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My Man Sam(tm) isn't reading

I'm a day late on this one too (the Bulls blogosphere is getting intense!), but Sam Smith took some cheap shots at pantsless masses in this week's 'ask Sam':

I don't read any blogs. I find it interesting the way the national political campaigns (my first love and job) have hired people to interact with the blogosphere. You may say I'm old, out of touch and cranky, and I probably would have to agree. I'm also probably resentful on some level as I see this unsubstantiated, personal opinion passing for journalism and weep for America and the world. People do seem to read this stuff and equate it with what we do at The Tribune or other media and don't make much distinction.

How is it I can work for decades developing contacts around the NBA and traveling regularly around the NBA and talking with the decision makers and some guy in his basement in his underwear is writing something that has credibility? As close as I can figure, these bloggers are the electronic version of the neighborhood tavern. You used to go in and hear people wailing about sports or politics and offering opinions on all the major issues. We did our man in the street interviews when such issues came up. Now, these people we used to ask for opinion started these blogs and are supposed to be experts. How can that be? I never see any of them, I never hear the coaches and general managers and players I talk to saying they talked to them. So where do they get their information?

People often doubt the traditional media, but we are out asking questions, developing sources of information and interacting with the participants. What are these bloggers doing? I'm fortunate on some level to be getting close to retirement because if these blogs are credible sources of information, there's no point in spending all the time on the road that I do. And did you see that kid eating his ice cream and putting his hands on everything and can't someone shut that baby up and whose idea is it to give these kids a snow day and when I was their age I used to walk 15 miles to school in the snow. And without shoes!

So Sam's a little self-aware of his crankiness, which is reassuring. Besides, that's one of his endearing qualities as a writer. But his real problem is displacing his animosity towards bloggers that seemingly should go toward stupid people who can't tell the difference between actual journalism and what usually goes on with blogs.

(Of course by spelling this out I'm implying that you all are stupid as well, but, anyway: Blogging is just a tool. And while many bloggers can be considered tools themselves (heh), it's up to the reading audience to discern the credibility (or even readability) according to the content, not how it's conveyed.)

But what set this rant apart was his analogy between blogs and the neighborhood tavern. That's exactly how I envision what this place is like...just a place to talk Bulls. Plus the benefit over who you'd find at actual neighborhood taverns (not even considering the out-of-chicagoans) is that the people here know and enjoy their Bulls basketball. (And I get to hold court, which can only happen at a real tavern on karaoke night.) But this place is not meant to be any type of reporting or source-gathering. I will say Sam himself speculates trades out of thin air like any blogger could, but beyond that nobody's trying to take his job. There are sports bloggers out there who are trying to be real journalists through their blogs, and more power to them. But I prefer the tavern analogy much more.

Anyway, it's too bad that Sam can't seperate the medium from the message, as he really could make a good blogger. In a previous 'Ask Sam' he lamented the lack of coverage the NBA was getting in the midst of Bears-mania...and he could've been pumping out blog posts that whole time. One of his contemporaries, Dave D'Allesandro, has a good blog to model his own after. Hell, he picks up an extra paycheck on the side just like Sam! Sam he likes to write and interact with his readers...seems natural to me. And if he happens to ever stop by here, even if it turned out he was mostly ignored (like an odd old man should be at a bar), he'd still be welcome.