Mark NessmithThis Week at WorldGolf.com: Nov. 16, 2005

Golf bloggers blow it with "coverage"
of the PGA Tour/Golf Digest marriage

Prompted by a gentle nudge from a wise-beyond-his-years managing editor, our Tim McDonald this week used his Inside Media column to take a critical look at the recent love pact signed between the PGA Tour and the Golf Digest family of publications.

I remember seeing that press release and forwarding it to Tim with a note about how it might make an interesting topic. Finally, his turn came up in the column rotation and Tim filed his piece right on time, more or less. As usual, he did a fine job of gauging the state of the media that covers our game. McDonald never hesitates to call a spade a spade, so I pretty much knew what to expect.

"We know what the corporate partners, the PGA Tour and the magazine ... get out of this new marketing agreement," he writes. But "what do we readers get out of it? Well, I can tell you what we probably will not get out of it: any negative coverage of the PGA Tour, and maybe not even the whole story. That isn't what partners do."

After reading Tim's column, with its standard McDonald jabs at the right (namely Fox News and Rupert Murdoch), I got to thinking about the blogosphere. You remember bloggers, right? They're the self-styled people's journalists who serve as watchdogs picking up the slack from the fat, bloated MSM (that's blogger-ese for "Main Stream Media") too out of touch to report a "real" story if it jumped up and bit 'em in the rear. Well, I wondered what the bloggers of the golf world had to say about golf's biggest media group going on the payroll of an organization it ostensibly "covers." So, I hit the bricks, so to speak, reading through the numerous golf blogs bookmarked on my laptop, and searching via technorati.com and google's blog search.

A few reported the deal when it went down, some even dutifully posting the press release. But none - not one - thought to expound on the ramifications of such a cozy "partnership." Not engolfed, not Brent Kelley, not Geoff Shackelford (go figure, since Shack is a contributor to Golf Digest among others), not Golf Fore Golfers, not Going For The Green (go figure, since Robert Thompson is a contributor to PGATour.com and a course rater for Golf Digest), not Just-For-Golf ... and none of the TravelGolf.com bloggers either. I couldn't find anyone who thought to stick up his or her hand and ask: Hey, aren't journalists supposed to offer critical coverage of what's going on, not just sanitized pap that their "partner" has vetted!? Not even the Rebel Blogger could be roused from his (welcome) silence of late to take on the Big Boys.

To tell you the truth, the Golf Digest/PGA Tour deal didn't surprise me one bit. Knowing that a major media outlet is publicly on the payroll to shill for its benefactor kind of seems like par for the course these days, sad as that reality is. Still, I figured bloggers, those can't-be-bought-at-any-price chroniclers of what's going on, would at least see through the fog on this one.

Perhaps in "Blog," his somewhat simplistic account of the blogosphere, author Hugh Hewitt just overstated the influence and vigilance of bloggers based on a few notorious cases of taking on the MSM or some other foe and winning. Or perhaps golf bloggers are just dim.

As always, WorldGolf.com welcomes your comments.

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