The Myth of Accountability

Other than my little political cartoon in the previous post, I won't say anything about the Oiler's - Blogger dust-up last week. It's been covered in so much detail that there's nothing new I could add to that specific situation. The best posts I've seen on the subject were Mike Chen and mc79hockey. Elliot Freidman of CBC sports had a nice MSM reaction on the Puck Daddy Blog

Elliot brought up a point that is brought up every time there's any kind of incident like this (which thankfully is less and less, because I don't like talking about it too much).
But, like I said, this is really about something else: Accountability...
Sorry I just don't buy the accountability argument, which breaks down along two lines. The first is that bloggers can criticize and not have to talk to an athlete face-to-face. The second is that blogger's are only accountable to themselves, and don't have professional standards to be held up against. Both of these arguments seem to like grasping at straws.

Being willing to sit down face-to-face with someone who disagrees with, and may be angry at you, is an admirable and noble quality to have. It's just a luxury many bloggers don't have. That luxury also doesn't make anyone any more accountable. It's not a requirement of all newspaper jobs (Case in point: Jay Mariotti),so the decision of writers to allow themselves be potentially verbally abused is mostly a matter of personal, not professional, accountability. Yes many beat reporters do have to go into the locker room and face the athletes they write about, but, by most accounts, a writer can still avoid an athlete that may be angry with him/her. Confrontations with an athlete still ultimately boils down to a personal accountability.

The internet has opened up many doors, but it still can't get people from all across the country into one location. Bloggers don't have the luxury of meeting face-to-face with athletes, as I'm sure many would if given the opportunity. However bloggers do have the ability to put their e-mail address on their page and exchange e-mails, or call and chat with, anyone who has a problem with what they've written. It's not quite the same as face-to-face, but many blogger's make themselves available to the best of their ability. In the Internet age, that's the best anyone can hope for.

The next form of accountability touted by journalists is their professional accountability. It's a nice concept, but there's so many cases of professional journalists not being held accountable for their actions that it's difficult to believe the accountability is pretty high for the entire industry. I mean where's the accountability in this piece of garbage, so filled with lies and inaccuracies that It caused me to break out the first "total fucking morons" tag. I realize that's an extreme case, but there's also stuff like this article touting Maxim Afinagenov to the Avs for Marek Svatos. There's so many conflicting sources in the "2nd NHL team to Toronto" story that the public doesn't even know who to believe. This is without mentioning the way writer's can organize the facts to fit their personal agenda. Again the accountability here falls under personal responsibility.

Accountability is important, and it is there, but real accountability, like salvation, comes from within. Adrian Dater and Rick Sadowski are a credible writers. I realize that they are on some level accountable to their editors, but at the end of the day those editors vary from paper to paper and Dater and Sadowski's credibility doesn't come from any fear over their job or pay, but ultimately it is reliant on their own internal sense of professionalism. The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News are credible papers, not because of any kind of external accountability, but because the papers hold themselves to a high standard of writing. Paul Kukla, JP of Japer's Rink, Greg Wyshynski, James Mirtle and an Avogadro's number of bloggers are credible too (including nearly all of the Avs blogs out there), not because of any kind of external accountability, but because they hold themselves to high standards. The other people that hold them to high standards are their readers. If they start publishing junk, they will lose their readers (case in point... Hockey Buzz, or the New York Post).

((And yes I realize that any media person reading this will find it ironic that an anonymous blogger is saying that accountability is mostly a myth. But the reason I choose to be anonymous is because writing about hockey has absolutely zero to do with my actual professional field. It's a hobby. I don't ever want my harmless hobby to be used in a professional evaluation of my competence. My profession isn't "writer" it's "engineer". If I were blogging about engineering I would use my real name, because my views on engineering is important to my line of work. My views on Gary Betteman... not so much.))

1 comment:

  1. 1)Accountability works both ways. A beat writer may develop a friendly relationship with a player which might make him less likely to write anything negative.
    2) BTW that has to be the first time we've seen the term 'Avogadro's number' on a hockey blog! Nice job! LOL