TMZ Sports will affect all levels of sports blogosphere

Anyone can question the journalistic ethics and subject matter of TMZ. They can do so quite easily. However, it's almost imposible to argue that TMZ hasn't done an exceptional job of thorougly covering the stories they do, almost to a fault. TMZ hustles in every sense of the word. And I don't mean that as a cliche, they bust their ass to get stories and at times beat out other outlets by digging into the deep pockets of Time Warner to pay sources more for images and information. That's a hustle.

I've seen a few posts arguing the impact this new venture by TMZ—a site operating the same as its gossip blog parent, but focused on sports—with some claiming it'll make a dent in ESPN's monopoly on sports coverage while others think it will have next to no impact at all. Dan Shanoff and Brooks Melchior fall on either side of this.

I agree with Brooks, this is big because of its impact on the sports blogosphere.

The sports media monopoly created by ESPN hath wrought a perfect storm for TMZSports.com to not only succeed, but to turn the industry upside down. Because not only will TMZSports.com itself quickly break into the mainstream, but its prominence will cause previously myopotic sports media consumers to suddenly consider a sports blogosphere that has been, to this point, largely ignored on an astonishing scale.

He goes on to state that the new publication could be an "industry game changer that could somewhat destabilize ESPN’s complete dominance over the field." Important, but let's look at the impact it'll have on the sports blogosphere.

As soon as this story broke, every avid sports blog reader looked to Deadspin, which despite some drop-off in quality content still remains as the de facto top blog covering all of sports. They had a very interesting post in response. Here are parts of it.

Does this mean that every single person on the planet with a raunchy photo of athletes drinking or sliming over women will now run over to TMZ first because they'll offer some payment for these types of photos? Yikes. That would suck. But remember — we pay, too. Probably on a less frequent basis than they do, but should the right thing come along that I feel Deadspin could benefit from, I'll gladly pay for it. It's only happened once before, but if I have to start being more aggressive about using this burlap sack of scuzz money I have sitting on my desk, then so be it. [...]

So here's the deal spelled out for you again, vermin: Yes, I'll pay for things. Sometimes. If it's a good enough story that will help keep the lights on at this organization so that Craggs, Dash, Drew, Leitch, Barry and other writers can do more less sleaze-covered stories that are the true heart of this website, I'll do it in a second.

Keep that in mind if and when this "TMZ Sports" launches. I'm easy to talk to and promise to not make you feel so bad about yourself should you decide to peddle your sports-related gossip...

Reading this post—which includes a chat transcript conveying a similar message—has me and everyone else I've asked believing this announcement has Daulerio & Co. on their heels. They've run scandalous photos numerous times in the past but only once have they had to pay for said photos. Now they're coming out and saying they will pay for content. There's no other option. Before the site is even live, TMZ Sports is already influencing the behavior of the top sports blog on the web.

If this is any indication, there's obviously going to be some movement at the top of the sports blogosphere. It's almost impossible to argue that TMZ Sports will become the 'best' sports blog due to its likely lack of any level of insight and commentary on the events taking place within the field of play. However, is it possible that TMZ Sports becomes the most popular (widely read, cited in mainstream media, breaking news via original reporting) blog on the web that covers sports in some way? Certainly. Now, how does that trickle down to the rest of the sports blogosphere?

If you're a smalltime blogger, maybe a SMU student trying make a name for his Wordpress blog on the Mustangs, how do you go about that? You see TMZ Sports has essentially taken over by reporting on scandal and sullying the names of prominent athletes; it's inevitable that you'll wonder if you can do the same within your own niche.

I won't go as far as to say that all sports blogs will adopt the questionable tactics of TMZ but we've seen how popular emulation is in the sports blogosphere. On my own University of Montana sports blog, I attempted to emulate the styles and strategies of Will Leitch (Deadspin), Drew Magary (Kissing Suzy Kolber) and 'Ken Tremendous' (Fire Joe Morgan) while watching others do the same. Developing a writing style has always been about taking elements of the work you read and combining them like ingredients. Now, TMZ Sports could be one of those ingredients.