This morning, the sports web site Deadspin.com published an article titled, "The Dirty Secrets Of A Sports Arena, As Revealed By A Drunk Stadium Employee Emailing Us At 5:30 P.M." Authored by Drew Magary, it's an edited email from a Tampa Bay Times Forum employee directing scorn toward Forum management and patrons.
In the interest of full disclosure, I need to let you know that I'm also an employee of the Tampa Bay Times Forum and that I'm a customer service supervisor. However, I'm not here to refute any specific criticism towards the organization contained in the article or speak on behalf of the organization in any way. I'm here as a staff writer for Raw Charge to address the publishing of the article itself.
Deadspin, as you may or may not be aware, has a reputation for publishing the inflammatory and sensational. That's a surefire way to draw attention and there's obviously a market for that kind of thing, which is fine. But it becomes a problem when the inflammatory and sensational spills over into irresponsible and unprofessional, like the article they published today.
The content found in the story in question is the kind of thing that could originate from just about any company in any industry. It's a stretch to attempt to condemn an organization, or an institution on that organization's behalf, because an individual who obviously lacks minimal discretion (and self-esteem) would hold his supervisors and customers in low regard.
Of course, criticism is subjective and it always falls upon the organization itself to determine whether or not it is in any way justified and proceed from there. My concern here is the potential collateral damage from this kind of thing in how it affects other non-traditional media outlets, such as Raw Charge.
As a fan driven "blog", we at Raw Charge face the ongoing challenge of establishing and maintaining credibility. We're basically fighting the tired old stereotype of bloggers as socially awkward rumor mongers and instigators polluting the internet from the anonymous sanctuary of their parents' basements. The reason that image persists is there are so many bloggers out there churning out hack jobs like the article in question. Sadly, that's easy and it often does draw the desired attention.
However, in rejecting that stereotype, we hope to gain trust and respect that pays off in access to players and personnel that we pass along to our readers, the fans, enhancing their experience in the process. We dress properly when we attend games and interact with team personnel. We check facts before publishing stories. We conduct ourselves as professionals whenever we're representing Raw Charge. What we don't do is pass off the admittedly drunken rant of a disgruntled employee as the revelation of "Dirty Secrets". While this kind of thing may not directly harm "bloggers" like us, it certainly doesn't make the challenge of establishing and maintaining credibility any easier. But I'd rather fight that battle every day than insult our readers by passing off an article like this as news and I feel confident that everyone on staff here feels the same. That unanimous commitment to integrity is just one of the reasons I enjoy writing for Raw Charge.