Jay Cutler, blogs, the mainstream, and accountabilty; MileHighReport's battle for credibility

As the attention of the NFL world focuses on Dana Point, CA and the NFL Owner's Meetings, the spotlight will likely return to a story that has had a welcome break of late - the Jay Cutler saga.  The last real piece of news to come from this ordeal was way back on Wednesday, and even that was simply a series of quotes from Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen and Cutler's now vilified agent Bus Cook.  Of course, the Legend himself spoke about the situation last Friday, saying the entire mess was 'unfortunate'.  Even ten years later, when John Elway talks, Broncos fans listen.

The enlightening thing for me during the whole process is how important the site has become in the Broncos news cycle and the type of impact it can have.  Even going back to the Mike Shanahan firing, when I was asked to be part of two separate newscasts, MHR has been getting the love from traditional media when it comes to the pulse of Broncos Country.

Credibility for any website, especially a fan-site, is crucial.  It is also one of the first comebacks I get from traditional media folks when I talk with them about the site or what I am trying to accomplish.  'Accountability' is another word I hear a lot.  A traditional media outlet has to be accountable, where somehow, someway, we here at MHR do not. 

Both of those principles are the premise for which MileHighReport was founded and I take them seriously.  If this site were not credible, or accountable for what it reports why would you come?  It is what makes us truly different from a traditional Message Board where rumor mongering is part of the deal.  Sure, there is editorial freedom, much of which would have to make these guys that spend their days being told what to write, when to write it, with hard deadlines, jealous.

I get asked all the time why I think places like MHR, and other sites like it, are thriving while newspapers like the Rocky Mountain News have shuttered, or struggle to survive.  Perhaps one needs to look no further than the principles that this site allegedly needs not to focus on - Accountability and Credibility.

A grand example of that has been the past ten days or so.

On Wednesday, March 11th, I took to the "web-waves" on MHR Radio with a theory.  Styg and I had discussed the possibility that Jay Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, could be behind this whole thing, and Styg provided all the research to support such a theory.  Don't believe me?  Feel free to subscribe to the podcast.  While the show was going on, Styg put his research 'on paper' in a way only he can, and as planned posted the piece the minute the show ended.  You can read the now legendary piece, and notice the post time - 10:00 PM est - right when MHR Radio ended.

Within days the piece was being circulated throughout the web-sphere.  Now, I want to assure you I do not permeate MHR content on other websites.  If someone links it in the comments of the Denver Post, or ProFootballTalk, etc. it is done because fans of the site do it on their own.  In this case, the article was also sent to Sandy Clough and Jim Armstrong who host a show on 104.3 The Fan in Denver.

They discussed the piece on their show Friday, March 13.  It was scoffed at, with comments about bloggers and our credibility being brought up.  Upon hearing this, I contacted Sandy with my thoughts.  In his reply, he mentioned the A word I talked about before - Accountability - for being a main difference between myself and "them".  I always find it fascinating when Radio hosts talk about accountability.  While there are certain things they can't say or do, their job is essentially to give their opinion, much like I do here.  Oh well, the stigma of blogging.

It was soon after that the firestorm of 'Anti-Bus Cook' sentiment started hitting the web, now from "credible and accountable' sources.  Some links, with dates are below --

March 11th -- MileHighReport discusses Cook's past and how similar it is to the Cutler situation

March 12th -- AOL's Fanhouse runs a story that is very, very similar. Decide for yourself.

March 15th -- Tom Curran, who blogs about the NFL for NBC Sports, runs a piece about the topic.  Tom is nice enough to link to MHR's story, further showing that it was the first to discuss the possibility.

March 16th -- Local media finally picks up on it, with Woody Paige (here) and Lindsay Jones (here) posting stories.    RotoWorld talks about the Cook angle, though like Tom Curran above, Gregg Rosenthal is nice enough to link back to the source.  The Nashville Scene talks about it as well.

March 17th -- SI.com joins in on the fun, with Don Banks' thoughts.

March 18th -- The New York Post shares its feelings about Cook as well.

March 20th -- FoxSports gets in on the act.

March 22nd -- Mark Kiszla also gets in on it, talking about Cook yesterday in his column.

March 23rd -- Even today, USA Today has a blog entry about Cook's divisive past.

There have been countless other blog entries, all dated after March 11th.  You tell me if I am stretching for conclusions.

What does it all mean?  Eleven articles, since MHR ran its piece, talking about the Cook angle, the same angle that was 'laughed' at by members of the 'traditional media' as being conjecture of 'bloggers'.  That conjecture has now become the popular sentiment among most fans and media members alike.

The point of all this is not to point out the shortcomings of some in the traditional media, or create an idea that MHR is 'better' in any way.  I leave that to you guys and gals.  What I am showing is that while traditional media tries to undermine sites like MHR and others, they do much of the same thing.  Sorry guys, locker-room access does not mean you work any harder, or are any more credible and accountable than this site is.

Perhaps if these guys, especially those at the Denver Post, had done some research they could have talked about this angle long before we did, thus proving their worth and avoiding the divisive approach they used by forcing fans to take sides in the matter.  Think back to the early stages of this controversy -- everyday an article laying blame, either with Cutler or McDaniels.  Sometimes the story is deeper than that and it is their job to find it.  In this case, they didn't - we did.

We aren't looking for a pat on the back, or any type of publicity.  I just want you to be aware, the next time you hear the debate between 'blogs' and 'traditional media', that the line between them is fading fast. 


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