Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Garages At Night

Does the name Mark Felt ring a bell to anyone?

Surely someone must recognize the name of one of the most famous characters of the 20th century, no?

His name isn't familiar? Well maybe his pseudonym is: Deep Throat. Does that make it clearer?

Felt was the No. 2 man at the FBI back in 1972, when five men broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee, which were housed in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., near where the Kennedy Center is. The break-in, of course, started a series of events that ultimately led the resignation of President Nixon two years later, marking the only time in American history that a President has resigned the office.

If you believe "All The President's Men," then the only reason that the scandal grew and made its way to the White House was because of the work of Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who pursued the story when no one else thought there was anything there.

Taken a step further, the key person for Woodward and Bernstein was a shadowy, anonymous figure whom Woodward would meet at night in a parking garage. Rather than identify him by name, the two simply called him "Deep Throat," which had a, uh, pop-culture significance at the time.

Deep Throat, played perfectly by Hal Holbrook in the movie, gave the two reporters vital information about all of the highest level officials in Nixon's White House, information that literally brought down "All the President's Men."

For decades after the scandal, Felt chose to remain anonymous, until he was well into his 80s and nearly dead, two years ago.

And that's who Mark Felt was. Political operative, law enforcement official, legendary figure in American history - and precursor to much of the way information about Ivy League sports, and the world in general, is disseminated today.

Sure, through history there have been writers who were anonymous or unknown. "Beowulf," which was written sometime around the ninth century, is widely considered the oldest piece of English-language literature; its author has never been known.

As an aside, TigerBlog considers it unreadable garbage, rather than a beautiful epic.

For the most part, of course, authors of all stripes - books, magazines, poems, newspapers, anything - have always put their name right out there for all the world to see.

Today, though, it's all different.

Sure, most "published" writers are still identifiable, but TigerBlog believes that the amount of information out there that is read by a mainstream audience and is written by someone who hasn't identified his or herself by a name has gone from about, oh, 0.1 percent to about, oh, 50 percent in the last 10 years.

This is hardly news. TigerBlog used to have a real byline in a newspaper. Now he's just TigerBlog, which isn't his actual given name. Multiply that by a few hundred million, and you have what is called the blogosphere.

What are the best ways to get information about Ivy League sports?

Well, of course there are the eight school sites and the league site itself. But much of this falls under the heading of "spin" and lacks an edge that so many readers like.

So where to turn for that? Newspapers? Yes, there is information out there, and Princeton is lucky to have its loyal souls like Bill Alden at Town Topics and Joe O'Gorman at the Trentonian.

And there are some blogs that are devoted to covering Ivy League schools, mostly football, including the Big Green Alert Blog about Dartmouth and the Roar Lions Roar blog for Columbia.

How about the Ivy League sports board? TigerBlog has no way to know the number of hits that site gets, but he'd bet it's a lot.

And that site is filled with people who use names that aren't really names, names like "Foehi" and "Holtsledge" and "Asia Sunset" and "Sprint 66" and Princeton's very own version of Deep Throat - someone who calls himself (or herself) "Reality."

They've become to regular readers highly identifiable for their loyalties, peeves, enemies and everything else. In many ways, their names are to Ivy League sports these days what Harvey Yavener or any number of old-time reporters were back when they were in the prime.

These people - and many more - post comments regularly, with information, commentary, predictions, recruiting updates, anything.

Oh, and you want another way that the world has changed?

Princeton's Steve Cody broke his leg Saturday against Lehigh and will miss the rest of the season. Back in the day, this news would have gotten out through a newspaper.

In 2010? Steve Cody's dad posted it on the Ivy League message board.

That's how the world works these days. Bypass the middle man and go directly to the reader, and everyone can be a writer. Or anyone, since you don't really know if you're sitting next to Asia Sunset at the Penn game.

The amount of information continues to skyrocket, brought to you by a slew of Deep Throats, not in a garage at night but right there on your computer - or your phone.


Anonymous said...

atherMy parents, Mr. and Mrs foehi are upset that you think this isn't my real name.


Mike Cody said...

Just a point of clarification, since I can't tell if you are opposed to, or for the spread of this kind of information in the digital age. I would have to assume you are for it, since you yourself run an internet information site. My son's injury was written about in the Trentonian on Sunday morning, prior to my posting, and the reporter had his facts correct. I don't know where he got those facts, I assume he saw my son's leg wrapped in an air cast as he was being carted off the field and loaded into an ambulance, and simply put two and two together, and called the hospital for his confirmation. All I can say to that is he didn't speak to anyone in my family to get his information. The reason for my listing Steven's status was primarily to say thanks to all those who helped us on that awful afternoon. I would subsequently like to add a million more thanks to the unbelievable staff at McCosh for their kindness and generosity in helping us get through the beginning of the week so we could assess our situation and make the best long term decision for our son. Finally, I used my real name on the posting so that those who were concerned would know that I was for real, and that my sentiments were genuine regarding the care that my son received.

Mike Cody said...

Dear blogger,

I was redirected to your posting from the Ivy League message board on voy.com and I was a left a little confused by your blog about "deep throat". In your article you reference the fact that my son was injured in the Lehigh game on Saturday and that I posted that information on the above referenced message board. It appeared that you were disappointed that I did not contact a newspaper or some other type of media source to reveal this information, but the fact of the matter is that the Trentonian reporter that you reference in your blog had already written an article that was published in Sunday's paper under the headline: Tigers Lose Cody for the Season. Where or how he received that information is beyond me, since he spoke to noone in my family to verify. I can only surmise that he is a pretty intuitive guy and when he saw my son in an air cast being carted off the field to an awaiting ambulance, he put two and two togehter, and figured it was a pretty severe injury. My posting on Monday was for two specific reasons: Firstly, I wanted to express my gratitude to those who helped us get through that horrible afternoon with as little stress and discomfort to my son as possible. (Again, thanks to everyone at St.Luke's and those who assisted Stevie immediately after his injury) Secondly, there were some very, very nice things being said about Steven on the message board and I wanted to let those folks who expressed their concern know where things stood at that moment.
As you are aware, we live in an age where information moves at the speed of a mouse click and I am sorry if you found my posting disagreeable, it was not my intention to upset anyone.
In closing, I would like to add the incredibly gracious and hospitable folks at McCosh to my list of people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for helping us come to grips with Steven's injury, and transition to the next phase of his recovery. You were all just exceptional and it made an awful time for us that much easier to get through.

Princeton OAC said...

Mike -

Quite the contrary. I was commenting on your post to show how the world has changed. No offense to my many newspaper friends (and to my own background in the business), but to me it's clearly a change for the better. The quantity of information available has skyrocketed in the last few years. I think your handling of the situation on the Ivy League message board is a clear indication of where the world of media is at now - and a very classy thing to do as well.

Also, everyone at Princeton feels terribly about seeing Steven get hurt. He's a tremendous football player and a great respresentative of this University.

- TigerBlog