It’s taken me a while to compose myself enough to compose this post, so shaken was I by the news.
A splendid sports blog called We Are The Postmen has shuttered its doors after two and a half years. This is somewhat relevant — not that we’ve ever really made that a requisite here at the Scoop — because the two people responsible for the site are Indiana alums who happened to work the basketball beat for the IDS during the 2006-07 season, my first year here.
I am fond of them. As far as I can tell, no one has given them a proper sendoff. So I’ll try.
Eammon and Ryan seemed, at first blush, to be nothing but eager young journalists trying, like the rest of us, to avoid pissing Kelvin Sampson off by daring to try to ask a question someone would actually care to know the answer to. Much better to ask Sampson about how he had instilled previously unseen toughness in his team, or how carefully he was following every phone call rule ever laid down by the NCAA. Back in 2006, those topics made him positively gleeful.
Eventually, I was alerted to the fact that Eamonn and Ryan were actually PostmanE and Postman R in disguise, and I began reading their blog faithfully.
About this time, Doug and I were in our beginning days as bloggers. I was fresh off the plane from New York City. Doug was newly promoted to sports editor. We were intent on bringing the H-T into the year 2006 and we’d heard that blogging was the way to do this. Knowing about as much about blogging as we did creating universe-engulfing black holes, we set off.
How far we’ve come, I’m not sure. I know we have more readers than we did then, and more people who like to disagree with us. This is considered a good thing in blog world.Â But any progress I’ve made as a blogger â€” through 1,000 posts â€” must be attributed to the Postmen and what I learned by reading them.
At first, I was like many from the mainstream media and bought into the negative stereotypes. I was almost as angry as Buzz Bissinger, only with a smaller forum and considerably less spittle.
Eamonn and Ryan corrupted my image of bloggers immediately, though, because as soon as I saw them I knew 1) their mothers had probably disowned them years ago and 2) neither owned a clean pair of underwear. Therefore, they could not possibly be blogging from their mother’s basements while wearing nothing but tighty whities.
Truly, this was a revelation
I soon learned that what blogging was, really, was writing. Thoughtful writing. Spunky writing. Witty writing. Goofy writing. Sometimes the Postmen were irreverent. Sometimes they offered a take on the most important issues we face today.
In that blog — that dirty, uncouth little thing that, gasp!, didn’t have a line of copy editors looking after it — I saw many of the things that made me fall in love, lo those many years ago, with newspapers. Sure, it was raw. But newspapers have been choked into being the opposite, into being too planned and staid and predictable and down-the-middle. Bloggers, or at least the very best ones such as Eamonn and Ryan, brought a bit of the fun back to writing while never — or at least rarely — crossing the lines they’re accused of crossing.
They did something else, too, that has changed the media for the better: they exploded the myth of the newspaper as magical deliverer of all things worth reading. Once upon a time, newspapers competed with other newspapers. That made them better. They innovated and they took risks. But then the money started running out, and each town started having just one newspaper, and it started getting incredibly lazy. Somehow the whole thing evolved into a situation where there was a newspaper building in each town and from that place emanated the truth and if you wanted to write for this publication you should beg and be happy to cover a school board meeting.
Blogs returned some of the entrepreneurship to writing. No longer did you have to hope that your distant uncle knew the publisher from their days back in Sigma Nu so that you could maybe get a break. All you had to do was trick your college buddy into blogging. Then, all you had to do was write. And if you were worth reading, the people would find you. Readers had their options and they made their choices; democracy was forced upon a group of people — the MSM — that had been content to believe they were standing under a spotlight on a stage instead of fighting, as they should have been, to be the person who can make the most sense and be the most entertaining and therefore the most listened-to in a crowded room. Suddenly the big bad media began having to compete again. And we are better for it.
But I’ll miss them as the Postmen.
(Yes, I wrote this because someday I will probably have to beg one of them to hire me.)