Editor's Note: I promoted this fanpost because in it Pamplemousse examines the actual purpose of guys like Berger and Cox. He challenges everyone blogging or commenting on the team to strive for better and I especially like his last point.
I think there are two things all of us ought to keep in mind when getting bent out of shape about guys like Howburger and Coxsicle.
Firstly, they aren't actual reporters. They're columnists and there’s a big difference.
For instance, journalism.
On the other hand, columnist.
In essence, a reporter writes stories which state that something has happened and then uses gathered facts and interviews to tell all the various sides of that something without bias. They do this for the benefit of a community, whether you want to define communities as a city, nation, or a hockey team's fanbase.
A columnist starts with a subjective thought or idea and then writes an essay to defend that thought or theory. Columnists exist to engage communities on a personal and emotional level, thus marrying the reader/viewer to the medium on an emotional level.
So, when a guy like Howburger calls Maple Leafs fans "losers" he is banking on a reaction because it's his job as a columnist to elicit one. We, as readers/writers/fans, have to carefully judge what we respond to and how we respond to it. I think in this case Howie stepped over the line, so throwing down a gauntlet, as was done today, is a perfectly valid response.
Which is a very clever segue to my second point.
We have to be mindful that the coverage we provide is much closer to columnist then reporter and that if we’re going to throw down a gauntlet we need to be better than what we are trying to replace despite a number of obstacles in our path.
As bloggers we must contend with a lack of access to players, coaches, GMas, owners, or league officials. We don't write to style guides and we aren't backed up by editors, publishers and lawyers, and we (frequently) publish posts that contain spelling errors and grammatical mistakes.
But in spite of all that I think we do have some natural advantages. We have no need for objectivity if we’re offering opinion and comment, and as such the accusation that we are biased are easily blunted. We might not write to style guides, but really, what style guide would permit the brilliance of LOLeafs? We're backed up by organic communities that quickly leap to the defence of our own. We’re more transparent, self-critical and unafraid to admit a mistake or a changed opinion.
We should probably try and clean up those spelling/grammatical mistakes though.
I'm just saying.
But it wasn’t an impossible dream that was laid out today. We just need to be better than what we want to replace. Judging by the output of Howberger, Coxsicle et al lately I'd say that goal is within reach, wouldn’t you?