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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Them's Fightin' Words

I preface this by saying, I don't mind criticism. In fact, I encourage it. Thanks to some insightful commenters (even the guy who corrects my spelling on every minor typo), I've definitely reconsidered some opinions I had in the past or re-evaluated the way I put together a story or compiled this blog. So please understand, I'm not bothered by a critique.

What does bother me, however, is when someone who has no clue what they are talking about takes a swipe at my journalistic integrity. At the end of the day, that's all we as journalists have going for us (it sure ain't the salary or job security) and so I'm defensive about it.

When I wrote the piece for the blog yesterday on Lane Kiffin and Mark Richt's divergent approaches toward recruiting, I expected a little backlash and even considered not writing it because I didn't want it to come off as a ringing endorsement of how perfect Richt is and how childish Kiffin is. That wasn't my intention, but I'm aware it could have sounded that way.

As it turned out, I think most of you got what I was trying to say pretty clearly, and even those who didn't agree with it -- like UGABullldog14 -- had valid points to be made. Here's what he wrote:

I really like the atmosphere Coach Richt has created at UGA, but even as a Dawg fan I thought this article was a bit too negative towards Tennessee.

Lane Kiffin has been annoying and has made a lot of enemies you don't want to have going into your first game as a college head coach, but I can't say that his antics will result in Tennessee on serious probation or UT having the ever-so-popular "bunch of thugs" on his team. I'm not saying you said this, but this is the idea I got.

I'm far, far from a Tennessee fan and probably have more animosity towads them than most UGA fans, but I think it is a bit much to say Kiffin will only get the rotten apples, or that he will get more rotten apples than most ('cause we're all gonna get some each year).

I think Kiffin is trying to create a fun atmosphere. I do not think he went about it the right way at all. I think he's a dubious character, too, judging from him making Al Davis look like the sane one (in my opinion). But I just can't say that Lane Kiffin is going to end up with a bunch of me-first players that do their own thing.

Different things work for different schools and different coaches. I hope this doesn't come as an insult to Florida, and I may be wrong, but they seem to be more of a business than a family, and look where that has gotten them. I judge that off of the overall feeling Urban Meyer gives off. Same with Southern Cal and Pete Carroll. I just think Kiffin is trying to show that he'll be a player's coach, and I think he went about it in the wrong way. There has to be something he could've done with a little more class that would've gotten UT off-season publicity from the start.


He brings up some good points, and I'm not inclined to disagree with any of them. There are a lot of ways to build a winning football program, and perhaps Kiffin's will work as well as Meyer's has. I guess my primary argument, however, was that if you recruit guys to be a part of a family, they are more apt to use that family as their motivation for four years, but if you recruit a guy by telling him he's the best, you're more apt to get a guy who is playing for himself. Not an air-tight theory, but my guess is it's true more often than it's not.

Anyway, UGABulldog14's comment was fair, well thought out and -- most importantly -- a proper reply to what I actually wrote. He didn't gloss over things or assume I said things I didn't. He gave his opinion which was a bit different than mine, and I respect that.

Now, here's the opposite of that, courtesy of an actual employee of the Georgia Rivals site. It comes from the message boards at Rivals, which I would not have read had someone not decided to post a link to my blog from there today (which, by the way, I do appreciate).



Here is my beef, something that is thrown around by old-guard journalists all the time:

"Yes, he got a good class this time in terms of the valuations by recruiting sites (which are at least on occasion a bit dubious) but if this is Kiffin's method for recruiting, is he really getting the type of players a program wants?"

No mention of how the papers are a bit dubious a lot of the time nor how they wallow in bad news. Also I didn't see one guy from any newspaper out at the camps that I was at Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc. Kipp was at a different 7-on-7 camp so we could cover two camps. But I guess watching the recruits work out and compete is not as valid as sitting behind the computer watching Cheers and then saying "Hey, they were wrong about Mudcat. They must be dubious."

I know. Picky. Very Picky. I know- not even remotely the point of his article. But just the flippant brush-offs get a bit tiresome after a while. And just like any minority, one gets tired of repeated put-downs, especially when the offender doesn't even realize they are going it.

Might as well have said "You people..."

Again, I don't mind criticism -- and there was some criticism of the actual blog topic on the message board, too, which I found completely valid. I mind having my integrity questioned, and I particularly mind it when it comes from someone who also works in the media and should understand the weight of such accusations.

Allow me to counter this point by point:

1.) I was in Macon on Tuesday to talk to Mark Richt. I was at Butts-Mehre on Wednesday the entire day talking with players (and even said hello to Mr. Nabulsi, so he should know I was there). On Thursday I spoke with several other players on the phone for interviews. To suggest I don't get firsthand knowledge of the topics I write about is a joke, and if Mr. Nabulsi would like to compare time sheets from the past year, I'd be happy to do that.

2.) Yes, I work for a newspaper, which I assume makes me an "old world" journalist. But if you can find another "old world" beat reporter in this area who has embraced the Internet more or criticized newspapers more than I have, I'd love to meet him. (Heck, my next post after the Kiffin story was a response to Twitter inquiries!) I have no hard feelings toward the Internet sites at all. In fact, I write content for Scout's Web site and have worked closely with Dean Legge over the past year. Nearly every day I link to blogs covering Georgia that are far outside the mainstream -- not to mention links to Rivals on a regular basis. I'm on board.

3.) The camp Mr. Nabulsi discusses is A.) not part of my job to cover, and B.) off limits to media as directed by the SEC. So my hands were a bit tied there.

4.) Associating the plight of recruiting Web sites with that of blacks or Jews? Please, you can't be serious.

5.) And this is the most important one -- I DIDN'T INSULT RECRUITING SERVICES. All I meant was that no evaluation of a high school player can be considered a completely accurate prediction of how he'll perform at the college level. Anyone who wants to argue with that is simply wearing blinders.

To suggest that I simply sit behind a desk and watch "Cheers" all day before typing up an uninformed story is utterly insulting. The fact is, I don't even own a desk (unless that's what's under the giant pile of papers and unpaid utility bills in my living room).

Seriously, I included the Cheers reference because I try to make this blog more fun than the typical stodgy newspaper reporting. I spent nearly the entire week covering UGA football even though the season doesn't start for another three months. And what I said was not even remotely a criticism of recruiting sites.

So maybe it wasn't me who was uninformed here.

20 comments:

Scott said...

Good job, David...keep up the great work!

Is this irony? My word verification to post this is "rating". :-)

NM said...

Don't let this bother you a bit. This is a great blog that really combines the best of the mainstream media's access with the format and attitude of a blog. If some moron from Rivals wants to take potshots, that says a lot more about him than you, as far as I'm concerned.

People actually pay money to hear what that guy thinks?

jm from louisville said...

I would prefer to read what you have to say over Rivals any day of the week.

Excellent rebuttal post to a pretty poor argument.

Anonymous said...

People most certainly don't pay money to hear what that guy thinks. He's a frigging photographer who worked (works?) for Georgia, which is a conflict of interest if I've ever seen one. And he's got a bur up his ass because the only people who care about his opinions are the lunatic fringe who reside on the Dawgvent. (not every subscriber over there, mind you)

Don't let it bother you, Hale. I wouldn't have even graced his opinion by discussing it here.

Lee said...

GATA Dave.

David said...

GATA Dave, indeed. You do a great job, I read your stuff nearly every day and find it to be well-researched, interesting, fair, and well-written.

BTW, my word verification to this post is "eumist". I think that is a perfect answer to the other's guys criticisms...you missed!

QuitYerBitchin said...

For God sakes David, you gotta quit this pansy bullshit of getting your panties in a wad anytime someone questions your "journalistic integrity" or lack thereof-and this isn't the first time.

Why do you care what someone else thinks? You just wasted a lot of time & energy over nothing. His comment wasn't even that bad. More importantly, you just made yourself look like a whiny little girl.

Get over it man. You can't control people, not everyone will like you, and not everyone will agree with you. Stop wasting your time (and ours) over a high school he said/she said drama.

Jesus, grow up.

Hobnail_Boot said...

QYB-

Because journalistic integrity is the livelihood of the journalist.

David-

I think you both brought up fair points, and like having divergent opinions to consider.

David Hale said...

QYB -- I'm not disagreeing with you. I get your point, and trust me, I take a good bit more criticism than I respond to. When it comes from fans or readers, I'm fine with it. When it comes from another "journalist," I think it's worth defending. And I'm not calling anyone names or bashing their site -- simply defending myself, which I think is fair.

I agree that it's not worth it to get into it with everyone, but John Kerry ignored obviously ridiculousness and it probably cost him the 2004 election. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

I do appreciate your response thought -- and everyone else's. I'm OK with being called a whiner, but not a lazy journalist.

gene said...

Dave,
To get Dawg News there is no better well balanced, reasoned and informative place to come than here, the Senator's Joint, T. Kyle's walnut paneled office or Westerdawg's lockerroom. I am not currently employed as a journalist but did gain my letters in the hallowed halls of old Grady once upon a time, and after decades of screaming at print and electronic news organizations you are the only one who has managed to fairly inform me and entertain me. All this despite being a yankee. I applaud your self defense here and would have been sorely disappointed if you had not. But in truth if you had not defended yourself I would never have known you had been insulted simply because I've never cared that much about recruiting and would certainly not pay for the privilege of finding out. It does seem a shame we're giving Mr. Rumplestilskin(can't remember his name, sorry) far more ink than he obviously deserves based on his writing. Keep up the good work and Go Dawgs!(but objectively in your case i guess)

Carter said...

John Kerry lost in 2004 because he made Al Gore look charismatic.

Carter said...

Recruiting folks probably have a chip on their shoulder because that whole world has an air of skeeviness.

Mike In Valdosta said...

David,

It is apparent Mr. Nabulsi protests a little too much... Your response to his "grievance sermon" provides way too much legitamacy to his words. You have earned a very loyal following, probably at some expense to him. Keep up that great work.

Brock/atldrumguy said...

I heartily agree with Mike in Valdosta. Any critics you might have are probably just sore at you for having such a successful and diverse site.

As a Grady graduate, I cannot fathom how someone could poke any holes in your journalistic integrity. I always enjoy your interviews with players, insight on other programs/coaches, and sense of humor through it all. Know that your work here and on the Telegraph is much appreciated by the Bulldog Nation and fans of college athletics in general.

As for the pay sites, I know of one that won't be getting any money from me...especially trying to throw their weight around and attack other successful journalists. Shame on them. I for one will continue to have a "Bulldogs Blog" tab on my web browser. Thanks again for the great work!

mike broome said...

hey man don't worry. you do an amazing job. you are far beyond informative, and you also manage to throw in some humor.

Streit said...

David,

You have been a strong supporter of my blog, which definitely qualifies as "far outside the mainstream". I really appreciate the work that you do on this site and I thought the article you posted the other day (as i commented) was spot on. If some jerk wants to criticize your work, then I will definitely hop on the band wagon to laugh in his face. As a member of the Georgia Blogosphere, I appreciate your work and hope you continue in the future!

- Streit from "Bubba N' Earl Sittin' on the 50"

Anonymous said...

So maybe it was not "I" who was uninformed here.

If you are going to invoke journalistic integrity...

Doug said...

Thought the Kiffin/Richt post was extremely interesting, thought-provoking, and well-written, as was this follow-up. Nabulsi and "QuitYerBitchin" are the ones who need to calm down and grow up.

Bernie said...

"Norm, how's life treatin ya?"
"Like a baby treats a diaper."

You do great work Hale. Ridiculously irreverent and contemptuous non-mainstream blawggers appreciate your insight and ability to keep it real.

"Women...can't live with em...pass the beer nuts."

Mike In Valdosta said...

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, hope the beach was gator free.

It's a Dawg eat Dawg world, and I am wearing milkbone underwear.