Normally here at GJB, we talk about anything UCLA related. I present to you a story (or an opinion), give you my reaction to it, and break down its implications while leaving a joke here or there, just so you know I’m human.
Today’s a little different.
Today, the UCLA blogosphere — and the sports, politics, and news blogospheres as well — have had their credibility damaged, even further. Blogs, in the minds of those who are new to the Internet, hurt sportswriting and sports journalism to their core. People give bad raps to fans, such as myself and other editors and bloggers here at Fansided, that are passionate enough to give you fine folks upwards of 1.5 blog posts per day for free. We enjoy writing about the teams we love, and we enjoy when we see people read and react to what we have to say.
But our credibility needs to be re-worked. Any person here at Fansided — or at least 98 percent of the people who blog here — would die to be offered a job at ESPN. It’s not often that the four-letter network gives an unproven, possibly young, but likely inexperienced blogger a shot. In fact, the odds of that happening are pretty low.
At least, they were. Those odds have now gone even lower, thanks to a woman responsible for scamming people who run legitimately funny sports Facebook pages. Deadspin broke the story, and to give you a quick and dirty (but totally oversimplified) summary: A woman, probably a college kid my age, took over NBA Memes, a large and popular Facebook page, after goading the original creator (since restored to the page) into handing over control over it. Previously, she had written for Covers.com — a sports betting site — after starting out much like some of us have: On Cover’s forums, giving and taking betting advice. After her stint, ESPN decided they liked what she had to say and picked her up, almost no questions asked.
But her astronomical rise to Internet stardom was over almost as quick as it began.
She was let go after extorting money from one of her “friends” while offering that same money to the creator of NBA Memes to legitimize herself.
Deadspin broke the story, ESPN let her go, and all is right in the world.
Except with independent bloggers, looking for a break.
Because ESPN has likely been traumatized by this ordeal. We’re sure it took a ton of stones to hire someone — young, unproven and without any journalistic experience or education — to write for your employer, which happens to be the largest source of sports news on- and off-line. We’re sure just “trying someone out” isn’t in ESPN’s list of things to improve their brand. And we’re sure that they’re never, ever again going to give some 20-year old college kid a chance to prove themselves on the biggest possible stage.
And that sucks.
This, of course, hurts bloggers who are attempting to take an alternative path of breaking into the sportswriting and sports media industries. This person — who managed to exploit the growing reputation of bloggers and writers who can’t afford to make a living off of writing about sports — should be seen as an anomaly. Just one outlier that has managed to become the most salient example of why we have a bad reputation.
Bloggers aren’t anonymous idiots who just spew out whatever comes to mind; we don’t have ill intentions, and normally, we don’t exploit any connections we have (a problem many think we have, considering fellow Fansided NCAA bloggers have been wrongfully lambasted by forum frequenters for talking to recruits). Most of us are honest, hard-working people trying to get to the next level, using Fansided — one of the fastest-growing, most respectable and, honestly, most incredibly fun platform on the Internet, and not one that exploits its bloggers — or Bleacher Report or SB Nation as a way to break into the hearts of blogosphere readers.
Most bloggers want to be in the position that the ESPN scam artist was in (minus the scam artist part, we’re sure). To be contacted by ESPN (although I have to admit, it’s possible that she was contacted because she’s an attractive woman, and not because she was talented with writing) is nothing short of a miracle. Hell, for ESPN to link you is a damned accomplishment, and that’s indicative of just acknowledging your existence.
We’re sure that no one’s immediate thoughts are, “Wow, that girl is a scam artist. Are those Fansided bloggers scam artists, too?” However, in the long-run, the thoughts might resemble something like, “You really trust that Fansided guy? You don’t even know him. He’s probably like that scam artist on ESPN,” much like what happened when B/R had the misfortune of one of their writers posting about the 2011 Japan Earthquakes in an inappropriate context, something bloggers like myself would like to forget.
It’s those sentiments and attitudes that are so damned pervasive, that nearly villify bloggers and the blogosphere in general, that make me upset about someone who was given the talent and opportunity to project their opinions on one of the largest stages possible, and threw it away in a manner that almost certainly ensures others with the same talent level will be shut-out from opportunities.
But don’t let those outliers — those damned wrong-doers — confuse or scare you. We’re the good guys. We have a passion for this. Trust us.
Thanks for reading.