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Traditional vs. new media: What can be learned and taught

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Editor's note: We brought in Richard Bergstrom from Rockies Zingers for a guest post about the relationship between new media and traditional media, and how maintaining a working one can benefit everyone involved.

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The Sports Show. Yep, I went there.

For those who might've wanted to remain out of the loop, there was a bit of back and forth with Woody Paige and Les Shapiro from The Sports Show on one side and "the bloggers" on the other. Some of this played out on their show. Some of it played out on blog posts here at Purple Row, at Rox Pile and at Rockies Review. Sadly, some of this also played out on Twitter, which isn't the best forum for a discussion let alone a debate. The impression I and others had at first glance was that Woody and/or Les thought that bloggers were apologists for Rockies ownership.

And that's the problem with first glances.

For the record, I'd like to clarify that Paige and Shapiro are, in fact, two different people. Furthermore, they actually have different opinions on things. Just because one of them says something does not mean the other person agrees.

Still with me? Cool.

Anyway, things lit up; some comments on both sides were more inflammatory than others. Yet, to give credit where credit is due, The Sports Show extended an olive branch with Woody inviting the bloggers to come on the show to "understand us" better and reach some sort of compromise.

That's kinda where I come in to the picture.

Everyone has a right to their own voice. Though privately I may agree or disagree with what was said, written or tweeted from both "sides," as the editor of Rockies Zingers and as a part of the ESPN SweetSpot Network, which has its own rules on such topics, I choose to stay as far away from the slippery slope of personal attacks as possible. I'd rather laud cFIP and trash WAR instead of spouting vitrol towards a person or an organization. Sure, I'll say someone said something stupid, but that doesn't mean I will call them stupid. Even if rules weren't involved, that's just the way I roll.

So, I saw the offer as I saw various corners of our Rockies blogosphere engaging in some less than charitable comments, and subsequently getting kerthwapped in return. I'll admit: I feared the offer would get pulled back.

Fear? Yep. I've made my own mistakes.

When the ESPN SweetSpot Network switched from Rob Neyer, whom I was a fan of to David Schoenfield whom -- um -- I was less of a fan of, the transition was jarring. Thankfully, trashing Schoenfield didn't come back to bite me (and hopefully, my efforts this last year have proven his patience justified).

Coming into the Zingers gig, I had some very unflattering thoughts about ROOT Sports' coverage. I'll admit to even having the poor assumption that they didn't even know what WAR is. But if I let those thoughts color my interactions and thought "Hey, these people aren't worth talking to because they're all traditional media and the like," I would've missed the vast amount of insight and guidance I have learned from those same very fine people at ROOT.

It makes sense, if you think about it. The "traditional media" is an information industry. In order to provide information to consumers like myself, its members need to get information from wherever they can to keep the content flowing. They read the blogs, I found out, and thus, I learned a lesson.

When the invitation came from The Sports Show, if I hadn't had my previous experiences, I could've been more skeptical. In the past, I generally disagreed with Paige's writing. Early on in the Zingers lifecycle, Shapiro questioned whether I'd ever seen a baseball game at Coors Field.

I didn't hold it against them personally and figured there was an opportunity there. What can I say, I like learning. I also do tricks for Cheetos. Other people juggle geese.

In this "media" business, of which I am still learning the ins and outs, you never know when that one person you meet --and might even initially dislike -- gives you that one nugget of wisdom or that one connection that helps you get to the next level. And that's the thing. I'm only a year into this spiel and I have to respect that Shapiro and Paige have survived in an industry that, in the past, has chewed up writers whom I admire and newspapers with a wider circulation than my own little blog. Surely, I can learn something from that. For those of you interested in a career in baseball or the media, it's also a good tip to keep in mind. Don't burn bridges.

Also, The Sports Show has a huge fan base that might be kinda-sorta nice to expose to the Rockies blogosphere, including Rockies Zingers. Shameless plug, sure, but as they say, even if I completely botched the show, train-wreck-watching-traffic is better than no traffic.

Anyway, as a bit of an organizer-type (next Rockies bloggers panel coming soon!) -- and after consulting Bryan Kilpatrick, your supreme dictator, as well as David Martin from Rockies Review and Bobby DeMuro from Rox Pile -- I decided to reach out for that offer to come on the show. I also, semi-daringly, reached out to Shapiro to actually meet the dude and spent a good hour chatting with him in the press box at Coors Field last Monday. That little chat gave me a much better insight into what he says as well as thoughts of his that just can't be fully expressed in a tweet or a video clip.

Feeling like I had a better idea of what I was "getting into," my intent wasn't to go on The Sports Show to promote Rockies Zingers, trying to cram stats and quips into a 10-minute segment in an attempt to impress the masses or win some cheap brownie points by trying to make someone look foolish. I was trying to represent "the blogger" community, and in particular, the fine collection of Rockies blogs we have. That's why this post is appearing here at Purple Row, the hub of the Rockies community.

I also figured learning can go both ways. If I could give Woody and Les the glimpse that, hey, we (as in the collective Rockies blogs, we) write good stuff while rooting for and/or lamenting our team and its own supreme dictators ... er ... owners, I figured my mission was accomplished. The goal was not to win an argument -- no "Haha, I gotcha Woody!" -- but to provide a better perspective of what we, from blog writers to commenters, talk about and think about. I doubted I could provide some stunning revelation that would generate Christmas cards from The Sports Show for years to come, but I thought a good first step and an initial dialog was possible.

I took the gamble. Watch the clip and feel free to let me know if I accomplished that.

The show, as of the time of this writing, was about five hours ago. Les and Woody were both very professional and courteous. Never did I feel what I was saying was being outright dismissed or laughed at. Nor did I feel I was being rushed or cut off. If anything, my inability to fully flesh out some of my thoughts rested on no one else but myself. Learning experience, right? I also thought I needed a beard trim.

But I think I did pretty well. I've rewatched the segment and felt that it was interesting, educational and fun. I didn't 100 percent agree with Les and Woody. Sure, it helps if a writer lives in the same state as the team they are covering, but to me, it doesn't automatically render their analysis invalid. I wouldn't blow up the whole Rockies organization, either, and I think more time is needed to figure out how good or bad the team really is.

I think it is possible to be a fan and critical at the same time even if that broaches the traditional journalistic coda. I understand that saying "our Rockies" can indicate bias, but whether that bias affects the analysis or not comes down to the merits of that specific argument. I think our Rockies are doing some good things and there are definitely some areas to improve on. But that's just me.

Then again, Les and Woody don't have to agree with me, nor with you, dear reader.

Disagreement, as long as there is some level of respect for the person you are disagreeing with, is what leads to good discussions. Humbly, I suggest that this was a good one. The feedback I've gotten so far from The Sports Show and from the bloggers has also been positive. The show apparently wants not just me, but (collective blogger) us, to be back.

In hindsight, I had originally intended talking about the kinds of things I have learned, from the good people at the Denver Post, Root Sports and MLB.com, since having access. I wanted to express to Woody and Les that yes, bloggers have a lot to learn from the "traditional media" and humbly, we also think "they" can learn from "us." Alas, Woody even asked if we had enough access but in my "bright lights, big broadcast" inexperience, I whiffed. I also wanted to say that the Rockies have had worse starts in 2007 and 2009, their last two playoff years, and still, ya know, went to the playoffs, so I haven't completely written them off (not that I had them as contenders anyway). Perhaps I'll be more articulate next time...

And that's the thing. Just as mentioned in the clip, there's a variety of voices covering the Rockies. Some happy, some sad. Some professional journalists who have been watching baseball longer than I've been alive. Some who were the backup second baseman on their Little League team. There's room for all our voices: blogger, broadcaster, pundit and journalist, or some combination of all three or four or more. And you never know which combination of the above you just might end up learning from.

I know I have learned from all of them.