Last week, we talked with Brian Cook of MGoBlog about the panel at Blogs with Balls that focused on ethics. Go back and listen to that show, but the long and short of it was the issue that, well, some blogs don’t have any ethics and it dumbs down the entire industry for the readers and hurts the rest of us who do have ethics. (There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist, and most of that centers around the tete-a-tete with Spencer Hall of SB Nation and Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead.)
Alana Nguyen from YardBarker was on that panel, and took a lot of heat — including from me and Cook — about her comment asking, ostensibly, why a blog has to have ethics if they don’t want to. Specifically, Alana commented on Josh Zerkle’s decision not to do a story because he didn’t want to run it without checking the facts first, to which Alana asked why it’s not okay to write the rumor, simply explaining it’s a rumor and not verifying the validity. That, rightly, got people pretty upset, and spawned a lot of discussion, including much of what Cook and I discussed.
Today, Alana joins the show to give her side of the story. Keep in mind that ethics, especially when it comes to sports blogs, is a really gray area. Spencer’s ethical issue with The Big Lead was the fact that they ran information that was made up and didn’t bother to check out a source or independently confirm a story they received in an email. Other people sent me that what Spencer did in duping TBL — albeit on April Fool’s Day — was unethical in its own right. So, as you can see, there are different kinds of ethics.
Take, for example, a message someone sent me yesterday:
• Look at this TBL headline:
You said the EXACT same thing:
Is that unethical to steal from another blogger without credit? Or is it simply a coincidence? I’d venture to guess that the first one – the headline – was totally gripped from my tweet while the second – a look at ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup – is simply coincidence. Frankly, I’m not even upset about the second one being stolen from me, if it actually was, because while their post had countless more readers, mine was better. To me, it’s always been about the work.
But…you see how things can be taken in different ways. And yes, a blog that is no fan of mine may have ripped me off twice in less than a week. Pageviews for everyone! Ethics are clearly a gray area.
Alana and I talk a lot about the notion — put out by Spencer on Zerkle’s show — that there should be a standard for all blogs. I bring up a YardBarker site in SportsbyBrooks as a really weird gray area for sports blogs…and for YB…as to how to treat the whole “ethical standards” issue. We give our opinions on the show, but I’ll ask you, dear reader and listener, for your take on it in the comments.
The biggest issue seems to still be the fact that blog readers, mostly casual blog readers, aren’t given the credit to determine what’s good and what’s not. Obviously a lot of this stems from the fact that many of us are dumbfounded as to why sites like The Big Lead get the kind of traffic they do. Do readers REALLY not know there are thousands of other options out there? Do people still think there are only five sports blogs?
How do we change that?
There’s a lot more to this show, and a lot of interesting internal YardBarker talk, specifically surrounding the gossipy items like Terez Owens’ Delonte West-LeBron’s mom perpetuation. Hopefully worth your listen.
Thanks to Alana and to you.