This is not my attempt to channel H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger and rail against this whole new-fangled Internet blogging thing. Not only would it be blatantly stupid -- I'm guessing it'd quickly mark the end of my OnMilwaukee.com gig -- but I don't really agree with ol' Buzz on a few of the points he was trying to make during his recent rant.
Plus, I actually know the difference between a blog and the comment section.
Which is the issue that's bugging me: Comment sections.
Now, if you're saying to yourself, "Hey, Wilde, you're a little late on the whole 'Costas NOW' debate there, buddy," you're right. I didn't weigh in on the subject following Bissinger's live-on-HBO tete-a-tete with Deadspin.com's Will Leitch, in part because just about everyone else in the blogosphere did. (Poor Braylon Edwards, by the way. How awkward was it for him to be uncomfortably stuck in that conversation?)
As a newspaper-first guy, with the uncertain future our business is facing, I don't want to sound like the bitter Bissinger, an incredible writer ("Friday Night Lights") who could've made an intelligent, reasonable argument had he not flown off the handle and used profanity and vulgarity to criticize the profane and vulgar nature of some blogs.
Personally, I do read my share of blogs -- from traditional journalism sources (several newspaper columnists and beat writers have excellent ones) and friends (my buddy Jason Bellamy does a movie one that I read constantly) as well as right here at OnMilwaukee.com.
Then, there are the much talked-about sports blogs, Deadspin.com and Profootballtalk.com. While I occasionally find a few interesting nuggets at Deadspin.com, I would like to see it follow the arc Profootballtalk.com's "Rumor Mill" has taken.
To me, as Mike Florio's blog has become increasingly popular -- read by sportswriters and NFL personnel types alike -- he has shown greater responsibility in his postings without losing his edginess. He's irreverent without being irresponsible. I can't always say the same for Deadspin.com.
As Costas pointed out during the show, "There are a number of sports blogs that are well-written, make good points, are insightful and are funny. But there's a very large percentage where the quality is poor and the tone is abusive." And, as Costas says, that tone then trickles down to the comment section.
What set me off was a story the other day in The Capital Times, which became an online-only daily newspaper last month after a storied history in Madison. The story was about the cancellation of a local Sunday night TV sports show, and in the comment section below it, a few readers decided to take potshots at Robb Vogel, the host of the show, who just happens to be standing up in my upcoming wedding.
While I took it personally because of my friendship with Robb, it stirred my frustration with reader feedback sections in general.
As a writer, I crave feedback. That's why what readers can provide at the click of a mouse -- both positive and negative -- is so valuable to me. Because I know I can get a lot better at this, and that's the only way to improve. So the negative feedback is especially valuable -- even though we all like it when people say nice things about us -- so long as it's constructive and not the name-calling, shoot-the-messenger, misdirect-your-anger-about-the-Packers-at-me kind of thing.
If you want to see how nasty people can get, look at what the Boston Herald's New England Patriots reporter, John Tomase (full disclosure: Another friend) has faced in the aftermath of SpyGate. I've never faced anything like that, but I have gotten my share of nasty e-mails. I reply to all of them, and usually we reach an understanding. Sometimes, there's no changing their mind that I'm a no-talent hack. And sometimes, they're right about that.
By and large, it appears to me that the readers who post Talkbacks to OnMilwaukee.com stories -- even people who disagree with the authors and bloggers -- are a much more refined lot than most. They don't resort to ad hominem attacks when they don't like a story. They're able to make well-reasoned arguments and valid points. (And I'm not just saying that to suck up, or because no one ripped my engagement story back in February). I hope the example they set carries over to other comment sections.
Now, let the ripping commence.
And you've missed the point of the whole discourse and, for that matter, it appears getting enough hugs as a child. From Wilde, to all the responses, the point hasn't been about thicker skins, contructive feedback or just making your feelings known and voice heard in the cyber world. Rather why people feel ok to write the hate that they do, not care about consequences and hide behind their keyboards as to not be accoutable for the words they right or say. Oh, and of course why the can't stick to a civil tone instead of personal attacks such as you've shown an inability to do proving Wilde's original point.
Too bad. You've gone from misguided disagreement to being "one of them".
Peace to you.
it's an inability to use upper case that keeps me from doing so.
kirby, how do you get off that high horse of yours when it's time to hit the sack? ladder? servant? jesus?
you willfully missed my point and that's ok, i guess. some people don't wanna get it.
it does not matter what is said in cyber space. not one whit.
and if his buddy took offense or if Wilde(!) took offense to something written by some moron with an emachine then they need either thicker skin or a different job.
Funny someone who writes with an utter lack of sentence structure, punctuation or an ability to use upper and lower case would dare call it an "ironically poorly worded post". It also shows that many of whom, such as yourself, are in a rush to prop themselves up by putting others down miss the facts:
"if Wilde's pal was driven to tears because of some harsh words from people he doesn't even know"
Wilde's original post never said or hinted at any such reaction from his friend. Wilde chose to make his point at his own desire. Nowhere does it say his friend did not display a thick skin or reacted in a manner that is in anyway different from that which you advocate. Wilde was motivated to write about class, respect and the tone which many who respond to blogs or news chose to use behind the secure curtain of anonymity. In fact only a very small portion of his blog was dedicated to that specific situation. See the forest through the tree's comes to mind here.
With all due respect, you are correct actions speak louder than words, and it those "actions" start with the things we say to each other in what ever form those words are delivered.
As Wilde likes to say "Be Good".
i respectfully disagree with your ironically poorly worded post.
if you are a public figure, or anybody that puts words on paper for the public to read, you better have a thick skin as it comes with the job.
if you don't like it, you can always write a blog like Begel where maybe only 3 people will see it.
and, of course words matter. but as adults we also realize actions speak louder than words. you can tell somebody you love them but if you don't act like it, guess what? your words mean nothing.
if Wilde's pal was driven to tears because of some harsh words from people he doesn't even know, then i say, yes, he needs thicker skin, or he needs to leave the business.
i stand by "sticks and stones..." in this case, and if more adults did as well, maybe the "wars" you speak of would not have to be fought.
It's not about "writer types" having thicker skins. It's about why and for what purpose these responses take on the tone that they do. Are you trying to add productive insight to the discourse or is it just trying to make yourself feel better by taking shots at others. It's not a case of "sticks and stones...". That apllied when we were 5 years old. When you become an adult you realize words do matter. Wars are waged due to words. Love, hate, peace & compassion are just words and they matter. Usually the people who say "they're only words" cough that up to hide the fact their vocabulary is limited to very few words. We don't all have agree on a person or issue but we'd all be better off heeding a few other words we heard when we were children.... treat and talk to others as you would want to be treated. Respect those words
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