07 December 2007

Goofy Karppa; Waxing philosophical on blogging

Thanks to Jeff McRae for this pic of Kari, wearing a practice jersey he'd already autographed. Who was the lucky recipient of the practice-worn sweater? Was it you? Send me a pic of you in it, I'll post it!

On blogging and credentials

There is a whole debate going on right now in the blogging community. Chances are pretty good you've read about it, or if you blog yourself, you've probably made your own post. I can't let it lie because damn it, I love to poke the bear!

The Thrashers announced yesterday (I guess?) that they will not give press credentials to the myriad of bloggers who write about the team. A move counter to what the Washington Capitals do, their bloggers being given mostly full access to the team. This has cause what, to me, appears to be a shitstorm in the blogging community that frankly leaves me baffled.

Let me put it into perspective, at least how I see it.

I work part time for a band in my life away from hockey, doing promotion. I've worked for bands for a long time. If there is one thing a band needs to succeed, it's fans. In a way, hockey is the same. Without the fans, the game suffers, the team suffers, and ultimately, is moved to a location with a better fan base. However, bands don't have corporate sponsors. Bands don't have advertisers. Bands don't sell space on their guitars or drums or monitors to whatever beer or insurance company wants their logo seen. They're not getting that revenue in, but hockey teams are. Mostly, bands have to rely on word of mouth, press, and their music to draw in fans. Yet despite that, it is extremely uncommon for someone who put up a fan site (which really, is all a blog is) to be granted an all access pass. Does it happen? Sure, in extreme and unusual circumstances. But not all the time, else everyone would be doing it (think about it. Love Luda? Put up a blog about him and get full access to him and his life! Awesome!). So, if bands, who rely almost wholly on their fans for their success, won't do it - why the hell would a hockey team?

Bloggers have no accountability, and I for one like it that way. I can say whatever the fuck I want on this blog, and no one can call me on it. I talk all the shit I want on here and no one can tell me what I can and can't say. Would I say the same things to the players that I wrote about them? Abso-fucking-lutely. And have, in a lot of cases. I've done websites for NHL players before, ones they approved of and contributed to, but were not "official," because once you put that word on a website, you become an employee of the player - just as you would be an employee of the team if they handed you press credentials, and you would have to toe the company line. That takes a lot of fun out of blogging, IMO. But I also like to see the amusing aspects of the game, as does Triz, and we sure as hell don't take ourselves seriously. Maybe some bloggers do, maybe they take themselves too seriously.

To think that your ability to read the news, watch games, and throw together a quasi-insightful daily column contributes enough to the organisation to qualify you for a press pass is beyond imaginable. You're essentially writing a journal. A hockey-based journal, about a team you love. The people reading it? Also lovers of the team. You're not bringing asses into the seats. You're not recruiting new fans. You're not really doing anything but spreading news that's already been published, even if it is with your own perspicacity, so to think you've a right or entitlement to anything above and beyond what the team already gives us (hello? Open free practices? You think they do that in Canada? Or even in the Northern states in the US? Oh hells no! We have more access to the players here down South than probably anywhere else in the NHL.), you're outcha damned mind.

You want to interview a player? Hit him up at practice. You want exclusive photos? Practice. Post game. Pre game. Hell, my aunt runs into Kari at least once a week just doing errands around town. And the guys are nice enough to stop and give you a few minutes of their time.

Honestly, to want, to expect press credentials, to feel slighted by a lack of them, is nothing more than incredibly greedy. Write about the team you love if you want - but don't expect extreme gratitude in return, no matter how much sugar you talk about them. I blow sunshine up Kari's ass pretty much every day on this blog. Do I expect anything because of it? Well, you know, aside from that restraining order that should be coming in aaaany day now... hahahaha. Ahem. But no. Just knowing other people out there take time out of their day to read these words I throw together and have the moxie to post - that's all the reward I need.

So in summation, if you feel what you write and do with your blog is so amazing that you honestly deserve press credentials... start covering the Caps. Because those boys need all the help they can get. Be thankful for your readers, and your commenters, especially those of you who have more than 3 commenters (hi Triz, Sandi and Knotwurth!), and enjoy what you're doing without a sense of entitlement. If you really wanted a press pass, you should've been a communications major. But, you know, hey drop me a line. I also work for a magazine. We're always hiring!


ScottyWazz said...

The reason the Caps do it is because of lack of care in the local papers, but the enormous amount of care by the owner. Especially since Teddy Ballgame has his hand in AOL, he's all up ons new media.

Speaking as part of the NHL credentialed press, I can say that it's always a fine line when dealing with the NHL or teams when you're a dot com or blog or in my case-- podcast. Especially at first, it's hard to build up a report with the teams or league. However, once you show you're not going to be an ass, then they trust you and give you more access.

The main concern is that bloggers are going to show in the press booth with their sweatpants and team jersey and start being like they were in the stands. Especially in a place like the ATL, where they are still unsure about what their fans are really like.

I think once more and more teams realize that some bloggers can be professional and hold themselves in a manner that won't embarrass the team; then they'll be more willing to give out press passes. Yet, with the unknown-- blogger by blogger-- the teams will be very gunshy about giving out creds to bloggers.

Maal said...

Wazzy, I'm not saying bloggers should never have press passes. More power to the ones who are granted them. I am just saying it shouldn't be an expectation. And to be indignant when it's not granted, even if you write the bestest blog evar, it's just ricockulous. It's just a blog, it's not a legitimate source of information widely distributed. True, it can be a showcase for one's writing, and perhaps it could lead to something more official, but that's the exception, not the rule. I don't know, I do it for fun so maybe I'm looking at the wrong side of the coin?

nebcanuck said...

Two problems:

The first is that the Caps don't just allow any blogger to walk in. They check out the site and screen the blogger first, if I'm not mistaken. So, they make sure the blogger has ac0countability and is liable to follow their rules. Not for everyone, but if you want to make money blogging, why not work at it like the new journalism? Why should the Internet be thought of as a second-rate medium? Because there are more amateurs? Sure, but the professional people on it should be given the freedom to make a living at it!

Second, the whole generation of upcoming writers is focusing on blogging right now, as far as I can tell. To ignore their numbers is potentially to ignore the future of hockey media. That's not to say that they should hand it out to anyone, but embracing the e-generation isn't a negative, by me.

Does that mean all-access passes to anyone who wants it? Of course not. But it means trying to find the best bloggers to work for you, in order to drum up the business!