OK Cerrone Cerrone Whatever Will Be Will Be
Of all the things we could be blogging about, the Mets are the most painful.
At the risk of coming off as flat and off-putting as a Michael Jordan t-shirt commercial, I'm gonna make one last foray into the Met-a blogger access debate, one that has now joined by none other than the godfather of Mets blogging, Matthew Cerrone, yesterday on his prominent website.
I have to say, I take mild offense at Cerrone's post, not because I think that in addressing this topic, he should have acknowledged my small, immature gag blog, or taken my argument seriously, but because instead he managed to link to Andy Martino, who recently swore he'd cover spring training in a grape smuggler. That smarts, man. Fair or not, the subtext I'm getting is that he doesn't get out of bed to interact with you unless your circulation is impressive, no pun intended.
I'm going to go ahead and link to him, show his writing some love with the 3 to12 hits he'll now doubtless get from my curious reader(s) and extended family (heavy snark) to try to repay his magnanimity over the years to his blogging colleagues (no snark).
Matthew Cerrone, you're welcome (lite snark).
Yes, I took some subtle and juvenile shots in my last couple posts (I'm dangerous like that), but by and large I do not like to criticize my fellow maternal cellar dwellers. In fact, for the little it is worth, I have often defended Mr. Cerrone in chats and on blogs from what I see as personal attacks. His blog was the main inspiration for me to start my own electronic diary, as I'm sure it was for many, so I want to be clear that nothing I say should be taken as ignoring his accomplishments or generosity. Plus, I don't know him personally--he seems like a swell guy. Cerrone is unquestionably one of the 3-5 most important figures in Mets blargosphere history, but this also makes what he writes that much more important. I think he can take the criticism of a novelty sports blog is what I'm saying.
So I want to talk about his post, "Mets, Blogs, Media and Access" and since this is an asymmetrical encounter (as Matt mentions, he gets "3.5 million page views per month" whereas I have somewhere north of 350,000 in total--I think this means that I'd have to blog for 50 years to get the number of hits he gets in a month, but you do the math) and Matthew ignores my argument (that we need to pay special attention to access issues because the ascendancy of blogs has undermined the old sources of authority without providing new ones) altogether anyway, I will confine myself to a few, probably wasted, words on the main points in Matthew's post, which for my money is as wrong as Roger Cedeno in center.
First, I'd say his post exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding--chalk it up to a willful naivete, or impenetrable ideological commitments, only Matthew knows for sure--of the way power works. Much of his response to the access issue reads as though it was written by someone stung by past unfair criticisms, and I don't think this is unreasonable on his part. As I said, much of the flak I've seen directed his way in the last five years is off base. But here is some flak I think his writing deserves:
1) Web 2.0 blarg!
Content in the world of Web 2.0 is a meritocracy, and so if the majority of my readers didn’t feel I was honest or authentic enough as a Mets fan, and I no longer fulfilled something for them, if my harshest critics are correct, people would have stopped reading, MetsBlog would stop growing, and people would find a new blog to read.Sorry this just strikes me as unadulterated
2) "Conspiracy theory"
In my opinion, it is a ridiculous thing to imply that we need resort to conspiracy to posit that big money has the potential to change editorial content. I take Matt at his word about his SNY deal not, to his mind, affecting the editorial positions he takes on the team. But financial backing influences the results we see in every other human endeavor, politics, sports, science, medicine, publishing, moon-golfing, pornography, and you want me to believe that sports blogs somehow operate in a vacuum? There is probably much more to be said here and other wags may go ballistic over Matt's use of the word "shit" in his post, on a website that reportedly routinely bans curse words by limiting its commentator pool so as not to offend the sponsors. It's his website, his paycheck, and it is a reasonable policy so I don't fucking care about that (see what I fucking did there?). But obviously the boundaries of appropriate criticism are implied and there are somethings you can't say, even if Saul LOLKatz doesn't drag Matt behind the SNY Beer Money set, clutch his testicles and hiss "watch your ass fan boy." To reiterate my previous sentiments, the corporate control of or influence on content is only important to the extent that, as I have argued, "blogs" replace, crowd out, and drown other sources of news, analysis, and authority. That raises the issue beyond the realm of personal integrity of any one blogger towards a systemic issue that no one blog's behavior can influence alone.
3. But I'm Just a Fan!
Finally, it is possible to critique this post by pointing to how Matt's writing implies being an average-guy-fan can exempt him from any responsibility. I haven't seen Metsblog as a "blog" for 3-4 years now, and I say this not to stake out some fundamentalist territory that I frankly have no standing to claim, but only to point out that calling MB a blog risks evacuating the term of any meaning. In the context of Mets fan webpages, Metsblog is a huge powerhouse that directs massive amounts of traffic, one that whether intentionally or not, legitimizes certain points of view while delegitimizing others. To deny that power while crowing about your access and page hits feels like poor form. And as Spiderman knows, with great power comes the ability to hang upside down and make non-stop quips.
I will close with some slightly more inflammatory rhetoric. If Metsblog isn't exhibit A for the power of financial backing and access and its subtle influence, then I'm Gary Carter. I lurked, read and commented on his excellent and path-breaking blog from its inception up until a few years ago, and I hope he won't take offense when I say that in the early years, the communities comments/posts, not the actual editorial content, were the major draw. It was like sitting in an electronic bar with other knowledgeable and oppressed Mets fans, and it was fantastic. That said, Metsblog made choices along the way, as is their right. Symbolically, they chose to remove their corny "blog roll," something I took as indicating their fundamental shift in self-identity from a blog with roots in a community into a corporately sponsored website. And that shift might not change the fan at the heart of the enterprise, but it changes the game considerably.
Labels: on-line diary