The funny thing about nostalgia is that things were almost never as good as we remember them to be. A perfect example of this is on display at Tundra Vision today:
Journalism was once a noble profession, because we trusted those writing for us to be noble, honest, and to have integrity.
First of all, journalism has never been any more or less noble than any other profession, and journalists have always been prone to the exact same biases and flaws as anyone. The idea that journalists were some kind of pure crusaders for all that is right in the world until 1994 is absurd.
Secondly, sports journalism doesn’t need to be unbiased, even in its most ideal form. Sports are games. On the list of things that are truly important, they fall somewhere between American Idol and what Michael Savage says about anything. So it doesn’t really matter if Greg Doyel wants to rip on Favre apologists in his columns, just like it doesn’t matter if I want to rip on Lions fans for being from Detroit.
Anchors were encouraged to develop catchphrases and inject their personality into the show, so you were just as likely to tune in to see Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann perform their little comedy routine as you were to see what happened on the field that day.
The reason new media serves as a refuge from people like Dan Patrick isn’t because blogs don’t inject their personality into their writing; it’s because their personality is more interesting, and their jokes are funnier. Scrolling through the comment section on a single post from Deadspin will deliver more laughs than an entire year’s worth of Rick Reilly’s columns.
Finally, Tundra Vision’s logic seems to have a paradox:
Today’s sports media is aghast that their jobs as they knew them are in jeopardy, but in part, that is their own doing.
The people Tundra Vision is accusing of bad journalistic practices (ESPN, Jim Rome, PTI, etc.) are not in any danger of losing their jobs. As much as ESPN sucks (and I completely agree that it does), it’s not in danger of fading into obscurity any time soon. In fact, the people who are losing their jobs are the very people Tundra Vision defends: the entirely objective, facts-only, no-commentary newspaper reporters. And the biggest reason they are losing relevance is because newspaper is an outdated medium. Why do I need to read a recap of Sunday’s games in Monday morning’s newspaper when I can instantly find scores, stats, and all the other facts about a game instantly online after the game? And for more in depth analysis of a game, I can wait a few more hours after a game and browse through the Packers blogosphere to find a detailed breakdown of just what went right and what went wrong.
Of course I could be wrong. Maybe it is all Jim Rome’s fault.