There is much ado about a recent blog entry in the Yahoo Sports Puck Daddy blog written by the blog’s major domo himself, Greg Wyshynski titled “NHL Teams Want Bloggers Banned From Visitors’ Locker Rooms”.
I don’t really have to tell anyone what the entry is about, of course. The title speaks for itself.
As someone who has been on both sides of the credential equation (albeit on the PR side at a time when most people were first learning about what the internet was, let alone blogging), I find it stupid that at this point in time, the question as to whether bloggers should be credentialed media still even exists.
The answer is a resounding YES! Of course, bloggers should be credentialed. There is an enormous caveat to that rule, of course, which I will talk about later. But the bottom line in all of this is that blogs have become an intricate part of the media game in the 21st century. It is that simple, and any organization that is ignoring that fact is being beyond short-sighted. Simply put, they being ignorant.
It pains me to say it, but the realization that the newspaper industry is dying a slow death is being ignored by those who choose to look at the media as simply print, TV and radio. More and more, the emphasis by print media outlets is being placed on their online business. It is not a coincidence that most beat writers and columnists at newspapers contribute more via blog than through print editions. But these writers are only a part of the internet community and, in some cases, are overshadowed by bloggers with just as much, if not more, access to players, coaches and other important sources.
I point everyone in the direction of islanderspointblank.com, run by former Islanders PR honcho Chris Botta. Chris spent twenty years in the Islander organization and, on his departure from the team, started what might be the most in depth team blog on any sport on the internet. While the team sponsored the blog at its outset, it is no longer involved, and Chris now splits his time between this blog and his time with AOL Fan House. However, when it comes to getting news about the Islanders, that is the place any Islander fan goes. Not to Newsday, with its $1 cover price and paid subscription-only internet access (no offense to my many friends at Newsday, but I’m not paying anything to read stories that I can get elsewhere for free). Of course, Chris, while at the Islanders, was also at the forefront of credentialing bloggers, as the organization created the ground breaking “Blog Box”, allowing bloggers a certain level of access not found elsewhere at the time.
That blog is just one example of how a blog, when done right, is more than worthy of placement on the same level of the traditional media outlets. And there are dozens and dozens of examples out there that are just as good. Most don’t break stories, but all are written by people that work just as hard and care a million times more than the writers assigned by some newspapers.
In the blog entry, Wyshynski names two franchises that are at the forefront of the campaign against bloggers. On the surface, it would seem surprising that the two organizations named, the New York Rangers and the Edmonton Oilers, are as disparate as they are. But take a closer look for a minute and it makes sense. The Rangers epitomize franchises that carry an elitist attitude. Every newspaper in the New York metropolitan area assigns a beat writer to them, unlike the Islanders and Devils, which are each largely ignored by at least one area paper. To them, covering the team is a privilege that has to be earned. It doesn’t matter that there are sterling blogs out there like Blueshirt Banter that post more creative articles more often than the papers. As for the Oilers, they are the only game in town, which will cause an organization to believe it can afford to pick and choose who covers them, since said coverage will have no impact on ticket sales or fan adoration. Again, it is a short-sighted notion to think that way, but with no competition, it is a mindset that may never be broken.
NHL teams have enough issues with coverage these days, from minimal attention on ESPN to unending fan apathy that exists among many casual sports fans. With more and more fans getting their news through electronic means, and with blogs becoming more and more viable as news gathering sources, it is time for the sport to be the lead dog in this race, and open their eyes to the real future of journalism. Does that mean credentialing EVERY blog? Of course not. As long as anyone with a computer can write a blog, there will need to be a thorough screening process, to make sure that those being given access truly deserve it. But it is also very easy to weed out the majority of those that need to be excluded simply by reading each blog. And once a team actually opens its eyes to these blogs, they will discover a world of passionate, articulate journalists (notice I didn’t write fans) that are more than worthy of full access, and more worthy than some who already receive that treatment.
Oh yeah, did anyone notice that all of this hubbub is all over a blog entry?