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It’s a little-known fact, but one of the more far-reaching, significant games at the Vegas Summer League was never listed on the official schedule. It wasn’t witnessed by many. It happened Thursday morning before the doors were open to the general public. Into the quiet, echoing confines of Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas stepped a handful of combatants. Around their necks each wore a lanyard, black, with a paper credential sealed in plastic. This was their access to the venue, and to this game. With steely eyes and taut nerves these men and women strode onto the hardwood. A single, orange ball lay between them, the vehicle to settle their long-standing animosity.

On one side of the ball stood a menacing collection of haggard writers, largely in polo shirts, fiddling nervously with the state-of-the-art digital recorders lodged in the pockets of their Bermuda shorts. Tension creased their brows, as if the monumental responsibility they bore wore down upon them every moment until the sweet release of the deadline horn…a responsibility only briefly shrugged off until the next day’s demands renewed it. These Sisyphean laborers, representing organizations with names like Times, Post, Picayune, and Globe, comprised the home team, menacingly named the Tree Killers.

On the other side of the ball stood a collection of bright-eyed, occasionally-unshaven hotshots. Their assortment of t-shirts blazed, the fiercely chaotic rainbow trumpeting a myriad of online destinations. Their eyes darted back and forth. Their fingers twitched nervously. They stood poised, eager…ready to write about something--ANYTHING--that seemed remotely significant. This was the Dot-Com crew, motley and full of energy, ready to prove their worth on the field of battle.

We join play-by-play announcer Biff Icklestein for the call of this historic contest…

 

Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to this titanic showdown between the mainstream media Tree Killers and the upstart Dot-Coms. The bad blood here has been simmering for a while. We expect this to get pretty intense before the day is through. And here’s the tip!

TreeKillers:  We’ve been doing this for years! What makes you think you belong on the same field as we?

And the Tree Killers win the tip! They’re moving the ball down the court, looking to score…

TreeKillers:  We have degrees in journalism! What are yours in?

A quick drive and finish by the Killers! They draw first blood! It’s 2-0. Now the Dot-Coms bring the ball up the floor.

Dot-Coms:  What are our degrees in anyway? Anybody here actually use your college degree for anything? Wait, Bobby you’re not even in college yet, are you?

Oh! And a turnover by the Dot-Coms! The Killers are pushing it up.

TreeKillers:  Journalism is a hallowed institution with centuries of history behind it. That sacred trust can’t be duplicated by just anyone who pecks at a keyboard.

And that one rattles around and…goes in! 4-0. This could be a rout. The Dot-Coms bring it up.

Dot-Coms:  Experience and history are great, but responsiveness and agility are equally as important. How quickly can your institutions evolve in response to the needs of their constituencies? How much access do your readers have to you? Isn’t our very existence evidence that more is needed?

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Three-pointer for the Dot-Coms! That’ll get them back in a hurry! 4-3 now.

Tree-Killers:  Speaking of agility and speed, who gets the story first folks?

Dot-Coms:  How important is getting the story first nowadays when everything printed is duplicated all over the world within minutes?

Blocked shot for the Dot-Coms!

Dot-Coms:  Let’s face it, we’re on information overload anyway. We don’t need more information faster, we need someone to helps us synthesize, organize, and make sense of that information.

Dot-Coms for two! And they take the lead, 5-4.

Tree Killers:  That synthesis and interpretation sacrifices objectivity. The public needs sources they can trust to be unbiased. YOU sure aren’t.

Two more for the Killers. 5-6 is the score in favor of the mainstream press.

Dot-Coms:  Oh come on. 90% of your information comes from team sources. They’re hardly unbiased. Besides if bias is an issue and blogs are biased, why are so many media folks writing blogs themselves, full of opinions and stories not worthy of becoming official “news”?

The Dot-Coms strike back! 7-6 now, they’re ahead.

Dot-Coms:  Fire the coach! He’s an idiot for making that substitution in the fourth quarter!

TWEET! Technical foul, Dot-Coms.

The Dot-Coms are penalized for an unnecessarily pompous blogger rant. The Killers convert the penalty free-throw. It’s all tied at 7 apiece now.

Dot-Coms:  Hey Joey, why’d you say that? That kind of thing doesn’t reflect well on us. What? Yes I know you have the right to say anything you please, but… what? It’s not just a matter of independence! It’s a matter of responsibility!

The Dot-Coms turn it over again. They’re having trouble getting their acts together.

Tree-Killers:  We have access to the head coach whenever we want.

The Killers pound it low in the paint. 9-7 mainstream media now.

Dot-Coms:  We’re hoping to get credentials soon too.

And a miss. Killers rebound.

Tree-Killers:  We have the GM on speed dial.

Another un-defendable low-post move. The Killers are just throwing their weight around now. 11-7.

Dot-Coms:  Dude, it really sucks that teams don’t recognize us more. We work hard and get no respect.

TWEET! 24-second clock violation, Dot-Coms!

Tree-Killers:  We talk to the star player after every game.

Dot-Coms:  Yes, but what do all of these people tell you? 99% of the quotes you get from the GM or coach or players are so predictable that we could have told them to you ourselves!

OHHH! The Killers go to the well once too often and the ball is poked away. Still 11-7 mainstream press, though, and time is running low. Dot-Coms hustle up the floor!

Tree-Killers:  You have nobody to answer to. We have editors!

The Killers are throwing on the pressure defense. The Dot-Coms have to get a shot up!

Dot-Coms:  We have to answer to our constituency too, in an immediate and intimate fashion. If you put out a couple of bad pieces or make a factual mistake here and there you’re embarrassed but you probably still have a job. If we put out a couple of bad pieces or make factual errors we lose credibility, lose readership, and we‘re done. We have to prove ourselves to our readers, to you, and to the teams we cover every…single…day because one mistake will be judged as the standard not only for our own writing, but for all bloggers.

The three-pointer goes in at the horn, but it’s not enough. 11-10 is the final…wait…what’s this?

Dot-Coms:  What did you say?

Tree-Killers:  We said, “So you’d have to move out of your mother’s basement then?”

AND THERE’S A FOUL! The Dot-Coms can tie it up with a free throw! They go to the line. The tension is mounting. The knees are bent, the ball comes up, and…the Janitor walks on the court???

Janitor:  Hey guys, we need you to clear out. It’s time to start the games that really matter. You know…the ones that people actually care about?

Well folks, I guess we’re going to have to decide this another time. Until then this is Biff Icklestein bidding you a good day and happy reading!

--Dave