Citizen-Journalist-Fans and Scrutinized Players
True Hoop's Henry Abbott wonders if this is the basketblogosphere at its best or worst. I'm conflicted as well - I'm all for personal privacy. People in all walks of life should be able to keep to themselves if they so choose.
But if an athlete is doing unsavory things in public - ruffing up people, sexually harassing people, raping people, going puff-puff-pass, driving drunk or just being a damn fool - should fans care?
Obviously, yes. The fans are the ones paying a whole lot to root for a team - buying a team's apparel, going to games, devoting significant portions of their life to watching and reading about a set of athletes. Anything an athlete does off the court - whether it impairs his training or performance, lands him in the clink, or makes him a less than satisfactory role model - should be fair game for fans. Seriously, do you want to buy your kid a Randolph jersey after reading the above rumor? Probably not.
But beat writers aren't going to cover that stuff. It's impossible - beat writers no doubt know who smokes, who drinks too much and who is a jackass out on the town. But no beat writer is willing to alienate the people he sees daily for eight months out of the year just to get the gossip train going. No beat writer is that stupid.
Enter the internet. Sports bloggers right now, save maybe Blez at Athletics Nation and a few basketbloggers who've worked in the business in some other fashion, have virtually zero access to players and team officials. Bloggers, as a sort of independent media (which may be overstating it in most cases), have no one to answer to.
The Maloofs aren't running ads on this site, so I don't have to worry about revenue disappearing if I post an item on a player allegedly walking around Arden Fair high on dope. Peja Stojakovic isn't granting me interviews (not that I've asked for one, though), so I wouldn't worry about future access if I post a rumor spreading around the city about him.
But that doesn't mean I'm going to post those things, either. It's a choice each blogger, who all have their own biases and standards for discourse on their own site, will have to make. Blazers Blog and True Hoop chose to address the rumor, and in much different ways. I don't know whether I would have or not had it been a Kings player. It'll probably be situational.
Now that my soapbox is collapsing under the weight of my own head, I'll quickly leave a couple of links that are good resources on the citizen-journalist movement: the Wikipedia article on it, CyberJournalist.net's best practices and the home for the Institute for Interactive Journalism.