06 June 2007
DLS: There seems to be a growing debate among traditional newspaper journalists and up-and-coming sports bloggers about who should have access to the press boxes of major league teams. Teams like the Capitals have already granted access to several blogs. Teams like Ottawa have rejected them wholesale. Do you think some bloggers have a place alongside beat reporters when it comes to covering sporting events? Or do you believe bloggers should be excluded from press boxes and locker rooms?
AD: That's another tough question, and one that was actually talked about quite a bit at the Stanley Cup Finals among all the "mainstream" media. I think I'm on the side of anybody getting a credential who diligently "covers" a sport, and that means someone who travels to different cities to do it. That creates a problem perhaps to many bloggers, but to me, if you're going to get a real credential in the press box to a real big-league event, you've got to put in the hours, the time and the money getting the job done - not just sitting in your underwear and delivering sermons from the mount. To me, there are starting to become too many self-proclaimed "experts" in this business who like to think of themselves as serious journalists who deserve credentials to all the big events, but too many of them have never really done the job. But if you have a blog that has an established proof of very high popularity, and if you are totally dedicated to the sport and want to be at a game to do a better job, then I'm OK with that.
Hmm other than the normal Stereotypical "nerdy blogger in their underwear" comment not a bad answer. I don't completely agree with it, but I understand his perspective. I don't think traveling to road games is really a necessity. I mean traveling to road games and talking with players after games, really that's what the beat writer does (and BTW I think Dater is one of the best in the buis.) But the point is that by getting a press credential a blogger isn't trying to be a beat writer, so the traveling prerequisite really shouldn't apply.
Blogs would not be popular if they weren't filling an apparent need in sports. They are, part of that need and charm is the thoughts of a fan. Journalists are paid objective observers. Blogs are more off the cuff fan sponsered talk (usually). There are blogs that do a great job of objectively covering the technical aspects of a sport (see In the Cheap Seats), and there are smart-ass fan blogs that can be objective, but have no business being in the press box or locker room.
Personally I don't think you can blanket this as yes or no.. there's way too much grey here to make a judgement. It seems like the press box is no place for a blogger though, because the press box is designed to get away from the crowd and give an objective opinion of the game. I would really hesitate to give them locker room access too, mainly because athletes already have a hard time dealing with the press (and vice versa) let alone a blogger who is a fan. There's a reason journalists need to be objective, because they can't be going up to Pronger and saying "What's it like being such a cheap shot artist?" or "Mr. Lidstrom, what's it like being the face of Hockey's Evil Empire?". I mean bloggers being in some press areas would be almost like groupies at a rock concert.
Journalists are the storytellers to the fans. Blogs are the voice of the fan. I think the more time Bloggers spend in the pressbox, the more they become journalists and further from blogger, and that defeats the point. So I would say no to press box and lockeroom access.
But that's just on game nights. If owners were smart they would give bloggers access to different parts of the orginization. One thing journalists can't provide is a feel of the atmosphere. They are in the press box, which is different than being in the crowd. Why not give bloggers seats to some games (no I'm not angling for free tickets, but I'd take them). The blogger gets to go watch his favorite team, and take in the sights and sounds of the game. The orginization gets the "underground" pub from not only letting a blogger in, but the blogger will write about that feel and experience. It's good pub for both parties, and a nice symbiotic relationship. I don't see why compatent bloggers shouldn't be granted access with team personel, like coaches, or equipment managers, or the Mascot, or even players (on off days or something).
I guess my rambling point is that bloggers are different than the press. We have a different role, and while every blog's role is different we should be treated differently. a press pass isn't right, but neither is shut out. It's time for an original and creative owner, and blogger, to come up with a way to give a blog access that can enhance both the content of the blog, and also help the team.
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