Friday Evening/Saturday Morning Dawg Bites

It was a short work week, so I'm sure you were too busy to keep up, but the weekend is here now and this is your opportunity to regain lost ground.  Here's what you need to know:  

Georgia's opening opponent in the N.C.A.A. regional won the Northeast Conference tournament and plays melodic hard rock.

The 12 head coaches on SEC sidelines this year will be the same as they were in 2005.  This marks the first time since 1988 that this has happened.

As a good mental exercise, I recommend trying to come up with the name of at least one new S.E.C. coach for each of the seasons from 1989 through 2005.  It's tougher than you think.  
I agree somewhat with Kyle's argument that there has to be some sort of disclosure standard on bloggers.  But I am not really sure what that standard really is.  I do think background information is important when any purported impartial/objective sports reporter or even a blogger holds himself or herself out as an objective commentator. . . .  I don't need to know their real names, I don't need to know what they do for a living, and it is enough for me to know what school they root for or are passionate about when I read their blogs.  That is really it.

When Brian began the BlogPoll, he correctly identified its principal virtue as being the interaction it fostered among and between the voters.  Roundtable discussion groups are scheduled; justifications for one's ballot are required; hashing out ideas is encouraged . . . and these things simply are not present in the sportswriters' and coaches' polls.  

One of the beauties of the blogosphere (especially as compared to the mainstream news media) is that we have the capacity to listen to and learn from one another.  C.B.S. News and Fox News view one another exclusively as rivals; they compete for ratings, for viewers, for advertising dollars, for exclusive interviews, and for journalistic "scoops," in addition to serving as shills for opposing political perspectives.  No one at C.B.S. News ever imagined he could learn anything from anyone at Fox News, and vice versa.  Maybe each is right to view the other with such disdain.  

I know he's just kidding around, but, honestly, doesn't he deserve to be taken more seriously than Bill O'Reilly or Dan Rather?

When reporters publish columns to which the only possible responses are on-line comments or printed letters to the editor, retorts of equal dignity are impossible, so open exchange is stilted at best and stymied at worst.  This simply is not so in the blogosphere, where our postings, far from being self-contained modular units, are part of an ongoing process of give and take in an arena in which respectful exchange, while not assured, at least is possible.  Between civil webloggers, this process encourages---indeed, demands---reconsideration and revision, as it has in this instance.  

In my defense, I acknowledged in my initial posting that "[f]ull disclosure may not be mandatory, but some meaningful disclosure (including, if nothing else, his team loyalty) is a prerequisite to any weblogger's being deemed worthy of your respect, your trust, and your attention."  While I stated that "I would prefer it if every weblogger . . . put his full name, his photograph, and his pertinent particulars on his blog," I admitted that "[r]eal names and day jobs . . . [we]re not mission critical."  

The replies coming from The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers and Bruins Nation have persuaded me that, ultimately, all that really matters is that a sports weblogger admit up front for whom he roots.  Heismanpundit, who (along with Paul Westerdawg) prefers accountability to transparency, offered this observation:  

I think that everyone has their team favorites, but I think some people can be mature enough not to let that influence their thinking on things.  Bruce Feldman went to Miami and wrote a book on Miami.  Does that mean he can't write about Miami without being accused of bias?  Some do accuse him of that, actually, which is pretty offbase, since he is a fair guy.  I actually think that his affiliation with Miami allows him greater depth of knowledge when he is talking about the Hurricanes.  By being close to the program, he can give insights on Miami in ways others can't.  It's like being an economics major whose specialty is monetarism.  I want to know what that person thinks on that subject.

That is a perfectly reasonable point that strongly supports my position.  Many writers have revealed their biases and shown that they are able to overcome them:  L.D. has defended Georgia Tech, Nathan has defended Georgia, Nestor has criticized U.C.L.A., and Paragon SC has criticized U.S.C.  The fact that we know these webloggers' biases heightens our respect for their opinions in these instances . . . and boosts their credibility the next time they voice their views, irrespective of the subject matter.  

If I write a posting about the Miami Hurricanes and Bruce Feldman writes a posting about the Miami Hurricanes, he clearly has a broader and more in-depth base of knowledge upon which to draw in forming his opinions.  In the absence of transparency, though, our readers will have no way of knowing that one of us is better informed than the other.  His collegiate affiliation makes him more qualified to write intelligently upon this subject . . . but, unless that datum is revealed, the basis of his expertise remains concealed and my hearsay and conjecture may wrongly be given the same weight as his inside information.  

Knowledgeable about Auburn football?  Most definitely.  Unbiased about it?  Maybe not so much.

I would like to think that, when I write about legal issues, some deference will be given to the fact that I am a practicing attorney; by the same token, I would like to think that Feldman's familiarity with the Miami program would bolster his credibility, but, if relevant details are kept private, we lack the ability to assess writers' respective credentials (or their lack thereof) and prejudices (or their lack thereof).  This is no less true in the blogosphere than in the mainstream news media.  

It occurs to me that this was supposed to be a "quick hits" sort of posting, so I guess I'd better wrap it up now so we can all get on with our weekend.  If you think I'm right or you think I'm wrong, please feel free to let me know.  

Go 'Dawgs!

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