Sunday, April 13, 2014
Are the Padres Bloggers Shills for the Team?
There was a debate on the Tweeters last week about whether the Padres were just lavishing food, booze, tickets and access to selected Padres blogs to curry favor and ensure positive coverage. Some on the Tweeter, Nacho Padre to be specific, blew up the issue and stated that the Padres were more concerned with getting good social media coverage than they were in fielding a team that will win THE RING (tm), and that bloggers were playing right into their hands - that discussing new food and beer at Petco was trumping potential coverage of the lackluster offseason and seeming acceptance of the front office of merely "being competitive" rather than fielding a World Series caliber team.
I think an important distinction needs to be made between the Padres bloggers and journalists. I really don't see Gaslamp Ball, the Friarhood, Padres Public or really any blog out there as journalism. Let's get real, Gaslamp Ball has discussions of magical win-bringing unicorns and Padres Public regularly focuses on poop and binge drinking. Nothing wrong with that, I totally embrace that here at Padres Jagoff. And yeah, they cover news out of the Padres, but if anything, they are like the opinion section in the newspaper. As a result, you can't really expect the blogs to maintain the same level of journalistic ethics as the Washington Post. Most bloggers are just fans, and as super fans, when the team comes offering free front row tix and food, you take it. When they offer you a chance to take batting practice every season at media night, you take it. Because they're fans.
Ghost of Ray Kroc took particular offense to Nacho Padres' comments and offered him a chance to have something published unedited on Padres Public, which Nacho Padres responded to by blabbering about meeting in person and guaranteeing GoRK's safety or something. I don't think there's any doubt that the Padres providing access, tix and food is going to influence their coverage. Sac Bunt Chris stated that they have written negative coverage of the team, which is true. But I think it will become harder and harder for them to openly criticize anything done by noted blog briber and Padres executive Wayne Partello, lest they lose their access and FSSD appearances. Wayne Partello on Twitter even stated that of course they were treating the bloggers to free food, it provides positive coverage of the team. I don't want to say it's a quid pro quo, but I also think it's pretty clear that it becomes harder and harder to be objective about a team when they are continually throwing out perks for the bloggers. I also can't imagine a scenario where someone like RJs Fro would be comfortable openly criticizing Jesse Eagler, for instance, as they are now TV colleagues (and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Rick on FSSD more and more, he's great on it).
Anyways, what I'm basically saying is yeah, if the Padres keep offering up free stuff, access, experiences and tickets to bloggers, it totally ruins their objectivity and in all likelihood will lead to more positive coverage and much more measured criticism. At the same time, I'd like to say that yes, I am open to also providing ample positive coverage in exchange for free tickets, access, food, beer, and on-field batting practices. My ethics are fuzzy at best, call me Wayne! (he won't, he doesn't even bother to follow@padresjagoff)