The League

Michael Bean
Steelers Blogger

Michael Bean

Michael is the founder and editor of Behind the Steel Curtain.

New Jounalism Changed The Story


As of Tuesday, this story was essentially under the radar of the public's consciousness. We're talking about the most recognizable player on the NFL's most storied team - in a league that happens to be obsessively covered 365 days a year by both mainstream and independent media outlets. ESPN has not led with the story on its website; nor has CBS Sportsline or Yahoo! Sports - the triumvirate of major sports properties on the internet. Ben Roethlisberger is also not a trending topic on Twitter.

Eventually, the facts and developments of this lawsuit will unfold and, depending on what transpires, a conversely appropriate amount of coverage will be allocated to the incident. We all (presumably) believe in the American judicial process so when further developments emerge - be it through the confidential sources of the mainstream media outlets, or simply when the appropriate courts make their rulings - there will be a more appropriate time for all of us to weigh in on the matter. Prominent editorial voices will chime in. Bloggers - some reputable, responsible and interesting storytellers; some not - will then react and offer their own take on the matter. Regardless of how this materializes, one thing is for certain - anybody who wishes to weigh in on the matter will have an opportunity to do so.

As a candidate for a MC in Digital Media at the University of Washington in Seattle, I have been interested in the transformation of the newspaper industry and how society is increasingly less reliant upon major media outlets to gather, report and then editorialize about those topics we might, as individuals and collectively as a society, find interesting, important or even merely entertaining. That is not to say that we all do not depend upon and benefit from professional journalism. We all do. A lot. Nevertheless, many aspects of journalism seem to have been "crowdsourced" to the masses as a result of today's technology - a reality I believe is exciting, beneficial and long overdue. It is also undeniably troublesome.

The permeation of niche blogs, hyper-local reporting, and even the ability for mere consumers of news to engage in an open conversation - all have played a role in breaking down the traditional hierarchy of how news is produced, distributed and consumed. That's the good news. The bad news is that we can take advantage of this newfound ability to connect with each other in irresponsible ways.

I see little to be gained from editorializing about a lawsuit as fuzzy and vague as this one. At this point in time, that is. All that is known are the contents of the complaint filed against Roethlisberger, as a result of it being published on the website of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

In today's news climate, the ecology of how information arises, matures, and then disseminates throughout society is a fascinating topic to me personally. For now, I am more interested in seeing how this plays out in that respect than about the extraordinarily murky specifics of what exactly did or did not happen a year ago in that Lake Tahoe hotel.

Tuesday saw more people frequent my blog than on any other day this year outside of the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft. Some perhaps saw an opportunity to 'maximize' the fleeting publicity that may have accompanied uninformed, rash and judgmental commentary about this topic. That's irresponsible at this point in time and I commend all of those parties - both big and small media outlets as well as engaged, vocal consumers of media - who have taken a more cautious 'let's wait and see' approach while still feeling comfortable opening up an initial dialogue.

As for Ben Roethlisberger - the quarterback of the NFL franchise I am fanatical about - I will feel sorry for him if he must endure the scrutiny of an unrelenting public eye only to be found innocent of any wrong-doing. Then again, I suppose that comes with the territory of earning an eight-figure paycheck each year.

By Michael Bean  |  July 22, 2009; 6:43 AM ET  | Category:  Crime , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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