ESPN's Paul Kuharsky wrote an article today outlining 'What I do here' at his AFC South Blog.
Now, I've always placed Paul's 'blogger' title in quotes because, in reality, Paul isn't a real 'blogger.' He's a staff writer at ESPN, just as Phil Wilson is a staff writer, not a 'blogger,' at the Indianapolis Star. They have editors who oversee their material, and I know that similar people in their profession are often told what not to blog about for fear it will offend some interested party.
Remember when ESPN's 'blogger,' James Walker, didn't write a single thing about Ben Roethlisberger's rape lawsuit back in July 2009? Walker and ESPN were run through the ringer by just about everyone in the business for that, and deservedly so.
However, despite what Paul's title is or isn't, he did a nice job today articulating what his job is at ESPN. In the article, I caught a distinct hint of annoyance in Paul's tone with the people who criticize him. The example he cited was this from one of his readers:
"It is unprofessional for a journalist who is supposed to be objective to advocate for people the way that you have for [Jay] Cutler and Jeff Fisher."
Paul responded by saying he is not there to be objective.
My job, first and foremost, is to react to developments in the division and quickly tell you what they mean. Some things may not elicit much reaction. Others may set me on fire to the point where I need a trip to the gym because writing a rant isn’t cathartic enough.
You’re going to find opinion here. Please don’t be surprised when you do. Putting a comment on my opinion post noting that it’s opinionated isn’t super-revealing.
Hopefully, my post is a well-reasoned and spelled out opinion. Hopefully, I’m explaining why I’ve come to feel a certain way on a certain thing.
I could almost copy-paste this into my own job description.
However, the one key detail I'd throw in there is that bloggers, real bloggers, write about what they think and feel regardless of whatever interests approve or disapprove of those thoughts and feelings. A blogger's job is to write the truth, regardless of whether or not people like 'like' or 'dislike' that truth.
Obviously, a blogger or writer of any kind should never lie just to prove an opinion. However, a real blogger tells an editor to go screw when said editor tells him or her, 'Yeah, avoid that Roethlisberger rape story today. We're trying to score an interview with him on SportsCenter later this evening, and he might turn us down if you report on that'
It's for reasons like this that I often refuse to call ESPN's NFL staff writers 'bloggers.'
This shouldn't take anything away from what Paul does at ESPN. And, as far as I know, he's never been asked NOT to write about something. The same can't be said for Kuharsky's colleagues. But, overall, Paul's opinions are very sound, and I think he's reasonably fair when dishing out criticisms. And, like all things, I'm biased because I like Paul, even though he still can't get over that I post under the name BigBlueShoe.
To wrap up, the best part of Paul's article is his list of what he is biased against. I've highlighted the ones that are pretty clearly knocks against the Colts:
- I am biased against hopeful coach’s challenges and punts on fourth-and-short from the fringe of field-goal range.
- I am biased against super-secrecy. I think teams can be honest about injuries without sacrificing competitive advantages. I think they can tell you about coaching candidates for a vacancy without it being akin to spilling state secrets. I think they should make their primary people available regularly during the offseason. I think they should be expected to have news conferences after practices, not before.
- I am biased against not feeding the All-Pro running back until a defense proves it can stop him.
- I am biased against coaches being too loyal to veterans. I am also against coaches putting guys in the doghouse and leaving them there too long when they are the best option.
- I am biased against timeouts that allow the opposition to huddle and decide on plays that allow them to get in range of game-winning field goals.
- I am biased against dumb. I am biased in favor of smart.
I too share Paul's bias.
I guess the closing question to ask is, do you as well?