The AJC’s Thrashers beat writer, Craig Custance, posted an interesting entry in his newspaper-sponsored blog yesterday afternoon on bloggers and the amount of access they should (or should not) get.
I’m a little torn on this subject. I think there are hundreds of brilliant blogs out there that could be well-served by gaining more access to their teams. Many bloggers come from journalism backgrounds, but got out of the mainstream media when they realized they were getting paid like a Vietnamese Nike sweatshop employee. So, contrary to Stepen A and Bill Conlin’s assertions, a relatively high percentage of bloggers actually know what the fuck they’re doing. These bloggers could enhance their already well-written blogs with access to players and coaches.
There are also thousands (millions, maybe?) of terrible, irresponsible bloggers. The internet has done many wonderful things for today’s society (thanks, Al Gore) but it has also given people a forum to say whatever the hell they want and not have to worry about any recourse. All of a sudden, a 5-8, 140lb. 19 year old has the inflated courage to tell someone twice his size to fuck off (something he’d never do in person). That’s not so great–that means that 9 times out of 10, unfortunately, message boards and chat rooms turn into a torrential shitstorm of threats, unprovoked attacks, wildly inaccurate claims, racist remarks, or anything else anyone wants to say–again, things they would never say in person.
And that’s part of the issue with giving bloggers credentials. Where do you draw the line? The good bloggers would be lumped together with the shitty ones, and blogging would get an even worse rap than it gets now. The good bloggers would write entries that they would normally write, except they would be enhanced with inside information. The shitty bloggers would take pictures of guys in the locker room and post them on their sites.
Here’s another thing–some bloggers like the “underground” perception, and wouldn’t want to gain that access (and consequently have their entries censored by the team). Some bloggers prefer to write from a fan’s perspective, rather than that of a journalist.
So, what do we do? As Custance stated in his entry (or maybe he commented on it later), a league like the NHL might be better served by allowing some bloggers access since media coverage of hockey is sparse at best. The bloggers could serve to fill in the gaps where mainstream media neglects to go. Perhaps the Thrashers could start by giving access to some of their more frequently read blogs on a more routine basis (at this point, they have a “Blogger’s Night” once or twice a season), and if that goes well, start to give them credentials for as many games as they’d wish to cover. Let’s face it: it’s not like the Philips Arena pressbox is overflowing with journalists or anything…