Why Blogs Are So Important…

In a word…”Independence“. 

Just yesterday morning Mike Vukovcan of the Pittsburgh Sports Now website and blog announced to the public his resignation from KDKA-TV.  Here’s the pertinent bits:

For years, I’ve battled management regarding running my own website. Twice, I was forced to take my sites down because I was told it was a conflict of interest. Take it down or lose my job. It was also a reason at one time, I had an alias Twitter name while writing for another site. No association with the site or lose my job.

A year ago, KDKA management allowed me to start Pittsburgh Sports Now but I wasn’t permitted to profit from it, work on it while at the station and all major news had to go to the stations site first.

He then writes:

All those have come into question recently and when Pittsburgh Sports Now broke the Scott Barnes story, I found myself in trouble with management.

Within the last couple of weeks, I was called into a meeting and given the ultimatum of keeping my job and taking down the site or getting fired. That brings me to my decision today to resign.

We’ll get into his personal details in a bit but I want to take a minute and tell you why I think this is such big news and why it doesn’t just effect Vukovcan only.

Ever since I had been writing for the Pitt Blather starting six years ago, straight on through starting my own blog and now today, I have been explaining to readers just what my role in the world of sports media is and how it differs from the work the beat writers from the papers and recruiting sites do. The Tribune-Review’s Jerry DiPaola and some recruiting sites’ writers for example….  and let me say up front that I have a ton of respect for all  those guys.

But they have Masters just as Mike Vukovcan did.  Now, in a sense, he’s shed that Overseer of his work and gone out on his own (albeit with staff and advertisers) like some others of us Pitt football bloggers have done.

However, the difference between the two venues, let’s say associated and non-associated, boils down to this – I can say anything I want to about Pitt sports issues as long as I don’t libel anyone and, most importantly, feels that I have personal justification to do so. 

That means I make have to ensure I state facts as such and that I state opinions as such and make sure you know the difference when you are reading my articles.  You’ll notice I say “I think” or “I believe” or “It may be…” many times when I am saying something that isn’t verified by facts or by background discussions that I trust are true.

In a nut shell those phrases signal my opinions on something are to follow.

As long as I do that I can go out to the edge if I feel it is supporting the article’s main subject and is warranted. On the other hand I can write nothing but factual and statistical content to show clear supporting information.  As long as I know that you as the reader is aware of my intent then I’ll do it.

Mike Vukovcan obviously didn’t have that option at KDKA so he’s now split from that Big Media entity.  Good for him to do so.

That said our two blogs will always differ in that as long as a site takes specific advertisers or ‘sponsors’ there is always a set of eyes on what is being passed to the public – that isn’t a bad thing and I can see doing that as long as the owner of the site has to make a living from it.

With a wife and 3 kids, this is definitely a risk but I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t believe in what we’ve started at Pittsburgh Sports Now. The growth of the site in the last year strengthened my belief that I can make this a successful full time venture. With colleagues like Harry, Alan, Rich, Francis, Dave and Joe Steigerwald, I’m very excited about 2017 and beyond.

Now it’s all about putting out good daily content, adding features to the site and selling advertising and taking in money. I’ll be on the phone looking for new advertisers here at PSN but if you know if anyone that might be interested, feel free to contact me through direct message.

Here at The Pitt POV that isn’t the case as I’m retired and this is a total not for profit endeavour which ensures 100% freedom in my approach to the issues being discussed.  Again the only possible downside to being opinionated is 1) libel issues (which I never come close to) or losing my Pitt Media Credentials which won’t happen as long as I’m a square shooter in what I write. 

Because believe it or not the Pitt Media department actually encourages differences of opinion as long as they are genuine. I’ve never felt anything but 100% welcome by them when I’m at the practices, scrimmages, games or events.

That isn’t always the case in this ‘business’ though.

The night before the Pinstripe Bowl I was approached by a woman who I didn’t know and  who had a few drinks in her. She stood in front of me and berated me and anyone who blogs  because it wasn’t “true journalism”.  I listened for about 30 seconds before I interrupted her and asked how she knew who I was.

Well of course it was because she reads my blog on a semi-regular basis and recognized my photo from the website.  I told her that hypocrisy bored me and that if she really believed what some ‘journalists’ write to be 100% factual – especially in the case of what we had just seen on the national stage during the recent elections – then she was an idiot.

Because there is a big difference between blogging and other aspects of public writing. I don’t speak for Mike but I’ll bet he’s about to let his hair down and be more open in his take on things.

One of the reasons to do so is that it draws the readers into discussions about the subject via the comments section.  Look at the newspapers articles and editorials and see how many comments are on those articles – practically none.  Then look at the comment numbers we generate here on the Pitt POV and other sites like the Pitt Blather.  The POV alone averages over 100 comments per posting and it is good, solid conversation.

That’s the real joy of blogging.  It isn’t money revenue or click numbers – it is giving others a place to read and discuss subjects in-depth and also make friends doing it.  I can tell you first hand how satisfying that is.

So I think Mike Vukovcan gets it and has done the exact right thing on some different levels. One is the obvious – personal integrity in his role as a writer and how he interacts with his readers.

The second may be just as important – he’s taking a big risk that may affect his financial situation and impact his family, but he’s doing it so that no matter what happens in the future they can be as proud of him because he took the risk he felt was absolutely necessary to be a better person all-around.

Congrats to you Mike and best of luck with this new chapter in your life.  Now you can really say what you think and that’s fun as hell.

EDIT: I corrected some info regarding Chris Peak in the article.  Here is what he passed on after reading the article:

In the interest of accuracy, I don’t really have a “master,” per se. As publisher of the site, I am in control of and responsible for what goes on there. Self-employed, so to speak.

56 thoughts on “Why Blogs Are So Important…

  1. Reed, of course the problem is that you are being placed in the world of all bloggers … which is full of purveyors of (1) false news and (2) opinions which are presented as facts. I don’t know what the percentage is … there may be a much larger number of responsible bloggers .. but it is always the controversial or dishonest ones that get the most publicity.

    For example .. a handful of well known college programs have been caught cheating / breaking recruiting violations, thus many think it is happening all over.

    The good thing is that your blog is intended for a specific audience and they (we) know what you are all about. Heck, I have disagreed with you on a number of occasions (sometimes vehemently) but I never once questioned your integrity … and IMO that ggoes for everyone here.

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  2. True to all above and thanks.

    Part of the problem I have when explaining what I do these days is that when you introduce the word “Blog” people are skeptical right off the bat.

    But when I explain and invite them to check out the site and read just one article they have a much better understanding of what some blogs can be.

    I truly believe that with the exception of blogs that are religious or political in nature the writers are genuine in their beliefs and want to share them with others.

    And in doing so there is a real sense of satisfaction.

    I got into a discussion on this exact same issue with my best friend of 55 years last year and I said “I consider what I do now as an extension of my Public Service” which boils down to making an effort on your part for the education and enjoyment for the public who reads you. That is true especially if you don’t charge for your services which I won’t ever do.

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  3. totally agree with the religious and political statement. This may be naive but I have for a long time considered my life to be more fulfilling the less I think/include these two topics in it. (Of course, this past year it was impossible to do)

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  4. I wish Mike V the best. Big risk for a young guy who is married and has kids. Reed, your blog as a retired guy may be an extension of your public service—but it is from the luxury of a settled life.

    I check Pittsburgh Sports Now several times a day. The ads don’t bother me so far. I would caution Mike V to not let the site become one of the ones where there are so many bells and whistles that it is not worth the hassle.

    H2P

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  5. The blogs and websites have reunited me with Pitt sports. Before that I would go once a year to see Pitt FB. BB not for me now in winter. I saw my first FB game in 1963 and still remember the Friday bonfire and us beating Miami. Keep up the good work.

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  6. Must say Mike V has a lots of guts to venture out on his own with a wife and 3 kids at home. Best of luck to him.—-A side note: Jerry DiPaola has a great article out today in the Trib on Pitt’s newest WR commit from Florida. His coach said that he has “freakish athleticism” in a big body. “Punt return athleticism in a big body which is a unique combination.” His Youtube video indicates as such and IMO even though he has only played football in HS for the pasty two years, I can see no reason why he can’t contribute to the Pitt offense next season. He would not be a candidate for my Redshirt List.

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  7. Guys… not to sound like a ironic jerk but I’m about to launch a Patreon donation website myself.

    It is already set up and I’m pulling the trigger this afternoon.

    Still this site will never be behind a paywall it will always be free to be a part of and to enjoy.

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  8. jrn, only Smith’s second year of playing organized football. That may be asking a lot but I remember another supposedly raw skilled WR from Fla named Antonio Bryant that contributed his Fr year.

    Reed: Pay sites and offering the ability to give a few nickels to help in the effort to bring knowledge and information to our PITT family are entirely two very different things. I don’t think it will be but if it can be anonymous, to me, would make it even better. Think about that??? Otherwise you can count on me to do “whatever it takes”. < Chuck Noll.. ……ike

    H2P

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  9. Love this site. I alway like to read the thoughtful comments after an article, unfortunatly most News sites attract a large group of creeps who’s on thrill in life is launching un called for insults at anyone who dares post any kind of an opinion. This site has a real nice back and forth with people who try to prove their point.

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  10. @jrnpitt, the upside of Michael Smith looks huge but if he sees the field in 2017 it will be because, 1) the WR corps have been decimated by injuries, or 2) he is so much better than guys like Flowers, Tripton or French that has to see playing time. My opinion of both Flowers & Ffrench are they have good potential. Tripton, who is coming back from injury, also has a great upside.

    That’s a $hit load of upperclassmen to push through before a true Freshman like Smith sees the field and we didn’t even name drop guys like Weah, Henderson and Lopes who all produced in 2016. Smith will redshirted in 2017, that you can take to the bank.

    However come 2018, all bets are off on Smith. As a RS freshmen, he just may burst on to the scene just like Boyd did as a true Freshman, that is if he works hard and continues to develop in 2017 while riding the pine on the scout team. Michael Smith, IMO, a future star, maybe by 2018, pretty sure by 2019.

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  11. BTW, that golf outing can’t get here soon enough. Just back home from shooting a career round this morning on one of the toughest courses on our island, that being a 76. I’m in an euphoric haze. Yeah baby!

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  12. Doc, congrats on that golf round, fantastic.—As for Smith, he has Boyd plus possibilities IMHO. If I’m right you will be unable to keep him off the field.

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  13. 72 for me today. Partly cloudy and overcast in the office. Temperature is regulated pretty well. Oh, you guys are talking golf scores. I am actually going to try to make it for the outing once the date is set. My golf game is well below average and at times I think it was managed by Steve Pederson.

    I like the video on Smith. Speed , speed and more speed. Watch the Falcons speed this weekend. I don’t think people realize how fast they are and what that means when you have the right mindset.

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  14. I always have trouble shooting the ball through the windmill on the last hole and dislocated my elbow trying to fish the ball out of the 18th hole. Great round Doc!

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  15. Doc, I was just messin with you. My golf game gets worse every year. It’s actually a lot like Pitt BB. I can shoot an 81 and then the next time out post a 101. Too wild off the tee – too many penalty strokes – miss a lot of easy putts…..it really all relates perfectly to the BB team.

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  16. I am now playing from the Golds and am lucky to shoot in the law 80’s. Great stuff, Doc.

    And, if POV does a road trip golf outing in association with a game against UVA, you may want to do it where I live. Less than two hours west of Charlottesville, in Hot Springs. Cascade course (part of The Homestead resort) is ranked the #1 course in Virginia and is Sam Snead’s home course.

    H2P

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  17. After reading this article I may have a set of Ping’s for sale soon. Also have a trouble wood that never worked very well for me. Dam thing must have been lemon?

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  18. @ BigB – I know that almost all of the paper beat writers read it as do the recruiting sites writers/editors (see Chris Peaks statement above and my correction to the article.

    I also know that the some in the Athletic department read regularly as do some of the staff and coaches. For instance last year every time I was in attendance at a Narduzzi event Chris LaSala made sure he knew I was there. At the fall camp Media Day the staff coaches I spoke with were familiar with my blog also (and of course The Blather)

    I also have had almost every player I spoke to personally tell me they have read first The Blather and lately the POV – even though they are told to stay away for the internet sites… but that is mostly from the social media sites but blogs also.

    In other words you’d be surprised how many times i am contacted by other media writers via the blog or email either saying good job or asking for a correction.

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  19. Dr. Tom .. way to shoot.. time to light up a victory cigar with a bourbon chaser!!!

    Love the Throwback BB uni… but save them for 2019… We are 2-0 in throwback garb and don’t need them jinxed by this years team…

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  20. Denver Broncos: Former 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst is expected to join the Broncos as tight ends coach, according to The Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Chryst worked with the 49ers from 2001-15.

    Note: Cross Geep off the list of possible Pitt OC’s.

    Tennessee: Tight ends coach / special teams coordinator Larry Scott has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

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  21. Everyone who is someone reads blogs. From recruits to players to coaches to the AD and all the way to the top…Gallagher, not Trump. It gives one a pulse on things. What people are thinking and saying is important. Perception is reality. These are focus groups for the university. Vision and dialogue can be shaped by listening to the blather or chatter. Opinions are a very good thing. Often more valuable than facts since they can lead to unconventional thinking and enlightening discussions. Its very much a religion. Strongly held beliefs have the ability to impact change. Our diverse opinions or beliefs on this blog have already brought change. So kudos to all who participate and don’t shy away from being heard.

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  22. TX Panther – you are so correct. That was why last year I was encouraged to apply for the “Fan Committee” by a Pitt administrator… and most probably also why I wasn’t selected by the AD etc…. Which was a huge mistake as the Blather had way more readers (Pitt Fans) than almost every other media venue.

    Nor was I hired for the AD position I applied for before Barnes was hired but that was sort of in fun.

    I can’t say this enough – it was EJ Borghetti who had read my posts first and then the articles I wrote and he was who initiated contact and offered me the Pitt Media Credentials. The exact opposite of how things usually happen.

    He knew how many Pitt fans were reading the Blather (tons just as are we getting on the POV now) and wanted to make sure I had every opportunity to report things I saw and heard and discussed first hand.

    BTW I also know some people who blog and report on Pitt Football who have been denied those credentials.

    I also have a good friend who is the Director of Media relations for the NYU Athletic department (EJ’s peer) and he is amazed and impressed regarding EJ’s willingness to get the word out about Pitt football through personal blogs, websites etc… along with the traditional media outlets.

    Honestly my friend has read my articles on a regular basis and said that he thinks 90% of colleges wouldn’t have given me credentials given how opinionated I am.

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  23. EJ’s building supporters through his actions. He gets it. I really hope he becomes Pitt’s future AD in 5 years after some grooming for the position. Right about the time Pitt begins breaking ground on its new OCS. 🙂

    These blogs are a great forum for passionate fans to be heard. You’re truly doing a public service Reed and helping shape Pittlandia.

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  24. Arkansas: Offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Dan Enos has received a new contract with a raise, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Enos will earn $800,000 in the first year of a 3-year deal, with $50,000 raises in each of the next two years.

    Wisconsin: Paul Chryst’s 5-year contract has been renewed through 2021. Chryst is 21-6 in two years at Wisconsin.

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  25. Auburn: AL.com reports there is internal strife between Gus Malzahn and other people who influence the program over who should be Auburn’s offensive coordinator. The site reports Malzahn’s short list included Kendal Briles, Chip Lindsey and Eliah Drinkwitz, but athletic director Jay Jacobs provided Malzahn with a list of candidates preferred by other people, which included Noel Mazzone on the list.

    Pittsburgh: reports show there is not a list available for the vacant offensive coordinator position that Pitt and HC Narduzzi attempt to fill without an athletic director.

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  26. I must say with the frank discussion that takes place here as well as on some other sites there must be a rude awakening for many that take the time to read these blogs. I can’t believe Narduzzi for one is very pleased with what is being said most of the time.

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  27. Actually, I’m impressed with how confidential HCPN keeps his business. I post the other OC and AD news just to show how much is out on the internet – plus it eliminates some candidates from our thoughts.

    I’m a big fan of this coach and he impressed us with his recruiting class last year, and I believe his staff will pull off a similar result in two weeks.

    I would like to ask him if he teaches his DB’s to not turn their heads? I think he might get irritated with me and give me the nard dawg growl…

    HTP!

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  28. From Rivals.com – In-state prospect Jesse Luketa is Pitt’s top 2018 linebacker target –
    The 2018 Erie (Pa.) Mercyhurst Prep linebacker could be a critical in-state target for Pitt.

    Very gifted athlete (plays WR too), polite young man and an exceptional student.

    We need to get an Erie pipeline started.

    HTP!

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  29. EE: There was an explanation from Narduzzi explaining the technique used by his defensive backs. I think Reed posted it. It has something to do with the DB’s proximity to the WR. Heads are NOT supposed to be turned around unless they are virtually even with body to body contact. Actually, I’ve been paying close attention to this since all the outcry over PITT’s DB’s not turning around and I’ve watched other DB’s not turning back around many many times. Most of the times it’s a NFL player. Anyone remember this explanation? I think I have that right? ….One play I remember was Sean Lee getting beat and the ball went right through his hands while his back was facing towards the end-zone. ……. ike

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  30. Maybe the new OC will be announced at the LOI event, unless the selected candidate may be seen as an unpopular choice. Wouldn’t want to stir up too much noise.

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  31. Listening to Mike & Mike the other day and, I believe it was Ryan Clark, there was discussion about being in-phase vs. out-of-phase.

    Out of phase means you are beat, or are not within arm’s length of the WR and have to try like hell to just get back to him so you aren’t going to look back.

    In phase means you can feel the WR with your arm extended and can look back while using your arm to keep track of him.

    He said it was really hard to teach players when to know which phase they are actually in during live action.

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