot compete the with 24/7 news cycles these days. It's a funny "old school" v. "new school" battle that will eventually in all of us "youngin's" prevailing because that's the way everything is moving.

    plus, I think the MSM is just jealous because most of us write in our parents basements in our pajamas....right?

  4. you're absolutely right. blogging is a part of the business that is media, and you (of all people) are someday going to have just as much cred as guy like a bob ryan, scott burnside, or STEPHEN A SMITH. we see it even now, especially with the washington post hiring a respected journalist to do blogs about cheese, mohawks, and autographed traffic cones. i'm glad that you're able to see it before the rest of us do.

    but i'm really impressed. well done.

  5. MSM is on the endangered species list. Futurists say that daily newpspers will be extinct in 30 years. Electronic media will be deliverd daily by bloggers. Change is difficult for some people and parts of society to accept. I wonder what/who will replace blaoggers in the future?

    Well done!

  6. @anyone: you're totally right. Plus there is the additional...not issue, but something to think about--the links. Bloggers have the ability to say, "I'm not the only one who thinks this, check out this writer [link]" Plus bloggers do have the ability to get right on something as it happens.