Someone met me the other day and called me a blogger. I have no idea what to do with that information.
Someone else was trying to explain to this newcomer what I do for the newspaper, and suddenly the guy had this wide-eyed recognition and said, “Oh, you’re the blogger.”
Well, I couldn’t really argue the point. I mean, I do write a blog for the mydesert.com website. But I guess it was still just a little shocking that someone would identify me first and foremost as a blogger for the website. Up until now, I have always considering blogging something that I did for this site, but that my primary description would be as columnist and writer for The Desert Sun, the newspaper. You know, that thing with the paper and the ink.
I’m particularly interested in my description this week because of some of the uproar from the Summer Olympics over who and how social media and the Internet are changing the way sports is covered. While NBC struggles with the idea of the eight-hour time difference between London and the Coachella Valley, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets don’t seem to have a problem with the time zones. NBC may be holding gymnastic highlights for 10:30 p.m., but Twitter spoiled the party with news of who won and how 12 hours earlier. Actually, you could likely find 1,000 different Twitter accounts that report a London result in real-time.
Within minutes, bloggers are posting photos and analysis of the event, sometimes in straightforward news terms, sometimes in snarky, cutting or even cruel Internet ways.
But it’s not just results on social media. There was a bit of Twitter dust-up earlier this week when U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo blasted NBC soccer analyst and former U.S. team star Brandi Chastain over comments (seemingly mild comments, by the way) about this year’s U.S. team. Twitter allowed Solo to deliver a message to those who follow her on the social media site, but within moments it blew up into a full-site Twitter war of those who supported Solo and those who things she is, well, not a very nice person. Some Twitter users were a bit harsher in their language.
The age of keeping results, even results halfway around the world, a secret until the prime-time edited broadcast would seem to be over. I remember watching Olympics in the 1970s on the prime-time broadcast and having no clue who had won events in Austria or Montreal.
But even in the face of all that digital information, NBC is reporting ratings that are higher across the board for their prime-time broadcast than the Beijing games of 2008. Apparently if the news is good (gold medals for U.S. swimmers or gymnastics, for instance) people will get the news from social media and still watch in prime time.
We in the news business have known this day was coming for a while. The idea of just waiting for the 6 p.m. newscast or the 6 a.m. delivery of the newspaper has been replaced by Web updates, Twitter posts and blogs. But with each new major sporting event, whether it be the Olympics this week, the PGA Championship next week or the U.S. Open in tennis later this month, the evidence mounds that people want their new now, in a flash, on a blog or in 140 characters of Twitter-ese.
Still, for someone who went to journalism school in the 1970s and 1980s, having someone tell me they love my blog, as happened at the Kraft Nabisco Championship this year, is a bit jarring. But I guess if readers want news in a few seconds, I’m okay with people calling me a blogger.
Now if I only had my own Twitter account . . . .