Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Good and Bad of Blogs

The good thing about writing a blog is that you can write just about anything you want...the bad thing is, well, you can write just about anything you want -- and it's typically cached in Cyber Space for eternity.

When I started my career in journalism, I wrote a lot of stupid stuff. There are probably still a few Kenny Rogers fans in southeastern Idaho who hate my guts because of a negative review I wrote of his concert at the Minidome (now Holt Arena) back in the 1980s. My home phone rang off the hook and we ran letters to the editor in the Journal for weeks after that. But after it all died down a couple of weeks later, life pretty much went on as normal. If somebody wanted to remind me of my intemperance, they had to go to the library and look up my review in the back copies of the Journal -- and then take the time to write another letter to the editor, or find some other public venue in which to flay me.

Ah, those were the days. Now, when you hit a keystroke and something regrettable pops out, it lives on through the Internet forever. Wanna know what Brad Bugger is saying or writing these days? Just hit google, and then cut and paste on any of several million different blogs, message boards or web sites. Cyber lapses in judgment have the half-life of plutonium.

Kellis Robinett (above), the former Journal sportswriter who covered the ISU beat until his departure earlier this year, is finding out just how long forever is. Kellis was apparently hired by the Wichita Eagle newspaper recently to cover Kansas State football and basketball. For a graduate from a Big 12 school (the University of Kansas) with an opportunity to report on top quality football and basketball, ordinarily this would be a plumb job. There's just one hitch: Kellis also used to write a blog about Kansas basketball, and in that blog he took a few pot shots at the folks in Manhattan -- Kansas, that is, not New York.

Several K-State fans know how to use Google, and they are using every opportunity they can to sabotage Kellis' first blogging attempts for his new employer. The comments sections on his first few blog posts are vitriolic, to say the least, and none of his new "readers" are very much interested in the subject of his posts.

There are two aspects of this story that seem to be fueling this get-Kellis feeding frenzy: the first is that Kellis' new boss, the Eagle's sports editor, has apparently told him to ignore the attacks and not respond. Another K-State web site, for example, has asked both Kellis and his editor for an interview to explain his past attacks on all things Wildcat. They have both declined. By not tackling this issue head-on, they've allowed the critics to continue to stir the pot. And Kellis remains the prime topic of discussion on his blog site -- not Kansas State athletes.

The second issue is that Kellis is just getting his feet wet covering the K-State beat and, as such, he's not exactly churning out ground-breaking scoops right now. That's understandable -- it takes time to build sources who trust you, and time to orient yourself to the people, places and history that make up a new beat. You can't expect a new reporter to walk right in and start producing brilliant journalism. Unfortunately, any slack the Wichita paper's readers may have extended the new kid on the block was exhausted as soon as Kellis' past writings were reproduced on various web sites. Very few Wildcat fans (although there are some) are willing to give him a break while he gets his bearings.

I haven't talked to him, but I suspect this is not exactly how Kellis envisioned his dream job -- covering a Big 12 football and basketball program -- would start. And that's unfortunate, but if nothing else, his experience should serve as a warning for all those eager, young bloggers out there: remember, what you write in those young and crazy days can and will be used against you later in life.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.


Anonymous said...

Excellent piece!

When you write to incite, rather than to inform, you can pretty much throw all credibility out the window.

I stopped reading Kellis' blogs for this reason. How in the world can he be objective when he's taking pot-shots at the same time?

Believe it or not, I do hope things turn around for him.

tuffgong said...

I thought he was the best Sports Writer we've EVER had around SE Idaho.. Who cares what he wrote, they were the enemy at the time, and he was in college..