What’s a blogger, who’s a writer and what are you?
Baseball analyst Eno Sarris of FanGraphs—you’ll see why I avoided calling him a blogger or writer in a second—published a piece today about this weekend’s Blogs With Balls 4 sports bloggers conference, which I also attended in New York City.
Sarris writes about the panels and conversations, but mostly he wrestles with the definition of “blogger,” which has always been slippery, but seems to be ever more elusive as the industry goes through rapid change.
It might sound like mere semantics, and it largely is, but unfortunately it’s important for people who, business-wise, are on the fringes of the mainstream, which I think describes most Bleacher Report writers. How you are defined has implications for where you are published as well as what kind of access you’re able to get.
Here is Sarris struggling with the definition of “bloggers”:
Is independence no longer a defining factor for blogs? Sports Blog Nation, Bleacher Report, Bloguin and even ESPN and Yahoo have formed platforms that help bloggers participate in the mainstream media environment. Does it make sense to penalize Spencer Hall from EDSBS (on SB Nation, and winner of Best Sportswriter, Humor) for plying his trade on a (suddenly) large platform? If we go by feel rather than definition, we “know” that Hall is a blogger. So perhaps independence is irrelevant in today’s media environment? At least irrelevant to the definition of a blogger …
There are still a few holdout teams that don’t allow bloggers in the press box — which seems strange considering that most beat writers have blogs as well. Obviously having a blog does not define you as a blogger either. Does eschewing access define you as a blogger? Many established bloggers would be upset to have their credentials as bloggers revoked for accepting credentials and interviewing players.
Are we talking about format? Then it would be silly to deny access to a writer because his news organization chose to publish their content in a flowing, chronological manner. Are we talking about professionalism? Then it would seem ridiculous to call someone as professional, hard-working and original as Sebastian Pruiti (NBA Playbook) a blogger in any derisive way.
Sarris took his questions to Twitter, where a lively discussion of the meaning of “blogger” broke out.
I’ve tried to capture that conversation using Storify. I may have missed a few participants or tweets, but I think you can get the flavor of an interesting chat among several smart people who are, like Sarris, struggling with the answer to the question, “What am I?”