August 26, 2010
Earlier today, we wrote about how some media relations departments in the NHL would like to restrict bloggers' and online media's access to visitors' dressing rooms after games.
Example: If the New York Rangers don't consider bloggers legitimate working media for games at MSG but the Washington Capitals credential them in D.C., the bloggers should be banned from entering New York's locker room when it visits Verizon Center.
We're honored it sparked a healthy discussion about access today, with smart writing from folks like Justin Bourne and Dan Levy and Eric Mirlis and James O'Brien. Special stick-tap to Kevin DeLury of New York Rangers blog for offering a bit of a contrarian take and mentioning something I spaced on in the original post: There's a very large percentage of bloggers who don't need, want or desire access to the press box; that want to be fans on a soapbox or caustic commentators that aren't beholden to a team employee dangling a credential like a carrot. To them, we raise a glass.
But to those online journalists seeking access, concerned the access they have could be slowly restricted or if you're a reader of the alt-hockey media: Puck Daddy as obtained a draft proposal for "a credential policy pertaining to bloggers/web-based media" that was created after a NHL media relations conference call on Monday.
(Ed. Note: Per a request by the NHL, we blacked out an additional email address here. Know that it originated from a public relations official in the NHL's Toronto office.)
Coming up, a few thoughts on this proposal.
Clearly, the "mandatory" criteria is a rough draft. Would teams see SB Nation as a "national news gathering agency," for example? Who determines that? What constitutes a broad audience? Wouldn't a newspaper with a paywall online have a limited audience, by comparison?
That said, establishing some simple criteria for gaining a credential is a positive step, and can lead to access for bloggers in cities that don't currently consider them working media.
In the "guidelines" portion, Points 2 and 3 are laughable: A playpen for unruly amateurs and a Scarlett 'B' that'll prevent you from asking the visiting team's goalie about his shutout.
But it's Point 1 that's outrageous: It's one thing for visiting teams to ask the home team to restrict dressing room access; it's another to begin at a point of prohibition and demand that online media obtain the expressed written consent of a visiting team before attempting to gather information for their audiences.
Look, it's a draft proposal. It'll hopefully change, and it'll hopefully include more specifics that reveal it to be more inclusive than it seems it is, should it ever be enacted.
But if you're a member of an NHL media relations department reading this post, a request: Explore the alt-media landscape, talk to bloggers in your city and understand what's happening now with sports media. It's a different world for issues of accountability and ethics than it was a few years ago.
The NHL has embraced these writers, and the results have been positive for all involved. There's no reason that can't happen on a local level, too.