by Tom Finkel
Sparks flew when three sports mavens with St. Louis connections got together the other night. Bob Costas convened a panel of experts on his show Costas Now to discuss "Internet Media" -- or, more specifically, this newfangled thang we call blogging.
Bissinger, reportedly a personal friend of Costas, came out of the blocks armed for bear, barely letting his host open the conversation, and interrupting Leitch in the midst of an answer to Costas' first question.
"I'm just gonna interject, because I feel very strongly about this: I think you're really full of shit."
The ensuing repartee features Bissinger frothing at the mouth and characterizing blogs "glib" and "profane" and Costas mistaking the "comments" aspect of Leitch's site for blog "posts."
Lost amid Bissinger's invective and Costas' sometimes-uninformed moderation is a valid discussion. It's true that many bloggers are ill-informed gasbags, and that many blogs, sports and otherwise -- some of them inordinately popular -- are veritable pustules on the Internet, turning the cult of personality/fame into some bizarre episode of Jocks Behaving Badly or Celebrity Titty-Spotting. By the same token (as Costas points out), there's a lot of high-quality material out there, delivered by thoughtful people who don't happen to have press credentials. Also, special access to one's subjects (a la Buzz Bissinger and Tony La Russa) raises questions of its own, in that doesn't guarantee revelatory journalism and, even when it does provide insight, that insight is tempered by the very relationship between reporter and subject that produced it.
I could go on, but you really should watch the clip for yourself (Edwards, by the way, does contribute to the conversation, and provides some of its more insightful moments):
Of course, you can also read about it in the New York Times, if you want a "real" journalist's account.