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A Mediot Shrieks!

Blogging has changed the nature of journalism by changing the frame of communications. What was typically one-way transmission from a network, newspaper or magazine to a passive audience is now a two-way world, in which a story or opinion piece can receive multiple, real-time reviews of its worth.

It's revealing that journalists can be some of the thinnest-skinned people around. They have lived in a world where their barbs and assumptions have gone unquestioned. No more. It's happening with increasing frequency in the political world, where bloggers are driving mainstream press members into fits of apoplexy by simply pointing out mistakes.

This phenomenon popped up in the sports world, where ESPN's Len Pasquarelli chastised some critics who had the nerve to question his exclusive circle or football writers.

The surprise was that Len's targets were not bloggers like me, but members of his own profession. Pasquarelli was upset that Metroplex scribes from the Morning News, Star-Telegram and the website The Ranch Report ripped the Hall of Fame voters for short-shrifting Cowboys nominees like Rayfield Wright and took more shots at DMN writer Rick Gosselin, the Cowboys representative, for his tepid advocacy of Cowboys candidates.

Pasquarelli writes,

The Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting won't take place until the morning before Super Bowl XL, but some media folks in the Dallas area have already begun banging the drums, in their typically ill-informed fashion, about contentions that a bias exists against the Cowboys' candidates... The annual rhetoric is every bit as petty and small-minded as the Dallas area media accuses the selectors of being. It never affects the votes, and won't this year, but that probably won't stop the columnists from grinding their axes on days when they've apparently got nothing better to write.

My, my, what shameful little creatures those Dallas-lovin' boys must be. Such gall. Such cheek they possess. Well, Len, your harrumphing reveals as much about you as it does them, and it's ugly. So let's dispense with the polite knife twisting and get down to business. They might be mediots, but dammit, they're our mediots and they're right to be upset.

You accuse them of trying to influence votes, but on reading their pieces, all I can see are arguments that the voters -- you voters -- are lousy at your jobs. And you are. The voting on Wright two years ago was more than suspicious. And the Galloways, LeBretons and Fishers don't arrive at their disdain without cause. They, like us, have read the Paul Zimmermann pieces red with frustration over final votes. They've seen the Don Pierson piece two years ago wondering if a Cowboys bias does exist. LeBreton referenced a Minneapolis writer who took some glee in Wright's black balling. They "show their work," so why are you protesting so much?

Next, are you a classist, a regionalist or simply an all-around, all-purpose snob? The "typically ill-informed" and "petty, small-minded Dallas folks" comments reveal every bit of the parochial bias you claim doesn't exist. Those poor unwashed folks down there in that Southern backwater can fly planes too, Len. They can even operate word prcessors. They've been to Super Bowls and have talked to people who do the voting.

If you wanted them and the rest of us peons to be less ill-informed you could end all mystery by publishing your votes. But that would bleed the power you've created by treating yourselves as cardinals and equating these rituals with the electing of a pope. You wouldn't be able to look down upon the rest of your brethren and the fans if this system came to pass.

And that's why your comments are so appalling. You're not protecting state secrets. You're not working on sensitive medical research. You're a sportswriter, which makes you rather small next to the doctors, teachers, lawyers, firemen, businessmen and other folks with real throw weight in this society. You're an elf, Len, and a rather rotund one judging from your photo. Anointing yourself with Keebler crumbs and saying "but we're so much better than those elves down there in Dallas," still leaves you stumpy at the end of the day.

What's worse, you're that much smaller than the men on whom you pass judgement. That's why we resented you before your opened your snotty mouth. Men like Rayfield Wright and Michael Irvin literally bled for their uniforms and for us. We don't like it when their work is deemed worthy or unworthy by a unit that has no accountability.

Finally, why are you hiding this screed in a protected column? If you're angry post your response where everyone can see it. Stick up for your selectors and yourself. Don't rant and rave behind the walls of your exclusive enclave, you big mean sportwriter you. After all, nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, but which requires a subscription fee, right? Petty and small-minded indeed.

Before you slither back behind your firewall, know that your timid tut-tuting won't solve anything. You never expected to have your holy status challenged, but the net has changed everything. Not only did your fellow writers challenge you, the whole world saw it. What's worse for you, the readers can now set up their own shops and fire back too. Until we get some satisfaction, we'll speak up about this and other issues. Theirs was just the first whack at your committee's overstuffed egos. More are coming. Get used to them.

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