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C-C-C-C-Changes

I’ve worked in media every day since June 15, 1980. I’ve worked in Edmonton media since summer 1990 (also a couple of years in the 80s I was in the city) and observed the relationship between Edmonton media and its citizens for decades.

My math might be wrong, but I would venture there have been more changes in Edmonton’s media and how people access news and information over the last five years than in the previous 25 in total. It’s breakneck speed now, simply impossible to keep up with all of it.

I work for TSN1260 Radio, Edmonton’s first 24-hour sports station. You could have inserted the format into this city 25 years ago and had a strong audience but it took a decade or so after that for someone to bravely step up and take the leap.

I expect we’ll see a lot more changes in the next decade, hope to be around for all of them but the truth is the market will dictate my role and my exit. That’s a fact, and exits of media personalities is seen every year in the industry.

If you follow the Edmonton Oilers on a day-to-day basis, you probably access your information via:

  • Radio. TSN 1260 with Dustin Nielson, Dave Jamieson, Jason Gregor and Dean Millard, but also Bob Stauffer’s Oilers Now and other shows on 630 CHED.
  • Television. Ryan Rishaug of TSN and Mark Spector of Sportsnet are constantly digging for inside information, and there are others.
  • Oilers blogs. Too many to mention, but Oilers Nation is a monster and there are others.
  • Newspapers, print or online. Post Media has the Journal and The Sun, these outlets house some of the most experienced and qualified people in the industry.
  • Edmonton Oilers site. A massive amount of content is derived by the people who run the site, not a day goes by that we don’t grab some newsworthy item via facebook or twitter and read it. The group assembled there have access, creativity and a tremendous work ethic. Your relationship with them will grow in the next decade. That’s important to note, as the Oilers could return us to one-stop shopping more than any other medium.

Now, 25 years ago, I would have arrived at work to my print copies of the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun and would listen to the noon hour sports updates. Thirty years ago, I could go bug co-worker John Short and find out why Francois Leroux wasn’t turning into Paul Coffey.

Now? Chances are you jump online, visit Oilers Nation or another blog, zip over to the Oilers site and then pour your morning coffee. Actually, maybe you don’t even do that, maybe twitter or facebook or email collects everything you might be interested in overnight. The world, as we knew it even a few years ago, has ended.

THE FUTURE

As things stand now, aside from a friendly show of good old-fashioned humor here or there on twitter, most of the outlets you visit daily coexist just fine. Things are competitive though (media avails feature questions from reporters in a specific order) and most of the breaking news comes from the same people. I have no quarrel with that approach, people have earned those opportunities. I also have no quarrel with those who wait for the Oilers website to pass along the entire press conference, being there and asking the 20th question seems a bit of a waste of time.

WHAT DO YOU VALUE?

A lot of the changes that have occurred over the last five years are because of you. As discussed, you access information in a different way. It’s also true that the things you value no longer resemble what appeared in my daily newspaper 25 years ago. The story in the old newspaper included some quotes, a review of the specific plays and game overall, possibly a note about the next game, and any kind of maladies suffered by the players. An exploding coach in the post-game scrum was always good for a paragraph.

Today? You want to know about who faced the tough opponents, about the cap impact of an acquisition, about Ryan Strome’s summer. You can get all of that online immediately, you don’t have to wait until next day. The value of the quote 25 years ago had a lot to do with exclusivity, and attending a media avail that will be on Youtube in 10 minutes has minimal value.

Todd McLellan’s comments about Jesse Puljujarvi last night were immediately out in the ether, making the hard copy unnecessary. The audience gets the breaking news at the same time as the media and the audience’s opinion is often as qualified as the reporting.

I don’t know where we’re going in media, but getting the scoop isn’t what it used to be, and hanging around the rink may not be a worthwhile endeavor for much of the modern media. The Edmonton Oilers have a camera and a vehicle to deliver information payloads. The media has lost their traditional edge and is forced to reinvent itself. Part of that adjustment involves people of value falling away (I miss Joanne Ireland’s reporting, as an example) and understand completely when a 30-year veteran chooses to send a tweet out with some vinegar on it. I know a little about the vicious climb from stringer to city hall reporter to actual reporter and it’s a long damned haul filled with late nights, notes on the endless minutiae of good old our town and bad, bad coffee.

One day, not so long a time ago, smart media people in gigantic buildings in this town held meetings on adapting to change. These men and women had massive advantages and terrible disadvantages, and entered the battle with good judgement and a healthy respect for what they didn’t know.

At the exact same time, young people who didn’t know much about gigantic buildings and budgets thought they might start a blog and see if their friends would read it. You may think that’s too simple an explanation, but it’s true and you could look it up. Today, it’s all different shades of equal between the big boys and the kids with a blog, and that’s a beautiful crazy.

I think many people in the media industry are doing a great job in capturing the imagination of the Edmonton public and building relationships with listeners and readers. Edmonton media will survive, but it won’t have as much in common with 1975 as I’ll want it to, and many of the things that appealed to me will be washed away in search of a new audience. That’s good, and right, the world is turning as it should.

  • O.C.

    The quest for that next click is coming at the expense of sound, investigative reporting.

    Being first to tweet seconds before any other reporter is to the point of being lame. A scoop used to mean you had your story on print at least a day before the competition.

    Sure, real time information is great. Are we lining up and accepting filtered news “as the league wants us to hear”?

    Just look at how the NFL manipulates what we are supposed to see and hear.

    I have no answers.

  • OriginalPouzar

    There is so much content out there, its amazing – in fact, I feel overwhelmed sometimes trying to keep up with everything.

    I’ve been posting on a sports-forum called Roughingafterthewhistle.com for over a decade. Its the current iteration of what used to be the SN community forums before they shut down.

    Although I have been reading all the blogs for a long time, I have recently upped my involvement as a commentor on a few (namely, Lowetide.ca).

    I read essentially everything posted on:

    Lowetide
    Oilersnation
    Cooper and Blue
    Oil on Whyte
    The Oilers Rig

    I now also listen to:

    – parts of the 1260 morning show (the 7:05 update with McKenzie, Dregger, Seravelli or Noodles as well as the Morning Mandate with Rishaug)

    Lowedown with Lowetide from 10-2

    Parts of Oilers Now.

    Rarely the Jason Gregor show because I need to get some damn work done.

    Not to mention twitter.

    I probably need to take a step back.

  • Ssseth

    This was a very interesting read, great perspective and history as always! I would suggest adding internet forums to part of the lexicon as well. Even if only as a foot note.

    For some context, I’m a long time and original lurker here on Oilersnation and I am also a huge fan of Lowetide. The Hockey Future (HF) forums were my intro to some of this so called new media and it is where I first saw the phrase Oilblogosphere. For a very brief stint I helped post the old ‘daily news thread’ over at HF. That was in the mid 00’s or so. Shortly thereafter most of us all figured out there was an easier way (I still use RSS feeds but I acknowledge they are old school’ish).

    I still recall when MSM would drop by the HF forums and it would always turn interesting. “Oh wow, a ‘real’ person from the MSM is acknowledging we exist!'” I know that stuff still goes on, but the divide is much smaller. At least publicly. Although, I can’t help but think deep down JW and Brownlee are on opposite ends of the ballpark… just sayin.

    Where was I going with this? No where really, but hey a few times a year a lurker has to lurk! I have some thoughts for a later date on the formation of ON and how HF forums totally dissed them at the time (granted it was just Wayne and his cohorts talking to each other, but I digress). Oh I’m also really enjoying the Podcast with Wanye, BM and Majeu (spelling?). Keep it up boys!

    PS- go Oilers, the decade of darkness is FINALLY over!!!

      • fasteddy

        What a classy approach LT….I don’t really know where my thoughts lie in this ever changing landscape; I cringe at the thought of not having the option of an actual newspaper, and I can’t wrap my head around how websites offering free content can sustain themselves with the ad revenues alone, but may as well hang on for the ride I guess!

      • Ssseth

        These types of stories are very interesting to me. As you inferred, anyone can report a box score or quote these days.

        I’d love to hear a Real Life podcast episode on some of your behind the scenes stories as well. To those of us who also follow the folks that “report” the news, their journey is just as interesting as what the latest wunderkind had for lunch….

        For example, I’d love to hear about how your on again off again and eventually on again to write for ON happened.

  • Big Boss

    Before the internet, when I was in high school, I used to love eating breakfast and reading every hockey article in the mornings new paper. Now I read it on my phone but it’s just not the same.

  • Geek freak

    I bought a subscription to the Athletic this passed week. I know it is relatively early, but pretty lean on the oilers front. LT & JW are the main scribes (good as always)! But the need Matty (Jim M) for hockey and TJ (Terry J) for football (Robin B would put them over the top & Cam Cole if they could get him to un-retire…), but then again, I still need some excuse to go to Oilersnation! Having said, I wrote the editor last week and indicated, they will be hard pressed to get another annual subcription out of me unless Oiler & Esk coverage was equally to that volume given to Toronto (or anywhere else not named Torronto). Funny thing is, sports coverage in Edmonton (and the people whom covert it) far exceeds what is offered to other a Market! I guess this is a round about way of saying, I would much rather support our Home grown local sports culture and media main stays, over a scription based website, with a national ( North Americain content)! I will also state, the comment sections of The Athletic, are 3 time greater for Oilers content, then for any other region in Canada. One can take from this, that the Edmonton market would support this type of new media, if someone would offer this service!

  • oilfan4ever

    I recall being thrilled when the Sun was introduced and I had a paper to read on Sunday. I still look forward to thhe morning sports page and a hot coffee. I dread the day that this to will pass.

  • In the end, the only thing that matters is the quality of the content being generated for consumption.
    Thankfully the best of whats out there is freely shared by guys who have a measured voice and tons of integrity, Elliott and Bobby Mac for instance.

    Its kind of funny how fast something gets beaten to death. Darcy makes an eloquent post about calling penalties over at because oilers and within a few days the sentiment is expounded on, hyper analyzed, ruined, revived and beaten over thrice more for good measure. For me personally, that is the downside, the redundancy compounds far faster than the fading added insights.
    The filters of experience come in handy as one hunts for strong signal in an ever growing landscape of noise.

  • kormega

    Several years ago I was a casual foreign fan who was sticked to good hockey and Russian players perfomances and didn’t care for any particular team. Well, somehow I’ve noticed that every morning I was like “how them Oilers played?”, then I went through blogs here and there and quickly found Oilers Nation… and sticked to it since.

    Great community, always something to read and talk about, your hockey flavour really flies across the oceans, love it.

  • Jari Hurry

    Lowetide, this is yet again one more piece of post-post-modern media that allows your media voice to span the void between generations and, quite frankly, close the gap for those that love this game.

    Hockey. I don’t mean to kiss-ass here but I’m a long time lurker, first time caller who became a small – town reporter in 1999. I learner how to generate serious copy and cut down government releases for briefs. We shot our own photos and developed our 400 asa black and white prints ourselves. Photo of the week got us lunch with the editor. Quark express, scissors, and a giant camera in the back made our pages. Small town ads paid for them.

    My point? I joined the industry while it was in the greatest state of change one could imagine. I got out. My eternal respect for those with the strength and stamina to stay the distance. The wait it out. To use new mediums. To endure. To evolve. To entrepreneur.

    Articles like this remind us where this medium developed, guys like Lowetide remind us where this boat was built. Thanks brother for reminding us where we’ve come from, and how far this ship has sailed – not into the sunset, but instead into the hands of the fan. probably where it always belonged.

    Through all of this, thank you Lowetide, for keeping things respectful, professional, and real. And thank you OilersNation, for Maintaining a place for which the writers, even the ones we love to hate, can do so.

  • Leaking5w-30

    As an oilers fan who lives out of town (in a hockeyless town in the states) the changes of the last five years have been amazing. I had all but lost touch with the team. Only catching one game or two per year. When the journal put up its paywall I almost gave up on following the team. Then I found copper and blue which led me to Oilers nation. And I thank oilers nation for making being a oilers fan fun and engaging again 🙂 (yes I thought that before McDavid)

  • I worked in US radio for over twenty years, most of in the rock format, before transitioning to advertising/marketing. The changes there have been extreme as well, and I was just the right age to remember reel-to-reel tape and actual record players, even though turntables were already viewed as antiquated when I got my first pro gig. But the tech isn’t the biggest change. No, that would be the content.

    Radio (and TV/print outlets) must do more, offer more. Video, photography, etc. are available in every online media platform. So what reporters have to do is get the stuff the general public can’t. It’s asking guys about their equipment. “Zack, do you remember your first pair of gloves? How do hey compare to your mitts now?” Or “Connor, who has the best hair on the team?” Anyone can regurgitate stats. It’s the stuff in between, the little details. I liked the piece on the new face-off rules posted here earlier this week, because it was a frank discussion that I wouldn’t have otherwise been privy to.

    I guess the point is that a reporter’s job is the same as it always has been: dig. Dig for the good stuff. You just have to dig in different places, and understand that everyone else has a shovel.

    • tileguy

      I agree with alot of what you said except for the reporters digging deep, ie who has the best hair. One gets so tired of fluff reporting, I swear I’ll go nuts if I hear another reporter ask a question that starts with ” what does it mean to you”

      • Yeah, bad example. But you get what I’m saying…is there a connection between the player and something local? Or maybe literally have a blog where you follow one player through an entire day. That’s the blog. Make observations. “I’d never seen anyone brush their teeth like MacTavish. It was like watching someone paint Huck Finn’s fence. Slow and methodical, a complete antithesis to the way he played the game.” Then off to the skate, lunch, so on. Have a conversation with the guy. You’d get all kinds of “I never knew that!” tidbits. “I eat like this because when I was in prison, I learned to protect my food or eat it so quickly that nobody else could steal it.” That sort of reporting takes more commitment, more effort. It’s also hard to break down into sound bytes or snippets (plus, editing into those small :30 clips is how you get “who has great hair” features, so…)

  • Merlin9

    Internet news is great and I will surf the web (Twitter, Facebook, TSN, etc) and listen to the radio for more information but doesn’t your heart skip a beat when you see a picture of your favourite player on the front page of a newspaper article? Mine does.

  • Bandwagon jumper

    Great article Lowetide.

    But I have to admit I was a little freaked out when I read the headline… I’m like Oh No!!! Lowetide is leaving the business? Whew, glad that isn’t the case.

    I always enjoy your articles and your show and await the day when it gets expanded to 4 hours. Keep up the good work.

    Cheers.

    • Spydyr

      That is because there is nothing to trash. I like the availability of today but fondly remember to Matty’s weekly hockey world and his game accounts in the Journal the next day.

  • positivebrontefan

    Hey Lowtide,

    Thanks for your insight on things, both on the interwebs, and on the radio, i listen everyday, and am very entertained by the ying and yang of you and Eric. You make me laugh out loud several times a day.

    I still get my paper copy of the Edmonton Sun, and I still sit down with a coffee and flip through the sports section, sneak a peek at the sunshine girl, it offers nothing I cant find online, but I tried going paperless and I couldn’t. I’m not sure what it is, the feel of the paper in my hand, stepping out the front door in the morning in my underwear to grab the paper while checking the weather, or I just feel the need to support our friends in the forestry industry.

    Thanks again.

  • Pouzar99

    In many ways the hockey coverage in Edmonton is the best its ever been. The only thing missing is Cam Cole, the best sports columnist this city has ever seen. The two newspapers, and I wrote for one of them for 29 years, are ridiculously understaffed but their hockey coverage, is still top drawer, including Cult of Hockey. Sadly it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto robber barons at Postmedia and their hedge fund owners shut down both papers. Happily there will still be good coverage and analysis from TV, radio and some outstanding blogs, like Lowetide. As a long-time Oiler and general hockey fanatic I believe I will be well served by the media even after the newspapers go.