My Citizen Journalism Experience
Launched in February of 2008, Bleacherreport.com is an open source network in which anyone with an opinion on sports can cast their thoughts to the world. The platform that the website provides has led to a community that is all inclusive, one which thrives because of its plurality of voices and variety of opinions. You must be a member of the website to leave comments on articles and interact with other writers. However, each article that is published and edited is accessible to the public.
When they say anyone can write or join, they mean it. There are no qualifications or age restrictions. A thirteen year old can share his opinion just like I can.
I began writing for the website in May of 2008. Initially I approached the website timidly. After all, I was going to school to earn my right to write, while this website unrepentantly blurs the line between journalist and blogger. But somehow, some way, it’s become a notable display of controlled anarchy (well in writing terms).
My failure to see the positives that stem from such an open network derive from being so used to heading to ESPN for my sports fix. However, my mind frame since joining the website has changed, as I’ve become a witness on more than one occasion that sports simply transcend in so many ways.
A prime example of this is my favorite basketball writer on the website.
He’s just seventeen years old, and calls Australia home.
I didn’t know there were NBA fans in Australia. Ignorance is sometimes very innocent. Nevertheless, his understanding of the game, along with his strong writing skills make him very worthy of a platform. I encourage him all the time, leaving comments on his articles telling him I appreciate his writing. He makes sure to follow it up with a “thanks mate!” which itself makes it all worthwhile. Even though we are separated by hemispheres and multiple time zones, we become connected through sports and media.
Every writer on the website has a profile, which features a personal bio., Twitter like feature, as people can follow your work by becoming fans. I have been able to garner a few fans myself. It’s always encouraging to receive positive feedback, but it is interesting to see the backgrounds of the people who are reading your work. One of my fans is a retired grandmother who graduated high school in 1968 and has written over 300 articles for the website, many analyzing Mixed Martial Arts. Another is a young man who is from Marikina City in the Philippines. He writes as well as edits articles on the website.
As a young writer, I didn’t really have any experience with online journalism primarily because there were not too many outlets for me. Although I was aware that anyone could log onto blogger or wordpress and type their fingers away, I wanted to be a part of something bigger than just me. I wanted my writing to reach others and interact with people.. I wanted people to validate my writing when it was good or criticize it when it was bad. Most of all, I wanted to share these ideas and opinions that I had about the professional sports world that I had kept hostage for quite some time. To be a part of a global community of talented sports writers has and will continue to be a great experience.