We need to talk about “pretend” media. And “real” media. 

Scroll Pittsburgh sports Twitter, and you’ll see the arguments. Bloggers and green, unproven podcasters challenging established radio hosts and reporters. Established radio hosts and reporters firing back. 

You’ll even find those established radio hosts and reporters beefing with one another. Somewhere along the way, the war turned civil.

Funny how that works. 

It’s hilarious and entertaining, no doubt. It’s popular and viral and tough to miss right now. It’s fractured some relationships and it’s built others, but really it’s just … kinda sad. 

The “pretend” media, as it’s dubbed, is made up of blogs, podcasts, fan sites, etc. These are not fully credentialed outlets. Mostly, the “pretend” media features superfans with a voice (some of them incredibly knowledgeable, talented, and engaging, mind you). 

Now, “real” media is exactly what you think: mostly crusty old white dudes click-clacking away and filing the day’s story, all in the name of their noble beat. 

Oh, the honor in that. 

Truth is, journalism — done the “real” way — allows you to hide. It even encourages it. 

By focusing your time and energy exclusively upon your team, its players, its coaches, its matchups, and the storylines within, you can escape reality. 

You jump in the excavation site then dig deeper, carving and carving in search of that hot narrative to elevate you and your site. To your left echoes the sound of your rival’s shovel. To your right, another competitor jams his spade into the earth. They can’t beat you. So you dig faster, you find that coveted story, you publish it, then you … keep digging.

You don’t come up for air. You don’t check in with the home base. 

You just assume there must be something even better in that hole if you just. keep. digging. 

So you click-clack some more. You skip family events and you tell your friends you can’t meet them for a drink. 

Getting married? Sorry, dude. Pirates vs. some other team, meaningless September game. Gotta be there. 

You might even nearly miss your kid’s ballet recital and then tell everyone about it. You let them know because you’re proud to be immersed. You are hardcore to the bone. This work, above all else, defines you, and you’re setting the example, dammit. You boast about this because, well, what else would you brag about? This is it. 

Bad husband, bad son, bad friend. But, hey, that lede on my latest story was cash, wasn’t it? 

It’s disgusting. 

That’s the truth of “real” media as I’ve seen it, across sports and at various outlets. It’s easier to do this when you have an excuse —  “Oh, my job demands it” — and the more you use these crutches, the faster you can walk with them. 

So when I see this current feud on Twitter, I don’t know if I want to chuckle, if I want to punch something, or if I want to cry. 

It’s all so ridiculous. 

That’s the real media that awaits in Pittsburgh. These are the heights you too can achieve (after you’ve deposited your daily serving of stress and agony, of course). 

Good luck. I’ll be over here, propping up my cardboard castle and playing pretend a while longer. 

It just feels a bit more real to me.