Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thoughts on Gymbloggery

How did you enjoy the international blog coverage of the World Championships this year (I'm not necessarily talking about this blog)? What are your thoughts on the fact that gymnastics bloggers are in there among the media scrum with established publications and news networks?

Do you find them more or less useful than official reporting sources?
Do you find them more or less credible than official reporting sources?
Do you think they should be allowed to have media accreditation at big events?
Is there an uneven ratio of 'fluff' pieces to genuine news stories during big events?
Are the one-on-one interviews during competitions insightful?
Do you trust breaking news when it appears on a blog?
Are training/around-the-gym reports as interesting to you as the competition itself?
Do you think media passes just get treated 'like backstage passes'?

A debate is has kicked off at the Gymnastics Coaching Blog on this very issue. FullTwist Blog has an interesting take here.

Some of you are bloggers, some of you are blog contributors and/or readers. What do you think?


The Couch Gymnast said...

To be honest, after reading the comments on Rick's blog, i just feel tired. All these people are ding so much judging, especially those who seems to have very clear ideas about what constitutes journalism and media, and constantly reference TCG's contribution to Gym news. Did anyone ask me if i consider my blog to be an act of journalism or official media? No, they haven't, but they are so willing to criticize me for NOT being something I never, ever, proclaimed to be.
I was in Rotterdam doing a journalistic job, and I did it. Then, in my free time I blogged about it. Enjoy it or don't read it.
The other thing that gets me is that all these naysayers are down on 'leo comments' and the shallow stuff, but they all seem to know what is on my blog. Why read it, then?
Sorry to vent here, Mez, but this constant criticism is like being told you are a weak and ineffectual ambassador for world peace when all you are doing is pinning on a poppy because your Grandfather died in a war.

Nik said...

With the significant lack of mainstream media stories about smaller sports including gymnastics, blogs are 100% the way to go. The thing with blogs is that people complain about them being less factual but I, for one, appreciate the fact that they contain opinions more than any other aspect of the blogosphere. I don't just read gym blogs but also follow a number of travel blogs and some on bushwalking/hiking.

The key with finding reliable info on blogs is to follow more than one. For gymnastics I follow this one, Couch Gymnast, The Examiner (by Blythe), Gymnastics Coaching (by rick) and for some humour and cattiness Aunt Joyce. I don't read every article but scan to see what I'm interested in and this way I get a scope from a range of people's opinions.

Mainstream media just doesn't cut it for gymnastics (or travel where you need personal opinion). There's not enough info, what's there isn't in depth and it only focuses on the big events. I think the creation of new media has really enabled fans to follow their faves and, in turn, become better fans by staying up to date on all the goings on in the sport. You get pics, more indepth analysis of skills and then the videos come up. Its fantastic. If old media wants to keep up they need to have a blog of their own or just cut their losses not worry when people turn to other sources for their info.

Nik said...

And to follow up to Couch Gymnast: I like the 'shallow' aspects of blogging. I don't feel they're shallow but just additional information for people who are interested... just like some people look at galleries for Oscar red carpets and some only want to hear who won cinematorapger of the year, you're appealing to the audience that is interested in that side of gymnastics. And that audience reads appreciates it... the other should just not click in!

PS.. Please so NOT stop the ugly leo polls- they're the awesomest

Anonymous said...

I read "The Couch Gymnast", Blythe's work, Rick's site, and your Australian blog regularly (I'm not American!). I also indulge in Aunt Joyce (it's kinda like buying People magazine, only more so...a guilty pleasure!)
I was wild about the criticism applied to TCG blog and commented to show my support. I wanted to show that the vast majority of us are grateful to all of you...AND WE APPRECIATE your leo commentary, your personal take on the venue, the athletes, the coaches, the situation in general. We are not there....I think it is wonderful that you are there and that you choose to blog so we can, in a small way experience what you are seeing.
Please, please, please do not get sidetracked by the naysayers! There are so many others of us out there who are so appreciative of what you do!

Mez said...

Hey Brigid,

I hope you don't think I was trying to stir anything up. I'm genuinely interested in people's views about blogs as a news resource. I suppose I didn't mean to set it up in an "us vs them" atmosphere. I can balls up my words at the best of times.

I for one greatly appreciated your work from Rotterdam and thankfully you already raised the point I was going to bring up - that you were working (hard!) on the official Rotterdam site as a volunteer and did your blog/magazine stuff in your spare time. I think the person who commented about blogs getting media accreditation merely to use "as a backstage pass" was quite unfair though I suppose can see how a media accreditation can initially be seen in that way.

I value the extremely hard work that you've done since starting your blog and your magazine (hell, you published a couple of my things and even thought to wish me a public Happy Birthday) and I hope you continue to do it.

Haters can go on hating. The TRUE fans of your work will go on reading and being fans of it.

PS I know you had a hard week outside of gymnastics stuff, so know that I am always in your corner. Above and beyond blogging you have been a very reliable and thoughtful friend.

M said...

Before I found this blog and the couch gymnast blog, i was very unaware of all competitions and events that were happening around thr world apart from the few big ones that would get published in IG. Other than that, the media has barely ever touched any information about gymnastics which is very sad to see.

Therefore I am so pleased and happy with all the work you both do! I am a big gymnast fan and love following your blogs! If it wasn't for yous I would have not learnt and known all the information that has been posted here which has been great and some had helped me develop new knowledge about the sport.

So thank you to both you (ausblog) and couch gymnast for all the coverage from Worlds and previous times!! :)

Anonymous said...

I love the gym blogs as the posts are coming from people who love the sport as much as I do and who can also write articulately. The fact that most of these people do it not for monetary gain but for the love of the sport is amazing. It is great to hear the behind the scenes stories and have a laugh over things like ugly leo's. Keep up the good work all you gym bloggers...you make my day so much more interesting!

Anonymous said...

Gymnastike is one gym site that annoys the hell put of me. Fair enough it is great to have a site like this that provides personal interviews with the gymnasts and coaches during competition BUT please do some research first. Asking Martha Karolyi whether Rotterdam was her first World Championships was shameful and showed a lack of respect. You'd expect that sort of mistake from a newspaper or agency journalist but not someone with their own gymnastics website.

Jen said...

I would have been lost without the bloggers! People like Blythe from the Examiner and TCG provided some of the best photos, and the best perspective, available.

Too often, the "real" news outlets send ill-informed reporters to cover gymnastics events. These are usually people who know little to nothing about the sport (I bet 9/10 of them believe Mary Lou Retton is the greatest American gymnast ever). So they do what they can, often have mistakes, and have no idea what fans really want to know. They think that someone fell off the balance bars, or the vaulting horse, of tripped on their backflip or something. They would not be able to tell me if Nabieva fell on her toe-on laid out tkatchev. All they'd know is that the Russian girl fell.

Gym is treated like a second class sport, and were it not for the bloggers, we'd have little to no truly invested reporting.

The Couch Gymnast said...

Hey Mez- oh no- I didn't take this at all personally. In fact as an academic, I find it very interesting, as this is the sort of thing I research- the idea of legitimacy and sports blogging. That was just a comment about the general backlash to bloggers being at Worlds which I find boring and annoying and frankly, unnecessary!

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I've always felt that blogging is an extension of what Laura and I did for the A-Z of Gymnastics page.

One of our drivers for starting that page was the lack of indepth competition reports, photos, interviews etc with Australian gymnasts. We did that pretty well for quite a few years. This is exactly the niche that I see blogs occupying but the updating is a lot more immediate. I can only speak for myself, but I felt that we were always crossing a fine line between being considered media or not. It was always touch and go as to whether I got a media pass for photography.

Good to see Mez and Brigid carrying on where Laura and I left off - and interesting to see they're coming across the same hurdles. Media has changed and people managing events with a media component really need to be more strategic about it.

~ Simone

Anonymous said...

Forgot to say - when you do get a media pass you do have to follow some simple rules such as not speaking to the gymnasts during the competition.

I've also never seen any internet based journalists behave disrespectfully at a gymnastics competition.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to read these comments and i must admit some of my opinions have changed over the last couple of weeks.
Useful - yes i think blogs are useful, this is after all a new era and media is now very web based - as long as bloggers don't begin to think that they are more important than the subject they are blogging about (no evidence of that with Mez and TCG.
Credible - still to early to tell and as there is no necessity for a blogger to reveal their true identitiy then there is no accountability.
Allowed at events - yes i think they should be as long it is clear at the time that they are going to blog about the even - if they go to the event in differing circumstances then that could be a conflict of interest. All that being said i am very thankful for TCG updates from worlds as they were entertaining and informative.
I like news stories as well as reporting on the gymnasts - what fan wouldn't!!
Breaking News - not sure if i trust it on blogs yet - no accountability from annonymous posters!!

What else/less - Mez, sometimes your blog can be come quite bitchy and i am quite sure that the people that put negatie comments on the blog about how Australia is going to be crap at the next competition are the same people that sing their praises when they do well - i don't mind people commenting on the technicalities of a gymnast (ie - they need to point their toes)what i am sick of hearing is the grumbling about whaich is better - club or high performace centre.
TCG - i would love to see more articles from you with regards to Aussie gymnasts if you can.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3.34 I agree that it can become quite bitchy. In fact I think it gets too bitchy. As a parent I worry that if my child ever made it to the top, would she start reading such negative comments about herself. I believe at one of the camps the gymnasts were actually told not to worry about blogs as comments were sometimes too negative.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that i come from a very regional area of NSW and all we get out here is football. I find this blog invaluable to the australian and world wide gymnastics community. I remember reading the couch gymnast when it first began it was a funny quirky blog which has now developed into a very informative blog, reporting newd from all over the globe. I do think TCG has taken over the role of the triplefull blog once it ended! Both you girls are doing a fantastic job and my guess is that all those 'nay-sayers' are very envious of the job you both do. Dont stop blogging and keep up the good work!

Mez said...

Anon 4:05 I understand where you're coming from but the difficulty is I don't want that to dissaude people from visiting here because of occasional colourful conversation.

Negative commentary can't be avoided, try as I might to monitor and manage discussions. I just hope people are more inclined to take heart from the positive posts rather than the sometimes-not-nice comments attached. I always endeavour to make post content as informative and positive as possible. Comment content basically is out of my control.