DL390: Alana G of YardBarker On BwB3 and Blog Ethics


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:

• The only reason i bring it up is because he copied your exact TSB column idea (i.e., assessing ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup) from yesterday:


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.

Tags: Alana G, ,

3 Responses to “DL390: Alana G of YardBarker On BwB3 and Blog Ethics”

  1. mcbias says:

    While I’m at it, though, one other point. I do think it is a good thing for blogs to call each other out. At the beginning of the sports blog industry, it was important to protect the industry’s reputation. An attack on one sports blog’s reputation was more or less an attack on the entire industry.

    But in the last few years, the sports blog industry is more established. So there’s nothing wrong with calling out a blogger per se.

  2. mcbias says:

    I first have to preface this by saying, I was not at BWB3. But I’m concerned at how the April Fool’s story is being twisted as if The Big Lead is the only blog to ever be manipulated by false tipsters. The truth is, many blogs receive their top stories via tipsters, and are easily manipulated via a clever email with a kernel of truth. It would only take one or two clever pranksters to severely embarrass the blog world, IMHO.

    For example, Deadspin.com published a rumor about Bobby Frasor having a late night encounter with Erin Andrews that had no real validation (http://www.accsports.com/articles/201006138001/blue-streak-excerpt-the-great-erin-andrews-tale.php , http://deadspin.com/5100242/erin-andrews-is-not-creeped-out-by-these-fine-upstanding-tar-heels ). Now, Deadspin did qualify the rumor and hedge its bets; but so did TBL in his post about Sanchez. There have been other instances where blogs have been taken in, or where they narrowly escaped (the Erin Andrews–David Wright fake sex tape rumor comes to mind). I quite honestly am surprised that more unscrupulous agents don’t try to plant false stories about rival clients/players.

    I don’t want to get into details, but I once fed a fairly substantial tip to a blog, anonymously, and was shocked by how few questions they asked me. They ran it with nearly zero double-checking.

    I don’t claim to know the whole story about TBL and feuds with any other bloggers. But please, charge him with the right offenses. If he seduced your girlfriend, tell us already, and stop mumbling that you don’t like his shoes or his jokes. If it’s an issue of stolen ideas, that makes more sense to me as to why some bloggers are so upset. But otherwise, naive outsiders like myself are left scratching our heads wondering what all the fuss is about, and quite honestly starting to wonder why the vendetta.

  3. Alana says:

    Thanks again for having me on the show, Dan!

    One quibble I have with your write-up — I don’t think I was ever asking “why a blog has to have ethics if they don’t want to.” First of all, a lot of people are conflating “standards” and “ethics,” but even if we’re talking about “standards,” I don’t think any of the blogs we’ve discussed have NO standards. As an example, the Big Lead did indeed publish a story about Mark Sanchez dating a model based solely on an anonymous tipster. That’s a *different* standard than a lot of other bloggers have, who would not have published the story unless they verified it more. But I don’t think TBL has NO standards. For instance, if the anonymous tipster had written that Sanchez had raped the model, I’m pretty sure TBL would not have posted that without verification — Jason has said that TBL has certain standards for posting serious stories like that.

    Similarly, I think if a blog properly couched Josh’s Shane Graham story as an unverified rumor, that could be ok to post (even though it’s not within *some* bloggers’s standards for verification, such as Josh’s). To me the Shane Graham story is a harmless one akin to the Sanchez model story. If Josh had said the rumor he heard was about something serious like Shane Graham committing a crime, I would feel differently. Some bloggers may feel you shouldn’t report that Shane Graham sneezed unless you can verify it with three sources — that’s great if they want to hold themselves to that standard. But, as Josh has said, just because another blogger has *different* standards doesn’t mean they have no standards at all.

    Thanks again, and I hope people found the discussion productive. I encourage anyone who still takes issue with what I say to reach out to me so we can discuss and you can help me understand your point of view.