Phil Mackey, 1500 ESPN reporter, blasts "no accountability" bloggers on Twitter, gets blasted
Phil Mackey must've woke up on the wrong side of the bed Tuesday morning. What else explains his Twitter bitterness later that evening?
Mackey, who self-describes himself as "that punk-ish kid you hear on [1500 ESPN]," is a Twins reporter and columnist. He actually began his sports journalism career as a blogger, but now thinks the sports blogosphere is a little big for its own britches.
The Mackey vs. blogger beef concerns whether sportswriters who aren't regularly in communication with players, coaches, and front offices can write authoritatively. Bloggers argue that statistical analysis is more important for good sports journalism than the clichés athletes and coaches routinely offer up after games, but Mackey believes that even in the day and age of Sabermetrics there is still something important about having access to sports newsmakers.
Here's the tweet that started the throw-down:
I appreciate the work of some sports bloggers. But at times I think some of their platforms are too large in 2012. No accountability.
-- Phil Mackey (@PMac21) March 27, 2012
An hour later, he followed up with this:
To elaborate, the only difference between being a baseball fan in 1995 and in 2012 is that thousands of people can now read your opinion.
-- Phil Mackey (@PMac21) March 28, 2012
He then asserted that having access to players, coaches, and front offices means traditional sports journalists have "a whole new level of accountability." On the other hand, self-publishing bloggers can't fire themselves, meaning, in Mackey's eyes, that there are few consequences when bloggers get something wrong:
The access to stats is awesome now. I use them more than any local mainstream media member. But access paints such a more accurate picture.
-- Phil Mackey (@PMac21) March 28, 2012
Understandably, local sports bloggers didn't take Mackey's rant lying down. John Bonnes, baseball blogger at Twins Daily, made the point that nobody would regularly read sports blogs if they didn't provide reliable information:
@PMac21 The bloggers enormous "platforms" that you disparage are built on the "accountability" you say they don't have.
-- John Bonnes (@TwinsGeek) March 28, 2012
In response, Mackey simply said, "John, that's not true."
Criticism of his blogger-bashing continued to roll in, but Mackey stuck to his guns, at one point tweeting he "question[s] the intelligence of a lot of readers" and at another point making reference to "'dumb' bloggers" in a tweet Mackey says was meant to mimic a phrase used by an NBC sportswriter but that ended up raising the level of vitriol.
With acrimony mounting, Tim Allen, Timberwolves blogger at Canis Hoopus, urged Mackey to cut his losses:
-- Tim Allen (@timallenonline) March 28, 2012
A fitting conclusion to the Twitter beef came in the form of a back-and-forth with a Twins fan who vowed to unfollow Mackey for his blogger disparagement. Following the Gopher basketball team's victory over Washington in the semifinals of the NIT tournament last night, Mackey posed this question to his Twitter followers:
@PMac21 I wouldn't know. I don't have access.
-- Steven Brooks (@svenj0lly) March 28, 2012
Mackey, for what it's worth, said in an e-mail this morning that "if I could go back in time, I would have presented my points with a less condescending tone." Embittered bloggers, meanwhile, are left to stew in their loneliness behind a computer, cut off from access to anything besides stats and pixels.
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