Not so long ago, I was having a conversation about quite an old article I wrote. There were a few mistakes in that article, to put it diplomatically. To put it less diplomatically, it was really crappy. I'm-glad-nobody-noticed-it-when-I-wrote-it crappy. I was, of course, joking self-deprecatingly about it because I do that a lot. Besides, I said. Sure it sucks, but I'm just a crappy blogger. I sit in my dingy little apartment and churn out garbage, sometimes without even proof-reading it, because I enjoy it and because somehow, through sheer good fortune, I accidentally write something insightful or funny. Nobody takes me seriously, least of all myself!
Anyway, yesterday I went to the Vancouver Whitecaps game, flashed my press pass like a professional, and squeezed into the press box. And as I did so, I found myself thinking: am I being dishonest or what?
I mean, when I'm dealing with the Whitecaps (or FC Edmonton, or the Victoria Highlanders, or WSA Winnipeg, or any other of the merest handful of professionals I've dealt with in my time writing here) I pretend to be serious. My e-mails have a lovely little signature at the bottom; "Benjamin Massey: Manager, Eighty Six Forever", with a logo and my cell phone number. I go through official channels, I try to sound like I know what I'm doing. I do this because I want a WSA Winnipeg executive to give me an interview, or because I want an update on FC Edmonton's season ticket sales, or because I want the world from the Whitecaps. While those conversations are going on, I cross my fingers that they don't actually read my website or they might see what an idiot I am.
It really is talking from both sides of my mouth. Trading on my alleged respectability to try and get information and perks, while saying "I'm just some goofball and have never pretended to be anything else" to justify erratic article quality. I suppose it's better than some full-time reporters I could name, who don't even try to justify erratic article quality. I mean, if nothing else a blogger with another full-time job is always going to be limited by the number of hours in the day. I deliberately pursue an "outsider's perspective" when I write, partially because that's what I enjoy reading and partially because that's what I'm good at (I'm going to go into full Whitecaps Investigative Reporter mode in a city with Marc Weber and Bruce Constantineau working the Whitecaps beat full-time? Really?). I think that's a perfectly valid attitude to take, but that doesn't mean I can use it as a crutch when I screw up.
It just feels like an inherently dishonest situation. I am by no means the only blogger in the world who does this; in fact, I bet the majority of bloggers who make any contact with the organizations they cover do the same thing. I'm not sure what my point is here. I'm not sure I have a point (that's why it says "Self-Indulgence Sunday"). It's just something that's been on my mind. What's the line between "professional" and "amateur", between "silly" and "serious"? Is it possible to draw such a line? If it is possible, should one try to straddle either side of it?
I have no conclusions.