The MSM vs blogger debate has been going on for years and will no doubt continue for years more. The latest bit of intrigue has been sparked by a Puck Daddy post this morning. The short version is the the New York Rangers are pissed that an SBN blogger that had reported on a "Fire Glen Sather" rally was credentialed for the NHL draft this summer. While the Rangers can easily block this blogger from getting credentialed for games at MSG, they are upset that said blogger could still be credentialed for other NHL events like the draft or Rangers' away games.
As Puck Daddy reports, the NHL held a conference call earlier this week to discuss the complex issue of granting (or not granting) press credentials to bloggers. While more and more teams are finding ways to welcome bloggers into the press box, other teams are still reluctant. One concern is that since credentials are given out by the home team, a blog-averse team like the Rangers could be subjected to bloggers having access to their locker room on road games. [UPDATE: Blueshirt Banter has now provided their take on the "controversy" that kicked this off"]
As if that wasn't entertainment enough, PD has since released a leaked memo that followed up that meeting with a set of guidelines on issuing credentials. Bottom line: if you do issue credentials to a blogger, make sure you keep them away from the visiting team and, if possible, out the press box. Oh, and be sure to give them a special orange nametag so that no one confuses them for an actual legitimate journalist.
Of particular interest to me, though, was the following tidbit:
Which is why one Western Conference team, during this week's call, said no bloggers are getting in their building "without a ticket."
The Avs' official policy is that they don't credential bloggers or online-only radio stations and that is 100% their choice to make. Their team, their rules. It doesn't bother me a great deal, as I have almost no interest in receiving press credentials. On the list of where I'd most like to watch an Avalanche game, the Avs' press box is way down there sandwiched between a bus terminal lounge and Woody Paige's leather sectional. And while I'm unable to get credentialed, I have contacted the Avs' front office a few times and have always received courteous, prompt and helpful responses. Meanwhile, I know a blogger of another team who has been hung up on when contacting said team.
The proposal above is laughable and clumsy, but it illustrates how complicated this issue is. There isn't an easy way to vet the press-box worthiness of a potential blogger. An actual reporter like Adrian Dater has things like experience, education and, most importantly, an editor to help shape his stories into something professional. While the Avalanche certainly won't agree with everything he writes, they know those journalistic restraints will generally keep his story somewhere within an acceptable range for them. Me? I don't have an editor. I could write something intelligent today and something ridiculously stupid tomorrow. I could lavish the Avalanche front office with praise a day before I write a story blasting Pierre Lacroix complete with a picture of Napoleon Bonaparte. I've probably used every one of George Carlin's seven dirty words to describe the Avs' play...and I've invented a few more at times to describe their front office. Even though I take this blog very seriously and consider MHH to be one of the premier Avalanche blogs out there, I still represent a level of instability that keeps PR guys awake at night. And I am by no means the biggest or the kookiest blogging threat out there.
There's another thing about blogs that I don't think gets mentioned enough. The Colorado Avalanche need Adrian Dater...or, more accurately, The Denver Post. The whole point of allowing the press access to the team is to make sure the team is getting talked about. Cut off access and you don't get your name in the paper. With a team blog like this? We're going to talk about the Avalanche no matter what sort of access we get. The Avalanche do not need to coax me into talking about their team; it's automatic. It won't always be positive, but it will always be...there. Sometime this fall, the 1,000,000th visitor will come here to read about the Avs; that's a lot of free press.
That doesn't mean that I agree with the black & white, "no means no" policy that teams like the Avalanche, Ducks, Oilers and Rangers enforce. I think it is tremendous that more and more NHL teams (and the league as a whole) are working to find ways to incorporate bloggers into their media plan. It makes sense; if there's any league in the US that could benefit from more press, it's the NHL. But even if bringing bloggers into the fold is the "right" thing to do, it's still not an easy feat to pull off (as that clumsy league email clearly shows). And while some teams - including the one I faithfully follow - are not exactly racing to jump on the new media bandwagon, that's their prerogative. In the end, I'll still be sitting here in my creaky old chair, hacking away at the keyboard trying to come up with funny nicknames for Kevin Shattenkirk. Oh, and while you're up, Woody, can you grab me another beer?