I'll admit that I haven't bothered to catch up on Cox's ongoing war with the blogosphere, as it doesn't seem worth the time. While some bloggers are simply fanboys that like to run their mouths, many (Greg Wyshynski, or locally, Mike Halford and Jason Brough) are now valuable voices in the hockey community. Even we here at Pass it to Bulis were one of the major voices in the Atlanta Thrashers/black players controversy, and we're proud of that.
I feel that anybody who can't see the value of a good blogger is blinding himself on purpose. I try not to let people like that get to me. Last night, Damien Cox really got to me. Late in the evening, totally out of the blue, he tweeted:
Yup. Just checking. Mc79 somebody's 15 minutes of fame just ran out. Buh-bye.
Huh? When this popped up on my Twitterfeed, I was baffled. Yes, the Campbell story was beginning to peter out, but why revel in it? Tyler Dellow did excellent work in bringing this to light, and it's a shame it isn't getting a longer look. To me, Campbell's credibility should be zilch, and we should have Dellow to thank for the finishing move.
But it appears the story is going to come and go, hardly denting Campbell's reputation, and Cox seems pleased the blogger didn't have an larger impact. In his tweet, he sounds like a cat with a bird in his mouth. Why so tickled?
When paired with his most recent column, it comes off as a rather petty reaction to the whole ordeal. Cox points out that Star reporter Rob Cribb already covered the e-mails when the Star covered the hearing into the dismissal of Dean Warren in which these e-mails were made public:
And no one cared. Nobody else even covered the story. And the NHL wasn't happy that The Star did.
Today, the reverberations are different because local blogger Tyler Dellow took the evidence one step further, putting together some evidence on the players he believes Campbell was referring to in those emails, including Campbell's son.
Now, suddenly everybody cares. When it was just about a fired ref, it didn't matter. It's an interesting comment on these media times, including the fact some "bloggers" are twisting this to suggest the "main stream media" is out to protect the establishment and figures in power. Why these people weren't outraged and up in arms when Cribb was writing his stories and The Star was publishing them is unclear. If you employ the logic of the bloggers, their silence was evidence that they were the ones protecting the establishment.
Reading the tweet again in this light, Cox sounds glad Dellow will be returning to the obscurity of blogging simply because the Star's initial attempt to bring this story to light was met with shrugs.
But Dellow reported a different story than Cribb at a completely different time. Things have changed in the NHL, especially when you consider that the scrutiny on Colin Campbell has increased drastically with the crackdown on headshots. Furthermore, Cribb didn't do the legwork Dellow did in determining who Campbell was referring to in many of the blacked out areas. Cribb's story is no less valuable; it simply isn't Dellow's story.
It's not hard to see why this story is a bigger deal now than it was nine months ago. But, rather than reflect on this, Cox seemed downright annoyed a freaking blogger had gotten attention he felt his guys at the Star deserved.
That's unfair. Dellow reported the right story at the right time. He did ample investigation; he released his name and stood behind his words; he backed up his findings; he reported the whole story with reason and tact. Dellow showed good journalistic ability, and he deserves a good pat on the back for some solid reporting. He doesn't deserve the needless disrespect Cox showed him.
Cox's tweet started something of a Twitter flame war between he and the offended bloggers, who knew this was more about them than just Dellow. Cox tweeted occasionally, rousing rabble and being intentionally provocative. He came off like a bully holding a small child's forehead with his arm outstretched, chortling from his position of power.
In the morning, he apologized for it and deleted the tweets. I'm glad, but at the same time I'm a little disappointed. As a blogger, it was frustrating to watch Cox kick sand in my face for no reason and part of me isn't satisfied. But, it would be petty for me to clamour for a pound of flesh now, after he effectively did the right thing.
That said, I do want to address it. Unfortunately, I only have the tweets that I retweeted at the time, as Cox wiped his own account clean. I've quoted where possible. The rest is based on recollection. At one point, for instance, he called bloggers self-righteous, then said:
Such tough talkers. . .as long as they can hide behind anonymity.
What? First of all, many bloggers release their names. I've never tried to hide behind anonymity. I wondered if Cox had the blogosphere confused with a message board he didn't like.
Cox claimed he had invited people down to the Loose Moose to confront him in person, but nobody showed. The entire blogosphere doesn't live in Scarborough, Cox. Next time you're in Vancouver, I'd love to have a friendly debate with you in person. (Seriously, a friendly debate. I don't want to fight you; you look stronger than me.)
People must have claimed that he didn't understand the blogosphere, as Cox then tweeted about the irony of such a claim when he blogs four times a week.
My response to that? Cox doesn't really blog; he writes an online column for the Toronto Star. Cox is a professional writer, a place many bloggers hope to be one day but currently aren't. Most bloggers write for free, in between jobs they hate (it's true), and it's a completely thankless hobby. More often than not, bloggers spend an entire evening slaving over article, and it's a treat to get even one comment or retweet. This is not Cox's experience. Granted, he has his own challenges (editors, deadlines, accountability most of the time), but he's definitely not in a position to understand the challenges of most bloggers (finding motivation, finding an audience, finding time, finding original things to write about without press access).
Unfortunately, he is in a position to mock them. Damien Cox has a national platform, and we saw last night that he occasionally abuses this platform to pick on those who don't. It's the equivalent of a professional hockey player heading down to his local church gymnasium and making fun of the amateur floor hockey league that plays there on Monday nights.
Cox continued to provoke, seemingly motivated by little more than his own amusement. I don't know what other people's responses were to Cox, but I imagine some, at least, were as antagonistic as the tweet that had set them off. Cox reacted to some name-calling directed his way.
Is name-calling really the best you folks can do? It is to yawn.
This is a clear-cut case of taunting, and it's bizarre to see it coming from a respected journalist. Trevor Presiloski had perhaps the line of the night when he said:
People say that @damospin doesn't understand the Internet. I disagree, he's got trolling down to an artform.
Very true. My impression of last night was that Cox came online to provoke and start a fight. He had very little motivation to do so short of a petty reaction to Dellow's original story. What frustrated me the most, of course, was that there was nobody to take my offense to over this--nobody to stand up for bloggers. Cox sat at his computer, taunting and jeering without remorse, behaving in much the same way he feels bloggers do.
I don't want to use this as an opportunity to attack the mainstream media. This isn't about the whole shebang, really. It's just about Damien Cox acting like a jerk. I'd hate to make the same mistake Jeff Klein did when he called us "the blogosphere." We're one blog, and Damien Cox is one guy that clearly had a bad night.
Still, this is about a larger issue. I suspect the MSM reaction to this story has been coloured by the fact it was broken by a blogger, and there's a kneejerk reaction on the part of the pros to distrust it. It's a sticky situation that typically doesn't come up because bloggers aren't given access to this sort of information, usually, because there's nobody to hold them accountable for what they do with it. The concern appears to be that, as independents, they might act in a manner untoward of representing a major corporation.
But Cox just showed us that's a problem even within the mainstream media, and it's never right.
Also: why are you not following PITB on Twitter? That's where the action is.