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Bissinger Responds to iKerfuffle*

Recently on Bob Costas's HBO show "Costas Now," Pulitzer Prize-winning sports journalist Buzz Bissinger and Deadspin editor Will Leitch had a heated debate about the merits of traditional vs. new forms of sports coverage. Actually, most of the heat came from Bissinger, who said blogs are "dedicated to cruelty, they're dedicated to journalistic dishonesty, they're dedicated to speed." (Watch the whole profanity-laced rant here.)

The iKerfuffle* even got covered by Richard Sandomir in The New York Times.

Well we had Bissinger on the show today, and he was quite contrite about his behavior, saying in part, "Will Leitch actually is a nice guy, he is, and I should never, ever have treated him that way, and I am embarrased for myself. And the emails that I got that hurt the most were from fans that said 'I'm gonna burn your books, I'm gonna turn my back on you,' and that did hurt me personally."

But while Bissinger acknowledged that he may have come on too strong, and his condemnation of blogs may have been too broad, he was sticking to his basic point. Here are some excerpts from his interview with NPR's Mike Pesca:

Click here to listen to Bissinger's entire interview with Pesca, in which they also discuss the Kentucky Derby.

*Yes, I did just invent a new Internet term, iKerfuffle. It's when something controversial or heated happens and it gets posted to YouTube and it creates a virtual kerfuffle. By which I mean a real kerfuffle. Here's how you use it in a sentence: "That video of Buzz Bissinger on HBO sure started an iKerfuffle. I'm glad I'm not in his shoes today."

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This argument is so meta it transcends humor. So these guys are arguing about opinions on opinions about sports? Am I supposed to have an opinion on this?

Sent by Dave Wiley | 12:13 PM | 5-2-2008

Well Dave, I'll try to summarize. Bissinger thinks that blogs have few if any standards of journalism or taste. Leitch thinks they represent a new voice for a new era, and that they often cover stories ignored by the mainstream press. What do you think?

Sent by Dan Pashman, NPR | 12:18 PM | 5-2-2008

@Dan: What do you think?

Okay, this is a more interesting question than I originally thought. My apologies. I believe you have to take each news source one at a time. I used to believe that blogs were inherently inferior because the authors had so little at stake. This is still true to a large extent, but now the more mainstream media is playing catch up. News programs come and go and compete ruthlessly. Few of them are competing by emphasizing high journalistic standards and a rigid code of ethics. If 60 Minutes fails CBS will find some other way to sell advertising.

In the end I fall back on Sturgeon's Law, "90% of everything is crap." There are some good mainstream media outlets and a few good blogs, and I have equal difficulty finding examples of either I care to spend time with.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 2:37 PM | 5-2-2008

I sent one of those emails to Buzz, not to burn the book, but I did trade it in toa local used bookstore. He was maniacal on that interview, he should be appalled at his behavior.

The funny thing is in his most major work "Friday Night Lights", it is basically about a town that cannot come to grip with modern times in terms of race etc. He comes across much the same way as the people in the book. He feels threatened, not by race, but by technology and how it is affecting his livlihood, print media. It just is really sad to tell you the truth. We live in America and thus can choose how and where we receive our information. Bob Costas was not much better. He at no time acted as a moderator and attacked Mr. Leitch for comments made by users on his site. Thanks to Bob and Buzz for introducing me to Deadspin a very fresh look at sports.

Sent by Kyle Nelson | 4:08 PM | 5-2-2008

I'm going to use iKerfuffle.

The new era begins now.

Sent by Andrew Vazzano [TheRopolitans.com] | 4:15 PM | 5-2-2008

well dave, you may not be that interested in what i think...and i am probably in that 90% but i'm not that concerned about it...i have a little fun...i like to write...and i try to do no harm intentionally...that's my rule and all books that find their way to print are not Crime and Punishment...so maybe we can enjoy it all...smart and smarter, dumb and dumber!

Sent by jan | 7:28 AM | 5-3-2008

Buzz presupposes that well crafted writing better validates a point of his -- his point of view. When I listened to his commentary on NPR on Friday enthusiastically endorsing horse racing, I couldn't help but think "what a horse's ass." This man really doesn't know very much about horses -- that horses aren't fully grown until they're 4 or 5 years old and quite likely to break down at two years. In fact, most horse lovers I know absolutely detest racing. Again, that was on Friday the before this tragic derby. So maybe we small bloggers really should rip away the audience from the "established" and knowledgable writers.

Sent by Drew Knox | 4:13 PM | 5-4-2008

Drew...I agree, it is arrogant to think that the public cannot have valid, well informed, researched opinions on the very same subjects the MSM writes about. As far the comments sections,it is funny stuff. Mean spirited, racist, and obscene but funny. Read Deadspin sometime. Its funny.

Sent by Kris | 5:23 PM | 5-4-2008

@jan: well dave, you may not be that interested in what i think...and i am probably in that 90% but i'm not that concerned about it...

I've tried like the dickens to like the classics and have almost universally failed. Good writing is always in the eye of the beholder. I find Harlan Ellison to be a more interesting thinker than Holden Caulfield. I write crap too, but hey, that's just my opinion. Is any of you writing where we can see it? You might be in that magical 10%!

Sent by Dave Wiley | 11:00 AM | 5-5-2008

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