I'm in Chicago for Blogs With Balls 6 and taking plenty of notes. I'll be posting my notes from each panel here for the use of anyone who wants to check them out. Keep in mind that these are highlights, not complete transcripts. Every effort is given to be as accurate as possible; apologies for any transcription mistakes. Here are my notes from the fifth panel, focusing on the state of Chicago sports.
The State of Chicago Sports (and media)
Laurence Holmes (@LaurenceWHolmes), 670 The Score/120 Sports
Jon Greenberg (@jon_greenberg), ESPN
Dan Katz (@BarstoolBigCat), Barstool Sports
David Kaplan (@thekapman), CSN Chicago
Jen Lada (@JenLada), CSN Chicago
Moderator: Sarah Spain, ESPN (@SarahSpain)
David Kaplan: "Anyone with a Twitter account can actually break news."
"A story can get out there and it doesn't have to be vetted."
"You're competing with so many different people now."
"You go into the locker room and there's 100 different media, and then there are uncredentialed media."
"Even if its farfetched you have to track it down, and sometimes they're right."
LH: "There are still some of those guys who need someone to filter it."
"Matt Forte, I thought he did a shitty job" of telling his own story on Instagram of why he missed events
"His mistake was almost being flippant about the Piccolo award."
"It came off as if he missed the mark."
"I don't think he did himself any favors by the way he got his message out there."
JL: "If they want to reveal to me that they're an idiot by the way they use their social media, I'll take that."
"I'll use that to advance my agenda and my company's agenda."
"I probably broke four stories this spring on the Bears just by using social media."
JG: "People are like, "They're going to squeeze media out." Well, no."
JL: differences in Milwaukee/Chicago markets: "The access is very different in Milwaukee." Packers, other teams, want to encourage coverage. "Teams here, they don't necessarily need to, not buy the coverage, but encourage you to cover them."
Green Bay, distance: "You couldn't be there every single day. You had to rely on other people to do your job."
LH: "Teams, they want you when they want you."
Cubs: "As the team got worse, you could do more."
SS: "The Blackhawks used to beg for coverage. And then they got good."
"People who are doing good stories and are there every day are having a hard time getting access."
Dan Katz: Cutler and Rose are tougher on access because they've been burned by Chicago media
Dan Katz on Rose: "He's never going to be a polished, perfect speaker."
JG: "Jay stunk. That's why he's vilified."
LH: "I know there is the perception about Jay. I personally haven't experienced it."
"I've had national people come up to me and you can tell exactly what they're going to write, what they're going to say, how it's going to go before they hear a word." Rick Reilly as example.
JL: "You could argue that that's not doing your job."
"Rick Reilly, great, he's been very successful, but you can't walk in and assume your requests are going to be met."
SS: "In some cases, teams need to be more open."
SS: to Dan Katz on not being owned by teams: "You have the opposite, you don't have to answer to anyone."
Dan Katz: "I'm a true pirate ship."
"I don't have an editor."
SS: "We can tell."
Dan Katz: "I don't even want to be in the locker room. I don't want to be in that world. People want to see an outsider's perspective and a true fan perspective."
SS: "I was at the first Blogs With Balls in 2008 or so and there was a very blogs versus the mainstream media element."
"That isn't really the case anymore."
Asked Dan Katz how he separates himself from mainstream sites. "Do you have to get crazier?"
Dan Katz: "We don't break news. And I don't want to break news."
"I never ever want to get into that."
"Where we have cornered the market and where people resonate with us is that I'm an average guy."
"Everyone goes on Twitter today basically to be outraged."
"Sports are fun. They should be fun."
David Kaplan: Different kinds of blogs, some legitimate news sources, Baseball Prospectus: "I think they all get lumped into the same thing."
LH: "Deadspin is so inside now that they have to try to be outside."
LH on 120 Sports, national network, 2 minutes on anything: Run by MLB, NASCAR, PGA. Limited partnerships with NBA .
"We do two minutes on each big national story."
"You're seeing leagues create their own digital efforts. I think that's where the industry's going."
NFL locked them out, "We went around them, we now have a contract with the NFL Players' Association."
"We look at ourselves as a second-screen opportunity."
SS to Dan Katz: "Do you have aspirations to work at a more mainstream place?"
Dan Katz: Wouldn't necessarily turn it down, but likes freedom. "You get in trouble. I can't get in trouble."
"I think there's a place for us and what we do."
"I turn on the TV and its the same five or six guys saying the same stuff over and over."
JL "I have an issue with some of the stuff that's on Barstool. I don't like the WAG of the day."
"Can you exist without relying on that kind of clickbait?"
SS: Katz doesn't do that himself, but "You're always going to be associated with that."
Dan Katz: SB Nation, Bleacher Report, "All those blogs are owned by big coporations."
"We have to stay on the fringe."
"If we had millions of dollars and didn't have to post the WAG of the day, I'd be okay with that."
Big blog networks: "They sit on a pedestal and they judge everyone else."
"Jen, you criticize us for the smokeshow of the day. Those girls, or ladies, they ask to be posted."
"It's not as creepy as people say of it."
David: "If a guy or a girl doesn't want to read it, don't click on it. Who has an issue with that?"
JL: "Women like me who want to be respected for their thoughts!"
Dan: "I tried to stop doing stuff like that where you take photos off the TV of someone hot."
"I think you can hold two thoughts at once. That you can say "That is an attractive woman" and still respect her opinion."
SS: "I think you can click on two buttons, one for sports and one for porn, and I don't think they have to be in the same place."
On the need for proper sourcing:
LH: "I'm from the school of get it right, not get it first."
David: "We get off on it more than anyone in the general public."
JL: "The people above us, the executives, they place emphasis on that."
SS: "That has been blown up so much because of everyone attacking ESPN over it. Now everyone's trying to do it."