Currently, 9450 has 1,136 page views in just under three months. Those numbers will trickle up, one view at a time from family members, my girlfriend and close friends. Not exactly Google type numbers here, this I know. But I still feel like this is a turning point for me as a blogger.
I hate that word – blogger. It has a negative connotation in my mind. When I think of a blogger, I envision a middle-aged guy with male-pattern baldness and dirt under his fingernails, sprawled across his worn out and frayed couch in a dirty wife beater and shorts that struggle to reach the top of his knees, hiding behind his Burger King-crumb filled Asus, hurling expletives at no one in particular on his “Sox Sells” blog because his beloved Red Sox, of which he considers himself to be a “die-hard” due to the two hats of different colors displayed in the rear window of his 1996 tan Hyundai sedan and a bumper sticker that reads: “Jesus Hates the Yankees,” lost game 19 of 162 in extra innings against the Kansas City Royals.
So that is what I’m trying to avoid.
I created this blog for my athletic communications internship at Saint Joseph’s University, where I attend Graduate School with a focus in Writing Studies. I craved a sports writing outlet because in the real world, my staff writer’s position for a fledgling medical publication in South Jersey was and still is, making me want to jump out a window. Consider the title of this recent gem of mine: “Researchers Perform Comparison of Amputation and Infrainguinal Bypass for High Risk Patients”
No idea what that means.
I didn’t expect much from the blog – only that my friends would occasionally glance at a few posts every once in a while and my parents would tell me how that phone call from ESPN was right around the corner. But as I wrote, I found that I wanted to be heard. Screw the credits from the internship, I’m doing this for me. (This is not true, I need those credits. There will be no credit-screwing here). I started posting my most recent entries on Facebook and Twitter. One of my friends recommended Reddit, I posted on there as well. As I wrote, some of my friends who aren’t basketball fans, occasionally came up to me and said they read the blog and felt as though they could hold a conversation on the NBA now. Maybe they were just being polite, but the feedback was helpful.
So my question is, how do I expand? Well, expansion is relatively easy thanks to social media. The real question is, how do I get seen without creating a seven car pileup? My initial answer was: just write better than everyone else. Quality wins out. The problem is, quality takes time. The longer I spend on each post, the more desperate I become for page views. I don’t get paid for this. Page views are my little reward.
Page views are the lifeblood of a website or blog. Without them, the blog is just an online personal diary. But there is so much online, distinguishing yourself from the guy next to you without the ESPN brand on your blog is nearly impossible. I say nearly because there are quality blogs out there from quality bloggers and journalists and reporters. They are what I strive to be. But like I said: how do I get there? I want to be them right now. Like the 25 year old in 2011 that I am, how do I get what I want, TODAY?
Well, there are other blogs that distinguish themselves by creating the aforementioned bloody car crash. I could make my own drama. But that’s not me. That’s them…right? They are so outlandish, so entertainment/rumor/sexual innuendo-based, that I wonder why they are even covering sports in the first place. Am I talking about Deadspin? Yeah, I guess I am. I understand Deadspin and it has uncovered real news stories (I especially liked the feature on the BYU honor code). But in my opinion, dick pics and Rex Ryan’s wife’s feet have no place in sports journalism.
But for every Deadspin, there is a Grantland.com, Bill Simmons’ future website that features some of the best scribes in the world, including Malcolm Gladwell, Chuck Klosterman and Katie Baker, who contributed to Deadspin.
Online, quality does not always win out. Drama and controversy often take the top spot and generate the most views. The loudest are usually the most ill-informed, yet they are often the most heard (see: Trump, Donald). I’d like to think Simmons understood this and created Grantland.com to change it.
In class, we speak of ethics, cultivating sources, citing, on and off the record, background, deep background and all of that kind of stuff.
But I can’t help but wonder if we are losing that commitment to ethics. I can’t compete with the big boys right now. Hell, I can’t compete with basically anyone right now. But I have enough outlets at my fingertips where, if I’m controversial enough, if I offend just the right group of individuals, I will be heard. I could join them, just this once. I’ll get some readers and then do my own thing. The page views will sky-rocket and the numbers will hit me like a drug to the vein. And so I do it again, and again and again, until I have everything I want and I am everything I’ve always hated.
And I just think that’s sad.
Welcome to the blogosphere.