Bloggers in the press box?

So with the emergence of bloggers and the like the debate is going on as to whether bloggers should be given press box credentials. It's an interesting debate, and one Off-wing, Deadspin, and many other blogs have covered before. Recently fellow Avs blogger and friend of Jibblescribbits, Dear Lord Stanley, had a chance to ask a member of the mainstream media, Denver Post Avs beat write Adrian Dater what he thinks about bloggers with press passes.
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.

9 comments:

  1. You make a great point about bloggers and reporters fulfilling complimentary---but different---needs among sports fans. And that's what a lot of newspaper types don't understand. Bloggers aren't trying to take their job, nor are they even trying to cheapen their job by being fake journalists. In fact, bloggers are doing a different job altogether, which you explained well.

    Ted Leonsis of the Capitals understands this. His team has received a ton of free publicity as a result. And goodwill among fans (especially literate fans) goes a long way.

    If blogs didn't fill an important niche, they wouldn't be so damn popular. They generate revenue for advertisers and they provide free publicity for clubs that may face tighter advertising budgets in the coming years.

    Maybe when new stadiums are built (Pittsburgh), they could include both a "press box" and a "blog box" as part of their floorplans. It's the wave of the future.

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  2. A "blog box", huh? Is that basically a box where us bloggers could sit together, drink beer and exchange thoughts about the game while watching. I am up for that...

    ...Especially if it happens to be the box inbetween the penalty boxes.

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  3. Maybe some journalists perceive the press pass as something that comes with their job, if everyone gets it then they're just a guy in a better suit. And the whole "you gotta do a time" is a really ambiguous excuse. Just because a guy does it for a living, does it mean he's paid more effort and time in the sport?

    The problem with the objective claim is that everytime you listen into a locker room interview, there's always some guy who says a question which helps fuel the kind of sentiments that the sheep minded fans want affirmation from; such as "people are saying you don't play with enough heart" and so on. I guess there are many who do see granting some blogs access could be damaging but I think people like Ted Leonsis who's pretty much embraced it all have helped prove that it's not always a bad thing.

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  4. I agree with you Jordi, that the whole "you gotta do your time" argument is lame.If that's the case let's strip Crosby of his captaincy.

    Journalists are "supposed" to be objective, but we all know that's not always the case. Ok it usually isn't the case. I feel Avs fans are lucky because we have two pretty good objective reporters in Dater and Frei covering the Avs, but I know that's not the case in other cities.

    Journalists do have a point that you don't want fanboi's in the locker room though, it's a recipe for disaster. That's why I think a bloggers credentials need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    Eric McErlain really does a good job with his access, but not every blogger would be as good as him

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  5. Oh, and don't forget. While a suit and tie may be mandatory attire for the press box, the "blog box" requires only a relatively clean pair of underwear.

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  6. Terrific article.

    I do believe that there is a difference between a journalist and a blogger. And, like everything else in life, there are good and bad examples of both.

    Journalists are not just bloggers with a press pass. It's not as easy as it looks (I presume). To have to balance honest reporting while trying not to alienate the team they are covering has to be a juggling act I wouldn't ever want to try.

    Bloggers have an advantage in that they almost never have to interact with a player after we call them a douchebag.

    I think both have a place in the game and as long as both sides keep that in mind, it will continue to be a win win for readers. I do wish there were more teams like the Caps out there. The Avs don't do anything (to my knowledge) to support the bloggers. The friggin' HF boards won't allow you to link to a blog not run by Eklund. Those sorts of slights really hurt the community. Blogging is relatively new to me, and I'm a bit surprised to see how few people are checking out Avalanche related blogs.

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  7. (and you guys thought just my articles were long-winded. whew)

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  8. NCAA boots a blogger for blogging
    http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9728156-7.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20

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  9. Sorry, my articles have been a little long-winded lately.

    And I saw that about the guy getting kicked out of the press-box for live-blogging. Don't get me started on the NCAA.

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