What will we wrap fish with when newspapers are gone?

Robin Brownlee
June 18 2009 03:16PM

entrydraft

Short of a Stanley Cup final, covering the NHL Entry Draft used to be the highlight of the season during my newspaper days.

Likewise, between chasing down trade rumours, trying to get the inside dope on who was talking to whom and buzz about top prospects, it was obvious fans couldn't get enough of what scribes would tap out.

Update: By popular demand, we're taking donations to fund Brownlee's Gregor's trip... When you're donating, feel free to suggest what he should do while he's out there. Just click the orange pill thingy.


I can't imagine fan interest, particularly in puck hotbeds like Edmonton, has waned since the days when I'd jet to Toronto or Miami or Nashville, but it's getting more difficult for fans to get their fix -- at least as delivered by their local beat men, the people who cover the team on a daily basis.

Tough economic times have newspapers, like a lot of businesses, slashing budgets. Compounding matters, newspapers have been dying a slow death for years now -- the reasons are many.

The result? For the Entry Draft in Montreal, Oilers fans won't have anybody from either daily newspaper documenting the day. There won't be any inside stuff from Jim Matheson, who knows the Oilers better than anybody on the planet, unless he picks up the telephone.

Pool coverage

Instead of Matheson's insights or the acidic sarcasm of a Rob Tychkowski over at The Sun, fans here will have to get their dope on the Oilers from the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun or the Montreal Gazette. Well, that or from TSN or Sportsnet.

There might be a local sports director from Edmonton who grabs the trip as a junket and does a few stand-ups to justify the expense -- maybe Dave Mitchell can do a piece where he pretends to be drafted -- but the newsprint guys are getting shutout as far as I know.

Because of Bob MacKenzie and Darren Dreger, national outlets like TSN are second-to-none in terms of big-picture blanket coverage, but they've got their Blackberries buzzing with 30 teams to cover. Their focus is not the Oilers.

The problem with newspapers, of course, is they don't hit the doorstep until the next morning, so everything they have to offer is old news by the time the black-and-white finds the step.

But even the dustiest old daily has one of those interweb sites now, where updates come be made within minutes of a player being selected or a trade being completed. There's value in that, no?

Wouldn't it make sense to have a beat guy there? Apparently not, because I'm hearing scribes from Vancouver aren't going, either.

Priorities

You'd think with Edmonton, with the Oilers having a top-10 pick, a new GM, a new coaching staff and the team reportedly in the hunt for sulking Dany Heatley, there'd be plenty of angles worth pursuing. Anybody with half-a-brain can see that. But, nooooooooooooooo.

Instead, we get The Journal sending columnist Dan Barnes to Las Vegas for the NHL Awards, where he's expected to produce for the entire CanWest chain of newspapers. Barnes will do a helluva job, and Ethan Moreau is getting the King Clancy Memorial Award, so...

Even so, if there's a choice to be made by the bean-counters, and it's obvious there is -- Jason Gregor broke the news about Moreau and I did a follow-up piece here Tuesday, so it's old news -- isn't the Entry Draft and everything that comes with it more compelling to fans? Of course it is.

That's one of many problems with my beloved old hard copy in newsrooms across the country and the continent -- the bean-counters call the shots, not the editorial staff. Who cares if Matheson can provide the best insight? How much does it cost?

That's one of the reasons newspapers, despite some blips of recovery in a time of declining circulation, are half on the slab right now and websites like Oilersnation are making inroads.

Now, if cheap screw Wanye will only get off his wallet and provide yours truly with a travel budget, we'll really be on to something.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Jack Bauer
June 19 2009, 09:10AM
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You guys have sponsers, why dont you get them to pony up the bucks for it. Robin being there would bring traffic to the site and thus more hits for their advertising.

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#102 Scott
June 19 2009, 09:11AM
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Just did my duty and put in my donation....expect breaking news from RB at the draft now!!! lol

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#103 David S
June 19 2009, 09:13AM
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Chaz wrote:

Well put TD. No need for personal attacks here, especially towards members of the Nation. I, unlike Austin Ayala am not flush with cash so I won’t be able to donate to Robin’s trip, although I think it will be awesome if the Nation can get him there.

A $20 buck a week allowance isn't exactly "flush with cash" outside of the sixth grade.

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#104 David S
June 19 2009, 09:15AM
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^ I mean, you know, in Austin's case.

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#105 Travis Dakin
June 19 2009, 09:16AM
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David S wrote:

A $20 buck a week allowance isn’t exactly “flush with cash” outside of the sixth grade.

Apparently $20 a week is sure getting Baggemilk by just fine in Thailand.

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#106 Librarian Mike
June 19 2009, 09:21AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Apparently $20 a week is sure getting Baggemilk by just fine in Thailand.

True, but the real question is what is he doing in Thailand to get that $20?

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#107 Travis Dakin
June 19 2009, 09:22AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

True, but the real question is what is he doing in Thailand to get that $20?

HAHAHAHA dear god.

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#108 Robin Brownlee
June 19 2009, 09:23AM
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EVERYBODY . . . I've got to say I'm really knocked on my ass by the reaction to Wanye's fund-raising efforts. It really says something about all of you and your passion for the Oilers. I'm stunned by it, really.

I hate to throw cold water on this whole thing because it's fun and it's goofy, but the point of the original item wasn't to get me to the draft, but to point out how coverage of an event fans really care about is being compromised by budgets and tough times in the newspaper business. I love newspapers. I chose a career in journalism because of it -- and because I don't have a mug made for TV. The last line in the item was an attempt at humour, not a call for money.

The point is, as much fun as it would be to roll into Montreal to represent Oilersnation and see the old MSM crew, there's no way I can go. If I could, I would. My wife is out of the country and my son, Sam, has pneumonia. I'm sure you understand how serious that can be for any child who isn't yet three years old, and how it's compounded by Sam's circumstances.

So, thank-you, everybody, for actually getting behind something I didn't intend to start, but it'll have to be Gregor or somebody else with Oilersnation to carry the mail in Montreal. I simply can't do it.

I really appeciate the sentiment.

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#109 5Cups without another in sight
June 19 2009, 09:23AM
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Well I have just donated to get RB to Montreal and judging by the response so far we should get their pretty easily. A nice slap in the face to the Sun and Journal for being too lazy/cheap to send someone.

RB, please promise you will keep the lap dances to a max of 2 per evening so there might be enough left to make a donation to the childrens hospital. That way one of the Sun guys can write a story on what the Nation was able to do.... as opposed to writing day old crap the next morning.

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#110 Travis Dakin
June 19 2009, 09:26AM
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I'll go!!!!

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#111 5Cups without another in sight
June 19 2009, 09:28AM
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So@ Robin Brownlee: sorry to hear Robin.

Please donate my donation to the Stollery

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#112 Chaz
June 19 2009, 09:30AM
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@ Robin Brownlee: Fair enough. If no one else from the Nation goes, then my vote would be to give the funds raised to the charity of Robin and Sam's choice. I realize my vote means nothing due to the fact I haven't donated, but I just thought I'd put it out there. It would be nice timing considering our Captain was just honored for his generosity. I already donate to the Stollery so it would be awesome to send it their way. No better charity in land in my humble opinion.

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#113 Archaeologuy
June 19 2009, 09:33AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

I’ll go!!!!

Me too me too! And I promise to take pictures of the debaucherous things ON will have funded.

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#114 Chaz
June 19 2009, 09:39AM
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I'd be willing to go, but is Montreal in the summer really that nice anyways? I hear there aren't really that many cute girls there.

*Realizes he forgot the sarcasm thingy: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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#115 Ender the Dragon
June 19 2009, 09:40AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

I’ll go!!!!

Archaeologuy wrote:

Me too me too!

I love all the volunteering, but maybe we'd be better served by sending someone with an actual press pass and stuff. Getting a play-by-play of the people that are allowed in the front door and what color the outside of the building is might not be quite the 'inside scoop' we'd be hoping for.

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#116 OvenChicken8
June 19 2009, 09:41AM
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Robin - Best wishes and I hope your son gets well soon.

And Gregor, would you be willing to do it?

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#117 Archaeologuy
June 19 2009, 09:43AM
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@ Ender the Dragon:

You, sir, are a dream killer.

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#118 Equinox
June 19 2009, 09:54AM
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Not sure if the logistics and access becomes an issue, but what you should do if no one from the nation can go, is hold a contest. Something like the biggest Oiler fan or the craziest fan draft day story. Have people leave their stories over the next 3 or 4 days.

The donated money would be good to go to charity too, but even if a fan gets in there (assuming we could get a temporary press pass), it would be nice to have some Oiler draft day coverage.

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#119 Librarian Mike
June 19 2009, 09:58AM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

Robin - Best wishes and I hope your son gets well soon.

I'd like to pass the exact same sentiment your way as well. You know, even if Gregor or someone else goes, you can always rig it up so you can be there via webcam or something. I mean, it is 2009. If there is anyone who can make a GM cry via computer, it's gotta be you.

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#120 Jack Bauer
June 19 2009, 10:10AM
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I actually thought the thread said a donation for next year.

But again, since there are no less than 4 companies sponsoring this website, how come they cant pony up some dough to do this, since it will drive up the traffic to this site exponentially?

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#121 Mowzie
June 19 2009, 10:27AM
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Sorry to hear that Robin. A donation to Stollery seems like a perfect plan B.

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#122 Mitchee
June 19 2009, 10:33AM
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In the 9th round with their final selection...

the Cleveland Barons are proud to select from Our Mother Of Perpetual Mercy hockey Academy in Palookaville Wisconsin....

Dave 'the big donut' Mitchell.

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#123 Cam
June 19 2009, 10:34AM
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I do think people on this site are just a wee bit hard on Dan Tencer. Some comments have been pretty severe and mean spirited, and he is just a more optimistic voice and I don't think that is so bad.

I prefer Gregor over Tencer, but I listen to both and enjoy both. Both are Oil fans and so we have something in common right off the bat.

chillax people.

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#124 David S
June 19 2009, 10:48AM
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Gregor in Montreal? That sounds pretty cool. Gregor in Montreal with a cam? Jeeeeezuz!

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#125 patty
June 19 2009, 11:09AM
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Mowzie wrote:

Sorry to hear that Robin. A donation to Stollery seems like a perfect plan B.

+1

Maybe the sponsors can match our donations and we can give the Stollery a sack of cash, and send Gregor.

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#126 Darren
June 19 2009, 11:39AM
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Hey Robin, this was a great idea, but I honestly had no idea that you might not be able to go...that said, being you are at home that weekend can you still deliver us the poop on the draft anyway?

I know I can watch it on T.V. but I want a REAL evaluation of what the Oilers are doing...a passion-fueled fire from a true Oilers follower, not a 20 second neat & tidy clip telling us who we picked on TSN. What I really want is a just evaluation on if we did a good job on that pick or trade, or if we just screwed ourselves over!

I don't need a pretty bow on my present, I just wanna open the f***in' thing, and see what's inside! In the words of the immortal Judge Constance Harm, "Don't spit on my cupcake and call it frosting!"

I'll be gone is SK, but will hopefully be able to find a computer to see if we f*** up the draft this year! ;) (eyes half-shut)

Secondly, I guess it was good that I was too freaked out to pay on the internet last night (I still don't trust that entirely, although I did see that the sight was safe and trust the ON. I thought I'd just take one last look before plunking down this AM, and Lowe and behold..;)

Thirdly, and most importantly, I am hoping for Sam to get feeling better real soon! My prayers go out to you and your little guy for a speedy recovery!!!

Now I know where to find you for my draft info this year!

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#127 Harlie
June 19 2009, 11:59AM
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Robin, best wishes for a speedy recovery for your Son! I have two boys under the age of 2 and their health and happiness are second to nothing in my life. Get well soon SAM!

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#128 Peter Pan
June 19 2009, 12:16PM
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Harlie wrote:

Robin, best wishes for a speedy recovery for your Son! I have two boys under the age of 2 and their health and happiness are second to nothing in my life. Get well soon SAM!

I also have a 1 year old son and, as Harlie also said, he comes before anything else. I wish Sam a speedy recovery. God Bless.

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#129 Robin Brownlee
June 19 2009, 12:17PM
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Darren wrote:

Hey Robin, this was a great idea, but I honestly had no idea that you might not be able to go…that said, being you are at home that weekend can you still deliver us the poop on the draft anyway? I know I can watch it on T.V. but I want a REAL evaluation of what the Oilers are doing…a passion-fueled fire from a true Oilers follower, not a 20 second neat & tidy clip telling us who we picked on TSN. What I really want is a just evaluation on if we did a good job on that pick or trade, or if we just screwed ourselves over! I don’t need a pretty bow on my present, I just wanna open the f***in’ thing, and see what’s inside! In the words of the immortal Judge Constance Harm, “Don’t spit on my cupcake and call it frosting!” I’ll be gone is SK, but will hopefully be able to find a computer to see if we f*** up the draft this year! (eyes half-shut) Secondly, I guess it was good that I was too freaked out to pay on the internet last night (I still don’t trust that entirely, although I did see that the sight was safe and trust the ON. I thought I’d just take one last look before plunking down this AM, and Lowe and behold..;) Thirdly, and most importantly, I am hoping for Sam to get feeling better real soon! My prayers go out to you and your little guy for a speedy recovery!!! Now I know where to find you for my draft info this year!

Harlie wrote:

Robin, best wishes for a speedy recovery for your Son! I have two boys under the age of 2 and their health and happiness are second to nothing in my life. Get well soon SAM!

Thanks for the best wishes.

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#130 Peter Pan
June 19 2009, 12:23PM
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@ Robin,

On the point your article was intended for, I agree. You don't see people reading the paper as much as they used to. Everybody, and their dog, owns a PC or laptop and have quick access to all the goods. In addition, the scrolling ticker on sports channels provide the immediacy people are so addicted to. But still, the papers have a lot to offer. It may not be breaking news by the time we read it in the morning, but it is a good opportunity to get the opinions of other writers (ie. Jones, Barnes, Matheson, etc). It still has its value.

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#131 erixon
June 19 2009, 01:25PM
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I would like to see Gregor there, or possibly Willis. As a plan B if these guys can't go, probably best to give the money to charity.

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#132 Yakman
June 19 2009, 02:51PM
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@ Ducey: Dude, Willis and Lowetide are great but people (all types of people) only share things they know and or trust... which is where a guy like Matheson is huge... Willis for all his analysis (which I love) would be told to buzz off if he walked up to Kevin Lowe and started asking him questions... until bloggers have the recognition, trust, and respect of powers and players that be I want someone like Brownlee at the draft to get the real dirt and not the BS soundbites that end up on sportsnet...

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#133 erixon
June 19 2009, 03:20PM
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@ Yakman: How much "dirt" do you think anyone is going to muster up at the draft?

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#134 Adam Dyck
June 19 2009, 03:55PM
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So, are we sending Gregor? What's the plan?

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#135 Archaeologuy
June 19 2009, 03:59PM
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@ Adam Dyck: I would look on the Wanye article for more clarification.

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#136 Clarkenstein
June 19 2009, 10:12PM
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@ Travis Dakin: Thanks for the advice but my comment was directed to Tencer not you. If I don't like you I'll tell you. It's not a personal attack on anybody. If you want a personal attack on Tencer I can give you one.. just give me the nod!!

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#137 Journey to the Fin Du Monde - OilersNation.com
June 22 2009, 03:11PM
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[...] Like a pack of maddened, hockey-obsessed jackals, you goons got together and decided to fundraise to send a Nation writer to Montreal so you could get all the Entry Draft coverage you’d ever want. It started with a snide remark Brownlee made about Wanye being a “cheap screw“. [...]

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