Robin Brownlee wrote an interesting article with an encounter of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club in a profanely titled article “Those $%#@&# bloggers: what to do?” a few days back.
In the article he describes a front office staffer giving him grief about writing for the Nation:
“Essentially, (Oilers PR Staffer JJ Hebert) told me and my editor he’d be happy to issue me a pass for NHL.com (or TEAM 1260 or CP, for that matter), but that he’d have a problem — one that’s been ongoing — if I was going to continue to use my access to gather material for Oilersnation because this site isn’t recognized as part of the MSM.
One of the problems facing Hebert is that when Gregor and I write for Oilersnation, he gets calls from other bloggers: "If Brownlee and Gregor get a pass, why not me?" The argument is that if we get in, everybody should and that if they don’t, we shouldn’t. I don’t buy that, but I get how the issue could be a pain in Hebert’s ass.”
This is an interesting time in the development of Mass Media.
We can understand the reluctance of the Oilers to allow a bunch of amateur blogger-reporters into what is an uber professional press box. Hockey Journalists are pros and take themselves very seriously – as they have every right to do.
They have put in years at University, paid their dues covering non NHL teams as they climbed the ladder and in most Canadian Markets covering the NHL team is the plum assignment for the top journalists at each publication.
Why on Earth should some piddly assed kid be allowed to sit in the press box – ostensibly there to “cover” the event – but really there for the free tickets and unlimited squeeing from above.
At some point in the evolution of every industry new companies rise up and force the old guard to re-evaluate certain realities. The failure of the music industry to grasp the potential damage from peer-to-peer file sharing is a prime example of a mature industry failing to grasp the shifting marketplace.
The NHL doesn’t face any real financial threat from bloggers, but failing to grasp the power of blogging/fansites in their early days could be detremental to growing the game.
A fansite one day could be a leading source of news the next – the speed at which the internet can cobble together traffic can be breathtaking. What does the NHL do when some of these sites start to rival MSM outlets in size, reach and quality of content?
In essence: what constitutes being a part of the MSM?
What if the Nation was busier than the online sports sections of the two major newspapers in town? Would we be considered part of the MSM on size alone? The vast majority of our writers on the Nation Network are actual credentialed media folk, would the high level of professionalism count as a vote in our favour?
Do we fail to meet the MSM criteria because we are “just a website” and lack the MSM calling cards of TV, Radio and Print publications? What if we started a daily Nation Newspaper and delivered it on our trusty two wheeler to all of the Citizens each morning? Would printing the news make us a part of the club?
BUT – DO WE EVEN WANT TO BE MSM?
The most wonderful thing about writing on OilersNation is that we can do whatever we want. Say for example we want to display a video of Soulja Boy dancing to Teach me how to Dougie. Who is going to tell us not to? An editor that doesn’t exist? Stodgy old people who have the run of the place?
Nay and Nein.
No one else on the Nation writes about such nonsense, but we feel it has a time and a place on the site. Sports journalism need not be boring. Sports journalism need not be about sports or be written by a journlism. Sometimes it’s just about Souljaboy dancing on a Saturaday morning.
Is it these kind of videos that keep the site from being considered “mainstream media?”
We realize that our primary duty is to all of the Citizens of the Nation. We can stay however we want in our articles, but taking a more MSM apporach to professionalism could mean more legitimacy.
It could mean more breaking news or better features and recruiting more MSM types to the Nation Network. It could mean Taylor Hall calling in tears needing advice on how to mend his first broken heart in Edmonton. We imagine that’s the type of stuff MSM people have to deal with in their mansions.
We have pondered this matter for some time Nation and can’t come to any sort of decision. And so we turn it over to you to advise.