The big discussion point today (thanks to this article over at Puck Daddy amongst other things) is credentials and access for hockey bloggers. The sticking point raised on the reference conference call is actually valid (why should someone have access to our locker room on the road when they are not welcome at home?), and that I don’t have a problem with. Where things break down, though, is where the line is drawn now between bloggers and pro sportswriters. There are bloggers doing fantastic work, both independently and under the umbrella of a larger media network (such as SBNation). I see no reason why they (if they want it) shouldn’t be accomodated with full access. Individual teams (such as the Rangers) disagree, though.
Let’s look at an example, the Buffalo News’s own Mike Harrington. He works for a newspaper, and writes columns that get published on actual paper along with his twitter account and the paper’s Sabres Edge blog. But he has no problem blasting Darcy or Lindy when it’s warranted, which apparently would be enough to keep him out of the visiting room at MSG, without the get out of jail free card that is his News byline.
Let’s face it: there should be a way to be a blogger and be credentialed with full access in every city. The NHL itself has all sorts of social media connections, and should be able to assist teams that need it in fostering them as well. Bloggers that want access (not all of us do) should be able to request it, and then have their site looked over by the team’s communications team. If the person can deliver coherent thoughts and doesn’t sound like a moron, step two would be a quick phone ‘interview’ to ensure they aren’t intimidated talking to people and wouldn’t be out of place in a media scrum. I’d also have no problem with teams having a measuring stick of some type (how long your blog has existed+monthly pageviews+Twitter follower count or somesuch) to weed out people just looking for a free seat in the arena and a chance at getting autographs.
For my part, I’ve never really looked into the possibility here in Buffalo. I get the feeling it’s not something that would happen, and anyway I don’t have the confidence in a group to speak up and ask questions. It would be nice to be in the press box and able to listen in directly to the press conferences and locker room interviews, but really it wouldn’t have a huge effect on what I actually do. Still, access done right would be a benefit to teams, as the media climate continues to shift towards a mix of ‘new’ and ‘old’ media.