If you travel in the same blogging circles I do, then you've undoubtedly heard about what ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd and his denial of service minions have done to TheBigLead.com. According to TBL and other reports, this was an unprovoked attack. Now Cowherd can add cyber-terrorism to his list of offenses against blogs - prior to this, it was limited to stealing their content. Of course, Cowherd is far from alone at ESPN or among radio hosts when it comes to using blog content without attribution (fortunately some at the WWL are willing to give credit where credit is due) so let's not focus our attention there.
This story is concerning on a bunch of levels. First, it is clear that Cowherd has no respect for the blogging community. From the brief amount of time I've spent listening to him, I suspect he doesn't respect much. This is a guy that does a solo radio show and is perfectly comfortable with 15 minute monologues that amount to little more than verbal masturbation. In the instances where he does take phone calls from listeners, he routinely listens to one comment and the disconnects the caller while he berates them or their opinion or, usually, both.
The second thing is even though I'm not convinced that ESPN - Cowherd's bosses - truly "get" what blogging is all about, they are clearly trying to get on the band wagon with their Insider Weblog Roster. At the very least, shouldn't some big cheese be explaining this to Cowherd that blatantly disrespecting an entire community has repercussions on the ESPN bottom line (the dollars and cents, not the scoreboard)?
Lastly, and most important in my mind, this is just more proof that ESPN is not an organization of journalists but rather an entertainment company. This kind of activity would not be tolerated by a true news organization. And while you can argue that it shouldn't be tolerated by any kind of organization, this is getting Cowherd and ESPN attention. Don't they say that there is no such thing as bad publicity?
As The Big Lead has pointed out in the last few days, the sports information landscape is changing. The change began when people who loved sports began writing about it online and built their own audience. And the change is continuing as athletes like Gilbert Arenas and Curt Schilling use blogs to communicate directly to the public. The reality is that traditional media is losing control of the content. There will always be a place for ESPN, Cowherd, and others in their line of work but their stranglehold on the distribution channels of information and opinion is a thing of the past.
Ultimately Cowherd has a choice: He can recognize the change, embrace it, and find the angle where he can thrive or he can pretend it doesn't exist, insult it, and steal from it while it swallows him up and spits him out.
I never had a ton of respect for Colin Cowherd but now, he is nothing more than a vandal. If ESPN is really the reputable company it purports itself to be, they can not tolerate this kind of behavior from people in their employ.
See you in hell Schrutebag.