"All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up."
— Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard
An article in the Business section of today’s Los Angeles Times writes that some newspapers are exploring working relationships with bloggers.
It’s an interesting concept. In an era where shrinking subscription rates and fewer advertisers result in massive layoffs, newspapers can afford to keep fewer reporters. The depth of the coverage dwindles, too. A decade ago, the Times had special sections for regions throughout Southern California, such as Orange County and the Inland Empire. Now they all compete for coverage in one "California" section.
Bloggers can be a cheap substitute, but with that option come risks.
For openers, bloggers are not professional journalists. Some of them, quite frankly, are loonies. To substitute bloggers for reporters only lowers further the bar of journalistic integrity. News reporting was once respected in this country, but the Walter Cronkites are long gone, replaced by blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. Fox News isn’t news. Using bloggers for a major source of news would take our collective national intelligence even lower.
Bloggers, however, might have the time and resources to dig deeper than a reporter. I’ve been involved politically in my community for many years, and often worked closely with local political reporters to help them research what was going on at City Hall. I still get calls now and then from newbie reporters who want background on who’s who and what’s what.
Under the right circumstances, an affiliation between a professional news outlet and a blog with a demonstrated track record of credibility might be worth testing the waters.
FutureAngels.com has been around since 1998, and this blog on MLB.com is reaching the one-year mark. I’ve made it clear many times that I’m not a news reporter out for a scoop. I do think I offer some reasoned insight into the Angels minor leagues you can’t find elsewhere. Unlike the hysteria and knee-jerk temper tantrums that are the trademark of many fan blogs, this site has a reputation for sanity.
No other site offers video and audio clips with players, coaches and other personalities within the organization. The idea behind that is to let you see and hear for yourself, so you can make your own informed decision. Other sites tell you what to think. I’ll tell you what I think, but I let you listen to the real experts and see with your own two eyes.
So if the Times or another news outlet wants an arrangement with FutureAngels.com, I’m willing to listen. But I’m not giving up my day job waiting for the call. (smile)