Dan Steinberg
Courtesy Washington Post

Dan Steinberg is blogging about the 2006 Winter Games for the WashingtonPost.com. Steinberg described the blog, Tales From Turin, as “a blog about cheese, the New Zealand curling team, ketchup-flavored salty snacks and possibly biathlon. And if that seems odd to you, imagine what my editors must be thinking.” Steinberg joined the Washington Post in 2001 recording high school football box scores over the phone. Since then, he has written about high school basketball scandals, NASCAR, marathons and ACC football, and he has blogged for the Post from the ACC basketball tournament, the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day, and the Booz Allen PGA tournament.

Liz Cox Barrett: Bloggers who scored press passes to the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2004 were treated as objects of curiosity, put on display in “Blogger Alley” and were interviewed incessantly by print and broadcast media. How have you been received in Turin by your print and broadcast peers, by the Olympic officials, by athletes, by locals — in terms of access, respect, and so on?

Dan Steinberg: Honestly, this isn’t going to be juicy for you, but I think no one really knows [that I’m blogging]. I’ve tried to explain to people that I’m writing for the Web site. I don’t even use the word blog because … a lot of European people I’ve talked to have no idea what a blog is. I don’t say I’m blogging, I tell people I’m writing exclusively for the Internet and they understand “Washingtonpost.com.”

I’m not sure everyone understands what I’m doing. If they did understand maybe there wouldn’t be any respect. I just have a press pass that says, “Dan Steinberg, Washington Post” and I think the Washington Post gets me respect regardless of what it is exactly that I’m doing.

LCB: Well, you’ve been embraced by the cool kids in the blogosphere. Gawker linked to your blog, saying that reading it is “like watching a monkey throw feces at the head zookeeper,” and noting your “insanity.” Deadspin called yours a “ridiculous Olympic blog … which is so consistently entertaining and bizarre that we think it might be making us insane.” Is this the tone you were going for — insane/bizarre?

DS: I guess I sort of recognize that now but no, not exactly. I didn’t really have a tone in mind when I came here at all. I’ve done this [blogging] a couple of times before for the Post for different sporting events and I would say it’s always a similar tone. I’ve never blogged this long, always just one or two days at a time. I was always trying to be a little bit smart-alecky while at the same time telling people something that they might not already know about the sporting event. I wasn’t trying to throw feces at anyone. I guess that’s fine if that’s how it turned out. I don’t even know what that means — I mean, do you think I’m throwing feces?

LCB: I don’t know what it means, either, but they say no publicity is bad publicity. You got linked.

DS: Definitely. I have no complaints about that. I just wasn’t sure exactly what “throwing feces” meant.

LCB: What have you learned about your profession and/or your colleagues during your time in Turin — perhaps something that surprised you or shocked you, even? And, what is the scariest thing you’ve seen in the Media Center?

DS: It’s a lot less formal here after events. At American events, they put [press] at tables and everyone sits around and asks questions, and here it’s a lot more grabbing at people. This feels less like a sports event than most of the things I’ve covered. Half of the time I’m running around the streets doing things. I think I’ve been to three sporting events so far in eight days or something like that.

I’m so glad I’m doing what I’m doing. The [print reporters] will cover an event that goes on in the morning over here and maybe their story gets on the Web that night. For me, it’s kind of instant gratification. I wouldn’t really want to trade with my colleagues.

LCB: Seen anything scary in Media Center?

DS: Scary?

LCB: Or, how would you describe the vibe in the Media Center?

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.